A Pilgrim Song
I look up to
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
He won’t let
your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
Guardian will never doze or sleep.
right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moon stroke.
you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always. (The Message, Psalm 121)
(Continued from Recognizing Despair: Patty Mason Interview (Part 1)
Patty needed help, she searched through many avenues, but only one brought freedom from depression.
TPOS: You took the risk to share your depression. What was the response?
It wasn’t what I thought. When I finally got the courage to start opening up to my family and friends, they didn’t criticize me, they didn’t condemn me. This is what I feared. The depression was coming out through fits of rage, and I was abusing my oldest daughter, so I was worried about their reaction. But, to my surprise and amazement, because I had worn the mask so well, they brushed it off. They didn’t believe me. They just didn’t understand the seriousness of the depression.
TPOS: Describe your experience of seeking professional help for depression. What was the response of counselors?
I remember the day, with a phone book in hand going down the list of all the professional doctors I thought could help me. I had this get fixed quick mentality. If I could just get some pills, I would be fine. I called one doctor after another, only to get responses like: I’m sorry, we don’t take your insurance or I’m sorry we don’t handle that kind of depression. I got to the very last doctor on the list, and a very kind woman answered the phone. She listened to my heartfelt plea, only to tell me at the end of our conversation, I’m sorry, but we can’t help you. When I hung up the phone that day, I thought I’m alone in this, no one can help me. When I realized, not even doctors could help me, that is when I began to contemplate suicide.
TPOS: You have given us insight into God’s reasoning for hardening hearts. You say your heart became harder towards God, and it caused you to cry out differently. Describe that moment. What happens when we cry out to God for help?
I became angry at God because he didn’t answer my prayer. I became suicidal, convinced the madness was never going to end and death was the only way out. I turned to God as a last resort. I knew he had the power to let me live or die. But at first I was coming to him with what I wanted, and when he wasn’t giving me what I wanted, I hardened my heart toward Him. We always make the choice first to harden our hearts toward God.
When I got to the point that I was crying out to him in a different way, it was a make-it-or-break-it day for me. I felt as if I had been ground into the ashes to which I came. At this point, I believed, that if God didn’t do something that day, if he didn’t intervene, I feared I would. I could not go on one more day. I cried out to God one last time, only this time it wasn’t ‘God, take my life.’ I opened my heart to the possibility that God would do something different. “Help me!” I cried. I confessed to God that no one could help me, only He could help me. I tried to fix myself before I sought family and friends. They couldn’t do anything, so I turned to doctors, and they couldn’t help, so that’s when I turned to God. This was pivotal because I’m now coming to God with this confession. That could have been what he was waiting for.
The same day I was crying out to God, I thought I heard a faint voice say, “Go to Mops.” I didn’t want to go to MOPS. At that point, I had been avoiding it, because when I became suicidal, I stopped going. I didn’t want to pretend anymore. But then I heard the voice a second time, “Go to MOPS.”
TPOS: How long were you involved in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers)? Did someone invite you? What was the draw to this ministry for you, even in your depression?
I had already been involved in MOPS for a couple of years. I heard about the organization, and it was a way to take another break. I could get out of the house and have a break from my kids.
TPOS: The MOPS speaker probably didn’t come to speak with the idea of saving someone’s life, yet her words resonated in your desperate heart. What would you say to the person in ministry or connecting with coworkers in the workplace about being present in the lives of others?
Never underestimate the power of your words. Even when we are in ministry or dealing with coworkers, we can talk to them and think we are not making a difference. You never know how God is taking your words of encouragement to touch and change someone else’s life.
So with my son in tow, I went to MOPS. I put on the mask. I ate, conversed with the other moms, laughed and smiled. I even did a craft, which I hate. The speaker was delightful. She talked about lack of joy and lack of purpose, and how the only way to find real joy is in Jesus Christ. Now, she didn’t talk about depression, but she started tapping into an area I was hungry for, and that was joy.
When she was finished, she showed us a little brochure and said that if anyone would like this brochure to meet her in the back of the room. Well, I thought the answer was in that brochure. I watched her make her way to the back of the room, then I got up and followed her. Standing in front of her, and it was like a dam broke. All of this emotion came pouring out through sobs and run-on sentences.
I was causing a scene, but I didn’t care. Not even when I realized every woman in the room was staring at us. I didn’t even try to shut it off, I just let it all come out. I remember this woman didn’t say one word. A lot of people have asked me, “What did she say to you?” She didn’t pray. She just stood there, made eye-contact, and listened. Without saying a word, she reached out and touched my left arm, just above the elbow, and when she did, the crying and run-on sentences stopped. Nausea in the pit of my stomach was gone. The dark cloud that followed me around for so long lifted. All of a sudden, my soul felt light like it had taken on wings and could fly around the room. I was stunned. She stood there staring at me, and I at her. I felt something from her that I had never felt before. Even though she didn’t know me, there was a sense of compassion. I felt like she understood. There was like this liquid love oozing, poured from her. I realize now that was Jesus. I was feeling Jesus in her.
TPOS: Have you been able to keep in touch with this woman?
Yes, I have kept in touch with her for over twenty-two years. She prays for me, my family, and the ministry. (She did not know what happened at the time. It was at the MOPS appreciate the night, six months after my transformation, that I spoke about what happened. She was in the audience and learned what God had done for me through her.
TPOS: You said the freedom kept coming. How many people stop here? Okay, I’m free of depression, what must follow? (The ten healed lepers)
Once we start having some relief, sometimes we just go on with our lives. But, for me, I felt such gratitude that I could not stop thinking about Jesus. Up until that point, I hadn’t given God much thought. I grew up in the church. I believed in Him, I even believed Jesus died on the cross, but I had no relationship with Him. I only prayed when I was desperate. I never read the Bible. Jesus was the last resort. But now there was this sudden flip or shift where I couldn’t stop thinking about Jesus, and it all stemmed from this sense of gratitude.
TPOS: I love that you point out many mighty warriors of faith who struggled with despair, another word for depression. What about Christians who are struggling with depression, how should they deal with their depression?
I have a lot of believers who approach me after I’ve shared my testimony and say, “I can understand why you were depressed; you weren’t a believer. But I’m a Christian, so why am I depressed.” My first question to them is, “Are you in the word regularly?” And to my amazement, most of them say they are not. In the book, I give a lot of questions and things for Christians to ponder. For example, are you comparing yourself with others? What are you believing? Do you believe the lies of the enemy over the truth of God’s word? We have an adversary, and he can make us feel oppressed, which feels like depression because the symptoms are the same, but it is really a spirit of heaviness that the enemy has cast on us. How are you identifying God? What do you believe God is saying about you? Are you compromising in your walk with God?
TPOS: You state in your book that God doesn’t just want to set us free from depression; he wants to dig up the root. What resources did God use to address the root cause of your suffering?
He didn’t want me to just know the power of His healing, He wanted me to know Him. One week after He healed me, I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Then I got into God’s word and allowed that truth to feed my soul. Then God started to show me some of the root causes of the depression. This was not easy, but in order to remain free, I had cooperated with the process. This is where a lot of people can get stuck in the process because it is painful, so they stop cooperating with God. But the end result is worth it.
TPOS: Explain the differences between Renovation and Restoration. Why is Restoration so much better?
When you renovate something, you fix it. When you restore something, you put it back in its original state. Jesus did not come to fix us; he has come to restore us. When we receive Jesus, by grace through faith, we are justified before God, or put back to the original state, just as if we had never sinned. If we go through this restoration process with him, we will stand before Him a radiant bride, pure, spotless, wrinkle-free, blemish-free. We will be restored back to our original state as God intended us to be.
What role does forgiveness play in addressing depression? Are there other steps that need to occur before we attempt forgiveness?
Unforgiveness can cause depression. I had to forgive the people who hurt me. Forgiveness is a daily choice until we come to the place, we are set free. You may not feel like forgiving the person who harmed you, but you must make that choice first. Then ask God to help you to forgive as He forgave you in Christ. Resentment and bitterness will remain in our souls without forgiveness. The unmerciful servant in Matthew is an example of the emotional torment we will feel until we are willing to forgive:
“Then, the master summoned him and declared, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave all your debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had on you?’ In anger the master turned him over the to the jailers to be tortured, until has should pay back all he owed” (Matthew 18:32-34).
Patty Mason is an author, national speaker, and the founder of Liberty in Christ Ministries. For more than two decades, Patty has shared her story of God’s redeeming grace and deliverance from depression before numerous audiences, in several books, blogs, and magazines, such as Lifeway’s “Living More,” as well as radio and television programs, including American Family