this has been a long time in coming. maybe because Jesus had more things to teach me before I could write. maybe because I don’t know how to find the words to enter into your pain because I know it is too deep for words.
what I do know is that you are walking through pain that threatens to suffocate you every single day. and for many of you, no one even knows. you smile like you always used to but there’s nothing behind that smile anymore. you push through working, going to class, doing homework, surviving social engagements— all the while fighting the darkness inside that feels like it will take over everything in your life. some days you do nothing more than hide in your bed or watch Netflix and you feel like a complete failure.
people may not see it, but there’s an emptiness in your eyes that radiates all the way from your heart. there’s a hopelessness when you look into the future that sometimes makes you wonder if it’s worth it. when the lights fade at night and you slip under the covers and it’s all quiet outside, the darkness in your mind speaks so loud it’s almost deafening and there’s this question on the edge of your lips... will I always feel like this?
I’ve been there. I know. it hurts like nothing else and sometimes you don’t even know why. you can’t explain it because when you try to say why everything feels so dark, no reason really explains it. maybe you’ve been through traumatic circumstances that landed you here. maybe you haven’t. or maybe they were so long ago that you feel like it makes no sense to still hurt over them.
and so, because there are no words that portray the feelings surging inside, you stay quiet. you build walls. walks to keep you safe, but in the end they become walls that isolate you from everything you need the most to heal. the rest of the world starts to fade a little and the dark becomes a deeper and deeper reality.
but no one really knows.
maybe they know a little. but no one really knows it all. no one sees the tears you cry at night... the moments of desperation when you stretch out on your bed and clutch the pillows as you keep breathing through the anxiety. no one knows that peaceful feeling that comes over you when you think of dying— and that it’s not because you want to, but because you don’t know if you have the energy to keep on fighting.
I can’t make it all go away, but I can tell you this. and when I do, know that I mean it with every part of me that has been where you are right now. you are not alone.
you’re part of an army bigger than you would ever dream who has fought this same enemy. and as powerful and all consuming as this enemy seems, it cannot steal your life from you while Jesus holds it.
at one point in my journey when the darkness was especially deep Jesus gave me truth so deep that it sunk deeper into my heart than the darkness. truth I want to share with you in case He can use it to do the same for you.
excerpt from my journal... “depression is this ocean of blue stretching as far as I can see to the horizon and into deeper and deeper shades of blue beneath me— as far as I can see. every day, I fight drowning for all that I am worth. but maybe grace is bigger than the ocean of darkness that I feel like I’m sinking in sometimes. maybe no matter how deep I sink, I can’t drown after all, because underneath this ocean is grace. underneath are the everlasting arms.
and so maybe I don’t have to fight sinking. maybe I don’t have to tred water so frantically or think so desperately about giving up and drowning. because maybe I’m over here flailing, and because I am, my life Preserver can’t function like He wants to. because I’m resisting.
I worry that if I stop flailing I’ll sink under and my lungs will fill up and I won’t be able to breathe anymore. I’ll turn limp and I’ll sink like deadweight to the bottom of the ocean, only to let down the people I love so much and the ones I wanted to help keep afloat.
but then I realize that He’s been swimming next to me and He’s trying to put His arms around me to keep me afloat. but even though I don’t know how to swim, it’s still terrifying to stop trying. somehow trying makes me feel like I’m doing something.
it’s not working though. I keep getting big gulps of water and lately my head keeps going under too. I don’t feel His arms but I know they’re there. and so, I stop fighting for breath. I let go. if I drown, I drown.
but I trust that I won’t. because I trust His arms.
I used to be able to swim. but for months now, I’ve forgotten how. I’ve been so mad at myself for forgetting. so mad at Him for not reminding me. but just now as I relax into His arms, something strikes me. a thought I’ve been fighting for weeks.
what if I never figure out how to swim again?
it’s been a terrifying thought. but here as I rest in His arms, He holds my head above the water and I wonder if this is actually what I needed.
what if I can’t swim again and I have to stay here, held, forever? can I really complain? what if this is exactly where I need to be? helpless. incapable of breathing without the water filling up my lungs unless He holds me tight.
the deep dark blue is still all around me. I glance around and it’s all I can see. but He’s here too. and maybe that is enough.
I’d rather be swimming by the shoreline, instead of out here in the middle of the ocean with only my head above the waves. but I always asked to be as close to Him as possible. I never thought it would be like this. I’ve often felt like this deep water and my weak and tired heart are what separated me from Him and kept me from teaching others how to swim.
but what if these deep blue waters and my tired heart are the very things allowing me to be held tight to His heart?
then I’m ok with being here for the rest of my life.
I’m ok with not swimming. I’m ok with the occasional mouthful of ocean water. I’m ok with looking down and seeing the blue extending deep below me. because I look next to me, and He’s enough. even now.”
and so maybe tonight you’re in the ocean of blue. maybe you’re worn out from trying to stay afloat. first, remember that you are not alone. you are seen. you are loved.
but more than that, tonight He whispers it quiet... it’s ok. you can let go. you won’t drown. I’ve got you.
because, when you go through deep waters, I will be with you. and when you go through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.