Dear Christian, it’s okay to have a therapist and love Jesus at the same time.
This week’s piece on overcoming SAD (seasonal affective disorder) was going to focus on the force exercise has in combating SAD.
That was until last night.
Warning: Today’s post is going to be a little raw today. Not as edited as usual . And completely vulnerable.
Late yesterday afternoon I came home from another all-day wrestling tournament completely wiped-out. I don’t mean the weary kind of wiped-out that comes from sitting or standing mat-side for 6-8 hours.
I mean bone-deep weary.
I mean physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually weary.
And today is much the same.
One of my dearest friends was with me yesterday. She is one of my favorite people and time with her is always relaxing and comfortable. She’s one of the few people I can be 100% authentically me with. She has seen me at my worst as well as my best. She expects me to real, raw, and vulnerable. Insists on it.
But yesterday, I didn’t let it all out with her like I could have. Should have. We did talk about some of it, but not ALL of it. Why didn’t I?
Time. I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to unpack everything on our 40 minute drive.
Insecurity. I was afraid I would overwhelm her with all the things running through my head and heart. (That is a me-issue, not a her-issue)
Fear. Not of her or her judgment, but of not having it all together when I walked into the gym for the day. Or when I got home.
Fear of uncovering things I didn’t knew where lurking. Or having to look at things I know exist but haven’t looked at yet.
Fear that I might come undone and no be able to be put back together again.
Over the last six months multiple challenges have been coming at me from several different directions with none of them going away. Big things. Little things. Ugly things. Painful things. SAD things.
Some of it I have some control over. Most of it I don’t. And the weight of it all has been pushing me under for the two months. I fight and resurface—gulp for air—and then I’m back under.
- Some of this is L.I.F.E.
- Some of it is challenges so bizarre you can’t make it up
- Some of it is relational
- Being letdown hard by someone I trusted and needing to take steps to try to mend the relationship. If it heals, praise God! If not, I have some big choices to make—hard, painful choices. (No, this has nothing to do with my family or marriage.)
- The realization that some of my friends are not as close as I thought they were.
- Some of it is physical
- My family and I haven’t been able to get healthy since October, which greatly affects mental health.
- The bone-on-bone in my knee is causing persistent pain while keeping me from the things I love and limiting the things I need and want to do.
- Some of it is acknowledging I’ve been estranged from my parents for 15 years. I never thought this would have gone on that long. (See My Story)
- Some of it is ministry—worries, fears, insecurities. Wondering if “it’s going to happen.” Is it going to be able to sustain itself and become a career so I can help support our family? Am I good enough? Don’t get me started…
- Some of it is the worry and concern of trying to help my son navigate his own SAD depression.
And Satan is gleefully using all of it to sink me.
One thing at a time is no problem. A few things at once? It’s all good. But all of it together under the suffocating blanket of SAD and I’m struggling to stay afloat. To tread water.
- I’m not sleeping well.
- I have no appetite. And when I do eat, all I want is sugar and carbs. (Not good.)
- My energy is tanked.
- And emotionally I feel—empty. Numb.
Are you in a similar place?
Last week another friend said she would like to get together.
So on Wednesday, instead of going out to lunch we came here, snuggled under blankets on opposite ends of the sofa in front of the fireplace. And as the fire snapped and popped, we talked.
I assumed she wanted to share what was going on in her world, and I was prepared for it. Good with it. Expecting it. Looking forward to it.
Imagine my surprise when she looked at me and said, “God has been impressing upon my heart that I need to ask you how things are going in your world. I mean, how are they really going in your world? I know you were in a BAD place last year. And I feel I need to check with you to see where you are now.”
Friend, as a woman in ministry I talk to several people a week who share their hurts, angst, burdens, and pains with me. It’s actually something God has gifted me to do. To be an encourager and counselor. To hear another person’s heart and love on them. I’m really good at it. And I typically have an incredible capacity to pour out into others. But in the past two months—my capacity has plummeted to nothing. And I couldn’t figure out why. I’ve been in the Word and prayer. I’ve been journaling. But I’ve not been able to stop the free-fall.
In the last two weeks I’ve been so overwhelmed with my “stuff” I’ve all but about shut down.
It wasn’t until my friend sat across from me, expectantly, waiting for my answer to her sincere question that I realized—though I listen to so many others, I don’t have any who to listen to me. Who wants to listen to me. Aside from my other friend.
I don’t mean I can’t share prayer requests or share the hurt with my friends. I mean, I don’t have someone I can be real and raw with. Someone who wouldn’t think less of me as a Bible Study author, teacher, and leader. I know I’m also at fault in this scenario. It’s much easier to listen to someone else pour out their heart than it is to pour out your own. It’s scary to be vulnerable. Exposed to ridicule and rejection.
I also know this is an assumption, but an assumption based on experience.
The reality is, most people don’t want to hear the depth of the hurt—they don’t want to go there with you, especially if you’re a leader. And in some cases, if you’re a leader and those under you discover you’re wounded, they circle like sharks looking to take advantage of your weakness and advance their position.
But my friend took my hand and went there with me. Escorted me there. She invited me to be a broken woman in the safety of her presence. She offered to lovingly listen as I gave voice to my hurts, worries, and fears—many for the first time. She didn’t attempt to fix them. Nor did she recite Scripture or tell me what I should or shouldn’t do or feel. She listened. Period.
When I was done talking I knew there was more to bring to light, but I just couldn’t find the words to attach to the emotions. My friend sensed this, acknowledged it, but didn’t press. Instead she said, “My goodness Satan is after you! Isn’t that exciting?! You are scaring him to death.” (Imagine that. Satan actually HATES me! He hates that my passion and drive is “To help Christians discover and apply the vibrant relevance of God’s Word in their daily lives so that together we can impact the world for Jesus.” And he hates that it’s working.) Then she winked as she was using my words to minister to me. Irony.
When we were done laughing, she encouraged me to rest in God alone. To make time to be refreshed in His presence. Not to study Scripture or spend hours in prayer but to just be and pray when, if led.
This brings me back to yesterday. And today.
After a fabulous time with my friend at Drew’s wrestling tournament—we came back to my house, hung out, started a fire, and melted into the sofas. We were both exhausted from our long weeks and individual stresses. We didn’t talk much, yet, we gathered strength from each other and enjoy each other’s company. I was content. Thankful.
Later, after she went home and my hubby drifted off to work in the basement—I found myself alone by the fire. I was going to start editing my book proposal or read, but I felt God say, “Nope. Turn off you phone.” With my Fitbit upstairs on the charger, all my distractions were gone, and He extended His hand and invited, “Come into my presence and be refreshed.”
So there I sat besides the Christmas Tree, in the glow of the fire, and entered His presence. I was numb and sat in near silence. I whispered prayers here and there as I let the pain come to the surface.
The pain was from so deep within there were no tears to escort it out, only anguished weeping. From there God brought Wednesday’s conversation back to mind. Not the words as much as the ability to talk freely. Honestly. Openly. The freedom and safety to be raw. And from there I started to talk to Him about that need in my life. That void and vacancy. That ache I didn’t have a name for but do now.
Friend, I have no problem sharing my hurts, challenges, and sins with those I minister to. I do it all the time. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you’re aware of what a stupid-human I can be. But I don’t go into specifics—unless they prove a point. I don’t take you down to the depths of the details. That’s not the purpose of my message. God is. His Word is. Not me.
And as I talked with Him late into the night and again early this morning, it became apparent I need to talk to someone more frequently than I do. On a regular basis. My burdens are real and heavy. And the spiritual attack I’m under is equally real and heavy.
The problem is:
- I don’t have a mentor—although I am praying for one.
- I don’t want to overburden and overwhelm my friends.
- And I don’t want to go so far under I won’t be able to get back up.
So it’s time for me to get a counselor. Again.
A wise godly person who can equip me with tools to stay afloat and thrive in this ministry God has called me to. Especially during SAD season. The rest of the year I do well. I’m strong. I’m thriving. But during these bleak SAD months, I’m not.
In many ways, this year is worse than last year. As my friend said Wednesday, most likely
- Because God has grown my ministry and my reach.
- Because people are devouring His Word while doing the study I wrote and finding freedom.
- Because He’s opening doors Satan wants to remain locked for all eternity.
- Because I’ve only just begun to walk the road He’s laid out for me and who knows where or how far He will take me and how He will use me.
Friend. Sometimes we need outside help. Someone to talk to who is not connected to our life in any way. Someone who will hear us, get to the heart of the matter, and equip us to do life with excellence. Yes, we still need friends like the ladies I have in my life. But more often than not that outside perspective gives us valuable insight and direction.
Are you like me and tend to get stuck in your own head, turning things over and over trying to untangle the mess only to make it so much worse? At times like these we need a skilled hand to help untangle the mess of thoughts, emotions, assumptions, and pain inside. To help us see the mess clearly. And guide us out of it.
If you’re struggling with depression/anxiety in general or SAD in particular and are not seeing a therapist, please consider it and do it. Don’t hesitate or delay. You may only need to go a few times or for a few months. But regardless, it’s worth it. God has given these men and women various gifts to do their job and serve you. He’s equipped them to do what He’s called them to do—help heal His body of believers. So don’t let the stigma of seeing a therapist keep you from seeking their guidance.
One last thing, when you go, if you don’t like the person they suggest, you have the right to speak up and request someone else. Find a person you feel safe and comfortable with. And ask God to lead you to the right person.
If this post blessed you, please share it.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments, so please leave a note. I promise to respond.
I’m an Amazon Affiliate . If you click on any of my Amazon links it will take you to that product in your Amazon account. I earn a commission on any purchases you make at no additional cost to you (once you enter into Amazon through newsletters, blog posts, or Facebook). Your support is greatly appreciated.