When I was 10 years old, my family moved from my hometown in good ole New Jersey, to a thousand miles south into the Florida heat. When you’re young, or any age I guess, moving isn’t easy. Especially when it involves leaving everything you’ve ever known behind, to start over in someone else’s home, surrounded by an unknown place with zero friends. It’s hard.
After the big move, things were different. Life was harder. And due to circumstances, chemicals, loneliness, and confusion, depression creeped into my little merely middle school aged heart and mind.
To many of you, if not most, I am Rachel. The very loud, very energetic, little ball of sugar and spice (and sometimes not very nice). It may come to a surprise, as it does to a lot of those I’ve shared with, that someone sohappy can be so depressed.
But depression hits in many different ways. Some of you struggle to even get out of bed, some of you struggle to get in it. Some of you look for ways to feel something, some of you look for ways to feel nothing. Some of you carry your depression on your sleeve, some of you hide it away like a crime. We are all different, and we all feel differently.
Now for a very long time I fought these feelings. Blamed them on “that time of the month” when I was old enough to, or just pushed it under the rug as a “bad day.” But things worsened. A lot.
My family, aka the greatest humans to walk the face of the earth (besides Jesus, duh) don’t have an ounce of fault in the ugly mess that overtook me. They are, and always will be my greatest supporters and loves in my life.
Nevertheless, and as shocking as it can sound, I actually tried to keep quiet about my feelings. Even from my family. I was embarrassed, guarded, and most importantly, I fell into the lie that christians shouldn’t be depressed.
W H A T.
Where in the world did I learn that? I don’t know. But I believed it. I believed that I loved Jesus less, and He loved me less because I was completely ridden with emptiness.
Holy wow. That is no where near truth.
But, sadly. I didn’t learn that quiet yet.
I made some pitiful “cries” for help on certain occasions, and would claim to be getting better, but then plummet back down.
At the tender age of 13, I became a helpless victim to the world of self injury. What started off as a broken belt pressed too tightly to my hips, led to safety pin scratches, then minor cuts, and then eventually severe damage to my upper thighs and occasional arms and wrists. If that’s not enough, I came fairly close to suicide a couple times. I even wrote out my own suicide letter. On top of all that, I fell into a deep pit of overbearing anxiety at 16 which made me (pretty much go bonkers) constantly nauseous, nervous, sleepless, appetite-less, and unwillingly lose so much weight that I was clocking in at a whopping 97lbs in the 10th grade.
But I am not here to glorify my past in hopes for attention or as some sob story. I am here to tell you that through all of that I am alive and well, and 1 year and 2 months free of any sort of self injury.
And that’s beautiful.
But what’s not so beautiful is the time from age thirteen to age 18, and all the feelings and emotions that came with it. The fear that I was less of a person, less of a future wife, less of a future mother, less of a daughter, less of a friend, and less of a Christian because of my struggles. I thought I was a hypocrite because I pranced around with my rambunctious attitude, sassy comments, obnoxiously loud voice, and overbearingly positive attitude by day, but at night I was overtaken with complete and utter sadness. I thought Jesus was disappointed in me because I felt too much, or didn’t feel enough. I thought I would be an embarrassment to my parents, or a burden to my family if they knew that they were related to someone so internally ugly. I thought I would be loved less by many because of my hurt. I thought that I would never overcome the darkness of depression.
I thought that for so long, and I’m here to say I was wrong.
And to all those who still feel that way, you’re wrong too.
You are loved, treasured, cherished, admired, and wonderfully made. Jesus will NEVER love you less because of what you do or feel. He loves you. Point blank. And no amount of apathy, or sadness will change that. You belong to the King, not to a mental illness.
You are not depression, self injury, anxiety, or any other issue that weighs you down. You are you. No more, and surely not less.
I guess, after all this ranting, what I’m trying to say is :: Who says?
We’re starting this new sermon series at my church (the Journey – check it out, it’s flippen awesome) called Who says, and basically we’ll be diving into all the lies we believe in our lives and how they entrap us and discussing who in the world says this is the way to live.
So…. who says!? Who says you are less because you struggle? Who says you are ugly because of your scars? Who says you are less of a person because you have more bad days than good days?
WHO CARES. You know why!?
Because Jesus says that we WILL cry out, but that He hears us and WILL deliver us from our troubles! (Psalm 34:17)
Jesus says that this world sucks (he probably never used this word tho), and we’re gonna have a hard time, but He has already overcome the world! (John 16:33)
Jesus says that He is the Father of all compassion and comfort, and He will take care of us in our times of hurt, so we can take care of others! (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Jesus says that we shouldn’t be surprised in our pain or our struggles, but rejoice because we get to participate in the struggles of Christ so that His glory will be revealed! (1 Peter 4:12-13) (James 1:2-4… actually just read all of James…good stuff)
Jesus says a lot of awesome things, and I guarantee you that His promises will get you a lot farther than the lies you and I are believing from whosyamacallit and whatsherface.
I fell into the trap of all the lies I believed, and I will forever be reminded of that when I see the 60+ deep tissue scars that kiss the upper corner of my right thigh. But I will also be reminded that I am alive. And that Jesus won. And He is greater than any issue I ever dealt with, and He loves me way more than I could ever imagine.
So I don’t give a flying pooper about who says what. Because Jesus says I am loved, I am treasured, and I am His.
Take that depression.
Hold on friends, Jesus is greater than your hurt. I promise.