Would it surprise you to know that like many of you I’m dealing with my own inner demons?
I’ve been quietly struggling in what I’ve come to name this deep, dark pit that I find myself in from time to time. I know that many of my struggles are lies from the enemy, many of them are also from self-inflicted wounds, but none the less…I’ve been battling these inner demons for a while, and that’s part of the reason why I haven’t written in so long. It’s been a long time since I felt the nudge to write, but I feel like maybe the best way for me to climb out of this pit is to maybe see if I can’t write myself out of it. It’s often when I write that I’m able to connect with God on a level that’s more intimate than when I don’t.
The good thing is that this series (which will be 14 posts long) is on Depression. In fact, the title of this series is “Depression: A Devotional For The Wounded Spirit”, and I’m hoping that maybe by doing this I can not only help myself climb up out of the pit…but if any of you are struggling I hope this will help you also.
Father God, thank You for the gentle nudge to sit down and write. I pray that all those (including myself) would have ears to hear what You are speaking, and that You would heal the wounded hearts and spirits and comfort those who need it. I pray also that You would make my fingers as that as a pen of a ready writer writing only of the oracles of You, that You would help me to write with boldness, clarity, transparency, and that You would speak all that You want to speak to us. I pray that we would all encounter You, and that we would leave this message and this series changed and transformed from the inside out. In Jesus name, Amen!?!
Healing For The Wounded Spirit (Part 1)
So, yes, friends and family, I have been struggling with…well there really isn’t a better way to say it, but to be honest…depression. It started when I lost my job, it’s gotten worse since I allowed myself to be drawn into inappropriate conversations with women who aren’t my wife, and it’s gotten me to a place where I haven’t really wanted to do much of anything. I know that admitting that I’ve been flirting with women who aren’t my wife is going to cause many of you to leave, but I really can’t concern myself with that cause I need to work at getting myself back on track…and I can’t do that if I’m not honest about my struggles and why I find myself in this pit that I’m in.
For starters, let me address that my wife and I are going thru marital counseling because we both have inner demons that we’re dealing with that have made their ugly faces known in our marriage. We are both committed to each other, we both love each other, and we want our marriage to not only work, but thrive. So, we’ve realized that we need help from outside source that can help us deal with our individual stuff so that we can be better for each other, and more importantly our daughter.
So, yeah I have to be honest to admit that I’ve had issues with flirting and watching pornography and I haven’t been the best husband, but I’m working on overcoming these issues and the only way to overcome them is to humble myself, seek God, and allow Him to work in my life.
Again, I’m aware that people are going to read what I just wrote, pass judgement upon me, and no longer follow me or my ministry. That’s perfectly fine with me, but I also know there are many of you who are going to read what I wrote and pray for me and my family and are excited to see what God is going to do in, with, and through these things now that they’re out in the open.
How many of you know that Jesus never told us to ignore the mountains in our lives, but to speak to them. The best way I know to speak to my mountains is to do what I’m doing right now…write them down…and I believe in my heart that over these next 14 messages that God is not only going to meet me where I am, but bring me out of this pit that I’ve been in over the last several months…and that what the devil meant to use to try to kill me is going to make me even stronger and God is going to help me use it to kick the devil’s ass.
For most of our lives we have heard one Christian message in regards to depression and suicide. That message has been “Just trust God and life will get better. If you love God you won’t be depressed.” What happens, though, when you love God but the darkness and heavy fog won’t lift? What happens when you would rather go home to your Maker than spend another day on Earth?
Just trust God and life will get better. I really wish, friends, that it was that simple, but the truth is…when you get into a place where you truly are battling inner demons it isn’t as simple as just trusting God. In the midst of all that’s happened not only have I felt the disappointment from my wife, but I have also felt that I’ve disappointed God.
Some say that we can’t really disappoint God, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. I know we cannot separate ourselves from His love, but I believe that if we truly are created in His image than if we can be disappointed with one another I believe that means that He can be disappointed with us as well. Doesn’t mean that He stops loving us or that we lose our salvation, but I do believe that we can disappoint Him.
See, as I mentioned this all started when my car broke down, then shortly after that I lost my job, and then the devil began to work on breaking me down. I lost the best job I ever had because I wasn’t truly committed to them. I missed a lot of days, and eventually they let me go because…well…people can’t run a business if they’re not sure an employee is going to show up. So, the devil began to have a field day with that, and that was the beginning of this downhill slide. I’ve been jobless for a while now and in addition to being jobless my car is still broken. It won’t take the $1,000’s of dollars to fix I thought it was going to, but none the less it’s hard to be able to buy parts or help provide for my family when my car is broke and there aren’t a lot of job prospects within walking distance.
So, I feel like I’ve already failed and let my family and friends down…which leads me to internalizing things which is where I allowed the devil the opportunity to take root, and wreak havoc upon my life and my marriage because when I get to feeling like a failure I need some way to feel like I’m not as horrible a person as I think I am…which lead me down the road of having inappropriate conversations with other women…and it also lead me to falling into the trap of watching pornography…which leads me to having more problems with my marriage…which leads me further into this pit of feeling like a failure and deeper and deeper into this pit of depression.
As I mentioned, many of my wounds are self-inflicted, but how many of you know that self-inflicted wounds hurt just as bad (and some times worse) than the wounds you get from other people. The other reality is that it may be easy to forgive and forget the wrongs other people do to you, but it’s not always easy to forgive yourself for the wrongs that YOU do. Maybe I’m speaking from my own personal feelings here, but I’ve always had a difficult time letting myself off the hook…and quite frankly that is one of the centerpieces of my personal struggles. My inability to see myself the way the Father sees me…because the reality is when you feel like you’ve let God down…then it’s really hard to look at yourself through the loving lens of the Father’s eyes because you feel that He’s disappointed in you too.
After all, I’ve broken the heart of His daughter. The woman who He gave me, the woman I knew that I was supposed to marry because He said this is the one, and all those people who tried to warn her that I was no good were right…and don’t know that the devil used that to wreak havoc upon me as well?
In addition to that, there’s the reality that I’ve not been the kind of man who I would want my daughter to marry let alone meet. I’ve never really been an honorable man, I’ve never really been able to look at myself in the mirror and be pleased with who I am, and what I see looking back at me…and the devil knows that I feel that way about myself and he uses that to get me into these places where I’m withdrawn, depressed, and not wanting to do anything but…hang out in this pit.
Is this okay? I was tempted to delete all this, but I’m not going to. I’m going to bear my heart, and let the chips fall where they may. I may lose all my friends and followers, but at least I can be honest about where I am, my struggles, and the fact that I need Jesus just as much as anyone else. Just because I’m called to serve God doesn’t change the fact that I need Him…it just means that He’s given me the ability to write and called me to use it for His glory…and so maybe by telling on myself this is the beginning stages of Him getting the glory for what He’s about to do in, with, and through my life.
What happens, though, when you love God but the darkness and heavy fog won’t lift? What happens when you would rather go home to your Maker than spend another day on Earth?
I’ve never through all of this stopped loving God. I know that He’s never stopped loving me either, and I know that He’s never stopped pursuing me…the proof of that is the fact that I’m sitting here right now writing this message.
The perfect description of what I feel is in the words “darkness and heavy fog”. There’s a heaviness that comes from this place I’ve been in that doesn’t allow me to feel anything, but the fog and darkness and despair. It doesn’t allow me to feel anything but broken and downtrodden (Psalm 42:3-5). There’s been a lot of crying, blank stares, and often times just a general numbness where it’s hard to feel anything but broken. I know I just repeated myself, but I feel that many of you are going to understand that feeling and the fact that it’s really hard to express or explain…until someone gives you words to express it.
I’ll say this for the unspoken part of where I’ve been. If it weren’t for my beautiful little girl I would probably be in worse shape then I am because she’s been a constant bright spot through this…and she’s the reason that I know I need to keep going and push through. The ironic thing about this is I’ve been working with a veteran support network that deals with combating the veteran suicide rate, and I can understand how people can get to a place where they would rather die than push through cause the truth is no matter how you get the wounds, no matter how the brokenness comes…there’s nothing worse than being emotionally exhausted.
There are so many feelings that go along with the brokenness. The feeling of hopelessness, the feeling of failure, the pain from being alone, and the feeling of being useless. It’s in that place you begin to go down the list of people who wouldn’t miss you when you’re gone, and you find yourself hoping that you can find that one person who would struggle to get along without you.
The devil likes to get into that conversation too. He will tell you that no one will care or miss you. I mean no one really cares if you’re around now so why would they care if you weren’t around permanently. I hate to be this graphic, but the truth is this is a real conversation that I’ve had with the devil…and it’s this conversation that gets a lot of people in trouble if they can’t find that one person that would struggle without you.
There’s a reason I asked God to help me to be honest and transparent in this message, friends, and that’s because I want to expose the lies of the enemy. Some of this stuff is really as messy as it sounds, friends. It’s not easy for me to talk about this stuff at all, but I also realize that in order for me to heal I need to talk about it.
Life can some times be truly ugly…and it’s great that people can be too blessed to be stressed…but I don’t know what that’s like…I know what it’s like to struggle and find yourself in the depths that David speaks of in many of the Psalms he wrote. Yes, I know what it’s like to find peace, I know what it’s like to feel and know God’s love, but I also know what it’s like to have tasted those things…and find yourself broken and with that heavy fog that just doesn’t seem to want to lift.
You can sing through it, pray through it, worship through it, and there are times that you feel the fog kind of lifting…but many of those wounds are still open and all it takes is a swipe of the enemy to reopen the wounds because he doesn’t want me to climb out of the pit because he knows that I am a real threat to him.
I suspect that’s why I was tempted to delete this message…because my breakthrough…my victory has already been provided by the blood of Jesus. I just need to grab a hold of it, and stop allowing the devil to drag me back into the pit…and that’s exactly why I’m not only going to keep writing…but I’m going to publish this message when I’m done writing it.
I’m writing this message the way I’ve written all of the other ones…obeying God and trusting Him with the results…and as though God is the only One reading this message…and as I said let the results be the results…but I can already sense a change in me as I’ve been writing.
So…whatever comes of this…so be it.
For many, there can often be the misconception that when you find Jesus, you’ll stop feeling bad and life will be pretty. But that’s not reality, is it? Friends and loved ones die. Unjust suffering occurs. Our friends can betray us. Sometimes we’re left in what seems like a never-ending night, perhaps without even an obvious cause.
I kinda touched on this a moment ago, and I believe this misconception is correct. I think part of this misconception comes from pastors that aren’t willing to be open and transparent about their struggles. I have often said that I’m not perfect that I don’t deserve to be placed on a pedestal just because God has anointed me and called me to be a pastor. Believe me. Just because I love God and am called to serve Him that hasn’t stopped me from feeling bad, and it certainly hasn’t made all of life pretty. In fact, as I just shared with you I’m working at climbing out of a pit that I’ve found myself in because life has really been quite ugly.
Again, I freely and honestly admit that many of my wounds are self-inflicted, but that doesn’t stop them from hurting. That doesn’t make the brokenness hurt any less. I am not any less saved, but I have certainly felt that darkness and heavy fog…and whether it’s from outward sources or self-inflicted sources…that doesn’t diminish the hurt. In fact, it kinda adds to it because as a pastor you feel like you should know better, and of course the devil will echo those things to you as well.
The good news is that many of our heroes of faith within the Scriptures felt the EXACT same way. King David finds his soul “downcast.” Elijah asks God to kill him (1 King 19:4). But perhaps in one of the most stunning passages of scripture, we discover the Apostle Paul struggling through the same as he writes to the Church in Corinth. He openly shares about the suffering and affliction he and others in the early church suffered, and then goes on to say that he was so “burdened” (in the Greek it can be translated as “weighed down, depressed”) that they “despaired even of living.” That even the Apostle Paul, who we often view as the Superman of the New Testament, isn’t immune to feeling this way helps validate our situation.
It is helpful to know that many of the heroes of faith have felt the same way that I have through this time, and it’s also helpful to know that God delivered them. From King David to Paul…it’s helpful to know that they have all felt the darkness and fog. They all found victory in Jesus, and because God is no respecter of person I know that my victory is found in the same Place.
I’m under no delusion that just because I’m writing this message that suddenly this heavy fog is going to lift, but I do know that the way out is to keep walking with God. I know that I’m not alone, I know that He is with me, and I know that He is going to work this all out for good because I love Him and am called according to His purposes.
Today, find comfort in knowing you are in the company of men and women of faith who have been where you are, and eventually found hope and the strength to carry on.
The greatest comfort I have is knowing that God is going to get the glory not only by me writing this message, but He’s also going to get the glory for taking me from this pit I’ve found myself in and using it to help others find their way out of the pit as well. This message isn’t just about my own healing, but it’s about God wanting to help others find the same healing…and that’s why I’m going to obediently share what I’ve written.
You see, I know there are people reading this right now that need to know that Jesus is the way out…and that none of us are walking through this season of our lives alone. He is there whether we can hear Him or feel Him…Healing is near!
It’s no coincidence that the song playing as I wrap up this message is “Healing Is Here”, and I believe I’m going to close this message with the lyrics of the song…
Healing is here healing is here
Healing is here and I receive it
Healing is here healing is here
Healing is here and I believe it
I reach my hands to the heavens
I lift my eyes where my help comes from
I look to You my rock my healer
I trust in You
Freedom is here freedom is here
Freedom is here and I receive it
Freedom is here freedom is here
Freedom is here and I believe it
Sickness can’t stay any longer
Your perfect love is casting out fear
You are the God of all power
And it is Your will that my life is healed
Oh Lord, it’s hard to be this open, honest, and transparent. I know that many will read this message, and many of them will turn their backs upon me, but I also know that many will read this message to find they’re not alone in their struggles with depression or having a wounded spirit. I know many of them probably have self-inflicted wounds just like I do, I also know that many have wounds that have been inflicted upon them from others, and I also know that there are military people reading this who wish that their heads could forget what they’ve seen. No matter who they are, no matter where the wounds came from I ask that You would touch us all in a way that we would all know that we have indeed encountered YOU. I pray that You would heal the hurting and broken and that You would wrap us all in Your arms, and that many of us would encounter Your love in a way that we either have never encountered it or in ways that we haven’t felt in a long time. It is Your will that all of our lives are healed, and I ask that Your healing would be poured out upon those who need it today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Let’s Worship Jesus:
I figured that adding the song I closed this message with would be a good idea. After all, the best way to get through the storm is to praise God in it, right!?!
Well, this is definitely a much different message than I was expecting to write, but I’m not going to delete it because I know that not only will I receive the healing that I need…but there are others who need God to walk them through their own struggles with depression and heal their wounded spirits.
This was a very difficult message to write because this allows people and complete strangers to go to a depth inside of me that I keep closely guarded, but I also see the value of letting this all out because it allows people to see me as real and authentic. I know that I’m going to lose people, but I also believe that it will allow people an opportunity to see God work in my life…and give them hope that God will work in their lives as well.
Hey…if this message has hit home with you would you take a moment to let me know? I don’t need you to share details (unless you’d like to), but it would really be nice to have some confirmation that I’m on the right track with this series. So, if this is something you’re struggling with won’t you let me know…so that I can be praying for you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this message. I know it’s long, I know it’s a hard read, but if you’ve made it to this point I appreciate it more than you know. I appreciate all of you that have been patient with me, and praying for me. Please continue praying for me, and please continue being patient with me.
I hope you’ll join me for “Healing For The Wounded Spirit” Part 2. Until then, thank you for your prayers, patience, and support. I’m blessed with some amazing people, and I love and appreciate you all.
Blessings & Grace ~ Pastor B