(AKA “And you thought that one post was long!”)
I’m sorry for my abrupt absence over the last week or two… I have been busy with house guests this past month and then have spent the last few days winding down… doing nothing much at all. Ezra has also suddenly started having a really difficult time napping (even though it is obvious he still needs to nap- he’s a grump-a-palooza when he doesn’t sleep during the day), so most of my afternoons have been spent trying to coax, convince, bribe, or snuggle a hyper toddler to sleep- a feat that is only surpassed in difficulty by one thing: WRESTLING HUNGRY MAN-EATING ALLIGATORS.
My free time has been sparse, but Ezra’s school starts up again this week and I will try to keep you all updated while trying to scale the mountain of THINGS TO DO that has been piling up over the last few weeks.
Here’s what has been taking place in my head lately:
I was taking the anti-depressants faithfully for about 16 days while still begging God to tell me if I was doing what was best for me or if I just needed to step back and let Him do some stuff in my heart. I was so desperate for an answer from Him that I spent many nights laying in the dark on Ezra’s window seat after everyone had fallen asleep- looking up at the stars through the branches of the tree in the front yard- promising Him I’d do whatever He wanted me to do… I just needed to hear His voice.
“All I’m asking for, God, is a whisper. An inkling. Anything at all…“
All day long, everyday, I was still unsure about the pills I’d been swallowing. I researched them. I talked to anyone who was willing to listen about them. I looked into other options. One day I’d be convinced I was on the right path, the next day I’d find myself hovering the bag above the trash can- moments away from chucking the things all together.
It didn’t help when the Sunday before last, a woman stood up in front of our church and said she’d been completely healed of depression. It was something that had been in her family for generations… she’d been on medication for YEARS. Then God healed her and told her to stop taking the pills, and she said she’d never felt better in her whole life since then. She’d stopped cold turkey.
My stomach churned and I forced my hands to clap as the community cheered and praised God for her healing. I’d only been taking the pills for a few days. I felt two inches tall. I felt jealous. I felt like I just didn’t have enough faith. I felt awful for feeling this way instead of being genuinely moved by her testimony- moved toward HOPE instead of DESPAIR.
Chris reminded me that it would be the same if I had had cancer… and someone else stood up and said God had healed them of cancer. It would be a hard thing to not feel… unseen by the God who supposedly sees all.
After two and a half weeks on the medication, I still hadn’t noticed any considerable changes. They say it takes 4-6 weeks to build up in your system. I have, however, noticed HEADACHES. Grinding ones.
Then, a couple of days ago, Chris took Ezra out to breakfast, and I snuck away to a local cafe and spent a good chunk of time sipping coffee and frantically journaling. I hadn’t picked up a pen in 10 days. My hand couldn’t keep up with all I wanted to get out on paper.
And THAT’S when God decided to show up.
In my journal, I started asking myself about who God is… who He has been in my life so far. And I began to feel that the God who I’d gotten a chance to see over the past 25 years absolutely did not need me to be taking those pills. I suddenly caught the realization that He was strong enough to take care of it- and that He would take care of it. And the thing that He wants to do through me isn’t going to be easy by any means, but at the end of it all, He wants to get ALL the glory for the transformation in my life and my heart… and for ME personally, at this time in my life, that means kicking the pills to the curb. Simply because, when this season in my life is at a close, I feel like he wants me to be able to know that HE ALONE did the transforming thing inside me… so that no pill would get even a fraction of the honor He deserves.
This might sound harsh to some of you right now, and I understand that. Just as the testimony at church on Sunday was hard for me to hear two weeks ago. I’m not making ANY blanket statements here… I am not saying that all medication is bad or that everyone should stop taking them. I’m not saying that at all. There are people out there who desperately need this kind of medication to correct an imbalance that could potentially threaten their lives… just as people need chemotherapy when cancer is ravaging their cells. I get that and respect that fully.
But what if much of this generation has bought into a lie? That even the tiniest bit of discomfort needs to be corrected and smoothed over? What if we are over-medicating ourselves… simply because we’ve never had a chance to learn that hardship alone produces character and faith in a society that has a quick fix for EVERY ailment- from bad breath to flat chests to balding heads?
Obviously, there are some who need medication to function. But I am not one of those people. I am not consumed by thoughts of death or wanting to die. I am simply feeling BLAH. Uninspired. “Bummed out”. And I’m choosing to work through it- even if it’s the harder route- without medication. Because I feel like that’s what God is asking me to do.
As I sat in that coffee shop, God started showing me all the people of faith in the Bible that, if they were here today, would be PERFECT candidates for medication. Moses. Wandered in the desert for 40 years with a pack of grumbling Israelites who kept saying the SLAVERY he’d just freed them from was better than following him through the sand. Abraham. Who FINALLY got the son God promised him when he was ancient years old- but then was asked to sacrifice that very son on top of a mountain… JUST BECAUSE. These guys trusted God and worked through all these heart-wrenching issues without anything but faith. So, I really think I can work through these “blues” or at least allow God to teach me something meaningful through them- because the God that led those people out of the desert and made Abraham a father of many nations is the very same God who I believe in today. He has not weakened. He has not aged.
Finally, God led me to Isaiah 35. And I read it and felt like it was written just for me. I felt like jumping up onto my table in the coffee shop and halooing for joy. But I didn’t.
When I got into my car, I felt prompted to stick in a CD that was laying on my seat that a friend had randomly given me the week before. Charlie Hall’s “On the Road to Beautiful”. I’d never listened to it before. I stuck it in, and the first song that started playing had some the very same words of Isaiah 35 in it about feeble knees and weak hands:
“I can see that my hands are trembling. I can see that my legs are weak. I can see that my head is spinning, but I will overcome. And I know that my heart is hurting, And I know that my soul it aches. And I know that it seems I’m failing, but I will overcome.”
Then, this past Easter Sunday, my pastor stood up and preached about really GETTING what God has done for us… what it really means for us today. And…YEP! You guessed it! He opened his Bible to Isaiah 35. Time stood still. God was trying to make a point. WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS.
After church, some friends came over to me and prayed for me. They prayed that God alone would be my joy. That He would be the smile on my face. And I cried and felt released from all the stress and worry of the “pills or no pills” debate that had been raging in my head for weeks and felt TRULY hopeful for the first time in… far too long.
So. There it is. I promised God I would tell it straight… even if no one else could understand. And that’s what I’ve tried to do. I hope that none of you feel I am being harsh or insensitive.
This year, Easter symbolized HOPE for me. I felt like I woke up and found it sitting right in my basket… like one of those really great gifts that you don’t even realize you need so badly until you’ve gotten a glimpse of what life could be with it hanging around. (Like warm fuzzy socks or a really good wine bottle opener.)
So… Happy belated Easter everyone!