Several years ago, my husband and I had to cancel a conversation with friends because I had spent the night in the hospital due to the depression that often comes with PMDD, a complex medical condition involving a sensitivity to hormonal fluctuations. When we finally met with our friends a week later, we were asked to pray about moving to Spain to help plant a new church.
We could think of lots of reasons to say “no”, with health being a big one. Ten years before, our mission had asked us to consider Spain, and we had decided the answer was “not yet”. To consider it this time felt impossible. Yet, in a strange way, we felt compelled by God to pursue it.
We visited Spain a few months later and expected God might use that trip to close the doors. Instead, the doors seemed to open wider, and both of us separately sensed God reaffirming our call into overseas mission work.
We then expected God would answer by resolving my health struggles. Instead, we encountered many obstacles, like medicine reactions, which limited our options rather than providing the easy solution we were hoping for. The list seemed to grow as we learned I had adrenal fatigue, anemia and hypothyroidism. While we did find things like supplements and diet that help manage the symptoms of PMDD, we had to start accepting that there is currently no known cure.
Sometimes as we have taken significant steps towards moving to Spain, my health has taken a downward turn and I think, “I can’t do this.”. Then I am reminded of Moses and how God didn’t call him based on what Moses could do. God asked him to be willing and to trust that God was going to do it.
I wanted God to show His power in my life through how He removed the struggle and weakness, but instead, He has challenged me to celebrate that God’s power IS sufficient in the midst of the messiest parts of my life.
I want to be willing to have the perspective of the guys faced with the fiery furnace in the book of Daniel and confidently say,
“And if not, He is still good”.
I am learning to accept that PMDD is an important part of the story God is writing for our lives, and that the ways He sustains us is something He can use to encourage and bring hope to others.
Illnesses that involve depression are hard to talk about. Often it feels easier to suffer in silence. However, I have found that it is this very silence that can be the most crippling. Lies gain power when you are alone in the darkness. Shame is the bully that thrives in the silence.
But the gospel sheds light into the darkness and shouts loudly into that silence. It tells me that Jesus has paid for my shame through His death on the cross. It gives me hope that even if this life is filled with suffering, it is temporary.
Jesus has overcome the darkness.
One day there will be no more pain.
The gospel tells me that weakness does not disqualify. When I feel desperate and realize nothing on this earth is sufficient, I am reminded that Jesus is what I need.
When the darkness overwhelms me, I learn a little more about the depths of God’s grace.
The gospel gives me courage to speak up. It helps me be willing to admit that my life is messy, and it reminds me to give that same grace to others.
Because people are limited, but God is not.
I have found God is the only One who is not afraid of my deepest, darkest moments, and He is the safest One I can run to. Even when He seems silent, He has not abandoned me.
When the pain leads me to ask hard questions, it doesn’t scare Him away. When I think He is not answering or helping as I would want, He has already provided the help that I need through Jesus.
When I doubt His love, He still loves me perfectly. Nothing I do can change that.
Because it is never too messy for God. It is never beyond His control.
My PMDD tries to control me, but it doesn’t get to define me.
First and foremost, I am a child of God.
You and I are loved.
He is enough.