Two full decades have passed since God revealed that my call into ministry would involve being a writer. While many factors contributed to the failure to launch this call on my life before now, two of the most insidious were a secret addiction and my battle with depression.
Now, few who knew me over the years would have guessed my secret struggles since they rarely interfered with my day-to-day life. It became all too easy to mentally box them up and store them away for safe keeping – until the next time they made desperate bids for my attention.
Thankfully, God brought me to a place of freedom from my addiction in 2006, but (after a period of exuberant joy) to my dismay the depression lingered.
The following two years were a journey into understanding my life, my choices, and my past. Once the outer layer that was so obvious and had taken all my focus was removed, God was able to gradually shed light on the deeper issues that had been there all along.
Periodic revelations brought more freedom by providing answers to my “Why?” questions and allowing me to renounce the lies I had embraced most of my life. But my depression was the one thing that I received few answers about.
2007 was one of the most difficult years of my life. That January, I took on an extra part-time position and several months later found myself spiraling into a deep depression. Too many hours spent doing a job that was killing my soul had sent me into a tailspin. I made the decision to step back, but things improved only a little.
Part of my frustration came from the fact that I couldn’t understand how the personality God gave me would even allow struggle in this area. As a result, I resolved to take the rest of the year to examine my life, find the sources, and deal with them. Then I spoke with my friend and mentor Diane.
As I shared all this, she stopped me dead in my tracks by saying that I had the choice to be an archaeologist and dig up my past or an architect and design my future. She assured me that all the answers were already inside me and I should move forward in faith that God would reveal these insights as I needed them.
I fought against this thought for several days, convinced I had to understand everything that had happened to me before I could fully heal. I also came up with several reasons to move across the country thinking a fresh start might help. A conversation with my mom convinced me that running away wasn’t the solution, but that still left me without hope.
Gradually Diane’s wisdom sunk in and I decided to try it her way.
My only obstacle at that point was the depression that held me down like cement shoes. In my desperation I cried out to the Lord and begged Him to free me from my depression, just as He had from my addiction. I wrote out a page-long prayer and then opened up my Life Recovery Bible.
I was on the last three recovery principle devotions and the final one was on forgiveness. In the midst of reading it, I was suddenly struck with the overwhelming realization that I had never forgiven myself: for where I was in life, and where I wasn’t; for everything I had, and everything I didn’t.
It hit me in that moment that this very unforgiveness was the root of my depression – that the unacknowledged, unresolved anger at myself was a wall I had been unknowingly hitting my head on for the previous 30 years.
The next two hours were spent in a continual confession of forgiveness for everything I could think of that I held against myself. Hot tears streamed down my face as I finally let go of three decades of subconscious anger and self-condemnation. That night I fell asleep with a lighter heart and more peace than I had ever felt in my life.
Since then, I’ve made a practice of forgiving myself as things come to mind and the depression has been kept at bay. In addition, I’ve been able to move forward in my life in ways I’d only ever dreamed of – and this blog is part of the evidence.
Through experience, I know beyond a doubt that Diane’s advice was absolutely true. Spiritual archaeologists dig holes down into the ground; spiritual architects design and build structures up into the sky. Now that’s the direction I want to pursue!
The thing is, all the answers are within reach and God is in the business of providing them – in His perfect timing.
Artistic Kudos: Pixabay.com/Ilagam