I sat on the bench, cloaked in despair, while he stared at me, helpless to change it. My lips began to tremble and hot tears streamed down my face. He grabbed me and held me close. “No, no, no. Don’t do that,” he whispered. “Don’t go there again. Come back to me.”
All day long, I’d battled. I’d prayed, read the Word, and had Josiah pray over me. And yet, despite my best efforts, I vacillated between somewhat functional and barely breathing.
I don’t typically struggle a lot with depression (or at least, I don’t feel like I do). Lately, though, I feel covered in it. I pray and fight, but it’s sticky like tar, and at times, the more I fight, the more stuck and hopeless I feel.
We tell people to declare truth over their lives, to "praise through," but y'all, I declared truth backwards, forwards, and upside down. My mind knew the truth, but I couldn't make my heart believe it!
Like Ron Weasly in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I've been stuck fast in the Devil’s Snare, and the more I wiggle and squirm, the tighter the trap winds around me - constricted, breathless. I know I should just be still, rest, but the tighter they get, the more I panic and strain.
This day in particular, as my husband held me on a bench in Yorktown, was one of the worst. I gathered myself enough to allow him to lead me back to the van; he never let go.
He drove us down Colonial Parkway in silence. I wanted to talk - to say something, anything - but I couldn’t make words travel from my head to my mouth. As we drove down the parkway, I looked at the water and briefly thought about Naaman in the Bible washing himself seven times in the Jordan to be healed of leprosy (2 Kings 5).
I didn’t tell Josiah about it, though. I was trapped in my own head.
Then, a few minutes later, he pulled over to one of the small beach areas there on the parkway. I wasn’t thinking about Namaan then, but I knew I desperately needed to get to sand and water. I desperately needed to connect with the elements - to feel them, to feel alive.
I flew to the riverside, tossed my shoes aside, and wiggled my toes in the wet sand, the water lapping at my feet. Josiah wrapped his arms around me, my constant comforter. I whirled around and asked him, “Are we going anywhere after this?”
“Do you want to?!” he queried, sounding hopeful...probably just because I’d uttered normal words.
I paused, turned toward the water, and trudged in fully-clothed. I entered up to my knees, and then dipped my hands in the small, rippling waves. In my heart, I heard the familiar Psalm:
How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path of sinners
or join a group of mockers!
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
I wanted to be a tree planted firmly by the water. I wanted to stop withering.
I turned toward Josiah and felt my lips stretch across my teeth, bearing a true, genuine smile for the first time all day. It felt freaking awesome.
Then, God reminded me of Namaan.
I waded back to Josiah, knowing I hadn’t been obedient yet, but it just felt so flipping foolish. I wanted to be like a tree planted by the water, but I did not want to follow His instructions. I remembered Naaman didn’t want to either.
I mentioned my idea to Josiah, and he urged me on. I stomped back into the river, a little more resistant this time, a little more defiant. “Do I have to go all the way under?! I just did my hair!”
He grinned and said, “If you have to ask the question, you already know the answer.” Ugh.
I wrestled with the best way to “dip” myself in knee-deep water, and finally just plopped by butt on the river bottom and tossed myself backwards. The water washed over me, and I could see the light shining through the water, even behind my closed eyelids.
Just like Namaan, seven times I threw myself backwards into the river. The very last time, I let the water carry me for a moment, floating, wanting to soak in every bit of healing I could get.
I emerged feeling whole and healed, laughing. I felt alive in a way I hadn’t for quite a while. The water washed away the sticky veil of darkness, allowing the light to shine through, like it healed Naamon’s leprosy: not because of the water itself, but because of the obedience it required to follow the orders through to completion.
Joshua marched his troops around Jericho once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh.
Elijah prayed for rain seven times, until after the seventh his servant saw a cloud forming in the distance.
Elisha told Naaman to dip seven times in the Jordan River to get healed. He didn’t like it. He was angry, but he did it anyway.
And so did I. Devil’s snare hates the light.
Friend, if you are facing darkness, if the enemy is lying to you, whispering in your ear that you are alone, lifeless, worthless, you need to know you are not alone, you are of infinite worth, and there is so much life in front of you. I’ve been right there with you. I’ve felt the overwhelming fatigue of battle, but you are worth fighting for - and Jesus knew you were worth dying for. Do not give up.
“So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you.
Keep searching, and you will find.
Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives,
and the one who searches finds,
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Keep knocking at the door. Keep seeking Christ. Keep searching for His truth. And goodness knows, if he asks you to do something, no matter how silly or scary, DO IT.
There is no breakthrough without a breaking: a breaking of will, defiance, and self-reliance. Keep working to break through that wall of darkness to find the light on the other side because, I assure you, no matter the seemingly endless abyss of night, daybreak MUST come eventually.
You WILL see the light. A harvest of life and righteousness is coming, if only you will persevere and not give up!
Your eye is the lamp of the body.
When your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light.
But when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness.
Take care then, that the light in you is not darkness.
If, therefore, your whole body is full of light,
with no part of it in darkness,
it will be entirely illuminated
as when a lamp shines its light on you.”