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.

Old wounds heal slow sometimes.

It took me 30 years to realize my earthly father had never really been a father to me. Though I prayed and cried much and received healing, the “loss” of my father could not be mourned in one day.

Our fathers are supposed to love, guide and protect us. For me that was not the case.

I look over photos of families and dads from yesterday and my heart breaks a little for what I missed out on. Instead of images of love I recall scenes of drama and violence.

“I can choose to see him as a child of God instead of an evil man.”

Father’s Day isn’t normally hard for me because I just don’t pay much attention to it.

I grew up celebrating my mother that day because she did everything for us and so I was taught that she should get honor on Father’s Day. It was just deflecting.

No one wanted to talk about my father or the hurt that surrounded the topic of his absence.

I tried to call him yesterday. Thought it was the decent thing to do. On the other end I heard the tone for a disconnected phone. I haven’t heard from him in months, not since my brother in law passed and I saw my father at the funeral.

Everyone wanted to ignore him then too.

I couldn’t. He is a hurting human being after all and everyone should be extended comfort in a situation like that.

I had an opportunity to show the compassion I had never received from him. I sat next to him and held his aging hand. I did my best to calm everyone when he started showing out for attention. I couldn’t help but wonder if he wouldn’t seek it so much had we just shown the love he was so desperately craving.

But none of us knew how to love well as children and our parents weren’t in the position to teach us back then.

I know how to love today.

I know that I can honor my father even though, the morning after Father’s Day, I am suddenly in tears because I don’t have one.

I can choose to see him as a child of God instead of an evil man.

It is not the people of this world but the forces of another we are up against.

I can choose to hold sorrow in my heart momentarily instead of building a permanent mass of bitterness toward him.

I can share this with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and with the world and hope that you find strength for the same forgiveness if you have endured an absent or abusive father.

As Christ forgave and loved us, may we also forgive and love.

Your sister,

Monica

There is little more humbling than to acquire a platform and then have nothing to say.

This is the great fear of everyone who has ever spoken in public, with the exception of narcissists who think they always have something important to say.

I have never had this problem.

I have the opposite dilemma. Though I am not fooled into believing everything I say has meaning and importance, I DO find myself talking too much.

It’s really hard for me to control my mouth.

I LOVE to talk! Matter fact, I’m talking right now! I don’t even write these blogs half the time, I just speak them using the voice feature on my phone or some other device!

But there are times when I really do need to just shut up.

On two occasions now I have decided to fast from unnecessary speech. The tongue is the most difficult thing to control, but I cannot relent. I know in my heart that I would benefit from shutting my mouth. Of course this is far more difficult to implement than to say. Usually, about two days in, I start complaining again.

I hate being a complainer!

I grew up in an environment where complaining was considered “expression” right along with curse-words. In a house of four daughters and one often exhausted single-mother, whoever spoke the loudest (or screamed rather) was the one who was heard.

Being loud was a survival mechanism.

It has taken me 33 years of my life to come to the realization that this is not only unhealthy, but that I am behaving in a rather infantile manner when I shout and complain. There are plenty of other maladaptive, manipulative behaviors we humans exhibit, these are just the ones I struggle with.

Anyhow, revelation of this maladaptive behavior I still carry has not aided me any in correcting it.

I still yell. Occasionally I hit something.

I try to make that something a half rack of weights rather than a door or wall (it’s not people anymore these days, thank God), but my lifestyle does not afford me that flexibility every time I need it.

So… After hearing for years from my husband that I am:

1) a little crazy and

2) I need to be quiet (yes we are still married)

I have now heard the same thingfrom my mentor. The good news is I finally got a mentor! The bad news is, he basically just told me that I’m crazy and I need to shut up more!

Now I have to go back to my husband and tell him that I have heard the exact words he has been telling me for years and yet now they finally struck a chord (facepalm).

*in my defense, it is always easier to take correction from someone who is not I am not emotionally tied to… which is why everyone should have a mentor.

Nevertheless, here I stand. Responsible for my own actions.

After all of my frustration and rumination over the past and how I grew up in my home, on the streets, and in the clubs all that matters is self control.

I don’t get a pass because I got dealt a crappy hand.

There is no magical prayer that is going to cause God to get me to shut my mouth from complaining or ranting on my children. (I tried that and it worked but only for a little while.)

The hard cold reality is that I need to stop it. I need to exercise self-control.

I have a choice to make every single time that maladaptive, frightened, angry, toddler Monica decides to show her ugly face. I have a choice to look that person I used to be squarely in the eye and tell her that she doesn’t live here anymore.

And the only way to get my point across clearly is by saying nothing.

I’m going to let that little tyrant stomp her feet and scream until her face turns blue and not open my mouth or share a word of what she is thinking.

I will wait for the chaos in my mind to dissipate.

When that childish, has-been, shadow of me passes out like a toddler on the floor with no more energy left, I’m going to sing and dance around my house with the victory of Christ!

I will have come one step closer to shaping my home into the home it was always meant to be and I have always wanted it to be. I will truly be able to say with each passing day “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I will lead the way!

I will embrace the influence I have in my home as a woman of God. Just because something is bubbling up inside of me, doesn’t mean I have to speak it into this world! It may not be the right time, context, or in the right spirit.

Discernment is my best friend, but my ride or die is Silence. She’s got my back when nobody else does… even myself.

For all of you fellow crazies out there I just wanted to let you know I love you with all my heart with the love of Christ and you are (still) not alone.

Don’t ever change for anyone but the Lord. All else is vanity.

He knows your heart because He gave it to you and it is His own. You, we, will overcome. Till next time.

Your sister,

Monica

Last night I shared something with my husband that had been weighing on my heart.

Something that choked me up as I spoke it aloud;

“Thank you so much for what you do for our family!” I stammered as warm tears poured down my cheeks.

You see, it had dawned on me that I live quite a privileged life. Not only because of the favor of the Lord we enjoy, but also because my husband works really hard in response to that favor.

I basically get to sit at home in the presence of Jesus all day, reflecting on His goodness and then write about it whenever I feel so inspired (which is often). It has it drawbacks like anything else, but there are many wonderful things that I enjoy. For one, I don’t have to miss time with my children to go to work. I can be here for all the incredible, frustrating, and incredibly frustrating moments that bind a family together over the years.

None of this is without struggle, on my husband’s part or mine, but I want to focus here on his sacrifice. His selfless sacrifice.

Peter doesn’t work out of selfish ambition. When I thanked him for all he is doing (presently, it entails being away on deployment for long periods of time), his response was simply, “I asked God for a big family and I got it. Of course I’m going to take care of you.” All his hard work is a response to the grace of God shown in an answer to prayer that my husband had prayed since childhood.

Now… the backstory on why his dedication is so moving for me:

I have been without a provider.

I have been without protection.

I have been a young girl without a father.

I have been a mother without a father for my own children.

I have been a mother with a father for my children, but that man was actually relying on me to provide and he was happy to remain unemployed as I toiled in the strip club several nights a week.

I always thought there was something better. A better quality of man out there. A better way to run a family.

Then I met Peter…

This man has done nothing short of everything in his power to ensure the financial security of our home. It has never been for the purpose of being affluent or achieving some lofty, social status. It is all done in and for love. My wildest dreams are coming true, in large part, because of him. On top of being the breadwinner, Peter has been the iron that sharpens me and the embrace that comforts me. The voice that holds me accountable and stands by to soothe the delicate part of me when I finally breakthrough my pride, and my anger turns to tears.

This is what a Godly man looks like.

He is not perfect. But he is my leader.

I struggled for a long time, trying to shape Peter into the man I thought he ought to be if he were going to lead our home. If he were going to lead me. I’m not going to follow just anybody, you know. You had better know where you are going, because I sure do!

I wasn’t so sure he should be leading me.

Every so often, he was right about some important things, but Peter didn’t seem to have the adequate vigor for the Lord that I deemed necessary. He didn’t measure up to my standard of leadership. He didn’t qualify.

Then I reread this scripture:

“Wives, submit to your own husband as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.”

Ephesians 5:22-24

The verb “is” became the game changer for how I treated my husband. Embracing this truth is the very thing that allowed me to shift from a nagging wife who accused her husband of trying to control her, to being a woman who cries in overflow of gratitude for the sacrifice that he makes.

The truth is, Peter IS the head of our home.

“Is” is considered a verb is because it “expresses existence or a state of being.” The Lord didn’t say that he could lead if he was a good leader, deemed worthy by me on any given day… He said that my husband IS the leader.

Leader is his state of being, not a thing I decide for him.

My willingness to walk in submission to my husband ultimately became an issue of my willingness to submit to the Word. And while I can argue with my husband all day, often getting my own way after wearing him down… you won’t ever find me arguing with the Word of God.

It was in this place of surrender that my marriage began to find true peace.

I could write on this all day (and I will again soon, I am sure of it), but for today I will leave you with this:

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church… but wives, if he does not do this, he IS still your leader and you should honor him as such. The Word does not return void. Apply it without prejudice to your own life and watch it transform everything!

I have seen this myself, that even in our hopelessness, the Lord is faithful and just to fulfill His promises.

Love each other well and without selfish ambition, my brothers and sisters. You are the reflection of the living God who has created us. The world is looking to you, to us, for example of how our Father loves. What will they think of Him if we tear each other to pieces while claiming victory in Christ?

Follow Him, follow His Word, without reservation. That is the only way to bring about true revival that we long for.

Until next time, may the Lord keep you in His perfect peace and in harmony with one another.

Your sister,

Monica

*This is not a disclaimer where I will advise you to leave if you are in an abusive relationship. God can heal that too. If you don’t believe He can, however, you should leave because He probably won’t. If you do believe He can bring healing, you need to seek counsel immediately and ensure your continued safety while your spouse begins a process of healing and restoration in the Lord.

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