Okie dokie, folks. Today we're about to get into some "real talk", as the kids say these days. With everything going on right now, I feel it's important to be transparent and share what I'm going through if I can. I do this in hopes that it can help remind you that we are not alone. With that being said, I know one of the greatest impacts this global pandemic has had on me, personally, is the mental and emotional impact. It's not like I didn't think it would, I guess I just didn't realize how much of an impact it would have in that regard. I also think I had been doing pretty good on the depression end of the spectrum for so long that I had forgotten what it really feels like. Slowly, however, it's crept its way back in... and I think I'm just now realizing it.
It’s hard. Anxiety has been an off and on battle I've dealt with and come to accept since the time I graduated high school. I felt like depression was always a secondary issue, or something that came out of circumstance - (although at the time of diagnosis I felt like it was pretty on par with my anxiety). But as depression has crept back into my life these last couple of months, I'm realizing it's something I haven't actually felt the full impact of in years. Everything right now feels so uncertain. With every little thing, whether it be because of the pandemic or otherwise, it feels like my entire life is slowly coming unhinged... which leaves me feeling shaken. It's frustrating to me to go from feeling completely grounded, confident, and unshaken... able to take on whatever comes at me... to feeling unsteady and fragile.
As I've thought about this I've started to realize something I know I already knew... but sometimes, even the things that have remained the brightest in our minds and hearts can become dulled from clouds of depression. This dulled sense of what I know has been trying to peek out at me over the course of the last few weeks, as thoughts of a shaken foundation have occurred to me. This week, that dull sense finally broke and the thought came through...
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
What is my foundation? That word, "foundation", had continued to go through my mind every time I thought about my life feeling shaken, but what was I referring to? I think it felt like a lot of what I have been working on this last year was taken out from under me. But that's not my foundation. My foundation hasn't moved or changed, but I think I've realized that I did. My foundation is built on Christ. But I think it's easy sometimes, when things are going good, to slowly move away from that foundation without even realizing it. It is in no way intentional, but happens more gradually. Other things take priority, it's easier to be distracted, and our focus moves somewhere else. Then what happens is when hard things hit, we aren't as prepared. When the 'shafts and the whirlwinds' hit, they hit hard and it can leave us feeling very unsteady and a bit in the dark. That's really the conclusion I get to every time I try to get to the core of one of these 'phases', when I’m feeling just so... depressed and hopeless. I know the times when I am actively choosing to stand on that foundation, even if everything around me were to go awry, I can take comfort in knowing who I am and where I stand. It's never enough to simple know I have the foundation.
Don't get me wrong, I’m not here to claim that religion, faith, and having a firm foundation is going to make depression or anxiety disappear, or that it should make you immediately feel a lot better. It doesn’t. At all. The feelings of depression often still remain. But what it does do, is it allows us to weather the storm and feel more steady in the midst of the storm.
Things are hard right now. I’ll admit, my mental and emotional well-being have taken a hit with everything going on with the pandemic, and with factors outside of that. Life is hard. But I’ve been here before. I’ve gotten through it and I will again. But until then, I just need to continue to remind myself I am doing the absolute best I can. And right now, that may not be “as good” as what my best was months ago or what it will be in the future. But that’s okay. I’m okay. We are all going to be okay. There is hope in Christ. There is peace in Christ. There is healing in Christ. He loves us no matter what. He sees us and our efforts right now, no matter how big or small. Now is the time to lean on Him - and stand on our firm foundation. Because He is there. Because he cares. Because he understands... especially at a time when it feels like no one else does.
During times like these one of my greatest struggles is getting too much into my head. I beat myself up and constantly feel a level of frustration with myself because I am not doing, (or may not be capable of doing), what I would like or need to be. Sometimes it's frustration that I am not feeling the way I think I should be. At times I think too much and care too much about what people are thinking of it all, looking from the outside in, when they may be thinking nothing at all. I sometimes wonder if I tend to project those negative self thoughts onto what I choose to believe other people think of me... because deep down, it’s what I think. Now, I always need to disclaim that this is not to discredit self improvement and the vital necessity to recognize it, but I often forget to recognize when I'm already striving for my best during certain times. And my best is always changing. That’s okay. It doesn’t make me any less than, It just means I'm human.
One of the greatest gifts as humans, is that with our limited capacities we are still able to access and rely on God. We have a Savior who is perfect in every way, who died for us individually, and who gets it. He understands the context. And as long as we are striving to our best and remain firmly planted on that foundation, His is the only opinion that matters. I believe that's where true, unshakable, confidence really stems from. Confidence in ourselves, in our future, and confidence in our present circumstance. When we have that confidence, even when we may be feeling that overwhelming gloom of depression, we don't have to feel so unsteady and we can maintain a hope for brighter days. Because confidence is not security based off of fleeting circumstances, feelings, or material things, it's not found solely in times that are good or easy, it's not found only in our strengths. It's found in having that unmovable foundation in Christ, knowing that we are His. That includes our strengths, our weaknesses, and our changing circumstances... He loves us through it all and having the knowledge that we can come to Him every time, through times of adversity and struggle is where we will find that underlying and long lasting confidence that will get us through anything.