Save me, O God
For the waters have come up to my neck
When you grow up in a somewhat chaotic home, when you have a constant sense of being an outsider (never mind the fact that you’re socially awkward and nerdy and definitely are an outsider), when you’re angry and scared but feel guilty all the time for being angry and scared because that’s not what good Christian girls do–this can lead to some interesting results.
I was twenty. I was almost done with my sophomore year of college. And I was miserable. I could not see a way out of the darkness that engulfed me–I figured everyone would just be better off without me and all my mess to deal with. I was tired of trying to keep my head above water. Everything hurt too much.
I knew all the right doctrine, but I knew it like I knew all the facts I memorized for exams and cited in papers. It had not engulfed my heart. And while, for various reasons, I believe that I belonged to Jesus at that point, at that point I could not see Him, hear Him, feel Him. He was gone. He’d have to take me in if–well. If I showed up at His door.
I sink in deep mire
where there is no foothold
I have come into deep waters
and the flood sweeps over me
So what do you do? Well, I know what I did: I tried to find everything in my dorm room that could possibly kill me, and I started with a pretty good-sized palmful of Aleve.
You know, to this day, I’m a Tylenol user.
Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me
Hide not your face from your servant
for I am in distress; make haste to answer me
Draw near to my soul, redeem me
ransom me because of my enemies
Spoilers: I didn’t finish the job.
You know, people talk all the time about hearing God’s voice, and most of the time I wonder if it’s not them making stuff up. But I’m telling you, I have a handful of times in my life I can swear that God spoke to me. As soon as I swallowed that handful of pills, one of them happened.
All of this came flooding in more or less simultaneously:
A quote: “I will not die, but live.”
A question: “Oh my God, what am I doing?!”
And another question, and an exclamation: “What are you doing? Don’t you know that I love you?! I died for you! You are Mine! And I am never letting you go, never!”
And maybe it was a cry for help, and maybe it was for the attention, I’m still not sure, but I can tell you this: Someone heard me, and found me, and He rescued me.
For the Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his own people who are prisoners
And I got help. And as I told more people, I think it clicked that maybe I am more loved than I thought I was.
So now what?
My great sin is still despair, believing the lie that I am a mess and will always be a mess, and I am worthy of no one’s love as a result.
Well, that’s almost true. I am not worthy of anyone’s love. I am a hot mess of a person–self-centered, arrogant, depressed, awkward, self-righteous.
But thanks, thanks be to God: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.”
Thanks be to God: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
And thanks be to God: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are! If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”
My identity is not wrapped up in my past, both my own sin and the sin done against me, but in the fact that I belong to Jesus, He loves me, and He is never, never letting me go. Do I still have to fight the darkness off? Yes. Is it easy? Absolutely not. But I will not ultimately despair, because, of course, I can’t fix myself.
I will praise the name of God with a song
I will magnify him with thanksgiving
And I acknowledge that depression is a complicated beast. If I don’t take care of my body, which I wasn’t in those days, my mind and emotions go nuts. But we are whole people, and one part affects the others, and I think we have to treat the spiritual as well as the physical. That balance will look different for different people. This is what mine looks like.
I say all this not for the sympathy or the attention, but because there’s more to one of the thoughts I had that night: I will not die, but live, and proclaim the works of the Lord.
Come see what God has done and will continue to do. Not just in me, but in all of His people. And even in you. No matter how much of a mess you think you are, there is grace and hope that is bigger still.