Her Story: Choosing Joy

Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.
Psalms 66:16 (NIV)

(Cue Prince of Bel-Air Music) . . . In little Washington born and raised, in the churchyard is where I spent most of my days, singing and eating like a good Baptist should, doing missions whenever I could. Ok . . . wait. I’m not sure I can do this. How do you sum up 44 years in a short rap? Come and hear . . . let me tell you what He has done for me.

As I walked down the brick steps, a vision flashed before me as I pictured myself letting go of her . . . on purpose. My sweet newborn wasn’t crying at that moment, but there were times I wanted that vision to actually happen. There were times I would leave her in the crib crying as I sat outside rocking back and forth crying myself. My wonderful husband would come home, loving on us with such gentleness and kindness–and I would be abhorred by his presence. Everything was overwhelming and I wanted to leave and never come back. I was suffering from postpartum depression but I didn’t know it.

I thought all new mothers felt this way, but I was mistaken. Life was not meant to be like this. I was trapped in a nightmare and I needed help. One of my most treasured friends showed up at my doorstep a couple of days later, to drive me to the doctor. She more than likely saved my life, my daughter’s life, and my marriage.

But I have hidden my story for over sixteen years.

A handful of people know that I take anti-depressants daily. Most people think I am the happiest person they know. Always smiling and ready to crack a joke. I have hidden my depression, anxiety, and shame for many years but God wants me to share my story. He wants me to help others who may be ashamed of their story too.

Depression is not what defines me, but it quite often gets in the way of how God defines me. Click To Tweet

Depression looks very different for different people. My depression had been deeply seeded for many years before I became a mother. And as I write this, I am here to tell you that I continue to fight depression and anxiety each day. There are days I do not struggle at all and there are days when I don’t even want to walk out on my porch.

Depression is the root of something deeper. But God desires something better for you . . . and for me. My biggest struggle with admitting that I suffer from anxiety and depression is the “shame” associated with it. We are told that we need to handle it. That we should be independent women who can withstand all that life throws at us. The “shame” that being dependent on medicine or therapy or friends is wrong. Not true!

Our dependence on Jesus is the core of who we are as Christians.

Dependence on community is how we walk through life. We all need sisters! When we all realize that we are dependent, it pushes us closer to God and the things and people that He puts in our path to help.

Psalms 18:6, (NIV) says:

In my distress I called to the Lord;

I cried to my God for help.

From his temple He heard my voice;

my cry came before him, into his ears.

God hears our cries and He teaches us as sisters to hear the cries of our fellow sisters. He provides His Word, His ultimate truth to combat Satan’s lies that lead to thoughts of depression.

You do not have to walk this road alone.

When I shared my story with my 16-year-old daughter, I quickly realized that she struggles with some anxiety and depression, just like me, and has a hard time accepting God’s word as ultimate truth to help her through it. Through tears, I encouraged her the best way I knew how. I don’t want her to have issues like me. I pray against Satan’s attack on her heart while praying against his attacks on my heart as well. I plead with God asking that fear will not take hold of my heart, of her heart, reminding us that we are both more than enough just the way God made us.

Depression is not who I am, but it is something that I struggle with.

I don’t want depression to be who my daughter is either. God gives us the scripture, God gives us a song of praise that can help us out of depression. God is hope. (Psalm 43:5) God is good, God does good, and God brings all things together for His good even on the days I struggle with anxiety and depression.

This is my story. This is my song. Let me tell you what He has done for me. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I hope that when you meet me that you will see Joy….the Joy of the Lord. There are days when I get up in the morning that I am full of depression and anxiety but I choose to put my Joy on. This does not mean that all is perfect in my world, but it does mean that I choose to face the world head-on with God’s help. May you choose Joy too!

Reflection Questions

There are days when I get up and put my joy on. This does not mean that all is perfect in my world but it does mean that I choose to face the world head-on with God’s help. What do you think, can you struggle and yet have joy? How does 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 support this theory?

Come and hear…let me tell you what He has done for me. I once thought my story was just “ordinary” and “not impressive” but then I realized that every story matters. My story goes far beyond ordinary because Jesus makes it extraordinary. Spend some time in Ephesians chapter 2 especially verses 8-10. How is your story part of God’s handiwork? How can you help another sister in Christ live our her story today?

Prayer

Lord, thank You for making us dependent on You. Lord, compose Your story on our hearts and let our hearts always sing of Your joy to all those around us. Lord, I pray for all my sisters in Christ who may struggle with anxiety and depression. Lord, help them to know that they are not alone. Lord, thank You for the Joy found in Jesus and the salvation that His death on the cross brings. Lord, You are extraordinary, and I thank You for always hearing my distress and my cry. Lord, may I always see myself through Your truth. Amen

 

 

16 thoughts on “Her Story: Choosing Joy

Jodie

Donna, Today I was reading about the way God can use our experiences to strengthen us. I have personally witnessed the many ways God has strengthened you as you have yielded your heart to him. Walking with you in brave faith has also strengthened me and I am not alone. Many have been strengthened. Thank you for sharing your story so openly. I love you, friend.

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    Donna

    God can do amazing exceedingly, abundantly more than we can ask or imagine if we will just allow Him to wholeheartedly. The road is not always easy but it is always worth it! Thank you for walking with me! Love you back! Donna

    Reply

Melissa Henderson

Thank you for sharing your heart. You are right. Depression does not define me.

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    Donna

    Thank you for reading!

    Reply

Nancy Silvers

Thank you for sharing this Donna. I experience periodic depression and it has been hard to admit that. I don’t know how anyone lives through depression without Jesus and other Christian sisters to walk walk along side them. Depression does not define me!

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    Donna

    Just this week, Satan tried to “throw my story” back in face and use it against me and against my oldest daughter. We must be alert to his attacks…. because it is not my story. Joy is!

    Reply

      Nancy Silvers

      Oh Donna I can so relater-my story is being shared in a couple of weeks and I have been fighting the enemy big time even though a lot of it has been shared privately. Choosing to trust God to use our stories to bring healing and the promises of Genesis 50:20 to come to life.

      Reply

Faye Lynch

Donna, I am so thankful for your transparency, it takes boldness to be able to open up to others our “secrets.” But God is going to use your story to help so many others. Bless you dear friend, and may God continue His work in your life and the life of your daughter to find joy in Him. Love ya!

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    Donna

    Love you too! I look forward to all that God has in store!

    Reply

    Donna

    I hope that God will always use me… to God be the glory! Love you Mrs. Faye!

    Reply

Kelly Stanley

Donna, thank you so much for opening up about this. It’s one of those things people don’t want to talk about—but they should, and I’m glad you opened this conversation. I, too, deal with depression. Honestly, it was more a PMS-induced rage than traditional depression. But a daily antidepressant makes me feel more like me, and I’m so thankful.

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    Donna

    Don’t you just love what my MD said? The meds just make you who you were meant to be! Go God! Not too shabby if I say so myself! 😉

    Reply

Becky W

I suffered in past with depression as a result of a rape…I went through many years feeling Shameful for not having it all together. I ended up on treatment and met my current husband ( God literally brought us together)
To a friend struggling the best we can do is to listen without fixing. We need people to hear us and be there…not to problem solve for us. Lord, help me to be there and be the light of Christ to my sisters.
Thank you Donna for helping me be brave today.

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    Donna

    My biggest fear has always been rape… I was inappropriately touched by a family member as a child and it took a long time for me to talk about that too and I think some of my fear of rape stems from that. Thank you for being brave. May God bring you healing each and every day. You are so very loved.

    Reply

Michele

Donna, thank you for your brave. Satan‘s biggest job is to shut the mouths of God’s girls. You keep speaking your truth, friend. We all have a story and freedom arrives when we let go of the shame and let a God use our story for His glory. You are joy, friend.

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    Donna

    Thank you, Michele! I tell women that there are times when the only thing that I can give them is Jesus….His joy. His joy before you, behind you, beside you, all around you, and within you.

    Reply

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