I was reading a book this morning on the balcony of my apartment, surrounded by pink and white begonias and some little purple flower I planted back in the spring that I actually don’t know the name of. I try to be a gardener, but let’s be honest… I just fake it till I make it. Cooking I can do. Baking is right up my alley. Making a house a home, I got that. But gardening… let’s just say that my thumb is not green. If it’s a color, it’s the blackest black. I have tried for the last few years to plant flowers in the spring and keep them alive until the frost overtakes them and they die a slow, painful death. And for the past few years… I have failed. I thought surely I had fallen short again this year because I was away from home for a good portion of the summer. And although I had bought the overpriced marble bulbs from Lowe’s that are supposed to slowly release water into your flowers while you are away, I came home from my trip to Seattle to find that the bulbs were still completely full of water… Not a drop had released into my precious begonias. And they were dry. Bone dry. Oh, how I wish I had a green thumb. It’s just not my spiritual gift.
So in the middle of July, my flowers - I thought – were total goners. There was no resurrecting them this time. I had let them go too far. I had already paid my respects and said my goodbyes and I was waiting for them to shrivel up entirely over the next week or so, so I would be justified in throwing them out. But I did a strange thing – something I didn’t really know the reason behind. Perhaps I’m just someone who doesn’t like admitting defeat. Or maybe it was because I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, and I just never want to believe someone something is a lost cause. I kept watering them. I kept tending to them, making sure they had enough of what they needed each day. And I even said a little Hail Mary prayer as I watered and waited. Waited for death. “God, would you please resurrect these flowers? Would you help them come back to life?”
I prayed a similar prayer over my own dimly growing, depressed, aching heart this past March. “God, would you please resurrect the dead parts of my heart? Would you help them come back to life?” I have previously written about the depression I experienced this past year, but the climax of the it all was in March 2017 when my body was overtaken with Respiratory Flu. I was preparing to preach the Sunday morning services at my church that week, and as the days passed my body became weaker and weaker. By Thursday night, I was shaking and had a fairly high temperature. I had not prepared well for the possibility of a debilitating sickness, so of course everything I needed I did not have. As Thursday night grew later, I canceled all of my appointments for the next day, prayed that I would be okay to preach on Sunday, and went to bed.
The next several days I experienced things that I would never want to suffer through again, and yet to some extent I would do it all over, because what Father God taught me during it all was incredibly sweet and tender. I spent the next four to five days lying in bed. It was all I could do. I was so completely miserable and so totally alone. It was the longest five days of my life. Seriously. The one thing that most single people can probably relate to, is that when you’re sick – like, really sick – the weight of your singleness is indescribably heavy because you are forced to do everything for yourself… even when you can’t. I made myself get out of bed one or two times, drive to the nearest convenience store and purchase the things I needed to survive. I went a little overboard in the medicine section and grabbed anything and everything I thought might help me feel better. The NetiPot, I am convinced, saved my life. So gross and yet so completely magical.
For those five days as I laid in bed, I watched a whole season of Survivor, drank countless liters of Gatorade, listened to worship music and read a devotional called Choosing Real. I remember sobbing in my bed as I listened to Beautiful Jesus by Jonathan and Melissa Helser. The words, “Beautiful Jesus… the One who never grows weary and stays ‘til the end” washed over me and I thanked Him for never leaving me; for being strong when I was so incredibly weak and weary. I read chapter after chapter in Choosing Real when I needed a boost of encouragement. Bekah Pogue’s father passed away not too long before she wrote this incredible book. The grief that she described in the book and the ways that she dealt with her grief resonated with my heart in unexplainable ways, even though what I was grieving was not the death of a person.
Or maybe it was.
As I laid in my bed for those long, miserable days, I was so aware that the person I had once known – the person I believe God created me to be – was no where to be found. She was hidden… Or even worse, I wondered… Was she dead? Would she ever come back? As I had been battling depression, and now this awful flu, I came to realize that I had not been really living. I was surviving at best and slowly dying at worst. I realized that I wasn’t who I desired to be… not even close. I knew I wasn’t living my fullest, best life and if I was honest with myself, I wasn’t really living a semi-full life. I had let my hopelessness overtake me to the point of pushing everything and everyone away.
Once I got through the flu and began feeling like myself again, I knew that what I was doing with my life wasn’t doing justice to the beautiful gift God had given me. So I began to put one foot in front of the other. Slowly but surely I began to see the light of who I was come back. I began laughing harder than I’d ever laughed before. I began spending more time with the people I had once been pushing further and further away. I invited people into my home and I cooked them dinner and I prayed with them. I realized that when I was giving of myself and using this gift of life that God had given me to bless others, somehow I began feeling like the real me again. It didn’t happen all at once, but one day I looked up from my very full life and realized… God had brought the dead things of my heart back to life. The places I never knew could live again… He brought them back even more vivaciously than they ever were before. He’s a God who does that – He resurrects dead things back to life and they are better than you ever knew they could be.
It is officially Autumn and the flowers on my balcony are still going strong. Every time I sit and admire them, I am reminded that God can take dead things and make them come to life again. I am reminded that He is a God of grace upon grace; that every time we think we are too far gone, His light and breath breathe new life into us. And we begin to thrive again… Not just survive.
Sometimes we look around at our life and we realize that something inside of us has died. Maybe it’s caused by the loss of someone close, or the death of an important relationship. Maybe it’s because life has dealt us a really bad hand and we don’t know how to make good things out of the dirt. But my sweet friends, I want you to know that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you (Romans 8:11) and He’s interceding for you, asking Father to raise those dead parts of your heart to life again.
What would it take for you to believe that is possible? What would it take for you to hope again? I am praying that the same God that resurrected every good thing to life in me does the same and more for you. He’s willing. That I know full well.
by Pastor Stephanie tells about how she survived depression…and how you can too.
Hi! My name is Stephanie, and I'm the girl behind this blog! I'm a pastor and a writer and a lover of all things chocolate. As you browse the content on this page, I hope you find yourself encouraged and smiling. At some moments, perhaps you would even shed a tear or two. Most importantly, I pray you find hope in whatever season you're walking through. We are in this journey together, and my calling is to encourage you along the way!