I stared at the computer screen, blinking back tears as my eyes took in the images of my daughter proudly showing off the tooth she had lost that day. I wanted to reach my arms through the screen, hug my girl tight, and tell her how excited I was. But I couldn’t. Instead, I sat in the small computer lab housed in the wing of the mental hospital where I was an inpatient for the first time and felt waves of hopelessness and despair wash over me.
Depression had led me to this place — dark thoughts having run away with all reason and logic — and I knew I needed to be here to be safe. But that did not change the fact that I knew what I was missing at home. At night when I was alone in my bed in the psych ward, I would think about my girls and worry that I was ruining them for life by being gone and being ill. I worried that I would never be able to be the mom I thought I should be. How could I, when I was barely hanging on to life itself?
I thought of all the moments I was missing. My two-year-old was adding new words to her vocabulary all the time, and my eight-year-old was deep in the thick of third grade, learning and growing and losing precious teeth without me. Though hope was low and my fears were high, I prayed and begged the Lord to take care of my girls. While in the midst of my despair, I felt foolish hoping that God could redeem the time that I was missing. I pleaded with Him to work in my oldest daughter Charlotte’s heart especially. She was a fairly new follower of Christ, and I didn’t want my time away to be something that damaged her faith. There are so many challenges with becoming a young woman of God, and my heart ached with the thought that I was making it even harder for her.
The second time I was discharged from a psychiatric hospital, I knew it wasn’t the end of my journey. The therapist I met with daily told me I needed further treatment and recommended I look into residential programs, something I didn’t even realize existed. After doing some research I knew that residential treatment could be beneficial, but once again my thoughts turned toward my family. I had already been gone on two separate occasions, and now I was looking at spending an entire month away. After my husband and I decided that I would go, I still felt the weight of my decision hanging over my family and wrestled with whether or not I was doing the right thing. In the end, I did the only thing I knew to do: pray and trust that the Lord was guiding my steps.
The weekend before I was scheduled to leave for the residential facility, I was putting away clothes in Charlotte’s room when I saw the note she had pinned to her memo board. There in her neat, school-girl script were these words: “Mom has depression, but I will praise the Lord.” Tears immediately sprung to my eyes, and I gave thanks to God for giving me this glimpse into my girl’s heart. Not only was the Lord shepherding my heart through this difficult journey of depression, but He was also shepherding Charlotte’s heart. He was helping her to see that sometimes the truest expression of praise comes from a heart that has felt deep hurt and lived to see the goodness of the Lord in the midst of the struggle. He was helping her to see that though we can’t always choose our circumstances, we can choose our response to those circumstances. A heart that loves Him is a heart that praises Him through it all.
At that moment I realized that while my depression was a sad and difficult road to walk, I didn’t walk it alone, and neither did my daughter. Indeed, we were both being carried by our Savior, and He was using each step on the path to make us more like Him. I didn’t need to worry about what would happen to my girls while I was away. Even though I knew my love for my daughters was imperfect, Christ’s perfect love more than made up for what I lacked. When I couldn’t be there for them, I knew God always would be. God’s Word promises that “whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty,” (Psalm 91:1 ESV) and that we will find refuge under His wings. I can think of no better place to be than in His everlasting arms.Leave a Comment