Don’t worry, this has a happy ending.
I know, spoiler alert, right?! But the most important thing isn’t the happy ending (though that’s good too!) It’s what I learned from it. And it applies to anyone, whether you’ve struggled with depression or not.
Photo Credit: Morgan Sessions, Unsplash
I believe I was born depressed.
I have huge gaps in my memory, but I remember thinking about suicide as far back as grade school. Difficult experiences growing up, including persistent bullying, added to the problem already there. By the time I was in high school, I was thinking about it hourly. By college, I spent hours in the walk-in closet in my dorm room crying.
I’ve heard people say people who commit suicide are selfish. I can’t speak for anyone else, but in my case, I genuinely thought the world would be better if I wasn’t here. I thought I’d be doing everyone a favor.
Even meeting Jesus my freshman year in college didn’t help.
A friend of a friend was wearing a t-shirt with a logo on it that was similar to a sign I’d seen on campus, so I asked him about it. He said it was a Christian organization that works with youth. ‘Oh,’ I said. ‘I’d love for you to tell me about Christianity someday’. I’d always wanted to go to church in high school, but I thought it was an exclusive club you had to be invited to. He took his opportunity and told me then.
On the back of a napkin, in the student cafeteria, he explained how God had created me and loved me, but sin separated me, and so Jesus came. And now I could be with God because of Jesus.
I honestly didn’t remember much about what he said, but one thing stood out. God – the God of the Universe – loved me! I bounded down the stairs of the student union thinking, ‘God loves me!’ ‘God loves me!’
But my college classes were telling me the Bible wasn’t true. That it contradicted itself. That Jesus never claimed to be the son of God.
After loads of research, reading a bunch of the New Testament during my Christmas break, and arguing with God, I’d finally had enough. On February 7th, 1992, at 2am, I read a prayer I found in the back of a book and became a Christian.
The next morning, at about 10am, it suddenly hit me – ‘I became a Christian last night!’ I went running throughout the campus, and whether I knew you are not, I would tell you with great enthusiasm ‘I became a Christian last night!’ The conversion was real.
Unfortunately, the elation didn’t last long.
I got even more depressed.
I had thought being a Christian would make it all go better. And it didn’t.
I tried everything I knew to do and nothing worked.
I tried counseling with some amazing counselors. I had ‘demons cast out of me’. I tried to think the right thoughts. I took medication.
Much of it was good.
But it didn’t work for me.
To make sure I’m super clear before I go any further, I believe we are body, soul and spirit. All of it needs to be healthy. If medication can help you right the chemicals in your brain, please, for the love of God and of you, take it. If counseling can help you heal some of the wounds in your life, please go see a great counselor. I hugely appreciate the ones I’ve had in my life. If there’s a spiritual issue that needs righted, please do it. God can heal a million different ways. And sometimes He uses people, medications and wise tools.
They just didn’t work for me.
The healing finally came from an unexpected encounter.
By the time I turned 30, I thought something was wrong with me. It must be me. It certainly wasn’t God’s fault. He was more than able. I must just be too broken, too unwilling to let God heal me. It must be me.
Then, in May that year, a friend of mine was turning 40. My offer to help her find cheap plane tickets from Belfast to Toronto turned into me joining her there.
We went to a church training event that taught you how to minister with and be in the presence of God. They called it ‘soaking’. It’s basically just taking time to BE in God’s presence. Christians have been doing it (under different names) since the early Church.
The leader of the school was praying for me, to pray and ‘soak’ people, when I started to feel this laugh rise up from my core.
For the rest of the week, I laughed uncontrollably. It was kind of embarrasing sometimes. But I didn’t care. I believe it was the anesthesia for the healing work God was about to do.
God did some healing deeper than my thoughts and experiences.
During that time, God healed me of some of my most shameful memories. Even now, I can think about one of them, and it has as much power over me as thinking about how the color of my shirt is orange. He healed what Jack Frost called ‘Inner Core Pain’.
For the rest of the week, I laughed and cried and laughed and cried some more.
What He showed me changed my life.
While I was lying in His presence one day, I had a revelation that changed me forever.
I discovered He was my Father who had created me and adored me.
HE wanted me here.
I was His adored, celebrated daughter.
He was mad, crazy, bonkers in love with me!
I came home completely changed.
Daniel says I came home the wife he’d always known I was. The depression lifted. I was full of joy. I was God’s well-loved daughter. This wasn’t some great fact I’d heard from a book or from a speaker. Of course I’d known before God loved me. But now I knew. I was His daughter. He was my Father. I was adored.
The knowledge of being God’s daughter literally changed everything. So much so, I felt like someone had taken me out of my body and transported me into another.
If you meet me now, you would never know I’d been suicidally depressed for 30 years.
It’s still a journey.
I wish I could say from then on I never struggled with depression again. It’s a journey and a choice I have to make to stay in the revelation of being God’s daughter. There have been seasons I’ve really struggled. The holidays used to be really hard. But there’s always this glimmer of hope knowing whose I am.
I regularly step back into the simplicity and delight of ‘I am God’s daughter. He is my Father. He is with me.’
I understand depression is a complicated thing. There’s no quick fix.
A lot of our ‘suddenlies’ in life take years to create. Mine was a suddenly with a 30 year journey behind it.
The lesson I learned applies to everyone, whether you struggle with depression or not. It’s the heartbeat behind everything I do with Three Heavens…
Your Heavenly Dad is mad, crazy, bonkers in love with you.
He created you.
He’s been dreaming of you being born since before time began.
He adores you.
He loves being your Dad.
The whole reason Jesus came and died and rose again was so He could be with you.
If you’re struggling with depression, I pray peace over you.
May you experience the love of God in a new way today.
May you get wisdom on what is the light at the end of the tunnel for you.
You are loved. You are adored. You and God got this!
I am a Creative World-Changer. You are too.
I know not everyone’s experience of a dad has been a good one. So I want you to imagine the best dad you can possibly imagine (even if you had a good father). The kindest, best, most giving Dad you possibly can. Got that in your head? God is even better than that! Ask Him to show you one aspect of who He is. Share with us in the comments below. What is God like for you? What’s one thing you love about Him?