How many times have we heard or said, “I’m a Christian but I’m not perfect”? Usually we hear it used to excuse some behavior that would not be considered Christian. We lose our temper, we cuss a little bit, or maybe we have too much to drink from time to time and this is our response. Since when does the word Christian mean “perfect”? We are not perfect but we are being perfected by Christ in us. We still fight the same battles that the world fights. We fight temptations and we fight mental battles with anxiety and depression. In this post I will share what it feels like for me when I am in the midst of my battle, when the enemy attacks and tries to pull me into the darkness of anxiety and depression. I am not afraid of the dark but I can be tormented by it at times.
So here we go:
My battle with depression and anxiety is like trying to find a way to navigate a path and finding a mountain in my way. I can go around by going through the valley. I can try to climb the mountain or I can go through the tunnel. The most direct path seems to be the tunnel so off I go. The tunnel is dark and lonely. No light except at the beginning and the end. In the tunnel, the light is stationary. The only way to get to the light is by moving. If the light is coming toward you, that’s a bad thing because it means a train is headed your way. Sadly this fear of the light actually being a train is what keeps me locked in the tunnel, in the dark, feeling hopeless and alone. I get disoriented and can’t remember which source of light is the beginning or the end. If I want to get out of the tunnel, I know I’m going to have to move but I am paralyzed. There are only two ways to go but the confusion of the darkness and the fear of the light being a train have locked my feet in place.
Unable to move, paralyzed by fear and confusion, my heart rate increases as the darkness grows colder and darker as the light on either end of the tunnel fades away. The pounding of my heartbeat is deafening. It’s like hearing the nails of my coffin being driven down again and again with me inside. With every beat, I feel the light slipping away. The light is removed as the lid tightens down. If I could just get my heart to STOP so the silence would come!
Oh the silence! The sweet, sweet silence. Is this the calm I have been seeking? Now that the coffin is sealed, is this the end I had hoped for? Is this peace or prison? Is this solace or voluntary, solitary confinement? Is this deliverance or delusion?
My silence in the coffin often becomes silence in my life. My confusion in the darkness becomes anger. It’s usually obvious to those who know me that something isn’t right but I try to hide my problems like a toddler playing hide and seek by covering their eyes with their hands. Hiding is pointless but the game won’t be over until I put my hands down, or in my case lift my hands in praise. Praise overcomes my darkness. Lifting my hands as I praise removes the covering from my eyes and allows me to see clearly again.
The mountains in my path aren’t meant to go through. They are meant to climb, with the help of a team, or to go around through the valley. Mountaintop views are made to help us get a bigger, broader view of the big picture. They make us appreciate the valley. But the air up there is thin and hard to breathe. The ground is tough and not fit for growth. It’s only fit for brief visitations, not for us to set up permanent housing. Growth comes through the valley. Progress is made through the valley. The way may seem longer but we are promised as Christians that Jesus is not only with us IN the valley, He is leading us, protecting us, and providing for us THROUGH it. After all, the Christian life is that of following Jesus on the path He has set for us, not settling in a valley along the way.
So yeah, I’m a Christian but I’m not perfect. I struggle. I fight. I lose many many times, but Christ gives me the strength to get back up and fight again. He gives me solid ground to stand firm. He gives me breath to release in praise and He is the light that leads me when the darkness torments me.