Have you ever felt completely worthless? I want you to really stop and think about this question. Don’t just say, “Sure!” I’m talking about, “Why did I get out of bed, today? What was the purpose?” #worthless.
Battling depression for the majority of life has brought me closer to God than anything else in this world. Because I battle it, because I fight and refuse to cave, I must lean on Him. I must find my encouragement in Him. I hope that in sharing my thoughts, today, that you will find encouragement as well. You’ll have to bear with me through the rough stuff first, though.
For those of you who have never been diagnosed with clinical depression, without diminishing the validity of your bad days at all, I would like to clarify what it means to be truly depressed. One is not anymore important than the other. We’re all entitled to our feelings and the processes that we must go through to find our way in this world. I pray that yours finds you looking toward Christ. Now, that being said… depression doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to make sense; yet, when you feel it, you feel and believe it all the way to your marrow. One of the worst ways the spirit of depression can attack you is when you can actually reason as to why you feel this way – you can point out evidence that leads you to the conclusion that (in this case) you are in fact worthless.
That brings me to today.
I don’t want to write about this. I’ll be honest. I keep stopping my fingers from typing because, quite frankly, this sucks. I promised God, though, and you that I would be transparent because this world is full of people that don’t know what the face of true Christianity is and this world is full of Christians that think every other Christian’s life is hunkydory. So, here goes nothing…
Today, I’m battling the notion that without me my family would go on pretty well. At most, they’d be inconvenienced by having no one to pick my son up from school on weekdays. Even then, my mother-in-law could probably pull that duty and watch him until my husband got off work. That sounds seriously pretty harsh and depressing. Right? Well, that’s transparency for you. Look at that: a true believer in Christ going through a major battle. They don’t tell you about that on Sunday morning at Joel Osteen’s church. Do they?
With depression and anxiety constantly trying to beat down my heart’s door, I’ve had to learn how to set boundaries in order that I can function at my best and, in addition, not hurt those around me. Sometimes that means walking away. Sometimes that means quarantining myself. Sometimes that means addressing something in writing rather than in word. To complicate matters, I’m an INFJ. What? I know. It’s like I just spoke in tongues. While I am pentecostal, that was not the utterance. That is actually my personality type. It stands for Introversion iNtuition Feeling Judgment. This personality type is often referred to as “The Advocate.” This reference is due largely impart because we find ourselves constantly playing the part of mediator and part-time therapist. INFJs don’t want to just be a shoulder you lean on. We want to get to the very heart of the problem and help you to fix it so that you’re the very best version of yourself and you don’t revisit these problems in the future. Tied in with this need to resolve issues and bring situations to a positive head, is the introversion part (Which just means we recoup differently – extroverts get energy from being with others, introverts get energy from downtime. It doesn’t mean I’m shy.), the feelings part (It’s almost as if you’re empathic, though I don’t believe in that. An INFJ is simply really adept at readings others’ body language and listening to them, really hearing them.), and the judgment part (feeling strong conviction in regard to justice prevailing and things being set to rights). Does that sound tiring to you? It does to me and I can attest that I’m freakin’ wore out, y’all; because, I’ve been doing all of that for everyone around me!
Right now, my husband is going through stuff at work. He’s laterally moved into a position that can be time consuming and stressful yet doesn’t quite have the payoff commensurate to the stress and time involved. Add to that, he’s a leader at Celebrate Recovery and carries his own burdens along with those of the men he leads. Oh yeah… he added soccer coach to his schedule, too. My 20-year-old daughter is going through something very personal right now that, at times, has cut her to the quick and nearly every one of us goes through. It’s something that if she takes one path it could end in a lifetime of committed misery, and if she takes another path it could be the best decision of her life; yet, both paths look the very same at the beginning – there are no signs, simply two seemingly duplicate paths that end in two very different ways. My son is going through his own trials that are in no way little simply because of his young age of five. His trials are heartbreaking and frustrating and….seem hopeless to him at times. And, guess what? I’m feeling it ALL. I’m feeling every tense beat of my husband’s heart. I’m feeling every single tear that my daughter is dropping. I’m feeling every single moment of failure that my little buddy is determined to fend off. And…I’m enduring this all while being completely terrified of the test I’m having run on myself this Tuesday (while trying to hide that terror).
And…I’m trying to do my part. I’m forgiving them when they’re short with me. I’m ignoring things that aren’t worth addressing because they’re like small storm clouds that blow away. I’m trying to hear. I’m loving. I’m trying to counsel. I don’t think I’m a know-it-all. In fact, if life and circumstance has taught me anything it’s that I know very little. Thankfully, I have a manual and I refer to it often. So, when I counsel my three – whether it’s by walking them through them finding the answers themselves or my pointing it out for them – I’m referencing the Bible. After all, if you have no manual, no compass, you’re going in circles with everything being subjective.
(Now, I feel compelled to say that normally my family is actually pretty darn great. Usually we love each other so much and when I have a bad day they are all there to lift me up in their own special way. We are just going through a really difficult season right now.)
Well, that brings me to today. I’ve been – everyday – fighting for, praying for, and counseling my family nearly every minute of every day, nearly non-stop now for weeks, getting very little sleep and waking up to do it all over again and… all three of them, in their own ways, made me feel worthless. No…the correct way to word that is this: I allowed myself to feel worthless based on the actions of my family members. I don’t really want to say that but the truth is Jeremiah 17:9 tells me that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” So, I have to set how I feel aside and face the fact that I’m allowing their actions to make me feel a certain way.
I feel worthless. One of them was so quickly offended by the seemingly smallest thing that I did that I thought, “Well, I just shouldn’t talk or interact with [them], then.” After that, another looked at me like I was a complete imbecile in front of my parents – not even deeming me important enough to deserve a verbal response – and that was it for me. My limit had been met. I spoke to no one. I simply stood up and walked away. After 39 years, around 25 of them battling this, you begin to know yourself and see patterns. You know when to walk away, if you care that is about others and end results. So, I sat in the truck…and missed my son’s first soccer game. What? I know. You’re like, “How could you do that?” Well, if you thought that then…praise God! You’ve probably never had to battle this horrific sickness that satan uses against God’s people all over the world nearly every day. I’m not admonishing you. I’m genuinely glad that you don’t get why I had to leave no matter what. You see, if I had stayed, I would have sat there and cried silently, probably shaking, having a full-blown anxiety attack and I would have ruined my son’s first soccer game for everyone else that was there – his dad who was coaching, both sets of grandparents, and his sister. Who am I to do that? This brings me to the third and last of my family that I allowed the actions of to make me feel worthless – my son never even noticed I missed his game nor did he care one way or the other. And (humorless laugh) to add insult to injury: my daughter is now in charge of sitting on the bench with the boys not on the field and taking the score; and they all spent the next hour or two talking about what great fun it all was.
That’s what I wanted. Right? I wanted to not ruin it for everyone. Job well done, Erin. (Insert proverbial pat on the back here.) Only…they didn’t need me. They didn’t need me. Oh, man, how I want to stop typing right now. I wish God would release me from writing this so badly. At least there’s a cover over my keyboard to keep tears from seeping within the keys, right? (humorless laugh…again)
I’m not sure there’s anything more hurtful in the world to a person than to feel as if they’re obsolete. Let’s maintain perspective though. My flesh would tell me – and maybe you, today – that those around us don’t love us, don’t like us, whatever. John 8:44 tells us about satan, though. It says that “…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
The Word also tells us in John 10:10 that satan comes to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” So, allow me to remind myself – and you – that this is a lie (the lie that I am worthless) perpetuated by the devil to cripple me so that I would not be about God’s business but instead be balled up in the fetal position in bed – actually creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by being useless to everyone.
So, how do I battle rather than buckle? I do what I’m doing now – I write. I delve into God’s Word to find the truth and I share it with others so that when they are experiencing this, not only am I ticking off satan for failing – yet again – at knocking me down for good, but I’m picking up those that he nudged and caused to stumble. You see, what good is me feeling like this for even a moment if I don’t allow God to make use of it? Satan throws a grenade at me and I may have ignorantly caught it; but, I hand it over to God, allow him to transform it into an atom bomb and I drop that bad boy into the lies and spirit of depression that he’s flung on the men and women around me and I let that puppy blow his “well laid” plans to smithereens.
So, here’s what I want you to do: I want you to print the following image out. I want you to fold it up and put it in your pocket, put it in your purse, hang it on your fridge, pin it up in your office…AND READ IT. Read it every single freakin’ day if you have to. Read it, memorize it, learn it, love it, and live it.