Like most people, I am constantly looking for instant gratification. So, when I struggled with anxiety and depression that dragged on for an entire year, it was a really difficult time. If I had to walk through something tough, ideally, it would have lasted for 24 hours, and when I spent a year in bondage to anxiety and depression, it was pure torture.
During my journey with these emotional disorders, I struggled, not just with the disorders themselves, but with the fact that I was a Christian who was suffering with them. I believed in God, I attended church, I loved studying the Word. How did I succumb to such bondage?
I did not struggle with depression growing up. When I would meet people who were depressed, I never understood why they just did not just choose to be happy.
I was the type of kid who could not hold a grudge; if I had been wronged, I forgave quickly and moved on. Transgressions others committed against me did not affect me much emotionally.
Later in life, though, my depression began with a single panic attack. It was something I had never experienced before and had never felt so out of control in my life.
After the first panic attack, I immediately developed GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). Simply put, GAD is a condition that leaves its victim caught in a constant loop of anxiety. You never really feel at ease.
I am very physically active and personally an extrovert, but beneath constant anxiety, I did not want to go anywhere. I removed myself from gatherings and social fun, I stopped going to the grocery store (despite loving to grocery shop), and I just wanted to sit at home all the time.
After a few months, this isolation led to depression. I felt as though the life I knew would never return to me. And even if it did, what would “normal” look like going forward?
Well, friends, my life did return to me and it is now better than ever because I live in the COMPLETE freedom that Christ has given to me!
Jesus set me free on the Cross. He said, “It is finished” and it was finished!
So, if Jesus has set us free then why do so many Christ Followers live in bondage?
We all have our own story, but I really believe the reason most of us find ourselves in bondage is not because we are not “Christian enough,” but rather, because we do not truly believe that we are free.
When I was going through anxiety and depression, I DID believe in Jesus, but I think that is what made me feel the most defeated; I knew God, I walked in relationship with Jesus daily, I read the Word, I had a community of Godly women surrounding me, and I attended church.
I did believe as much as I knew how to believe, but deep down - in the deepest inner parts of my heart – I was plagued by fear. Fear of death, fear of people, fear of losing, fear of not being good enough, and fear of losing control.
In addition to my fear, I carried a lot of guilt and shame. The enemy had me so bound and had been weaving his web of deception for years in my life, and one day, he decided to pull the rope as tight as he could and my whole world came crashing down.
There are seeds of deception that come our way daily and when we do not tend to those seeds, they turn into weeds in the flower beds of our lives. Those weeds grow deep, strong roots and thought we might chop them down on the surface but the roots still remain.
It is not until we get on our knees, down in the mud, and dig those weeds out of our flower bed that we experience the true freedom that Jesus has given us.
God is so gracious and the word that He gave me during my year of struggle was, “One day at a time.”
Oh! I wanted it to be over so badly, but each morning I would wake up with hope that yesterday was my last day of emotional turmoil, and then that sick feeling would hit me in the stomach and I would realize that the struggle was still there.
I was forced to choose to get up that morning and go through the motions of my life as though I was normal and press forward, and through that, I overcame one day at a time.
Because I walked through the darkness for a year of my life, I stand on the other side now in complete freedom because I understand that Jesus paid it all, but I have a choice in whether I believe that He paid it all and whether or not I operate in the freedom that He has given me.
I think that when we fall prey to this lie that we are not free, we make ourselves an exception to the scripture. I used to joke when I was in this season that the fine writing in the side notes of the Bible did not say, “Except April”. God’s Word applied to me just as much as it did to anyone else.
When God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). There is no fine writing beside that verse that says, “Except April”. This scripture applies to me as well as everyone else.
Know that the Scriptures are about you and for you, too, so do not give up on Scripture.
Do not give up because tomorrow could be the day you will finally be walking in complete freedom.
Anxiety and depression are very real. Believers and non-believers alike experience it. It’s very real, but it’s not forever!
I can only speak from my personal experience and I am not a doctor. But I do know Jesus and He heals, restores, and comforts.
Although He could completely remove the darkness from you, sometimes He needs you to get into the flower bed with Him and dig out those roots so that they do not creep up on you in the future.
With each root that I discovered, God helped me deal with grief, shame, guilt, and anger. There were things from my past that I had not thought about since I was a kid, that I didn’t even know were there, but God did and He knew I could not fully operate in freedom with those ugly roots attached to me.
If God would have exposed all of those roots to me in one day, I probably would have been admitted to a mental hospital. He knew what He was doing and He knew we had to take it one root and one day at a time.
I am now experiencing true freedom because I do not have roots of deception holding me captive anymore, and it is my prayer that you would take hold of your freedom by pressing forward with Jesus one day at a time.