I mentioned back in my original post about PPD Prevention that Chris and I were committed to keeping our marriage strong during the postpartum period. But as I explained in this post, I am still learning “how to ‘do’ marriage with depression. I still shut Chris out. To spare him the pain, I tell myself. I still give in to the lie that I am the enemy in my marriage; I am the bad guy.”
The book Love & War, by John and Stasi Eldredge, describes it this way:
The scariest thing a woman ever offers is to believe that she is worth pursuing, to open her heart up to pursuit, to continue to open up her heart and offer the beauty she holds inside, all the while fearing it will not be enough…. A lie is going to come to you, starting very soon, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. The lie to you, as a wife, will be, “You are nothing more than a disappointment.”
I see now that I have swallowed these lies—hook, line, and sinker. I wrote before that when depression hits, “I am immediately plunged into regret that I ‘let’ Chris marry me, that he is stuck in this miserable marriage with this miserable person who is making his life… well, miserable.” When things get really bad, I look at the wedding pictures framed in my downstairs bathroom with a deep longing to turn back the hands of time and tell Chris to run far, far away from me. I am sorry I married him, not because he is a disappointment to me, but because I am sure that I am such a huge disappointment to him.
Stasi, in Love & War, says she used to buy into that lie too, yet she doesn’t anymore:
This deep fear had crept into my heart; it was not that John was the wrong man for me, but that I was the wrong woman for him…. Then the revelation came that I am the right woman for this man. I realized that God had put us together; that I was particularly suited to him and that he was particularly suited to me. We were made for each other. God had brought us together for a reason; the whole of who we were — our life experiences, our unique desires, our spiritual gifts, our talents, even the man and woman that we were on the road to becoming — all this fit together in a way that made sense. We had a purpose; we shared a calling; we needed each other.
It is such a simple thing. “We were made for each other.” Duh, right? But it is a complete change in perspective for me. I somehow forgot that God wants to use me and my weaknesses in Chris’ life. I have the opportunity to grow him and shape him into the man that God is calling him to be. At least for the first ten years of our marriage, my depression seems to be God’s tool of choice for both of us. But that means I am not the enemy in my marriage.
Perhaps even my depression is not the enemy of my marriage. Perhaps it is merely the means by which God is calling us closer to Himself, as individuals but especially as a couple.
And it’s funny, when I stop feeling so sorry for everything I am “doing” to Chris, my depression lightens. When I am open with Chris about what is going on and choose to lean into him anyway, my depression lightens. When I stop apologizing for everything and instead thank him for everything, my depression lightens.
We were made for each other. Depression and all. That feels nice.
When I accept that we are supposed to be together to shape and grow one another—especially through our MY weaknesses—I can learn to stop operating out of that place of fear. The same blogger I mentioned last time explains that “any decision made from fear is the wrong decision.” I see now that I have made a lot of fearful decisions in the past. It is time for me to grow up—for the sake of my relationship with Chris, yes, but more importantly, for the sake of my relationship with Christ.
It’s funny; this blogger is not a Christian, but look at her suggestion as to how you stop operating from that place of insecurity and fear:
Always give to yourself first. Fill yourself up with what you really need, before you even consider giving to a man. You cannot give to him unless you have given to yourself first. You can’t give to a man unless you are “FULL” yourself. Insecurities will destroy your relationship.
Now she unfortunately believes you can fill yourself up by tapping into your “inner goddess.”
I don’t know about you, but my inner goddess sucks. She leaves me feeling even emptier than I was before and is the root of all my insecurities, so clearly she cannot fill me up with what I really need so I can give to my relationship with Chris. John and Stasi agree: “Every woman has an insatiable need for relationship, one that can never be filled.” But here’s the key: “It is an ache in her soul designed to drive her to God.”
All of these fears and insecurities I struggle with? They are good for me! They drive me to God. He is the One who can fill me. He is the only One big enough for the job. I can now operate out of a place of knowing that I am unconditionally loved. No matter what.
“Any decision made from fear is the wrong decision.” Funny, this talk of fear and love sounds strangely… biblical: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
I am made perfect in love. YOU are made perfect in love. We are never a disappointment to God. He delights in you. And because He delights in you, “I have two words for you today. Words that I want you to keep close in your hearts as you go forward: You are. [Wives], you are radiant, you shimmer, you shine, you are a treasure of a woman, a gem. You are.” (Love & War)
Scripture agrees. “Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame.” (Ps. 34:5)
Or with insecurity.
When I look to Him, I can operate out of a place of security that has absolutely nothing to do with me, with Chris, or with anyone else who is guaranteed to disappoint.
I am loved. No matter what.
Now that feels even nicer.