We are wrapping up a season of Thanksgiving (although I’m not sure that this “season” of gratitude should ever end!).
I’ve spent a lot of time these past weeks pondering the goodness of God; focusing on the blessings in my life; making a conscious effort to not complain.
In all the thinking and talking and writing about gratitude, I can’t help remembering where God has brought me from in the past twelve months.
You see, last year I was in a valley. A terribly dark valley, and one that stretched on and on and on.
For nearly two years I walked a valley of depression and fear.
I never, ever thought that I (the girl who had it all together) would ever battle depression. Strong people like me just don’t go there.
Well, I went there. And I stayed there. And I wondered if I would ever get out.
If you have ever struggled through depression, then you are well acquainted with the helplessness of it all.
And the irrational thoughts and fears that plague your mind. And disrupt your sleep. And rob your joy.
This valley stretched on through my last pregnancy, followed me through the birth of our son, and dogged me after our family’s move earlier this year.
I simply could not ecape this valley, no matter how long or hard I ran. It stretched to the sky, no matter what direction my life took.
I despaired of overcoming.
Emotionally, I felt fragile.
Mentally, I felt weak. Scattered. Unable to focus or sort through even the most simple stresses.
Spiritually, I felt desperate. I knew that fear and inner turmoil where not God’s best for me, as His child. That His will was that I overcome. But I was powerless.
I walked that valley, but not alone.
And, step by step, and by the grace of God, I walked out of that valley.
Today, I am on the other side. It still looms dark, but it is behind me. Praise God!
The night mares and irrational fears are gone. The feelings of helplessness and inability to cope are gone. Depression and oppression are gone.
I am whole.
Like a soldier returning from a battle, I am victorious but bearing a few scars. I know the darkness of my struggle, and I will never forget it.
Truly, I don’t want to forget it.
Why? Because it reminds me of the fragility of this flesh. I am broken.
I need the Lord! Desperately.
And because it reminds me that all humanity is flesh. I am not alone in this valley.
Experience has taught me that depression is not just a plague of the weak or feeble. It strikes the strong. And leaves you weak and feeble.
Are you there? In that dark valley of hopelessness and depression?
If you are, please take my hand and my words of hope.
You will walk out of that valley. By the grace of God. One day at a time. One praise at a time.
But you cannot put roots down in your valley. You cannot give up and say that things will never change.
Things will change, because God will change you.
God will not bring you out the same person. You will be different. Stronger, yet acutely aware of your great need for Him. Wiser, yet humbler.
You will walk out.
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.