I have spent far too many nights staring into my device as if it was some magical cure for my restlessness. Every time it would disappoint.

I have tried many things over the years. Drugs, alcohol, sex, music, white noise, being close to someone, being away from someone; the list echoes the “tried that” rhetoric of a 12-step program introduction, each option more ridiculous than the last and none too effective.

Most of us just settle in our phones these days. I happen to be on mine right now at 11 pm transcribing this message to you who struggle with me.

The days are too long and never long enough. There is no resting place.

Not in this world anyhow.

I have finally found my rest in the Lord.

It has been quite the arduous journey, but Jesus has been there with me every step of the way.

He sat patiently waiting as I self medicated and attempted to exhaust myself into sleep; softly whispering that I need not struggle any longer.

Many nights I would draw near in prayer and worship and drift off peacefully, but there was always that bottle of Unisom on the nightstand “just in case.”

I clung to the worry that my anxiety would rear its ugly head and I would have no recourse. My pills never stopped the anxiety. They only hastened the exhaustion that was yet to come after a panic attack.

There Jesus sat, sorrowful at my choice to remain bound by this monster, awaiting my surrender.

Tonight He spoke more loudly to me.

Examining the bottle on my nightstand I saw that it was not my sleep aid, but my B-12 I take in the morning. I grasped a cold metal handle and tugged on it. The drawer would not open. I pulled again…

Something must be stuck.

A crystal clear declaration branded itself into my mind as I yanked at the drawer one final time;

“I WILL BE YOUR PEACE!”

My drawer slid loose and I reached inside, lifting a bottle I no longer needed as that peace swept over me. I set it gently on the dresser and chuckled to myself.

This is all I need. The presence and assurance of my Savior.

Sometimes it takes me a while to let go of things I try to put in His place, but He always leads me back. Gently, firmly… with love and peace that surpasses my understanding.

I am grateful. I pray you all sleep as well as I am about to.

Your sister,

Monica

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We don’t suffer from it but we often suffer because of it.

We are the ones who see the darkest parts of what depression does to a person. We have sat for hours in beds, on the floor & in bathtubs with it.

We have sat silent in the car waiting until it lifts so we can walk into the party with it, or even just into Target, and pretend to be normal for a little while.

“We are the most fragile and the most resilient warriors”

We have prayed under our breath with our hand on your head at night, crying out to God to save you from this evil of persistent hopelessness.

In the morning we launch into worship and more prayer. We cover you in prayer every day and many moments throughout the day.

We have ignored our own needs. At times we have told you exactly what we need.

Even when we are vulnerable enough to profess our human loneliness, we are not naive enough to think you will suddenly be capable of loving us amidst your pain.

We hate your depression, not you, but sometimes we take it out on you because it’s too hard to understand why you ignore us and don’t ever want to take us out anymore. Why you don’t seek after us.

We are the most fragile and the most resilient warriors.

We have talked you down from the unspeakable. Some of us have put our own lives in danger to save yours. To give you enough time to realize that life isn’t so bad and you are loved.

We want nothing in return, but we are in grave pain and feel like your depression might kill us at times.

But we will not give up. That was never an option.

The world might see us as the wives of depression, but we are wives of a unique breed of warriors.

We will not accept the devil’s definition of who we are or who you are. He is a liar and you will be free.

We know there is freedom.

We know that freedom is in Jesus, and we know He is faithful to complete the work He has begun. Both in you and in our marriage.

We will never leave you. Even on the days you feel the lowest, remember that we are for you.

Remember there are millions of us praying and fighting alongside you. We will never give up.

Neither should you.

Your sister,

Monica

NOTE: The images and words contained here are not meant to imply that all women whose spouses battle depression are being abused. There are varying degrees of depression, some accompanied by expressions of aggression. If you find yourself or a loved one in this situation, please reach out for help as soon as possible. It is not heroic to submit to abuse.

Being alone stinks.

Anyone who has had to be alone can attest that my choice of the adjective “stinks” is a grave understatement… but you get the idea.

There’s something about being alone that is unsettling even for the most stable of us human beings.

When we are alone, the parts that are still to be healed, loved, and resurrected are undeniable. Whereas, when we are surrounded by people and busied with our many activities, it is all too easy to suppress our deficiency.

Because of this, most of us just avoid being alone in the first place.

We seek out people at every turn. If we are introverts or have trouble connecting, we seek out activities that we believe will foster connection. This only exacerbates our troubles as we replace organic relationship with forced homogeneity that comes about only by claiming allegiance to the same football team.

Those of us who do this are typically the most afraid of being alone.

Making an activity the primary source of our enjoyment rather than the people we engage with, helps us skirt around the pain that inevitably follows when a person hurts us.

And they always do.

With priority set on the thing that fosters community rather than the people (who are the life of community), we can go about our activity as though nothing ever happened, simply finding other people to do said activity with, when we are hurt.

This is what is happening when people “church-hop”.

I used to do this type of thing all the time. The activity was drinking. The activity was dancing. The activity was going shopping. The activity was even sex at one point.

All of these things became crutches in my life instead of things that I could enjoy in a healthy way while building relationship.

My activities were a replacement for authentic human interaction.

I suppose one could not blame me, given all the trauma I had experienced. However, I choose to take a higher road and evaluate where I may have been in sin.

Doing so has helped me to uncover:

1) The selfishness that lay beneath my desire to avoid loneliness, and

2) The toxic actions I carried out in attempt to accomplish this impossible feat.

My selfishness was the driving factor for manipulating people into staying around me, while simultaneously being the the very thing that hindered my ability to connect with them!

Some would say this is narcissistic behavior. Perhaps if I had been tested during that time of my life I might have flagged as mentally unhealthy and, in fact, narcissistic.

All I can say is that I have recovered and then share my reflections

I am grateful to have learned the importance and the art of being alone.

No longer do I react to my emotions, which still encourage me to fill quite time with things rather than introspection and theological reflection that enhances my relationship with my Father.

No longer do I view lack of activity as inherently “boring.”

Rather, I embrace a simpler lifestyle. I have found that all my needs have already been met in Christ.

This quiet time “alone” has proven to be a gateway into a place where I know I am never alone. A divine paradox that I treasure more than any other moment. A place where I can just be with my God.

It is, after all, this connection that gives life to every other relationship.

Each human connection I steward is precious to me, but I am first and foremost a disciple of Jesus… and my Savior has a peculiar, yet perfect, way of dealing with His disciples.

Jesus spoke many things to the public.

Many good things…

He told stories that revealed the incredible power of our Father and His divine kingdom.

He told tales of people who honor the Lord, giving everything they have… like the woman who had but a fraction of a penny yet gave it to offering at the temple, nevertheless.

But these things are not explained so openly.

It is when Jesus is alone with His disciples that He explains all these things to them.

I could learn the entire Bible inside out.

I could have every story memorized. I could have every chapter and verse roll off the tip of my tongue and possess a superior command of Scripture…

Still, none of this matters unless I am able to sit “alone” in the presence of God and hear Him by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

This coming weekend, I will begin a 21 day journey of fasting and prayer, corporately with my church. I so look forward to this time with my Lord!

I would like to invite all of you join me in this fast, as you are able.

You will never find anything so fulfilling than the realization that all you need is God Himself.

That He is not only the Provider, but the Provision!

Fasting draws us deeper into this truth.

God is always capable of meeting you where YOU are. He did that very thing when He went to the cross and died for our sins as Jesus Christ. But during a fast, we are able to reach out and draw closer to where HE is.

God needs nothing but Himself to exist.

As we relinquish things we rely on for comfort and even sustenance, we move into divine territory.

We express our deepest desire to know and be known by God. We put our words of faith into action and proclaim that He IS all we need.

Will you consider doing this with me? I promise it will change your life. It has for me! Fasting and prayer is the very thing I was doing when I received the unshakable faith I have now.

Whatever you decide for how you connect this year, I pray you have been blessed by my reflections and that 2018 is a year of joyful communion for you; with God and with each other.

Be well my friends.

Your sister,

Monica

As I embarked down this interesting road of “growing a platform” in order to later get my testimony into people’s hands, I discovered the incredible world of Instagram.

It is a peculiar thing, what people put out into the world. What even is more astounding than the extremities people go to for attention, is the awkward silence that surrounds many of these obvious cries for help.

“Don’t quit”

I found myself writing this on strangers’ Instagram accounts in response to pictures that were glorifying self harm and suicidal ideation, but that were also accompanied by words of desperation and longing. I wonder why there is no online outreach to these, clearly broken, souls?

So far, every person I have reached out to encourage has replied with gratitude.

I’m not sure how or why these people got to where they are… with no one around to encourage and lift them up in such a dark time.

Oh wait, yes I am.

That was me.…

It was me who took to the razor as a tool for fighting the numbness that accompanied emotional and sexual abuse I endured at the hands of my first real boyfriend.

It was me who played depressing music over and over… and over… and over again, focusing intently on the burning sensation on my skin as I longed for the tears to begin pouring.

They seemed so impossible.

It was me who needed to feel something; to cry and mourn the loss of a part of me I had never even come to know at 15 years old.

It was me who sat in the top of my closet, drawing a line in the sand and declaring I would “never cut again” as I blended my charcoal drawing into the wall by candlelight; morbid work of art no one was ever supposed to see.

Until my mother found it

It was me who was taken to a psychiatrist, asked a short series of questions, and put on a medication that made me feel happy but didn’t fill the hole that my boyfriend’s “love” had branded into my soul.

It was me who, even after being given an incredible gift of faith in Jesus Christ, had to face down these demons while hiding in my bathroom, wallowing in loneliness, and staring into the glare of a razor blade once more.

But

It is also me who has witnessed these demons fleeing in terror at the sight of my Lord who came to protect me… from them and from myself, when I called His name.

It is me who has gone from shaking on my closet floor with a blanket over my head; hiding from the world and barely able to breathe… to shaking on the floor in my prayer room and sleeping there all night; crying out to Jesus for the panic attacks and night terrors to be stopped…

Then seeing those prayers answered.

It is me, a woman who has been the recipient of astounding grace and incomprehensible deliverance, who is writing this now as tears flow down her face.

My tears, however, are no longer for myself.

They are for those of you who have not yet found your deliverance.

I mourn with you.

I love you.

Don’t quit.

Your sister,

Monica

Many people, like myself, have come to Christ and yet still carried the burden of trauma.

This can take the form of various addictions, broken relationships, and PTSD that exacerbates it all. The question is, what do we do as Christians with this lingering affliction? We know that we have been healed by the blood of Jesus, but…

We don’t feel like it. We can’t seem to act like it.

One of the most important components of changed behavior is understanding why you behave a certain way in the first place. Why you are constantly making decision, or avoiding making decisions, out of fear. When we understand the way trauma works, we can begin to heal and a strategic way.  In a way that enables us to overcome the mysterious process in our brain that leads to unwanted behavior and sin.

If we want our heart to be “holy ground” where the Holy Spirit can move and grow within us, then we must first address how trauma has impacted the heart; that it has, instead, caused it to beholey ground. We have to come to terms with the fact that a painful experience has left a gaping chasm within the mind and heart. (Which in Hebrew are the same, by the way)

So how does this all work?

When a life-threatening event occurs (or one that feels life-threatening), our brain records the event in stunning detail. Survivors of the attacks on 9/11 have reported the onset of depression triggered simply by waking up to a crisp, fall day… the same weather as the day the towers went down. The event and each association with the event gets programmed into the brain for later recall in order to improve chances of survival.

The problem is that we will likely never encounter that extreme circumstance again and the associations are often a part of normal, everyday life. This leaves us living in fear or constantly disassociating in order to avoid that buried fear.

Recent studies have identified that a person’s perception of his or her ability to control the situation affects whether or not a tragic event becomes “trauma” or is simply recorded as a negative experience.

As believers in a God who has all power… trauma is essentially the unhealthy emotional interpretation of a painful experience that has taken up residence in our psyche.

The determining factor of whether the trauma remains or not, lies in our ability to surrender any perceived control to a God who is Sovereign and able to heal. We are in need of a Savior who can walk into the hell we have experienced, retrieve the broken part of us that we left there, fill that void with love, and walk back out unscathed.

So…

You who are still trying to heal. You, brothers and sisters, who have all but given up hope of a joyful life… take a moment to reflect on what our God has done. Dig into the Word and re-familiarize yourself with the victory that was won over the enemy. It was not just for some distant future rescuing that Jesus died, but so that we might live fully alive, here and now, with Him.

The world has never known a greater force than our Lord. Your trauma doesn’t stand a chance in His presence.

Talk to your pastor. Get some references for a good Christian counselor who can walk with you through the healing process; who can remind you of Christ’s victory along your journey. If you don’t have a pastor or even a church, shoot me an email! I’ll help you find a healthy one.

Most importantly, know that you are not alone. Know that there is always hope. I have seen God work miracle after miracle on my PTSD until it was nothing but a lingering recollection, awaiting my approval to be written into a powerful, testimonial memoir.

I am no different than you. My healing is not the exception to a rule. It is the result of surrender to a God who makes the rules. He said, in Him there are none. Anything can happen. Even full recovery from experiencing hell on earth.

As always, my prayers are with you.

Your sister,

Monica