My relationship with depression and anxiety has been a wild, unpredictable ride: I’ve fluctuated from feeling terrified of my own brain to being furious at myself for not being able to conquer my issues.
I’ve struggled with guilt over my proclivity to panic and despair, and I’ve wrestled with the fact that yes, I am a Christian, and yes, I struggle with depression and anxiety. I’ve worried that the two can’t go hand in hand.
I’ve become angry at myself for those mornings I’ve struggled to get out of bed, and those nights that I can’t get my anxious heart to slow down.
Over the last several months, I’ve been processing and reflecting and praying over these things. Many times, I’ve prayed that the Lord would deliver me from this exhausting cycle of despair and fear. But the Lord has brought me to two conclusions that I would’ve never found on my own:
- There’s a strong possibility that I may struggle with mental health for the rest of my life.
- I’m incredibly thankful to have depression and anxiety.
Depression and Anxiety led me to Jesus
When I wasn’t walking with the Lord, my pain led me to search for satisfaction elsewhere. I felt desperately sad and in desperate need of relief — and it was out of this distress that I went searching for God. Had I never known that pain, I would’ve never acknowledged my need for a Savior.
When I recommitted my heart to God, I experienced an overwhelming sense of release and comfort. My burden wasn’t erased—but it became a lot lighter.
I still struggle with bouts of depression and anxiety, but I know I am held by the hands of a Loving Father — and I know that I don’t have to carry it all on my own.
I’ve experienced the fullness of his grace in a deeper way
My struggles with anxiety and depression have allowed me to experience the richness of his love and the fullness of his grace. Before I recommitted my life to Christ, guilt and shame laid heavy on my chest over things I had done and people I had hurt.
I couldn’t face or forgive my own messiness and mistakes — but He did. He sees the darkest corners of my heart and yet He still pursues me to repent and be washed and be held by Him. And that kind of love, that kind of mercy — it continues to break me in the most beautiful way.
Pain has led me to mess up and to feel messed up — but it’s because of this mess that I’ve been able to see the grace that covers all guilt. I’ve felt the steady pulse of love that beats louder than the sound of my aching heart.
“What seems to be undoing you can ultimately remake you. What if the deeper you know your own brokenness, the deeper you can experience your own belovedness?” Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
I’m a more compassionate person
Out of this pain, my battered heart became a whole lot bigger. My former detached, stoic self has been replaced with a vulnerable, more empathetic person who tears up at both tragic news stories and sentimental movies.
When I listen to other people talk about their problems, I no longer stiffen and pray they don’t start crying. I can sit and engage and let them know that they aren’t alone.
My compassion for others has extended outside my inner circle. Rather than scoff at a cashier or server for being abrupt, I remember that people are often fighting battles that I know nothing about, and sometimes that manifests in different ways. I’m reminded that every person could use a little grace.
Depression and anxiety remind me that I need the Lord
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 )
At times, I’ve wondered why the Lord won’t take this thorn away from me. Like Paul, I’ve pleaded and longed for total restoration.
And yes, I hate the way depression feels like a rock lodged in my throat. I hate the way anxiety makes my heart race and my chest hurt. But if this thorn is what I need to bring me back to the Lord, time and time again, then I am grateful for it. For to acknowledge my own weakness is to acknowledge my own desperate need for him.
I used to think that I’d be fulfilled and happy if I could find a way to entirely rid myself of my mental health problems. I thought total restoration and deliverance was what I needed to feel complete.
But I’m learning that true fulfillment doesn’t come from the blessing itself, but from knowing the blessor.
He’s teaching me that prosperity isn’t an abundance of health, money, or comfort, but the richness of knowing Him. And when I start to look for satisfaction through his gifts, I’m missing the point—that joy isn’t found in what He gives but who He is.
I’m grateful for depression and anxiety, because it’s through my struggle that I’ve come to know and seek and love the Lord. It’s broken my heart but He’s taken those pieces and formed a new heart that’s softer and stronger.
I don’t fear the dark valleys anymore — not because I’m strong enough to pull myself out of them, but because I know He is with me and will not forsake me. And if it takes depression and anxiety to bring me to my knees and bring me back to Him, then I praise God for this thorn.