(Photo by Andrei Lazarev on Unsplash)
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me...
even the dark will not be dark to you..."
Today I want to pause from my story and tell you some of the things I learned because of what I went through the first five years of my depression from 1987-1991. God is good, and He does not abandon His children. We are like sheep, and sometimes we go our own way, but as the Good Shepherd, He comes looking for us. He loves us too much to leave us where we are.
We got married in 1982, and I told you that early in our marriage, we joined a 2:7 Bible Study. The 2:7 series is based on Colossians 2:7 which says, "Rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." The goals of the study were to build us up in Christ, establish us in our faith, and lead us to overflow with gratitude in everyday life. That meant very little to me. I was young, and I just wanted to be happy. I was raised in the Christian faith, and it was all I knew. I just didn't see how the two went together. But it didn't take long for me to realize this group of Christians had something I didn't have. They really loved God and believed God loved them. Like I said in my last post, I had no idea how to love God or let Him love me, but through the 2:7 study, I began to want what they had.
When I prayed and told God I wanted a relationship with Him no matter what it took, I now know He wanted me to spend time with Him. But I wasn't listening. I came to believe over time that everything I went through was what God was doing. I thought He was answering my prayer, and because I had said I was willing to go through anything to have that relationship, either God was testing me or allowing Satan to attack me. I believed this for many years. Today, I think it was because of my sin. When God gave me Jeremiah 29:11-14, He was saying, "Lynn, I want to have a relationship with you. I want you to know I am real. I have plans for you that are good. I want you to call on Me and come and pray to Me. I want you to seek Me with all your heart. I want you to read My Word." Whenever I had the thought that I should open up my Bible and read it, I resisted. I refused to listen, and do what He was telling me to do. I told myself every time that thought entered my mind, "I don't need to read the Bible. I already know what's in it. I don't need more head knowledge, I need to have a relationship with God." I didn't believe God was speaking to me. At the time, I didn't see the connection or what reading the Bible had to do with what I was asking God to do. Now I know that God's Word is living and active, and can speak to me in personal ways. I know that I will never know everything in the Bible. I can read the same verses at different times, and have them speak to me in new ways. I can be reading the Bible, and a verse will jump out at me. I realize I must have read this verse before, but never paid attention to it, or never saw what I see this time. All of this was true back then, but I had no idea. If I had only picked up my Bible and read it, I might have saved myself lots of turmoil. But even that, God has turned into good.
In my bitterness at what happened to my dad, I believe I opened myself up to the enemy. Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8). I did not think it was the enemy that was behind my depression. Whenever I tried to open up and tell someone what I was feeling, they would say things like, "That isn't from God. He doesn't want you to be depressed. It's the enemy. God must have something huge in mind for you, and the devil knows it, so he is trying to keep you from believing it." People meant well but the words never made sense to me. I was way too quiet ever to be used greatly by God. I can't remember a single time I believed a person when they said something along those lines. During the five years that I was going deeper and deeper into the pit, I might have only opened up once, and when that person told me that Satan was scared of what God had in mind for me, I was freaked out. I still don't have the answer, but if I am the one who opened myself up to the demonic, then demons were going to take advantage regardless of whether God had some great plan to use me or not. Of course, my quietness isn't a disqualifier. God is using me. I don't know if I consider Him using me in a big way, but my point I am trying to make is I opened myself up to the enemy. Satan is out to kill, steal, and destroy anyone, not just those whom God has a big plan for. Spiritual warfare is serious business.
I believe that everything that happened during those five years was a direct result of my unwillingness to forgive, and my decision to not read my Bible. I say both because unforgiveness is always an open door for the enemy, and not reading my Bible because God was telling me to read it. I was living in sin and with great pain. Hebrews 3:15 says, "Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts..." Every time I refused to forgive, my heart was getting harder. Every time I told myself I didn't need to read the Bible, I was prolonging what God wanted to do. My counselor tried to deal with my pain but didn't even explore my sin. Even when I was at the day hospital, no one dug any deeper than the abuse and my inability to recognize my feelings. Don't get me wrong, my time at Minirth-Meier Day Hospital was very valuable. Later, after the attempted suicide, and when I was in another hospital, I refused to talk to the psychiatrist. The only immediate good that came out of my time there was the vow I made to God to never try to take my life again. How that vow kept me over the next several years as I dealt with a constant desire to die.
If you read my last post, you will see that one thing after another kept pulling me down deeper into the pit. But God has a way of taking those terrible things and using them for good. I've had numerous opportunities to share my story with individuals and a few groups. I don't usually get to see the results, but I am trusting God to use my story however He wants. Unforgiveness, hatred, bitterness, rebellion, depression, child abuse, attempted suicide, fantasizing, doubt, and demonic warfare are all a part of my journey. God has not let any of it go to waste, and I hope that by me putting it out there in my blog, that others who are dealing with any of these things will be encouraged or challenged in some way. It really is the only reason to open myself up like this.
Although I would say the worst was over, it would still be another fifteen years before I would be free in a significant way. I had many more lessons to learn beginning with resisting the devil. In my next post, I will continue my story.