I benefit from this anguish. Your judgment that finds faith lacking. You reveal secrets. Pull truth from my heart like a colorful magician’s scarf. I choke on the hate. Vomit anger, and bite down on the bitterness of repulsive slavery. I weep.
And still, you empty me.
Remember my image to me, the heart you canvased in my mother’s womb. Calmed, Loved, Purposed. Brushstroke light, concealed in despair. Display a masterpiece through the shadows of my suffering.
Dedicated to the many children who experience abuse.
TPOS: You took the
risk to share your depression. What was the response?
It wasnâ€™t what I
thought. When I finally got the courage to start opening up to my family and
friends, they didnâ€™t criticize me, they didnâ€™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
didnâ€™t believe me. They just didnâ€™t understand the seriousness of the
TPOS: Describe your
experience of seeking professional help for depression. What was the response
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: Iâ€™m sorry, we donâ€™t take your insurance or Iâ€™m sorry
we donâ€™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, Iâ€™m sorry,
but we canâ€™t help you. When I hung up the phone that day, I thought Iâ€™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 Godâ€™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 didnâ€™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 wasnâ€™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 didnâ€™t do something
that day, if he didnâ€™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 wasnâ€™t â€˜God, take my
life.â€™I opened my heart to the possibility that God
would do something different. â€œHelp me!â€ 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 couldnâ€™t do anything, so I turned to doctors, and they
couldnâ€™t help, so thatâ€™s when I turned to God. This was pivotal because Iâ€™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, â€œGo to Mops.â€ I didnâ€™t want to
go to MOPS. At that point, I had been avoiding it, because when I became
suicidal, I stopped going. I didnâ€™t want to pretend anymore. But then I heard
the voice a second time, â€œGo to MOPS.â€
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 didnâ€™t come to speak with the idea of saving someoneâ€™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?Â
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 elseâ€™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
didnâ€™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 didnâ€™t care. Not even when I realized every woman in the room was staring at us. I didnâ€™t even try to shut it off, I just let it all come out. I remember this woman didnâ€™t say one word. A lot of people have asked me, â€œWhat did she say to you?â€ She didnâ€™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 theÂ 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 didnâ€™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
TPOS: You said the
freedom kept coming. How many people stop here? Okay, Iâ€™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
hadnâ€™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 couldnâ€™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 Iâ€™ve shared my testimony and say, â€œI can
understand why you were depressed; you werenâ€™t a believer. But Iâ€™m a Christian,
so why am I depressed.â€ My first question to them is, â€œAre you in the word
regularly?â€ 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 Godâ€™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 doesnâ€™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
He didnâ€™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 Godâ€™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
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?
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:
â€œThen, the master summoned him and declared, â€˜You wicked servant! I forgave all your debt because you begged me. Shouldnâ€™t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had on you?â€™ In anger the master turned him over the to the jailers to be tortured, until has should pay back all he owedâ€ (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 Godâ€™s redeeming grace and deliverance from depression before numerous audiences, in several books, blogs, and magazines, such as Lifewayâ€™s â€œLiving More,â€ as well as radio and television programs, including American Family
Jesus said to his disciples: â€œTherefore I tell you, do not worry
about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will
wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than
clothes.Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they
have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable
you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your
life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about
the rest? –Luke 12:22-26 NIV
Dear Page Turners,
A little goldfinch visited today. I am quite sure she tapped on my window a year ago, her strange behavior still the same. She was more interested in what happens inside our home than anything outside. She sat, looking directly at me, tilting her head. Then she landed on the sill for closer inspection. Neither the barking dog nor the kids frighten her away.
My little friend is a love note from God. Love notes are moments when God does something that wows me. Iâ€™ve received many of them throughout the years, but this was extra special because it reached through the haze I walk through these days and stirred my heart. My problems are deep and multi-layered, but God’s is faithful.
She sat there looking at me and declaring with every little twitch of her
head. â€œHe loves you, he values you, and he is providing for you.” She
spent about an hour with me her last visit, but I easily dismissed the visit as
a passing “interesting” moment until she returned today.
How quickly I forgot He loves me when the mess of the year’s problems seemed insurmountable. The little finch’s appearance as I walked into the office caught my attention. God reminded me to hope. He knew I struggled in my exhaustion to look at his many provisions for my family, so he made his promise clear through my little feathered illustration.
Are you soured by circumstances? Cynical about the knowledge that God is
good because all you see and feel is bad? Do you frantically scramble to fix
whatever is wrong in your life? Come to the window with me. Look at a little
bird whose only thought today was to serve her master in a big way.
May I be a little bird for you. Tapping on your heart to remind God sees and values you, and he is very much in the midst of your loneliness, your despair, and your prayers.
â€œDonâ€™t call me Naomi,â€ she told them. â€œCall me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.â€ (Ruth 1:20 NIV)
Planting words of love and kindness takes constant weeding, daily awareness of what is coming out of our mouths, and commitment to developing a vocabulary of blessing rather than cursing.
Words and actions someone like Naomi struggling with despair needs to hear and experience:
Weep for what has been lost and experienced with them
Walk with them even if their despair does not immediately change
Speak the truth in love
Live your own life to the fullest
But Ruth replied, â€œDonâ€™t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.â€ When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. (Ruth 1:16-18 NIV)
I proof courage before it makes headlines. Erase errors and daily edit my existence until acceptance. The looks, scholarships, the homecoming queen, the pageantryâ€”You caption my lifeâ€”A Success On and Off the Field. But fear echoes in my ears, after the bleachers stop pounding with admiration. I donâ€™t know who I am without the helmet. I polished life before my final submission. Made sure remembrance is stamped into who you think I am. Before the Suicide.
My heart cries out for you if you are currently cutting. I understand the deep heartache, hatred, and pain that goes into this cycle. It took an act of God to stop mine, and I pray the same for you. Your life is so valuable to Him and to me.
This is how Godâ€™s love was revealed among us: God sent His one and only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. --1 John 4:9 BSB
Therefore, every second, even the abuse and hardest moments you experience matter to him. He died for them. Keep turning your page to find out what happens next. Live. Reach out and allow others to reach in. They won’t do it perfectly, but share your heart because you need to, and they too need to know they are not alone. We are created to connect with others. We need each other. I am encouraged by each breath you choose to take. And I thank God for each breath I take.
(Poetry response to a person contemplating suicide.)
When I canâ€™t take anymore and decide to give up … Hope seeped into my blood A resurrecting transfusion of truth Captivating the germ of thought like a head-turning shape, A glimpse of His hands, cut for me. Stopped my cutting. My self-destructing. God wore my hate, my shame, like Iâ€™m worth saving. I couldnâ€™t fathom a fearless night, but when Jesus held my broken soul, I felt whole.
What is this life? Life. Nothing more, nothing less–PRECIOUS Why am I here? To encourage, to speak life, testify to what Iâ€™ve seen and heard. I no longer fear when I canâ€™t take it anymore, Iâ€™ve given up and decided to live, no matter what hell hurls at me.