Truly, Jesus lives in my heart, by faith but Pam still lives here too. I’m not like Jesus and that is why I so desperately need Him. I am a joyful Christian but sometimes, I am sad. In fact, I have lost many days, months, and even years of my life to depression. I know sadness, sorrow, and grief very well.
I have experienced every aspect of depression, as I have suffered from depression caused by disease, situational depression, and the most daunting of all, depression due to childhood abuse trauma. I even feel a little depressed in reaction to writing about my struggle with depression. There is a marked difference in how I carried my depression before I met Jesus and began my journey of faith and hard work to conquer depression, after Jesus became the focus of my life. Before I knew Jesus, I saw death as the solution to my pain and even succeeded in killing myself at eighteen years old. God wasn’t done with me, though and paramedics brought me back from clinical death. When I woke up, still alive, I cried because all I wanted was an end to my emotional pain. The only permanent cure I could understand, at that time, was death. My pain was so intense that I didn’t want to feel anything, anymore.
Jesus was revealed to me about one year later. I first believed in Jesus when I was nineteen. It was as if a light bulb flashed on and I began to see life as a solution to my problems. I remained sad but was no longer, hopeless. I had a new attitude. I still had a lot of problems because death ruled my life, for my entire childhood. I had to overcome drug addiction and other self-destructive behaviors. My thinking at that time was completely upside down to the right-thinking that is taught in the Bible. God took me from a very self-centered world view to a much healthier, Christ- centered world view, through my study of scripture. Over the course of many years, my thinking has been rewired and that process continues today. I don’t think the way God thinks and when I go with my own faulty thinking, it isn’t long before I end up in the proverbial ditch. I need God’s guidance, as much today as I did 36 years ago.
Jesus enabled me to overcome my self-destructive habits and develop a new understanding of how I should behave in the world. During that time, I began to view God as my perfect, Heavenly Father, Who never abused me or let me down. My childhood in Christ was very different from the childhood I knew before I was reborn in spirit. My first experiences in life, left me with some deeply imbedded wrong thinking about myself and how I should relate to others. This was the heart of my depression related to trauma. God was faithful to take me through a process of self-confrontation that ended in my understanding that depression was my way of escaping the overwhelming pain of my traumatic past. It was my form of denial and by facing the truth about what happened to me, I learned to control my depression instead of it controlling me. Truth freed me from the need to withdraw into a dark cave of overwhelming, debilitating depression.
Sometimes, I still have days when I feel depressed but it doesn’t last long. Now, I know the truth of why I feel the emotional pain that I sometimes, still feel. If my low-thyroid is acting up, or my blood-sugar is unregulated, I adjust my medication and diet. I found the root causes of my depression and it was my faith in Jesus that gave me the strength, will, and guidance to do so. Jesus doesn’t live only in me but also, in the hearts and minds of many good people of faith. He sent those people to me, at just the right moment. I will never be happy about the time I lost to depression but God has worked it to my good. Because of this experience, I know there is no place I can go and not find Jesus there. Even if I go down to the grave, He is there to comfort, strengthen, and guide me. He will raise me to live again. God directs all of my paths through Jesus Christ. Whatever suffering I experience, in this world, that causes death in me, Jesus is faithful to fill with Him-self. Jesus is the joy that lights up the emotional darkness that tries so hard to swallow me.