Tag: Depression

Two Thousand Eighteen

They say that what you’re doing at midnight as the new year begins is what you will do for the rest of the year.

Two thousand eighteen found me, the solitary occupant of the pew I was sitting in, with my bare toes curled upon the cold wood floors of the church that raised me.

I don’t know what that says about how my year will go.

New Year’s Eve service is a longstanding tradition in my home church. We call it “watch night service,” a nod to how the church continues to wait for the return of her bridegroom. In years past, I’ve held on to my little white candle, flanked by my parents as I watched the secondhand creep to twelve. Other years I’ve linked arms with my dearest friends, women of faith who have created some of my happiest memories with me. But this year, I sat alone.

Which seemed strangely fitting because I’ve spent most of last year feeling awfully alone.

A majority of that stems from my depression, which I have battled against in 2017 more than any other time of my life. I’ve walked through the darkest depths of my mental health, almost scaring myself with how far I’ve tumbled down this rabbit hole. And depression, great and terrible beast that it is, keeps me in the land of darkness, alone and feeling like I am separated from the great love of the Father.

What is it about darkness? It scares us as children, transforming shadows into monsters that hide in our closets and take residence under our beds. When we grow into adults, the darkness reminds us of our vulnerability. Racing hearts betray our bravado. Fear lives in the darkness.

And the early moments of 2018 greeted me with darkness once again, as the lights of the church were flipped off, one by one.

But when I looked to the altar, fire burned.


The motto of our church is “Lighted to Lighten.” It speaks of the incredible experience of grace, and the truths that spill from the beginning of John’s Gospel and the beginning of the world.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

John 1: 1-5, 9 (NASB)

In the beginning, God spoke light into the darkness and it’s been shining ever since. Through Christ, we receive the Light of the World and as believers, we take on the great commission that commands us to go into all corners of the earth, bringing light into the darkness.

So on New Year’s Eve, I sat in the darkness of my home church, a church that lay my foundations but has also broken my heart.  And when midnight came, the year of our Lord 2018, six candles centered around the cross gave us light.

Our reverend took one flame from the altar and lit his neighbor’s candle. Who lit another’s. Who lit another’s. Until the entire congregation was ignited.

Let there be. Lighted to Lighten.


There is something about the sacredness of the Creation story that repeats in the first breath of a new year. Out of darkness comes a new beginning. And the hope that He will look at His creation and say, “It is good.”

I have spent so much of this last year feeling like I am not good. That my shortcomings far outnumber my successes. That I will remain in the valley of the shadow of death. That even in a place of worship, I am alone.

Yet the fire burns on.

This is my reminder. That even in my darkness, there is Light at the cross. And although depression ravages my heart, it cannot extinguish the flame. The darkness cannot comprehend it.

So I walk in the darkness, with my bare feet treading this hallowed ground. Holy even in the trials. And while depression and doubt fill my thoughts, the promise of God tells me that the Light will conquer the darkness. Victory is already won.

This little light of mine.

Happy New Year.

On Depression

Every time I post something on this blog, I think, This is it. This is the farthest you can go. You’re showing too much of your heart in this one.  You can’t do this again on the next post. Stop right here.

But the problem with censoring myself is it makes it hard to find something else worth writing about. I putter around for a few months trying to find a neater version of myself to share. I never seem to come up with anything.

So here I am, friends, showing you the rawest parts of my heart because honestly, I don’t have the words for anything else.

I’ve had a rough few months. Or perhaps, more accurately, a rough year. Maybe a rough couple years.

And I’ve been sad. So sad. Even when I am happy, there is an undercurrent of sadness and there are moments when I fear it will swallow me whole. There are moments when I wish it would.

Mental health is a strange thing, isn’t it? We seem to be talking about it more in our world as we consider gun violence and terrorism and free will and sickness but I don’t know if we’ve ever really gotten to the root of it. What I do know is that I’ve struggled with mine for a very long time.

The Church, from what I have seen, does a poor job addressing mental health. We dismiss people’s pain as a direct result of their sin. We claim that there is no need for professional help or medication if only we pray hard enough.

I don’t discount the power of prayer. Far from it. One of my favorite gospel stories is the one of Jesus healing the demon-possessed boy who was deaf and mute. He commands the spirit out of the boy and when His disciples see him healed, they ask Jesus why they were not able to do the same. Jesus responds, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29, NASB).

I’ve held on to that verse through many dark times. It has reassured me that with prayer, healing is possible.

But, Jesus? I’ve been praying a long time now. And I’m still sad.

Depression makes me doubt everything about myself. Admittedly, I am in a difficult season of life, regardless the state of my mental health, but depression takes this string of upsets and tells me, You have not succeeded at anything you have tried to achieve. Your best days will never come. 

It infects all of the relationships in my life by placing in me a crippling fear that I am not good enough and thus, entirely replaceable.These people who I call mine deserve better and surely, they could find better in another woman. It is an awful thing to feel as though you are a disappointment of a daughter and a failure as a friend.

But the worst part of depression is the way it attacks the foundations of my faith. It calls into question the very nature of God so I no longer know what is true.

When you lose track of the Truth, there is only room for lies.

He isn’t listening. He isn’t here. If He loved you, He wouldn’t let you feel such pain. 

There is no purpose in this suffering.

This is not for your good.

He is not good.

Depression, you dark and terrible beast. How long will you have your grip on me? Why must you possess me like a demon?

They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him…”

Mark 9: 20-22 (NASB)

Like the demon-possessed boy, depression leaves me incapable of hearing or speaking Truth. It pulls me into its flames where it consumes and destroys.

Will you continue to rage inside of me until there is nothing left but ashes and dust?

Ashes and dust.

Oh, Great God. Can it be?


When I was getting my minor in Jewish studies, my professor taught us of the Old Testament commandments to keep the fire on the temple altar continually burning. The flames would burn low throughout the night and a priest would rekindle the fire every morning, sifting through the ashes to reignite it.

Rabbi Viñas had an uncanny ability to know when the stories of old could be reminders for today.

The priests didn’t have to light a new flame every morning. If they dug deep enough in the ashes, they would find an ember. A glowing remnant of what once was.

From these ashes, you can build a fire still.

Somewhere in the ashes of my ravaged heart lies a lone ember. A stubborn trace of something called faith.

But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

Mark 9: 22-24 (NASB)

Depression fills me with doubt that God is who He says He is. But even in the throes my darkest times, I wonder if there is a small voice that cries out, “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

When I long to be around people and have conversations, but have no energy to seek them.

I believe. Help my unbelief.

When I lay in bed late at night, unable to fall asleep as the clock strikes 2, 3, 4, because my mind is racing and my fears are stacking.

I believe. Help my unbelief.

When I mourn a soul lost by his own hands and know what he must have felt in those final moments.

I believe. Help my unbelief.

When I weep over a desperate prayer, asking God to come find me in my brokenness because I cannot reach Him on my own.

I believe. Help my unbelief.

There is hope in this paradox. A hope that being weak of faith does not mean I am forever lost. A hope that admitting my weakness allows Jesus to come and save.

It is a misconception in the Church that those who struggle in their faith never genuinely believed in the first place. I am too aware of my own sin to make claims of how “good” of a Christian I am but my instincts tell me that is not how faith works. I think God has long since accepted that His children teeter between moments of conviction and seasons of despair.

David, master musician, wrote psalms of thanksgiving to celebrate the faithfulness of God. He invited nations (Psalm 67:4) and generations (Psalm 145: 4) to join with him in worshiping the Creator.

But he also knew what it felt like to cry for so long you can’t see straight anymore (Psalm 69: 3). He knew fear and horror (Psalm 55:5) and weariness (Psalm 6:6). He asked God how long He would forget him (Psalm 13:1).

David shows us that it is possible to write both songs of praise and songs of lament. It is possible to believe God is able yet doubt if He will.

Depression threatens to rob me of my faith but somewhere in my soul I still say, I believe. Help my unbelief.


I might battle depression for the rest of my life. I wish I wouldn’t and I pray for healing but I know that this may be my version of a thorn in the flesh. And if He could do it for Paul, maybe God will use mental illness to teach me about grace sufficient.

Depression, although it continues to hold me tight, will not ruin me. There is a light in the ashes.

I believe.