I’ve been treading water for the past 10 months.
I’ve been treading water because I have been too afraid to actually swim, to put my hands out in front of me and to trust that my body will keep me alive.
This depression was the worst one. It wasn’t one that made me think about taking my own life, but I can understand why people do. Finally, I understand the reasons why.
It’s not because you’re sad, it’s not because depression is crippling. It’s because the control is gone: to get out of bed is a battle with your mind and to eat is a battle and to walk is a battle and to think is a battle and to be with friends is a battle. You don’t have a choice… you have to fight every. single. day.
I think our society has a tendency to brush off mental illness. We have a tendency to scoff at it, like it’s not a real problem. Like Mental Illness is the girl who sits in the back of every class you have but you know nothing about her, just the rumours that travel around. Mental Illness is the mysterious one, stories surround her. But no one will even try to get to know all her sides.
Along with Mental Illness are her younger cousins, the triplets, Sadness & Wretchedness & Numbness. They rush into your life so quickly and quietly , it really is hard to catch the warning signs sometimes
And then everything else starts to fade… they almost get a pedestal to rest upon, we unintentionally idolize them. And then we look outward at everyone else and feel envious. Why are they happy? Why aren’t they feeling this way?
And we grab a hold of people and they look at us and feel a surface-level fulfillment.. I think all humans have some sort of savior complex. At the end of the day, we all want to save others because then maybe, someone will save us.
I am obsessed with trying to save other people. Let me take your burdens. Let me carry your load. I am willing to help, take me on as a willing scapegoat for your troubles.
I don’t spend even close to enough time trying to save myself. I focus outward and think that society and a culture-based version of Christianity have taught me to do so. Serve others. Be small, be invisible.The good Samaritan didn’t have a name, so help and don’t think about who you are. Just help. Just save. Just look outwards.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that serving others and putting them before you is definitely something that we should do. But not always. Not every minute. Take the time to look inward. Take the time to notice the warning signs, to see the hurt, to work through the pain. It’s okay to take time to yourself. That doesn’t make you selfish— that makes you human. And this world needs more humanly people walking around on it.
All this to say that I have been treading water and focusing outward.
But last Thursday I prayed a simple prayer in my closet before going to a student-lead worship night. It went something like: “Lord, I don’t want your love if it’s a half effort. I want real, unrelenting Love that wrecks my walls and pulls up my roots, just to plant a new and better and more reflective version. I want joy. I want your faithfulness to be prevail and for this promise to be met. These sermons I’ve been reading and listening to, promise that Joy, a Joy of a divine nature, is possible. Make it possible, Father. Please?”
And nothing happened. I didn’t expect it to right away. But this past month, I have been reading and listening to sermons on joy— mainly because Hannah Brencher recommended it, mostly because I need joy— and I had been praying for this joy to take root in me. But it hadn’t. But these things take time.
During worship, the team started playing “How deep the Father’s Love.” And I thought “how fitting, a somber song for a somber girl.”
But at a line I usually just sing over and never think about, I remembered 2012 and a talk I had in a chapel during a thunderstorm. I remembered a question and an answer: “why would God love someone who is as unworthy and small as me? He just does.”
That line was: “To make a wretch his treasure.”
And maybe the signs include the sermons telling me that Joy is a choice in my heart and God whispering “why, child, won’t you just choose me?”
I’ve never thought of myself as treasure. It all starts there. I have never thought of myself as treasure or worth gold or the perfect love of an all-encompassing God that knows the inner bits of my heart.
I can relate to the wretch. I am wretched on most days. I am a wretch, and sad, and isolated, and self-hating. I am most definitely a wretch.
But I am also treasure. You are also treasured. For all your insecurities and imperfections and worries and anxieties and beauty and heart. You are treasured. Above all.
So my prayer this week has been even simpler than the first:
“If you choose me God, then I am all in. I choose you, too. I choose you, too.”