Mental illness is not a weakness in the sense of a moral failing. It is not an indicator of a lack of faith or effort.
However, when I’m overwhelmed by the symptoms of depression, I feel very weak. My mind is filled with the list of all the things I can’t do. This makes me feel useless, which just feeds into more depression.
But God reminds me that, first and foremost, He loves me. And His mercy and grace are always there to cover me when I can’t do what needs to be done.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
A few weeks ago, I went on a wonderful vacation. We went to a different country, five time zones away. While there, we pushed through the jet lag and made every effort to enjoy the experience. We drove hours to see amazing natural landscapes, rode crowded buses and subways to see the city sights, and ate delicious local foods.
And then we came home. I had planned the trip so I would have a weekend to readjust my sleep schedule before I had to go back to work. And that worked, to an extent.
I made it through the first work week back without crashing; but I was more irritable than usual. Then Saturday, I crashed. I had errands to run and a blog post to write and a new project to start – that had already been pushed back a month to accommodate my vacation.
But I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even think about doing anything because every time I did, all I could see was the swirling storm of life all around me and if I moved too much in any direction, I’d be sucked into the funnel with nothing to hold onto.
I’ve been there before. So I did what I had to do. I stopped moving and I stopped thinking about anything important.
The picture in my mind is me in a canoe on raging rapids. I’ve tried paddling through and have lost all strength. All I can do now is hold onto the sides of the canoe, stay low, and spread my weight evenly while I ride out the turbulence.
And I prayed. I didn’t ask for strength to paddle myself to safety. All I said was, “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to cover me with your grace and mercy because I can’t move.”
And He did.
Psalm 61:1-2 (NKJV)
Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
I’ve been here before. I used to live here. Through recovery and God’s Word, I had come to a place where I spent most of my days symptom-free. Until I hit the wall again.
But I’ve gotten past this before so I knew what I needed to do. I immediately let go of all expectations and rested – physically and mentally. I put all non-critical commitments on hold for the time being.
And I rested on God, my rock.
Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
I was honest with Him and told Him that I couldn’t do any more, and I asked Him to just take care of me.
And He did.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Rest is not an option for me. Avoiding certain foods is not an option for me. Making sure I have regular time alone is not an option for me. I went off-plan for 10 days while travelling and my brain reminded me why I made those lifestyle changes in the first place.
God gave me the tools to get healthy and stay healthy. I don’t regret the vacation at all; but I have learned a valuable lesson. Future vacations will include considerations to maintain my sanity.
In the meantime, I rest on God’s solid foundation while I recover.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
How has God shown you His grace and mercy when you were weak?
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