I spent a lot of years in a sea of depression. Waves of feeling like I would drown would come and go, followed by seasons of blissfully floating and soaking in the sun. I had always sensed that this wasn’t normal – that this wasn’t the life that God wanted for me – but I was too afraid to do anything to fix it or to even acknowledge that there was anything to fix. After eight years of denial, I finally hit my rock bottom and made the decision to do something about it. I began seeing a Christian counselor to address my depression and it was the most terrifying yet life-giving thing I have ever done.
I vividly remember the first few minutes of my very first session with my counselor. I admitted that I was nervous. When she asked why, I told her that, while I knew I was broken, I was afraid to find out that I was more broken than I was aware of and that I would be unfixable. I’ll never forget her response as she gently smiled back; “But don’t you think that the God who created you knows how to perfectly fix you?” And with that I dove into the journey of rescuing myself.
I don’t know what kind of sea you may be swimming in. Maybe your sea is one of depression like mine. Yours may be a sea of isolation, shame, fear, anxiety or addiction. While it may feel like you are drowning, there is hope that you can take steps to rescue yourself and begin swimming to safety. So what do those steps look like and how can we best implement them?
Admit your brokenness.
The first step in rescuing yourself is that you have to acknowledge that something is wrong. You will never be able to start swimming to safety if you don’t first accept that you’re drowning. This can look differently, depending on the issue. For me, I had to admit to myself that what I was dealing with was more than just a tough season or a bad mood. It was something much more serious. We can’t ignore our challenges and expect them to get better.
Have the courage to begin swimming.
The process of rescuing yourself can be terrifying, even in the safest of environments. Wounds can be reopened and you might discover things that shock you to your core. When these things begin to swell, hold on to this verse:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NLT)
A few months into my journey, I thought I was making great progress, but then something was uncovered that brought back the feelings of drowning. I was blindsided by it and I felt discouraged. Instead of giving into that feeling, I stood firm. I refused to let that wave set me back and rob me of the progress I had made. Because God is with us always, we don’t have to be afraid to discover these things, to find out how deep and wide our brokenness may reach. We can courageously begin to heal with the help of God.
There isn’t any one best way to start taking those steps towards recovery. For me it was finding and meeting with a Christian counselor. We started meeting weekly (although there were a few times we met bi-weekly), but the frequency has lessened based on the season. For you it might be finding a mentor, confiding in a close friend, or joining a group. Whatever route you choose, do it courageously with God and in time your sea will begin to look like a puddle.