Jennifer Kostick– Jennifer Kostick is an author and speaker who teaches women how to activate their life’s purpose through the study of Scripture. Jennifer knows more about grief and loss than she ever thought she would, but Jesus met her in the middle of fierce storms and held her tightly with an even fiercer love. In addition to her love of teaching the powerful truth of Scripture, Jennifer is married to Paul, her husband of twenty-five years, has three children, and a beautiful daughter-in-law! She is also a full-time seminary student… because you can never know too much about the Bible! Jennifer blogs at www.Jenniferkostick.com and is passionate about encouraging women through a godly message of mercy and hope.
I realize this post might be controversial to many. Believe me, it’s not one I ever thought I would write. I’m prepared for social media unfollowers as well as an onslaught of unsubscribers on my blog. I’m okay with that. I write my heart.
Most of you know, but just in case you don’t, I’m living wide awake through the nightmare of loss. First my stepfather, who died suddenly three years ago, then my brother, suddenly, eight months ago, followed by my mother, just three months ago. The old saying is true; I really can’t go home again. The people who lived there are gone.
I’ve been serving Jesus most of my life. He’s walked with me through miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility, and every other battle that’s come my way. I’ve always bounced back, until now.
These past three months in particular, I’ve smiled for pictures with friends, woke up with my kids in the morning, picked them up from the bus stop after school, fed them, helped with homework, and got them ready for bed at night. But nobody could see the in between time. After my family walked out the door, I went back to bed. After evening homework, I would sit in my chair with a cup of coffee staring into space. The skin on my face was constantly irritated from the salt of my tears, and my heart quit beating in rhythm. Literally.
I trusted Jesus, pushed onward, opened up my Bible and fought, but I continued to lose ground. Anger came next and that is always ugly. I looked in the mirror and saw my aging eyes and could not recognize whose they were. I didn’t feel like myself, and eventually, I couldn’t remember who I once was.
My faith in God never wavered. I had hope, but peace and joy were lacking. I’m a firm believer at the moment of salvation, God gives us every gift we will ever need to make it through this frightening world. Those gifts include peace and joy, but tapping into them takes effort. It usually necessitates a fair amount of battle to reap those rewards. My spiritual “tools” didn’t seem to be working. I was trying to connect the “pipeline” that would cause the flow of peace and joy and ultimately free my soul, but nothing was happening. And then Friday came.
It was a Friday morning, and I had an appointment close to my mother’s house. After I was finished, I told my husband we should stop by and check on things. I hadn’t been inside since the day she died. My mother passed unexpectedly, so everything from that day remained untouched. When I walked through the front door, my eyes glanced down to the left focusing on her tennis shoes and pink slippers. I walked into the dining room and saw a pack of military paperwork she was filling out in an effort to settle my brother’s burial expenses. I made my way to her bedroom where her heating pad was still on the bed next to where she slept, the blankets rolled back waiting for her to return. I crumbled.
I cried, and screamed, and moaned. I didn’t even recognize my voice, it didn’t sound familiar, yet I knew it was me. Hysteria rose to the surface confessing fear, torment, and grief like I’d never experienced before. My husband stood next to me, apologizing over-and-over again, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He shares my heart, but I could find no comfort. Once again, I came home and went to bed.
Later that afternoon I had an appointment with my doctor to discuss the rhythm of my out of sync heart. She walked through the door, took one good look at me and asked, “What’s going on?”
Now, before I continue with what happened next, let me tell you that I’m not a fragile person, I do not make a habit of crying in front of anyone, and I don’t like being vulnerable. Actually, I hate it. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, I’m just telling you like it is.
After my doctor asked that first question, the floodgates opened all over again. I could barely breathe, let alone speak. I told her everything while expressing these words: “I’m a person of faith who is supposed to be living in the light of a Savior, and yet here I am standing in darkness. It won’t relent; I can’t take it anymore.” She told me I didn’t look the same; there was no joy, no evidence of peace, no zest for life. And then she said words I thought I would never hear regarding my own life, “Let’s talk about medication. I’m worried about you.”
It’s my guess that only half a second passed between her suggestion and my response, but in that time a million thoughts raced through my head. They sounded something like this: I’m a faith writer, I tell people about Jesus, I’m an example for Christ, I can’t be weak, this isn’t okay, I’ll be nothing but a hypocrite, etc.…
You can only imagine how stunned I was when I heard the following response pop out of my mouth – in the midst of every negative thought I responded, “I’ll try anything that makes me feel better.” I meant it.
In that moment, I learned something about myself. And, in the subsequent days, I learned something about God. I can still surprise myself. As I age, I change. As I change, I learn more about life than I ever wanted to know. And, with this new education comes new ways of looking at who I am and what God expects from me. Could God just take the dark cloud away and help me run this race without a physician’s care, absolutely. Does it always work that way? Absolutely not. Is it okay that it doesn’t always work that way? You better believe it is!
Why is it that when Christians require medical intervention for depression we feel like we’ve failed? We haven’t. One week after beginning my new medication, I had a terrible anxiety attack. All I could think about was how weak of a person I must be to have to take this route to healing. I pictured myself writing every blog post I’d ever written and saw the word hypocrite above me in flashing lights. My heart continued to beat out of rhythm, requiring heart tests that came back as a diagnosis of nothing more than anxiety. I labeled myself crazy, and it sent me into further panic. In my lifetime, I’ve heard pastors and other Christians preach against medications for depression. I never bought into that for anyone else, I know if God used a donkey He can use anything at all for the betterment of His people, but when it was my turn I couldn’t shake those Christian opinions. Or should I say judgment? I told my best friend I was done with popping a pill every day and could fight this war without it. She talked me off the ledge convincing me to stay on track.
For every Christian who has ever taken medication for depression, either past or present, every morning when I open my bottle to take my dose, I think of you. I understand. And, hey, maybe that’s part of this journey for us. Maybe God is saying, “Go ahead, use your pain to reach more people. Do not waste one tear.” I’m okay with that. I’ll tell you why…
I feel joy again. Yes, I still cry for my mother and brother on a regular basis, but not because I feel like it’s the end of the world. I cry because I’m human and I miss them. I still hurt and wonder how this is all going to work itself out for me, but in the reemergence of sunlight, I’ve started to see more than ever that God’s in complete control of this, and He’s going to handle all of it. I just need to keep trusting, and taking medication in no way means I’ve stopped trusting in my God.
My husband came home from work one day last week and found me cooking a big meal for my family, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. He took me in his arms and said, “You’re back, Jenny.”
Friends, Jesus can use anything to bring you back and put your purpose to work. Even medication!
I’m not saying it is right for everyone. You need to see a doctor, answer the questions, and take proper steps to healing. What I am saying is Christians shouldn’t fear and let sermons from people who know nothing about darkness from chemical imbalance dictate proper steps to recovery.
My depression is situational, and I’m hoping to only have to take medication for six months. However, if it’s longer; it’s longer. A lot of prayer has gone into this, and I know the Lord will continue to direct my steps. When you seek Him, He will direct yours as well.
If this is something you’re struggling with, remove all those other voices from your head, seek God, and do what is best for your life according to His guidance.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
My name is Jennifer Kostick, I’m a woman of God, a faith writer, and I’m struggling with situational depression. I’m taking Wellbutrin. Jesus is okay with that, and so am I.
Since January, I’ve been reading the book of Hebrews. Over and over again I read words from an unknown author who was willing to be used by the Holy Spirit to give life in the form of breathing, black and white words. Each sentence speaks to me. The book was probably written sometime around A.D. 64 and, yet, every time I read it I find something that grips me, refusing to let go. That’s a good thing, because I don’t want to let go of it either.
Deep down inside the pit of grief I’ve faced over the last eight months, there is a well of bubbling hope. The movement is slow. It produces only what I need for the survival of each day, which I have to admit, has been frustrating, but underneath all that feels heavy and hard there is a consistent gentle and steady flow of everything I need to live my reality. Hebrews has been a source of hope for me, and has been faithful to confront me with tough questions to answer.
Near the beginning of the book in chapter 2 verse 3, there is a question I believe should keep every passionate Jesus follower awake at night. In the New King James Version, it reads like this:
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…?”
There is more to the verse providing further evidence to the first part of the question, but these are the words refusing to leave my head each day.
You see, my world was rocked in 2017 when I lost my brother and mother. There are days that even though I’ve been wide awake and smiling, that I’ve felt dead in slumber. But here’s the thing: there is more to my story than pain and loss. And friend, I don’t know what you’re facing, but I can tell you, only because I know grief intimately, that there is absolutely more to your story than whatever is staring you down at this very moment. We cannot escape grief or pain when we decide to escape Christ’s gift to us. Anger and bitterness from trauma sometimes leads to neglecting what was meant to restore us in times of trouble.
I cannot afford to neglect so great a salvation because of grief that feels debilitating at times. I cannot afford to neglect so great a salvation just because I wish God would have written my story differently. And neither can you.
Part of serving Jesus is trusting Him to turn my ashes into beauty even when I feel like I’m drowning from breathing the hot dust inside my lungs. I know that sounds harsh, but I believe in honesty and this is how my grief tends to feel.
I have to be willing to let Him take my life and do as He pleases without being able to see or understand the big picture. And, I have to be willing to value my salvation. That means no one, not even the loss of those I love so much, can take precedence over all Christ has done for me. I won’t neglect His gift.
We can try, all our days here on earth, to escape his salvation. However, it only leads to misery. I’m determined that my only escape will happen through Christ alone.
This road is not easy, and I’m nowhere near the end of dealing with my grief. However, every day I make it a practice to tap into the well of hope buried underneath all-consuming heartbreak.
Please do not neglect your salvation. Instead, trust in it. Christ’s work on the cross is finished. It’s a job done, a free gift, and the most love you’ll ever receive.
Love to you, friend.
PS: My Instagram account is where I show how I’ve been finding grit inside grief. My handle is @jenniferkostick, just in case you want to see the new gift of hope God gave me just last weekend!!! I often use the hashtag #findinggritinsidegrief under my pictures. I would love to see how you’re finding grit. If you use the hashtag, #findinggritinsidegrief, on Instagram, you can share with me your process of gaining strength inside weak moments. I’d love to connect with you!
I wish I could tell you why I’ve chosen to sit down and write. Maybe it’s because I think it might help me feel better. Perhaps it’s because as much as I want to throw my hands in the air and tell God I’m done doing everything it is He wants me to do, I can’t. I don’t want to write, but it’s as if something on the inside burns until I get the words out. He won’t let me quit.
I also wish I could tell you I had some sort of plan for what I’m about to say. I don’t, so hold on tight. I’m not sure what’s even safe to convey at this point. My emotions have gone wild and for the first time in my life I have no interest in taking command of them. I feel entitled. Entitled to yell and scream and rant and rave and tantrum about how I don’t deserve to suffer what I’m suffering. However, truth is truth: Jesus didn’t say I wouldn’t suffer, He only said I wouldn’t suffer alone.
In the quiet spaces inside my head where no one can hear me, I use different terminology to explain my situation. For example:
Merry Christmas to me… I am motherless.
I don’t have a mother.
My mother died.
My mom is gone.
I feel like an orphan.
And the list goes on and on.
I feel as if I’m broken beyond repair. My brother died only five months ago, and now my mother. Three years ago, I lost my stepfather. My entire immediate family is gone. That old saying, “You can’t go home again”, well, I finally understand what it means.
But, does it matter?
You see, when I think I can’t go home again, I’m reminded that this world is not my home. (See Hebrews 13:14) When I become angry, telling myself I’m a good, God-fearing woman who does not deserve to suffer, I’m reminded how much Jesus, who lived a perfectly sinless life, suffered. Perspective matters.
Oh friend, I have no idea what God is doing in my life, but among all the tragedy I know it’s good. That sounds crazy to even say at this point, but THE God of the impossible seems to take us down illogical paths. Those pathways lead to wholeness. I know because I’ve been healed from other grief, and I’ve no doubt I’ll be healed of this. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
My mother once told me that when she was a little girl, she would stand on the side of the bathtub to pray. As a young child, she reasoned that the higher up she was when she prayed, the closer she would be to God, and the better He could hear her. She had lots of stories like that. God pursued my mom from an early age. So much so, she was willing to climb to get to His throne.
If you’re dealing with any kind of crisis at all, please hear what I’m about to say.
God pursues ALL of us! My mother wasn’t an exception, I am not an exception. Each one of us was given a purpose to fulfill here. In the book of Acts, Luke writes about David…
“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed…”
When it comes to my mother, it’s very difficult for me to see how someone so young, with so many years ahead, could have possibly fulfilled her purpose already. However, I’m not God and I don’t know. I have to trust Him. One thing I do know: I’m still here, and I’m NOT done.
God is chasing me, at this very moment, at a rapid pace. I’ve never felt Him fighting for me the way I feel He’s fighting now. This means I cannot stop doing what He ordained me to do. Do you remember when Jeremiah was so tired of his tasks that he was ready to quit? He quickly had a revelation.
“But if I say, “I will not mention His Word or speak anymore in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”
I’m surrounded in tragedy, and yet, I can feel the fire of God in my bones. My emotions might be running wild but God is reining and ruling and reviving the truth in me. That truth will set me free from what I feel and knit me close to what I know. He is alive and active in my healing.
He’s chasing you, too. He’s alive and active in your healing, too.
As we celebrate Christmas, I think it’s important for all of us who are grieving to refocus our hearts and minds. Christmas is not about who is missing, it’s about who has come: Jesus.
As much as my mother loved me, and she loved me with the best kind of love, she did not hold the power to save me. Christ, the One who came, saved my soul and made me free.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
This Christmas, may you be conscious of the wild pursuit over your life. There is a chase in progress made to fan the flame within you, setting you free to live purpose in a way only you can.