The Other Side of Happiness
By Annah Matthews
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
I've been there before. A happy place. A place where my soul is quiet and content. A place where I enjoy life and enjoy my family.
No matter how hard I try to swim back to the surface, this dark hole continually pulls me down. So I swim with all my willpower and I still sink. I swim with heartfelt prayers and fasting and I'm sinking. I swim with Scriptures swirling around me. I quote them out loud and stamp them across the doorposts of my mind, yet I am gurgling for air and barely staying afloat.
The only thing that keeps me from sinking, to the darkest place of no return, is a tiny glimmer of hope. The hope that I remember dancing above the water and this one verse,
The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest. John 10:10 CEB
A full life… an abundant life… a life set free from the misery of my mind and my own thoughts.
This thief is my enemy… this thief is my depression… it threatens to overtake me… it robs me of my joy… it laughs in my face… it wants to kill… it is set on destruction.
Many, many times I have considered the outcome of letting go; taking off this flimsy life vest and giving in. For those who are in the darkest places of depression, it seems so much easier… to make the thoughts go away… to let go… to sink down.
While it seems like such a selfish decision to an outsider who’s standing on the edge of the water, yelling at you to just swim harder, pray harder, try harder… what they don't understand is the weight underneath the surface that is constantly pulling you down… you are so tired of fighting this battle and you are still sinking.
Then comes a tiny life preserver telling you to hang on a little longer… reminding you of a full life in a Savior… begging you to ask for help.
Simultaneously the thief laughs a little harder and pushes you down even farther... ask for help? People will think you are crazy… you obviously don't pray hard enough and your life is proof of that… you deserve this punishment… you know the places you’ve been… what a puny, unfaithful Christian you are… this is another example of how pathetic you really are… your game is up… you aren't fooling anyone… just give it up.
ASK for help! I came to give you a full and abundant life… let go of your pride and ask for help… I love you… I created you… you were made for so much more than this… it is time to ask for help… you will dance above the water again… trust me… I am your Savior… you know me… don't let go… the life preserver is here… although it seems small and you are so tired, it will get you above water… hang on… please hang on.
So the last shred of strength is given… one final stroke allows me to swallow my pride and ask for help. My husband first, who desperately wants to help me, but isn't strong enough to pull me out of the current. My doctor, who knows me because she walked alongside me with all three of my babies. A tiny blue pill once a day… I was actually prideful over a tiny, blue pill?
I continue to pray and quote Scriptures… the current seems weaker day by day… finally I am out of the dark water… living a full and abundant life. I survived the darkest depths of depression and honestly, almost no one knows.
I swam back to the surface and grabbed onto my Savior, unleashed that anchor of pride around my ankles, and meekly called out for help. Although I have been swimming in these waters of depression since I was a teenager, as an adult I realized how the enemy seeks to rob, destroy, and kill.
Rob me of the joy that Christ brings and the wonderful blessings He has given me.
Destroy the happiness of having a beautiful family and replace it with darkness.
Kill the very hope that lives inside of me and top it off with lies about myself and my Savior.
Make no mistake, I am a survivor. I am learning to share this story and celebrate it, because I have lived on the other side of happiness. I am sharing this with you because I am living a full, free, and abundant life. I am on the shore dancing, but I see you in the water struggling. I know the One who holds the key to your safety and His Name is Jesus.
Depression is part of my story; maybe it’s a part of your story too. Here I am… throwing this life preserver out to you, in hopes that you will grab on… reach out for help. I pray that you will ignore the lies of the thief and embrace the truths in God’s Word, one stroke at a time.
We come to You today Lord with hearts, minds, and spirits that may be struggling to keep their heads above water. We ask in Your Name that You give them a refuge, a glimmer of hope, and a life-saving Word of Truth. We don’t know every circumstance or situation they are facing, but Heavenly Father You know.
We cling to You with hope, faith and assurance that You can heal our hurt places and pull us from the dark waters of depression and despair. We ask in Your Name that You will allow those who need help, to reach out to a friend, family member, pastor, counselor, or doctor.
We ask You to release the pride that may keep them from asking for help. May we all find our rest, strength, and sanctuary in You. Thank You for setting us free and giving us the glimmer of hope in living an abundantly full life in Christ.
For help on dealing with depression, please consider talking to a certified counselor, pastor, family therapist, or your doctor. Like other medical conditions we may encounter, we often need the help of experts in knowing the best course of treatment for depression.
A Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Depression by Archibald Hart, PhD and Catherine Hart Weber, PhD
Depression: Walking from Darkness Into the Dawn by June Hunt
For more encouragement, visit Annah at thingsmamatoldme.com.
© 2021 by Annah Matthews. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Friday, 12 March 2021.