Depression and anxiety are tricky things. Sometimes I feel like they play hide and seek with me. I will be doing just fine, thinking I have gotten through the forest and am back to level ground again. Next thing I know I am having a near-panic attack and snarfing down rocky road candy bars (which are amazing, by the way).
My sweet mother-in-law visited this week. One day while I was at work my husband, daughter, and mother-in-law went for a hike. Laughing, my mother-in-law told me she had taken great care to come down a huge slope, only to fall once she was walking on flat ground. I laughed along, but my mind immediately stole to the struggles I’ve been facing and how frustrated I was. I had just come off a big slope, and felt really good about it. But just like my mother-in-law I came crashing down while walking on flat ground.
Fair? Not really. But it happens a lot. I think when I am in the midst of struggles, fighting for the clarity of mind I so desperately want I get hyper-focused and careful. Once I come down from that struggle I let my guard down and what do you know? SPLAT. I fall right on my face.
There have been several times in the past few weeks where I lay on my bed with tears in my eyes, feeling like a failure, feeling overwhelmed and incapable. I’d look over at the picture of Jesus I have hanging on my wall and think to myself, “I’m sorry. I just can’t do any better than this. I’m failing you. I can’t figure out how to handle all of this anymore. Help me. Please.”
This last week I was able to go on a date with my husband to see Beauty and the Beast (yeah, kind of late to the game, I know.) I had been having a particularly difficult day. It is a very stressful month at work, trying to stay on top of things at home, and make goals for my health and fitness. At one point I almost started crying at work simply because I was so overwhelmed by life. So I wasn’t super excited to go out that night. I wanted to, but at the same time I thought it would be just dandy to get in my pjs and hide under the covers.
During the movie they added several little things I enjoyed immensely. But none of them matched the moment Belle said these words:
“How in the midst of all this sorrow can so much hope and love endure?”
A warmth washed over me like nothing I had felt before. I closed my eyes and knew that God was trying to tell me something.
There is difficulty all around me at times. Though the emotional battle that rages inside me isn’t always worn on my sleeve it is there a good chunk of the time. It isn’t something I can just shake off. I used to just be the one to put a smile on and “get over it.” But the battles I face now aren’t like that. And God knows that.
Is it really that hard to believe that we can have hope, love, and strength at the very moments we feel broken, alone, and tattered? Yes, it is hard to believe sometimes. But guess what? It is possible. And it is beautiful.
I think the biggest lesson I have learned throughout this last couple years is that joy is not the absence of sadness. Joy is the coming together of a tapestry woven from every moment we live in life. Threads of disappointment, threads of excitement, threads of happiness, threads of pain. They all are part of something bigger than we initially see.
I still struggle. Even after finding the strength I needed that day, I have had hard days. But as I hold onto that memory and that assurance from God I have felt the strength to endure the journey, and to love it for what it is as a whole. I trust that God is there walking beside me, and he will help me up even if I trip on flat ground like I often do. And he can do that for you too.