STAY

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STAY.
Depressed people are often asked
To promise they’ll STAY.
To not give in to the pain.
Just STAY!
It sounds so simple,
Until you feel
The suffocating darkness
That comes when
Your own brain turns against you.
Sometimes it seems stronger
Than your own ability to resist.
Do you know what you are asking,
When you say, “JUST STAY!”?

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It means choosing more suffering.
And enduring more pain.
To STAY is
An ongoing battle.
To believe God has purpose in it.
That there is more to this life
Than the pain.
That He has and will redeem.
One Day.

Can I ask you something?
You.
The friend.
Will you STAY?
Next to me, or her or him.
Please don’t bring a string of words.
Just STAY.

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To enter this battle willingly?
That’s crazy!
But it can make a big difference.
To sit and STAY in someone else’s pain.
Without answers or solutions.
It’s uncomfortable and risky.
You may do it wrong,
Or even be pushed away.
Will you lay aside your fears?
Will you STAY alongside
Someone else who is struggling,
And bring hope to someone today?

To help fight the lies.
You are not alone.
You are KNOWN.
You are not a problem.
You are LOVED.
You are not an inconvenience.
Your life is deeply VALUABLE.

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STAYING is brave,
But it’s also contagious.
Knowing there are others fighting.
To believe when you can’t see.
To persevere when it feels impossible.
Are you willing to do what you ask of me?
STAY.
It takes courage.
Who will walk beside me in this pain?
To be still and quiet and weak
Is vulnerable.
Please STAY.

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I know there is ONE
Who won’t leave us alone,

For when the night was darkest,

Jesus DID STAY.

He knew the cup would be bitter.
In fact, it would crush Him.
But still, He STAYED.
For you and for me.

God WITH us.
He took our shame.
He chose to STAY.

We often struggle to STAY,
But His STAYING brought life
and LIGHT to our darkest days.
He’s made it possible.
STAY.

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The silencer which hinders community

Fear. It has controlling power. Debilitating power. Much more than I often realize.

As Zach Williams sings, “Fear, he is a liar”. A convincing liar.

In my own struggles, fear keeps me from wanting to write about the hard topics (Ironically, I have had this post on fear in my draft folder for a couple months now!).

It is easy to believe that exposing my weakness and wounds is a bad thing. Yet, this is not the message of the gospel.

Each time I make a choice to go against this fear and follow what God is leading me to do, the fear loses some of its power over me. I begin to realize how silly it is.  How deceiving.  How wrong.

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Fear is also a big part of why I isolate myself when I am struggling the most. One of the big lies in depression is that you are alone and no one cares. My fear of others seeing my vulnerability then leads me to put up walls. I push others away when what I need and want is to have someone come alongside me. My fear is self-defeating when I give in to it.

We need one another. While it is not wise to just dump out whatever is on our heart to the first person in our path, it is important to have “safe” people you can share struggles with. This is scary. It is a risk to be vulnerable and let someone see your messiness and pain.

While fear can hold a hurting person captive, it also binds people from reaching out to those who are hurting.

Sometimes we don’t want to enter other people’s struggles because of how it stirs up hard emotions or things we haven’t dealt with in ourselves.

It may require adjustments in a busy schedule. It can feel chaotic.  We don’t like feeling out of control.

We might see someone hurting, but we don’t know them well. It is easier to just expect someone else will care for them. I might think, “I don’t know what to do,” or “I might make things worse”.

Our fears easily silence us and hinder community.

We can walk around like bound prisoners even though the gospel has already brought us the freedom we so deeply desire.

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Community is born out of people who are willing to love openly and face their fears. To take a risk of being known and possibly rejected as a result.

Timothy Keller states it this way, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

It seems the antidote to fear is love.

While my love is limited, God’s love is not.

If I want to overcome fear, I need to spend time with the One who loves me.

I need to be reminded how deeply I am loved. That my identity is found in God’s love. That I don’t have to be afraid of my love or someone else’s love falling short.  God’s love is enough.

“Perfect love casts out fear.” I John 4:18

Perfect love brings “freedom for the prisoners”. (Luke 4:18)

What are you afraid of?  How does your fear silence you?

How does God’s perfect love silence your fears and give you courage?

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And if not…

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.

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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.

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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.

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