True confession: I’m not good at vulnerable. Because I’m not good at vulnerable I’ve put this blog post off for far too long. I’m going to be honest, this one hits me close to home, and in answering it, I feel like I’m leaving myself vulnerable to people seeing shadows that I’m pretty darn good at hiding. God, however, has different plans for those shadows, so hence the blog post. This is the second in a series of posts that I am writing to answer some of those questions that make us scratch our heads. These questions were gathered at camp from a bunch of high school students from all over the country. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do justice to the feeling behind these questions, and while not all of the questions are easily answerable in this format, I’m praying that through this series that Jesus will be glorified and that those of us with these questions are not alone in our ponderings and our sometimes pain.
How do I fight through pain, depression and eating disorders?
This one breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because I have been there, and it’s a place I would never wish on another soul. If this is a question you are asking right now, just know that I am praying for God’s comfort to come upon you. If you are currently living this question, please make sure you seek help. Tell a parent, tell a trusted leader in your church or at your school. Get support. DO NOT GO THROUGH THIS ALONE. That said, the answer to this question on a practical level is personal for each of us that struggles. But I can tell you what I’ve learned and about my continued fight through some of my own personal demons.
The first thing I had to discover was that God is Relevant. We have a God who relates to every struggle that we have. When He sent His son, Jesus, to earth, the Son of Man wasn’t sent as a fully developed adult male, he was sent as a helpless infant. He had to learn and struggle and grow and go through puberty and do all of those things that we struggle through as well.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
God knows the ugliness inside me, He can relate, and He loves me in the midst of that. God knows that some days I struggle to even look at myself in the mirror because I hate what I see. God knows that there are days when I just want it all to end because it’s exhausting to be constantly working through issues. And even though He could be angry at me, because I’m hating on His creation, He continues to walk with me every step of the way, and wants to walk with those of you that struggle as well. But I had to surrender that pain to Him, and it’s not a one-time surrender, it’s a constant surrendering. Because sometimes we wear our pain and hurt and issues as a sort of badge of honor. I used it as an excuse to lash out at those who love me, maybe you use it to lash out at God. Sometimes it’s easier to live in that place of struggle and anger rather than admit that we need a Savior to rescue us.
When we allow ourselves to stay in that place of pain, it’s very easy for that pain or that struggle to become our identity. Which leads me to my second take away; Know Who You Are. We are not our struggles. We are not our sin. We are not what has happened to us. We are God’s Children who are redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ His son. My identity was (and if I’m honest), at times still is, a “Depressed” person. When what I really should label myself is is a child of God that struggles with depression. If you haven’t already, surrender your life to our heavenly Father, allow His power to transform your heart. Give yourself to Him and take on your true identity, as one who is loved and forgiven. Don’t allow people or Satan or yourself to define you as anything else. When you take on the true identity of a loved and forgiven Child of God and take off the false identity of whatever it is you have labeled yourself as, you will find that your struggles get framed in a different way, and for me, it is easier to deal with my struggles when I see them in that light.
All of this to say, I still struggle. There are good days and bad days. But because I know that God cares, He relates, and I am His, on my best days I can try to use those struggles to God’s glory. But I’m only able to do this through God’s power, and not my own. My prayer for those of you who can relate to this question is that you will rely on God’s power as well.