I've never been more distinctly aware of my own human shortcomings and weaknesses, than I have since entering the journey called motherhood. I first came to the realisation of a deeper dependence on Abba when I was about 30 weeks into my first pregnancy. Someone very dear and near to me challenged my heart in terms of the way this precious baby should be born. It felt like the birth was standing in front of me like a fierce predator. I trembled. I was scared and deeply aware of how much I needed Abba.
While I was driving to my midwife friend, tears streaming down my face and raindrops pouring down on the windshield, Abba reminded about a song that I wrote when I was only 17. Valleys of depression have been part of my story since I was a youth. I think part of it is because my emotions come in intense pigmented form - like the shades of oil paint. I was in one of those dark valleys, and only recently stepped into Abba's Kingdom, with all of my heart. I was battling with my own flesh and my tumultuous emotions. This song was one of my first songs that I wrote. I clearly remember how I sat at our old piano and how the words and melody just washed over me. It refreshed my soul. In that moment, in the car, it did the same. I sang the song as the Holy Spirit brought it to remembrance. These words, words not thought out by my own abilities, but words found in Scripture, carried me through a few valleys. For when I am weak He is strong, His power is made perfect in my weakness.
"To know your own brokenness and the sinfulness of your own heart and then hear those words 'YOU ARE LOVED!' brings healing to the heart like nothing else can"
For there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Yah. Not even our own weaknesses and shortcomings or storms or valleys. It has already been 7 years since that rainy day in the car. Motherhood has revealed to me every kind of ugly thing within my own flesh. When I allow the flesh to take over and when I quench His Spirit within me, I fail miserably. I understand the Scripture in Zechariah 4 so much better now, not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says Yahweh Sabaoth; the LORD of heaven's armies.
Somehow it took me so many years to just come to a place of making peace with these valleys of depression and hardship. I am not the one that is in control of the route that Abba chose for me and I know that out of these valleys, He makes beauty from ashes. He moulds the brokenness into something breathtaking. The wilderness and wasteland can become filled with wild blossoms after the storms have passed. So instead of fighting against it, I've come to rather embrace the valley-journeys and to tread upon the stormy seas. Instead of hanging my head in shame of the scars that I bear and the stories of my past, I choose to rejoice in it.
James 1:2-4 NKJV
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
I choose to surrender these trails of trials to the Author and Finisher of my faith. My identity is not found within these valleys, bearing the name (and shame) of depression in our society. I am more than able through His Spirit leading and guiding me, to navigate through these unloved and unwanted routes; paths we would rather avoid if we had a choice.
We dread being uncomfortable.
Every form of intense so-called negative emotion, has the full potential of dragging us into detestable uncomfortably. We stare it straight in the eye and then... we run! But the thing is, these emotions always have the audacity to return, sometimes with vengeance. Each emotion that Abba created within us serves a purpose, and we cannot afford to overlook it. It must never rule over us, yet it has its rightful place. We cannot just ignore it but must learn to sit with it for a time. To linger a moment within the awkwardness of it all. Our feelings are not truth, but we cannot ignore them into oblivion. We must acknowledge them and then bring them to Abba. I am reminded about Scripture telling us to take every thought captive and to bring them under obedience to Yeshua. The same rings true for our feelings and emotions. That is the only way of putting them in their rightful place. We cannot make it our truth. Instead we must wash each of them by the water of His word. Allowing His truth to permeate the entirety of our hearts and seat of emotion.
Psalm 26: 2-3
Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
His Spirit of love, power and a sound mind must rule within us. Not by might or our own strength, or our flesh and our feelings but by His Spirit. Our feelings must learn to submit under the Kingship of Yeshua.
Psalm 51:6-7, 10
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being. And in secret You will make wisdom known to me. Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; Cleanse me, and I will be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Elijah was a man just like us and also a prophet of Israel. He also reached a point where his emotions almost caused him to drown. He ran. He cried out. Then he rested. And Abba refreshed his being with food and water. He revived his spirit with truth. He regained strength and could move forward in what Abba had planned for him.
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
Once again I find myself looking to a person that was called a man after Yahweh's own heart - David. I believe, though some might beg to differ, he would have been labeled as severely depressed or something of the sort. These labels sometimes help us to make sense of what is building up inside of us, like a wild hurricane. But they can never give us the answers our hearts are longing for. Our hearts remain thirsty until we drink from the fountain of life, Yeshua. Whoever drinks from His waters will never thirst again. David knew this very well... The Psalms are bursting at the seams of this knowing. He held unto the Character of Yah more than any other recorded book that is written. My Refuge. My Rock. My Firm foundation. My Strength. My Song. My Shepherd. My Redeemer. The Lifter of my head. My ever present Help in times of need... The list goes on. He fully emerged himself into the Character of Yah. Reminding himself who God is in the midst of every battle, hardship and valley. And in so doing, David's own character remained a tad bit unfazed by all the troubles of life. He even called these valleys the valley of the shadow of death. It must have been intensely dark to him. But David embraced the awkward, terrible and unwanted emotions and declared his deep dependency towards Yahweh over and over again. He recognised and owned up for his imperfections, flaws and failures and repented of it. He never reached the point of perfection before he passed into eternity, but He knew the One who is more than perfect. David knew that although Yahweh, at times, takes us through the fire and through the waters, He is faithful to bring us to a place of rich abundance. Not abundance in the sense of our bank account overflowing, but a deep life-giving overflow.
Our cups running over.
Life in abundance!
And so I look up, not at the storm but past it. I look straight into the eyes of my Abba and I hear Him whisper "You are my beloved daughter!" And I realise that it's not because of my own strengths or weaknesses, but because of Yeshua within me. He is my only hope! Without Him I am even less than nothing. So even in the storm, even in my current battles, even in trials and tribulations and all that might still come, I know Him to be faithful. He remains faithful even when I am not. Even when I fail and hurt those I cherish and love the most. In this place, I find my strength; when I surrender fully and know that apart from Him, I can do nothing. I look to Him and not at my own abilities. I steadfastly hold onto all that He is. Letting go of all the brokenness within my human heart and every shortcoming that I so easily allow to become my identity.
"Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken."
C. S Lewis
I cannot guarantee that I will never go through seasons of dark valleys and hardships ever again. I cannot commit to the idea that my emotions and my flesh won't get the better of me in such times. But what I can guarantee is that the God that I serve, will remain steadfast within His character. I can hold unto the truth that He is faithful to finish the work within me that He has started. "Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?" Isaiah 45:9
I'm resting in this, that He purposefully forms, within His perfect timing. I cannot boast in this, but I can boast in my own weaknesses knowing that I am absolutely dependent on Him. He is the only One that can take me through the valleys. He is the only One with whom I can stand on the mountain tops, rejoicing through both the valleys and the mountain tops. Depression and anxiety is not my identity. My identity is I am a daughter of the King. A child of the living God. His Spirit dwells within me, and that is why I can cry out "Abba Father!" in every storm.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
I've had two specific seasons of depression that comes to mind. After our last 2 babies were born, I battled with the giant called postpartum depression. It was intensely dark. I longed for the light. Somehow I feel robbed of such sweet and precious moments with my little ones, as I pressed through the days (and sometimes the deepest night time; sleepless hours). He carried me through these times. No one else could. Just Yeshua could. I had to revisit all of those memories, and He has restored something beautiful within them. He helped me remember the beauty within those seasons. I had to forgive myself for not being the mommy I wanted to be in those times. Especially towards my older children. I have asked them forgiveness also and we cried together. He restored and redeemed. He is excellent and wonderful at this task. He longs to heal us. He delights in mercy and truth. He draws us with cords of love, closer to Him. This is what I have learned through these specific experiences:
We are Spirit, body and soul. Practically you need to seek Abba for wisdom in each of these areas concerning a game plan. If you seek Him in this He will give you wisdom and guide you through it. I believe that it might look different for each of His beloveds, finding themselves within these dark valleys. Maybe you need to use a certain supplement to support your body, or you might need to adjust your routine to get better sleep. Maybe your body needs extra oxygen and a good workout to breath again. Or you might need to get outside into nature more often, barefoot and in the sun is so much better. Maybe you need to forgive someone and let go of bitterness towards them. It might be a good idea to write a letter to them, even if you never give it to them. There might be a certain stumbling block of sin in your life that you keep falling into. Every time it brings about guilt, fear and shame, dragging you further into the darkness of the valley. It's time to deal with that. To repent! To let go. To get an accountability partner to help you. Confess your sins to one another, so that you might be healed. Maybe there is trauma that you just shoved into a 'cupboard'. Every now and again it pops its ugly head out of that door and brings up memories, fears and insecurities. It is time to sit with Abba and work through all of that, to surrender the fears, insecurities and fears. To face Goliath. Maybe it's time to fully grief the mammoth graveness caused by tremendous loss. Give yourself that permission to go there. To go into that chamber in your heart where you locked away the hurt of the loss. It's okay... It will somehow be okay. You will be comforted. You will breath again.
A dear friend of mine wrote a book on grieving after her husband passed away. They were both still so young and their son was still in the baby phase of life; barely two years of age. The book is in the form of a journal, to walk you through the process that she walked through. Maybe that is the type of journey you need to embark on. Maybe you need to ugly cry it all out or write your story in a rough format. Writing really helps our thoughts and feelings to sort through the mess that can sometimes be locked within us. Or you can climb up a steep mountain and literally scream it all out. You can even use a form of art to physically express the things, bubbling up within you. Countless times song writing has been of great help to me; with Abba surrounding me with songs of deliverance and clothing me with His garments of praise. Declaring His word out loud for it is a light to our feet and a lamp on our path. He leads us again and again on His paths of righteousness, for His name's sake.
Speak to someone you trust that can help you to carry the burden, for bear one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Messiah. Or maybe you are in a phase where what your heart needs the most, is to look beyond your own feelings and story, and help someone else. Somehow to serve another can be like ointment to our wounds.
Maybe you need to speak to a professional. Ask Abba to guide you to the right person. And seek Him for wisdom when they give advice. He will lead you with His eye upon you, and keep you as the apple of His eye.
Maybe your soul and spirit are just tired, and you need to prioritise rest.
Maybe your heart needs a good laugh... after all, it is good medicine. At times we tend to become way too serious about life and its challenges.
Beloved, these are just a few ideas. Through His spirit and truth, He will be faithful to give you a plan as you seek Him. Call upon Him. Remind yourself daily of His character. Oh, how a Psalm like Psalm 103 has helped me over and over. Bless Yahweh! Oh my soul and ALL that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless Yahweh... Speak it out loud! Sing it out! Command your soul and your being and every cell within your body to bless Yah! To bless His holy name! Know that you are not alone in this journey.
So many believers, if not all believers, go through some sort of valley or storm at least once in their lifetime. And more than that, Yeshua Himself knew the intensity of emotions and trauma like the ones you and I might have experienced; even to the point of sweating blood. He was in utter anguish. He knew! He knows. And within that you are certainly not alone. He is Emmanuel. Even in this very moment where you might be in the darkness of the garden, where the shadows wrap their suffocating arms around you, He is there with you. His light will shine in our darkness. He will carry us over and over again. He is not caught off guard by the emotions and memories that you might experience. Run to Him with it. Do not hold fast to bitterness or allow your flesh to lead you astray within these feelings. Humble yourself and cry out for help.
May His light break through every dark valley. May His Sun of righteousness rise with healing in its wings. May we all find freedom in Yeshua, to leap like calves out of the stall following a long winter season.
In Him we live
And have our being
The author is not a mental health professional or doctor and opinions expressed here are all part of the author's own opinions and personal experiences.