Thursday, August 8, 2013

When God is Holding Me Down (In a Good Way)

I hardly know how to write this.  It's only been a couple of weeks since my last post, but it feels like far longer.

I have been feeling lost this summer.

It started with my husband declaring his atheism, I think, and was compounded by the exhilarating, terrifying, joyful challenge that is leading Made

But there's also more than that at the root of this lost-ness.  I've been hurting, more than I have in a long while.

And it's not just grief, which is what most people guess when I say my heart feels like it's bleeding into my chest.

Or maybe it's all grief, but grief unexpressed.  Tears building up, unshed, moans of sorrow that have been swallowed, because grief is inconvenient and there's just no time to curl up in bed for the afternoon with tissues and my missing her.

I don't know.

All I know is that I hurt, that I feel abjectly broken.  And I've been scared, so scared, because of it.

Because it's not just the grief kind of hurt, which makes sense.  Living with "just grief" is a terrible thing.  But it is also a logical thing, to grieve when you lose someone or something irreplaceable and beautiful and profound.  Grief makes sense.  It's not easy, but it makes sense.

Depression, on the other hand, does not.  An eating disorder does not.

And that's where I've been living this summer.  In depression.  In that claustrophobic mental space where I could feel the claws of disordered eating beginning to hook into my self once again.

And --

Oh, friends.  It's been so very scary.

I don't want to go back to that place.  Not ever.  I'd rather experience Eve's stillbirth again and again and again and again for the rest of my life rather than be thrust back into the hell of mental unhealth. 

And so when I felt the encroachment of my old nemesis, felt its sour-hot breath on my neck -- I ran.  I ran and ran.

Or at least tried to, as much as one can run metaphorically from what is inside your very own head. 

For me, that running translates as -- control control control and pick yourself up by your bootstraps and do more, be more.  Or, in other words, self-flagellation.  In other words, flailing and writhing to get away from the discomfort, like panicked animal throwing itself against the walls of its confines, willing to injure itself in order to escape perceived danger.

Of course that didn't work very well.

On top of my deep sadness and lethargy I began to get angry.  Hadn't God freed me from these very same struggles over two years ago?  Hadn't He snapped the chains of my bondage to disordered eating and hadn't I found myself striding in the most surprising, effortless freedom?  Where was He now?  And for that matter, where was He when my husband was looking for Him and, when he couldn't find Him, walked away?

But then, somewhere in the last handful of days, I started hearing things.  Again and again, sister-friends spoke to me of fruit and pruning.  Of how God prunes those He loves.

Let's be real here -- no one wants to be pruned.  It hurts.  A lot.

And then I realized, like dawn breaking after the disconsolately dark night -- pruning hurts a lot.  

I have been hurting a lot.  

And suddenly my depression looked a whole lot different.

It looked like a wake up call.  Like God trying to get my attention.  Because (and it's hard to admit this) I listen the best when I'm at my weakest.

I felt like God was seeing all that was happening in and around me, and seeing how I started to run around like a chicken with its head cut off (that visual has never felt more visceral or appropriate), and He held me down.  Not rudely or roughly, and not in a crushing sort of way.  But instead it was like I held the children in the specialty classroom I used to teach in.  A student would lose himself and begin to harm himself or others, and one of us teachers would go to him and wrap her arms gently but firmly around him until his breathing slowed and he stopped trying to slam his head against the desk or hurl books and desks and sharpened pencils or make himself bleed. 

I feel them now, God's arms pinning down my own so I won't make myself bleed.  Because I would.  Oh, I would, trying to fix all that is wrong in my world.

He's holding me now, and while my breath still shudders, my pulse is slowing and my teeth begin to unclench and I can look around and look around to see what He's doing here in the uncertain places.  The places where I want to have total control; the places where it is impossible for me to have total control.

I'm giving up.

But with Him . . . to give everything is to gain everything.  Everything that matters. 

I am letting Him hold me down, and somehow I feel freer down here in the dirt with God than I ever, ever have.

the latest in the #iamtaj traveling #artjournal project. so fun! #travelingartjournaltajstyle #mixedmedia #art #wip
a page-in-progress for the #iamTAJ traveling art journal project


  1. This is so beautiful and heartbreaking. I'm so sorry you've been in this place. I wish I could do more, say more, be more for you. I look up to you and am so challenged and encouraged by your words. Thank you for sharing with us from such a deep, hurtful but healing place.

  2. Perfectly encouraging to me today. Hugs.

  3. I've been exactly in this place...this same place all summer... not for the same reason I'm sure but nonetheless I'm here too. They give small dogs that are prone to fear and panic during thunderstorms and other loud noise producing situations a very tight, some would say claustrophobic sweater to wear called a thunder sweater. It really works, it keeps them calm in the storm... restrains them in a good sort of way until the storm has past. Yeah, it's kind of like that.

    1. What a perfect image, Jacqueline. My inlaws actually have something like that -- it's the Thundershirt brand -- for their anxious Weimeraner. My soul needs a Thundershirt...glad we have God holding us in such a loving way when we need it, even when we (I!!) think we don't. Hugs...I hope you find your difficult circumstances clearing into wide open, peaceful spaces soon.

  4. Oh Beth ... everything in me wants to reach out and hold onto you; in part because I know the same dark space, know it's cold, clammy hold and I want to see you freed from it. Of course my feelings can't make a difference; I can't traverse the miles for that moment but I can take it all to Papa for and with you ... so in that place where my knees touch the earth and my hearts reaches into the heavenliness I'll intercede with Him

  5. His love is heavy, isn't it? oh man! what a myriad of necessary transformative pains we must walk through in order to know Him more and more... i am so glad He is holding you down- oh how He loves us! where else can we go to find what we're really looking for, what our own souls can't find words for? and, beth, i'm so glad you've acquiesced. God is the balm for the wounds of His love. as such, there is only always one place to run. no matter where our depression tries to take us, He is there, feeding us, nursing us, opening up the weakest places so they can emptied and be filled with Him. you are SO not alone.

    and do not discount the battle waged that you cannot see with flesh eyes. you've stepped out for His glory. expect storms. satan is not a fool. but he is a liar. so guard your heart from your own lies and those of the enemy. God is faithful and He is true. run run run to the Rock that is higher.

  6. Wow Beth, you have beautifully shared a deepness within you that reaches out to my heart because it is also my story. Depression is rearing its ugly head and I too was set free. I want to run away to the warmth of a tropical beach and forget about all my pain. I want to run away from being lonely, from being in physical pain twenty-four hours a day, from my bed which holds my pain ridden body most of my days and nights. I want to run away from the weather that inflames all my joints... It goes on... But I too want to run into the arms of Jesus and cry into His sweet embrace... I want Him to hold me down so these feelings of running away pass. So frustrating honey. I am glad God is holding you down, in a good way. Hugs and blessings honey.

    1. Kelly & Beth, beautifully written - I take away, God lovingly treats our depression by wrapping us in His arms. Sometimes it takes us awhile to notice, this protective love from Him is shielding us like an eggshell from ourself, our emotions, our perceived outcomes. Yet His plan is to release us into newness, this is what pruning brings. TY for this post!

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  8. Here are a few thoughts that might help you....First and foremost is that depression which is of a chemical nature CANNOT BE THOUGHT AWAY. It's based on the chemistry in your body. Seek medical attention. There are a whole host of medications that might help. Secondly, belly-button gazing is food for depression. The more we look at the depression and how we feel about it, the more it grows. But there is that distinction: is it chemically caused or self-induced? Important to know.

  9. Beautiful post dear friend. I'm so glad you are feeling His comfort. I'm beginning to believe the the main purpose of our pain is to let God be our everything. I'm starting to see my depression as a blessing because it has brought me to the feet of Jesus. Where else do we heal? Hugs and love to you friend!!!! <3

  10. Beth, you don't have to do this alone. I know you think you do.. because I felt the same way. But five years of trying to figure out life again by myself, and I realized I was in a bad place. I say this will so much love and affection for you- EMDR therapy is a life changing and life giving thing. I don't say this with judgement or condemnation because the Lord knows how similar you and I are...
    Will you look it up?

    love an hugs,

  11. If you ever want to talk, please don't hesitate to email me. Sending all the love.

  12. Dear Beth, Have you had your thyroids checked, dear? I went through a crisis like that several years ago. My mom called it my mid-night crisis. I was very depressed, and could not figure out why, after a lifetime of thankfulness, I almost all of a sudden felt like everything I had done in my life was a mistake. I would cry at the slightest of reasons, quarreled my mother who is the dearest mother in the world, and would resort to reciting Philippians 4:4-9 continually like a mantra. It took about two years and then a pain in my throat showed I had a thyroid problem. It can cause depression and unreasonableness. Hope that helps. :^)

  13. When we are wounded, hurting, often God has to press down, with great pressure to stop the bleeding. It feels like pain but by some mercy it is healing grace. I remember the darkness well so I give my words here to empathize and express sorrow with you. I pray you can submit to this holding down and I pray that God will provide others who can hold you up while you are down. So thankful for this is hard to know that you are suffering but good to know that you are processing...

  14. I really think it is okay to give up. By giving up I do not at all mean by giving up on your life. But to really know that Jesus is LIFE He says that He is your (and my life) ...I have suffered depression deep and realr - just like you write it here. I lived like this for at least 4 years until I was sick , literally sick, like hospital sick at the mental health recovering floor. my time with this was surround by theness of your dear and personal love and deep sorrow of your baby girl Eve. Nontheless it was dear and deep like your. My header at my blog tells the verse in which I spoke of. But you will have to take your Bible out and read the verse for yourself. With that Word from our Father began my journey to give up and ever tell Lord that He is my LIfe and that I give up because there was no other way I discovered to sustain me but to final truth that He must be my my LIFE for Lifelong. Depreasion like this, like mine, is deathly (not suicidal) but surely deathly - it literally cracks the face when we fake smile.
    Love your Eve forever and right now it expressed with this "to hard" sorrow living life as an empty shell ... but dont let in get in the way of nuturing and expressed love that you do have for Eve's little brother. I dont think she could bare that herself (although there is no sorrow nor grief in in heaven).
    Whenever you can... should ypu like , I write about depression and the still depression, at my blog and you can visit anytime you lie.
    With love, with love in Christ Jesus our Lord Savior from all that it wrong and our LIFE!

  15. Beth how I wish I could give you a BIG hug. I am so sorry it has been a difficult time for you. I lived as a Christian when my husband was not for a few years and it was difficult on many levels. I will be saying prayers for you. I know God has big plans for your life and to use your writing and art, you will make it!

  16. Visiting from IP today. Prayers for you sister. I pray you would be blessed in sharing your struggles and bringing them to the light where Jesus can show you just how much he wants to heal the brokenness

  17. I'm glad I stopped by from IP today.....thanks for sharing vulnerable heart struggles. There is much here that I can relate to.

  18. Oh, Beth, this is so amazingly powerful and beautiful. I love the image of being "down in the dirt" with God. thank you for sharing your heart like this. xoxo

  19. oh, my dear sweet friend. how proud I am of you, and how wonderful and brave you are.

    deep in the dirt with Jesus. i'm sitting with you.

  20. Beth, I'm so sorry your in such a dark place right now. I read your words and can feel the pain that leaps off the page from them. I am going to pray for you. I know that darkness all too well. I have suffered with depression most of my life. I lost the only true person 2 years ago that ever meant anything to me. Now, I have to ask, what is the purpose of me being here? Then, God gently explains that it's not about me but, how He is going to use me to do great things. To me, that looks impossible. But, I know, beautiful lady, that God is directing your steps as well. You are not alone as you have so eloquently described in your analogy of God's arms wrapped firmly around you. I agree with the pruning process. But, through my own personal experiences, through the pruning back grows better and stronger vines abundant with fruitfulness. I pray a hedge of protection around you and claim that you are set free. You are no longer a victim of the past. God Bless you sister and thank God for you at the same time that we have the ability to reach out to one another with the gift of being able to identify with one another as well. I know that God did not have me come across this post today without a reason.

  21. Oh Beth! I am only reading this now. I am so sorry....but then again I'm not. Having just come from a season of depression myself (and wondering why as God had freed me from depression years beforehand), I relate so much to God holding you down. And I know that the God that guided me through the dark place will do the same for you.

    After many sessions with my psychologist and allowing myself to go with the depression rather than fight it, I emerged from the depression healed of deep things in my soul. I was aware of Him with me every step, even though He was silent. You will get through this. And the otherside looks so different, but so much richer!

  22. I just commented on your last post on depression... And now I see the news about your hubby. I am just so sorry.

    It's not the same (when is it really ever?) ... And yet, I can relate somewhat. My sister, who has been a pastor's wife for 17 years, has just tols ua that she does not believe in Jesus or God's word. She is divorcing her husband, and leaving her 3 kids. We all just found out, and it is beyond difficult.

    In the last not-quite 2 years, I have lost 3 children in pregnancy, my closest grandmother died, my dad's
    Cancer came back, and now this.

    Life keeps getting harder, and depression keeps digger her fat, ugly claws deeper into my soul.

    I so very much wish you and I could share a cup of coffee one day. I am absolutely praying for you.


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King