Depression: The days no one talks about.

We all know that fun-loving girl who loves to get a crowd laughing. She isn’t above embarrassing herself to create joy, laughter and bonding with others. Connecting with others causes a euphoria, a false high to bottoming out lows.  The connection and camaraderie feeds her soul. Communication, sharing, and involvement makes her feel heard, necessary and valid. But when the last person leaves and the silence sets in – she waivers between appreciating the silence and depreciated worth. She laughs more than anyone you know, but cries when the world can’t see.

Depression belongs to very convincing actors, often comedians, class clowns and lighthearted people who mostly are fun and overly selfless. Because in selflessness, making someone else happier, someone else whole– we forget temporarily that we are lacking and broken. And, no one wants to be or admit that we’re broken. The truth though is that we are all broken.

Broken carries a stigma, broken doesn’t feel fixable, broken feels heavy, insurmountable, and nearly impossible to share. Depression sometimes feels like screaming as loud as you can, and no audible sound comes out. Your body is paralyzed, your voice is mute and your mind deceives you and plays games that only the enemy can win. We need to know people feel this way. We need to make others aware that depression exists and what it looks like. Depression is not taboo, it is real.

Stop for just a moment, right where you are in reading this and think of a time that you felt the most alone, that you felt hopeless, unlovable, unreachable and non-existent. If you’ve never felt this before, I am asking you to imagine it, imagine your child feeling that way, a spouse, or a friend, a co-worker, maybe a neighbor even. And, then think how often you didn’t even realize someone was battling depression. Battling – suffering – living… these are words used to describe it

Most people won’t recognize depression. That is why so many are shocked when they learn of a loved ones suicide attempt or death. People won’t always understand you or me. They can’t see the feeling in your eyes, when life pulls you down as if it swept your feet from you in an undertow. They won’t understand that your heart is not built like theirs and even though you’re stronger than most and have made it through some awful things, you still get hurt. Words hurt, silence hurts, absence hurts – not being visible to other’s hurts, but the hardest is not being understood.

If you know me, I am willing to bet that you wouldn’t consider me as someone who lives with depression, but I do. Depression exists in a menagerie of personalities and those it affects can range from suffering from or living with depression. I live with it. The days I am speaking of are the very days getting out of bed is more difficult and truthfully sometimes impossible. Are those days often? No. I’m fortunate that when my depression hits, I know my lows intimately enough to know what I feel, is not always actual and I trust my God.

Depression robs us of hope, the heaviness of this spirit is meant to crush you, and wants to steal your faith, and isolate you. If I am feeling something that is heavy, I feel it only to process it and then to release it. The healing is in the release of the lies, the release of the shame and the release of the enemy’s hold on us. 2 Tim. 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Depression is the devil’s playground, he makes you think, say and act like someone else. He pulls you into a swinging motion of highs and lows and moments when he fools you into thinking you’ve beat it, only to celebrate and feast at the moment you fail again. Resilience is tricky, it manifests in you a sense that you can just pick back up where you left off and try to get further this time. And some like myself, can. But some don’t. And a few of the ones that can’t will never speak of it until it is found in a scribbled note written with fear and pain in a moment they feel completely alone.

I don’t want you to write that note, or find that note. I want the idea of that note to fade away as an option. It is not weak to admit having depression, it is not weak to ask for help or to talk to someone who can help. That is strength and powerfully beautiful. That is loosening the enemies grip and reminding him that God is in charge and what he has set you apart for, is no longer the enemies playground for deceit and pain.

Resisting the enemy, places you in faith. Action creates faith, and with courage you can make the enemy flee. The opposite of depression is gratitude. Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness – Isaiah 61:3

Take back your life, minimize the suffering and know it gets better. You can call these numbers below, and visit these sites for more information. You are fully loved and deserve to feel safe to heal.

Sucide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/ 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: https://www.crisistextline.org/ TEXT: HOME to 741741

National Helpline: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline 1-800-622-HELP (4357)

Does God Still Perform Miracles?

We don’t know why God saves and heals some and not all, but he knows why he does and that is enough for me. Faith, that feeling deep in my heart, tells me that healing doesn’t always mean life being breathed back into a body here on earth. Healing means freedom from pain, it means restoration and peace, and sometimes that only exists in heaven. And sometimes loss heals and restores those left behind.

Yesterday I sat and listened to Pastor Jason Noble speak about the power, blessing and thankfulness for a God of fresh starts.

A fresh start is a beautiful gift that allows us to join the fight, to align ourselves with God, believe in his purpose for our lives and throw our plans out the window. Blind faith takes risks. Blind faith trusts God. And, blind faith believes for miracles.

We take risks in moments of desperation, when the only thing left to hang onto is your faith and trust in God – because God wants your heart. He wants to make a way for you to come to him. Desperation finds the lost and leads them to salvation.

The pastor told us of a story of a twelve-year-old girl who was life flighted to a Missouri hospital. Her father wasn’t actively seeking the lord, but he had asked for the pastor to come in and pray. The next morning he was on his knees in tears, giving his life back to Christ. He whispered to his daughter that Jesus is a much better father than he could ever be and that he would be okay. An hour later she died.

Weeks later at the funeral the Pastor learned that this mans daughter who had died, had been praying for her father every Wednesday night at church. The children’s pastor shared that she would pray these words, “God whatever it takes to bring my dad back to you, do it.” At 12 years old. And, on this day, the day of his daughter’s funeral, her father was praising a loving and good good father.

We don’t always know why people die, especially children. Personally, I can’t imagine that loss and pain. It made me think of Olive Heiligenthal, the two-year-old daughter of Andrew and Kalley Heiligenthal. Kalley is a worship leader at Bethel Redding and a songwriter. They believed God for a miracle; they stood firmly rooted in the belief that God would wake up their daughter and bring life back. They withstood criticism, negative publicity and controversy yet never wavered in their faith and belief in God’s word that with him we can heal the sick and raise the dead.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Matthew 10:8 (NIV)

People all over the world stood with, prayed alongside and online using the hashtag #WakeUpOlive, the church as one body, united all over the world believing for a miracle. I prayed. I prayed knowing God could absolutely breathe life into dry bones if it is his will. If you have watched the movie Breakthrough, you know God is still a God of miracles, a God who saves. I know that prayer changes things, and a mother’s prayer can restore life. Not just her own child, but lives all over the world.

Whether you disagreed with the Heiligenthal’s beliefs. Maybe even questioned why their child was more deserving than another. Or wondered if suffering a loss of this magnitude had the parents thinking unclearly for an impossible breakthrough restoring life, I say, it restored life. Just like the story above about the twelve-year-old girl who prayed for her father, just like the 2015 true story of Breakthrough, Olive Heiligenthal’s story and her parents’ faith restored lives all over the world. She did not wake up, but others did.

We don’t know why God saves and heals some and not all, but he knows why he does and that is enough for me. Faith, that feeling deep in my heart, tells me that healing doesn’t always mean life being breathed back into a body here on earth. Healing means freedom from pain, it means restoration and peace, and sometimes that only exists in heaven. And sometimes loss heals and restores those left behind.

To answer the main question of whether or not God still performs miracles, the answer is without a doubt, yes!

You deserve to heal.

What most fail to see is that our God is a loving God. He creates beauty from our ashes and works all things for the good of those who love him. You see, God was with her that awful day 23 years ago. He held her hand the day she suffered and thought she was alone. Although he disapproved of what she was doing, he never stopped loving her. Just as a loving father does. And, on the night a few weeks later when she closed her eyes pleading for him to take her life for the life she took, and for his forgiveness, he had answered her prayer.

The truthful story of a young girls’ abortion and how God’s grace restored her faith.

Abortion is not a topic people like to talk about aside from an easily forwarded meme or a hashtag. Many tweet their support or opposition much like the trending #youknowme , #shoutyourabortion #abortionishealthcare and #abortionismurder , #lovethemboth and #unplanned. Your friends are most likely divided as well and some like myself may have been torn on how they felt and throughout the years changed their minds. I’m sharing her story because we need to talk about the things no one talks about. We need to include the unknown, the uninformed and what really happens behind closed doors, inside broken homes and what can lead to, occurs during and follows an abortion.

She’s sitting there in a paper gown staring down at her feet praying harder than she’s ever prayed before, asking God to please not let her be pregnant. Pleading her case with him that she can’t be pregnant. She is too young, she is unprepared, her home-life is broken, she’s financially unstable, alone and scared. She only had sex one time, this can’t be happening. There is no possible way she can raise a child on her own when she is a child herself. As the door opens and her eyes meet the doctors eyes, she knows the result before he opens his mouth; she’s pregnant.

The nurse comes in, she is gentle, supportive and kind. The nurse consoles her, hands her a tissue and tells her she is going to be okay. Though unplanned this is not unmanageable, she has options: Abortion, Adoption, Abortion, Being a mother, or Abortion. She’s not very far along, approximately 4-6 weeks, there is no heartbeat yet, just a clump of cells – abortion is an option. And, she can have one tomorrow. She isn’t given tools for coping with the news of her pregnancy, she isn’t given time to discuss options, research options, and she isn’t offered support in becoming a mother.

This girl; she is more common than you realize. She is your sister, your mother, your wife or girlfriend. She is the lady beside you at church that cries every Sunday. She is your grandmother, your teacher, your coach, your therapist, your doctor; or maybe she is you. And, she is just as loved by God as you are. We don’t know her backstory, we don’t know what led her to a choice we may not choose or understand, and very few understand the torment that consumes her life after she realizes what she’s done.

The girl I knew was only sixteen when she found out she was pregnant. She had only had sex the one time. She was a good teenager for the most part, went to church every Sunday, stayed away from drugs and trouble. She had an unhealthy home-life which was littered with abandonment and loss, so she found “love” in relationships. She thought he would love her if she gave herself to him, but she’d find out eventually she was wrong.

When she found out she was pregnant, she was terrified. It was as if she was gifted an impossibility. She was handed something that she could never really have, and none of what she wanted even mattered, because her hand was forced. Her boyfriend wanted her to have the abortion, her father would have done worse, so her desires never entered her mind or heart. Her fear cancelled out any clarity or possibility of love, her shame cancelled out the desire for help, care or concern, and their control erased her options of breaking the unhealthy cycle of the life she was born into.

The day after she found out she was pregnant, with the help of a kind nurse and request of her boyfriend, she had an abortion. Just like that, quickly and easily accessible. A child, without parental consent or knowledge, any proper counseling, had an abortion. She was simply carrying a child who was viewed by others as a problem that their solution could solve. Her boyfriend wanted rid of any responsibility and eventually would leave her as well, once the “problem” was solved.

It would be six years later that she would find herself in a similar paper gown, this time with her husband and the hope of being pregnant. The doctor came in confirming the good news, and performed an ultrasound. This was the first time she had viewed a baby on an ultrasound. She saw a fluttering and asked what that was, and he told her it was the baby’s heart beating. She asked how far along she was and he said about 6 or 7 weeks. And, she cried. Not tears of the love to come, the joy of being pregnant but tears of regret, failure and disappointment. She suffered a loss in that moment realizing the supportive nurse from before wasn’t as honest and helpful as she had thought. And, she felt undeserving of this child too.

She revisited that day six years ago; which consisted of mere moments scattered like chaos. She remembered the emptiness. She looked back down at her feet just as she did at sixteen and remembered leaving that clinic feeling like a worthless woman. She remembered the steps from the exam room to the front door of the doctors office being heavy and long, that the hallway stretched like looking through a funny mirror and one step closer felt like 300 steps back.

She remembers that the exam room table chilled her body. That the air held a smutty dampness that was thick enough to choke you yet invisible; deceiving you into trying. That it held an ominous feeling of emptiness and an overabundance of death. She remembers the tears running like she wanted to. Running and hiding behind anything and anyone to save her. But, she had no one.  And, no one would understand or feel sorry for her.

The cramping and immense pain that started as mild discomfort gradually became the type of pain only a monster deserved to endure. It was a hell she deserved. The silence that accompanied the pain was broken by the sound of a machine being switched on. A low hum of suctioning, sounding strangely familiar to the sound she had just heard today of her baby’s heartbeat; except that this machine had silenced it.

She’s unable to recall arriving or leaving the doctor’s office that day. No idea of how she got home, how she cared for herself following the procedure or any other detail of that day. All she remembers is that outside
of that room she was an empty shell of existence and was never the same again. There wasn’t just the painful awareness and absence of what had been growing in her belly the past few weeks, but also the realization that every ounce of her soul was extracted and held captive in the same container that held her baby.

She had often wondered if the women who came before and followed after were as uniformed, frightened and tearful as she was on that day. Were they alone and there because they felt like they had no other choice? Did they feel as though God didn’t love them and that he would never forgive them? Do the tears ever revisit them, weighted with the same shame and despair as hers? Did their lives get lost without healing, did they slip into addiction, self harm, sexual or physical abuse, or did they possibly attempt suicide like she had.

She recalls being disgusted with herself the days and weeks following her abortion, even her own reflection was too much to bear. Even though the nurse told her it wasn’t a baby, she felt like it was and she felt as though she suffered a loss. A loss that others would say she had no right to suffer or grieve, thus going without any healing. And, today six years later she realized she was right, that the clump of cells was a baby, it had at the very least a heart forming and depending on how far along she really was, possibly beating.

After the abortion, she was tormented every minute by the memory of what she did, how she wasn’t strong enough to keep her baby. She knew she had let her baby, herself and God down. She wasn’t worthy of the breath she breathed, she was worthless, tainted and unlovable. She was desperate to escape her hell and trade it in for whatever hell God had planned for her. Surely she deserved it. She wrote her goodbyes, swallowed handfuls of pills and with an odd sense of calm and peace, she closed her eyes praying that they never open again.

But just as she had prayed weeks ago that she not be pregnant, God too left this prayer unanswered, or so she thought. He did not take her that night twenty-three years ago, instead he opened her eyes once again to a life she was meant to live. A life that carried consequences, pain, and anger – but ultimately filled with love, compassion, growth and understanding. She was given another chance to break the unhealthy cycle she was in, to toss away the crutch of false security and stability she leaned on, and to stand firm on her own foundation of faith, restoration and love.

What most fail to see is that our God is a loving God. He creates beauty from our ashes (Isaiah 61:3, NIV) and works all things for the good of those who love and follow him (Romans 8:28, NIV). On that awful day 23 years ago, God was with her. He held her hand the day she suffered and thought she was alone. Although he disapproved of what she was doing, he never stopped loving her, because she had never stopped believing in or loving him. Just as a loving father does. And, on the night a few weeks later when she closed her eyes praying for him to forgive her and take her life, he actually had. It wouldn’t be until six years later that she would realize that.

Failure can serve a beautiful purpose if we let it and that is why you often hear that God uses broken people to share his grace and glory. Today, I am that broken person. This girl from so many years ago, was me. And, this is my story, my truth and my testimony.

When the doctor laid my daughter on my chest six years later, and her cries were comforted by my heartbeat, I knew. It was then that I realized God have given me a new life, he had forgiven me and he showed me an endless amount of the loving grace he is. My cries were comforted by her heartbeat as well, and I named her Gracie. She saved my life in ways only God knows as that was his plan all along. She gave me purpose until I could find my own, she taught me unconditional love as I was learning to love myself and she reminded me that each child is a gift from God, perfectly planned in his image.

It took twenty-three years to heal from this and I still grieve both the act and the loss. If my sharing this either deters you or helps you understand you deserve to grieve, to heal and to be loved, then I will boast of the things that show my weakness, (1 Cor. 11:30 NIV). If you think you’re too far gone, or God’s too far away, simply say his name and know he is already there, (Isaiah 30:18, NIV).