On the Selfishness of Suicide


I wrote this post on September 8-10, 2012. Please note, I have expanded some of my thoughts and corrected my own misperceptions here after Sasha Hettich committed suicide in 2015. Do not read this post individually. (Link also at the end.)

After climbing into the trenches and literally laying down beside Sasha, I felt as if I was looking into a time portal. And as much as my heart is breaking for her and her family right now, I feel as if I am forced to look in the mirror and see myself for what I was only 8 months ago. I have been focusing all of my energy over these past few months on getting better, and now that I am, it’s time to go back and dissect everything that I went through.

Laying next to Sasha, I felt stripped naked, even as she was physically undressed. Raw and exposed. Now they too can see me for what I truly am. Or was.

I’m making good progress in the mourning process. Maybe it seems odd to mourn my PPD journey, but it perfectly describes what I am experiencing. I experienced a terrible loss. Many terrible losses. I lost the first year of Becca’s life. I lost control of mind. I lost the will to fight, to live another day. At least in this case, healing and mourning are nearly interchangeable.

For the time being, I feel accepting of the loss of the first year of Becca’s life, but that took a lot of time to get to that point. Now I am trying to wrap my mind around, well, losing my mind. I understand now why PPD (or any depression) is considered a mental ILLNESS. My brain was not functioning correctly. I am a relatively content person. I laugh hard and I laugh frequently. (My husband never knows what I’m even laughing at half the time.) So how is it even possible for me to come to a place where I honestly thought that suicide was the best solution?

One of you wrote an excellent post about the selfishness of a mother who commits suicide. That’s the funny thing about depression. It is horrifically selfish—at least in the sense that you can’t get outside yourself. My brain was not capable of seeing the big picture. I was stuck inside myself, stuck in the present, a present that felt like a permanent past and future; it had always been this way and would always be this way. I was stuck on the fact that I was a burden to my family. And I was. No one can tell me that PPD is not a burden on the entire family. I felt like a burden, and that I would always be a burden.

But here’s the unexpected part. Suicide did not become an option in my mind for selfish reasons, not because I was so desperate to end the pain. In fact, suicide did not feel selfish at all; it felt… merciful. For my family. I felt like I would be doing them a favor by relieving them of their burden. Me. Yes, they’d mourn my death but secretly they’d be relieved, the way family members often feel relief after watching a loved one die of cancer. My husband could remarry, someone who would love him better than I could and someone who would love our children better than I could. They’d look back with time and see God’s providence in all of it, that I made the best decision for my family by freeing them from me. Suicide felt selfless, like putting my own family’s well-being before my own.

They didn’t need me; they needed to be rid of me.

I spent all day everyday fantasizing about it.

By the grace of God, I am now on the other side of the story. But I am struggling to figure out what to “do” with this, with everything I just wrote. What do you “do” with something this awful, with that deep, dark secret place in your heart that even you are ashamed to disclose?

I don’t really know the answer to that. For now, I’m simply staring it in the face. Uncovering every stone and trying to accept that it happened. It was real, and it was me. And it was awful.

But I did it. And I am really proud of myself. I almost feel childish in how very proud of myself I am, like a school girl running home from the bus waving her aced math test in the air before eagerly sticking it on the fridge.

Postpartum depression was the most difficult test I have ever encountered in my entire life.

But I passed.


Head here next. It’s important.

Posted in Depression, Marriage, Motherhood | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Before Sasha’s Suicide


On Christmas Day in 2015, my friend Sasha Hettich committed suicide. I admittedly did not know her well. We met in a bible study at Cornerstone University, and I connected with her again when her daughter Ember was about four weeks old. The following is what I wrote about that time together.

(Written on Saturday, August 18, 2012)

When I let myself into Sasha’s house on Wednesday, things were even worse than I anticipated. Sasha, a college classmate of mine, had attended our local Postpartum Emotional Support Group the night before, and my friend and “groupie” Kelsey offered to visit her and help out with her four-week-old daughter, Ember. When Kelsey sent me an SOS text in the afternoon, I zipped over there as soon as my husband got home from work.

I found Sasha lying on the living room floor with one breast hanging out of her tank top. She had clearly been nursing recently but, despite being in a room with relative strangers, hadn’t bothered to put her shirt back on.

“How do I survive this, Karen? I’m not going to make it. It was a mistake to have this baby. I should just drop her off at the fire station. I can’t do this. It’s too hard. I don’t want to be here anymore.”

Without thinking, I climbed down onto the ground and lay next to her. I wanted to stroke her greasy, unshowered hair, but I remember how “touched out” I felt when Becca was a four-week-old frequent feeder.

I don’t remember what I whispered to her because it wasn’t me talking at all; God answered my frantic prayers to give me the right words to say, and He did not fail to give me more than I could ask or imagine. Kelsey sat on the floor behind us, clutching Sasha’s tiny daughter and crying softly as Sasha told us over and over and over again how much she just wanted to die.

How do you explain to complete strangers that their loved one needs more help right now than they are able to give?

Sasha’s mom arrived from Indiana soon after. She took one look at Sasha lying on the floor partially topless and embraced Kelsey and me. “I guess I should have come sooner, but I knew she was safe as long as she was with you two.”

The first night I attended the local Postpartum Emotional Adjustment Support Group back in June of 2011, the facilitator started the meeting by having the “veterans” introduce themselves. I was surprised by how many women continued to attend the group even though their struggle with postpartum anxiety/depression had primarily been resolved. And when Sasha asked how she can ever repay us for our help and support, I told her the same thing those veterans gave over a year ago as the reason they keep coming back: “Get better so you can go help other moms going through this too.”

Like I just did.


Sasha was hospitalized a few days later and soon slipped into full-blown psychosis as a side-effect of a specific medication. It was messy. But Sasha did get better. She was a fabulous mom. She went on to have another baby in July of 2015—a little boy named Gus. But when he was five months old, Sasha chose to end her life.

I promised her in 2012 she would get better. That promise is broken now.

And while that is not my fault—it’s not anyone’s fault—I want to keep the second half of that promise. I want to help other moms going through this. And I want even the tragedy of Sasha’s death to help other moms too.

I will fight. Fight with me. Please?

Posted in Depression, Motherhood | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

On Shame and Growing Up

I crashed again. I have taken some pretty drastic measures over the past three months to correct the hormone imbalance and was able to come out of it quite quickly, but I was surprised to find that the spiritual depression did not lift even as the physical and emotional symptoms eased.

I confess I threw a bit of a spiritual temper tantrum when I crashed. Really, God? Really? This again? I was angry. I picture myself acting like an immature teenager, stomping all the way up the stairs and slamming the door behind me as I yell, “I hate you!”

Enter: doubt.

The great thing about seasons of doubt is that it forces us to search for answers to the questions we’ve been failing to ask.

Once I came out of the depression, I nevertheless felt as though the door to my faith had jammed after I slammed it shut, and I couldn’t figure out how to step over the threshold and back into faith. Where did God go? Why was he far from me?

Was I the one keeping him at a distance? I wasn’t sure. I was the one who slammed the door, so was I now the one too stubborn to open it? Is what Juli Slattery writes here true?

We have exactly as much of God as we really want…. My spiritual life languishes not because God is stingy with his presence, but because I am too content to operate without him.

I think there is some truth to this. Okay, a lot of truth.

But this felt different. I was searching, so why wasn’t God showing up?

The Heart of the Matter

We aren’t the only ones… Jesus asked God why he was forsaken, and he wasn’t the only one asking; he was actually quoting David in Psalm 22. In Psalm 13, David also wrote,

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
 How long will you hide your face from me?

This is coming from the man after God’s own heart. David wanted more of God, but God hid his face from him. Does this mean that God actually is “stingy” with his presence at times, in contrast to what Juli wrote above? Why would he do that?

My friend Kari found one possible answer in 2 Chronicles 32:31 when she felt this same spiritual loneliness recently:

God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and see what was really in his heart.


When God turns his face away from me, the only face staring back at me is my own. Depression forces me to take a long, hard look in the mirror, to see what is really in my heart.

When I do not feel the light of his love shining down, I am left only with my darkness.

Negative Emotions

Why are so many Christians afraid of this darkness? Why are Christians so bad at embracing negative emotions? Just because they are negative does not mean they are bad.

Anger isn’t bad. Jesus threw furniture in his anger.

Mourning isn’t bad. Jesus wept at the graveside.

Depression isn’t bad. David, Jeremiah, Elijah, and so many outstanding men of faith constantly battled depression. Have you ever noticed how many of David’s psalms are laments? (Hint: it’s a lot.)

David, a man after God’s own heart, understood that there is room in our walk with God to examine the darkness inside our own hearts. He didn’t deny the darkness. He didn’t pretend everything was okay and stuff it down. No, David was mature enough to look his darkness in the face.

What if these negative emotions are exactly what we need to pay more attention to? What if these negative emotions are the key to understanding what is really in our hearts? What if that understanding is so important that God will actually withdraw his presence from us so that we have no choice but to face ourselves?

Peter Scazzero wrote an entire book about how it is impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.  David understood that you cannot ignore your sadness, anger, and fear and still expect to grow in your faith.

Isn’t that the truth? Our faith does not grow when we feel happy, compassionate, and secure.

Uncovering the Primary Emotion

I am on a journey to grow up—spiritually and emotionally. It is time to stop wasting my energy on feeling depressed and instead ask myself why I feel so depressed in the first place. This means facing the darkness head on, not denying it. This means asking myself the hard questions about what I am truly feeling—the primary emotion at the root of my pain—and embracing that, not running from it. Denying those negative emotions is perhaps at the root of my depression. If we stuff them down long enough, the negativity will ooze out around the edges.

I stumbled upon a primary emotion I didn’t know was motivating me recently. I sat down at my kitchen table at the end of a long day, face-to-face with the pigsty my main level had become this week. I started to fight back tears, but stopped myself long enough to ask what I was actually feeling. I “tried on” a couple of feelings: overwhelmed, defeated, weary, but none of them fit quite right. I did feel all of those things, but they felt more like accessories.

I finally tried, I feel shame, and it was then that I burst into tears.

I was surprised. Shame is not at all what I thought I was feeling going into this little experiment, but I knew the instant I landed on it that that was the one.

Internalizing Shame

Why shame?

What exactly is shame? I didn’t really know at the time, so I have started on a journey to find out.

In Healing the Shame that Binds You, John Bradshaw explains the difference between healthy shame—what forms the basis of moral behavior and ethical responsibility—and the shame that can also be internalized as a destructive identity. He discusses how shame in itself is not bad; it is part of what makes us human, and, in fact, is one thing that distinguishes us from all other animals. (Humans are the only creatures in all of creation that can blush out of shame and embarrassment. I find that interesting.) Bradshaw even goes so far as to say that healthy shame reminds us that we are not God, keeps us humble, and is the very source of our spirituality.

Okay, whoa.

So where did I go wrong?

Bradshaw observes that the trouble begins when this healthy human emotion is transformed into an unhealthy state of being that takes over our whole identity; we begin to believe that we are inherently flawed and defective as a human being—which leads to the creation of a false self that is not defective and flawed, in order to cover up our authentic selves—a process he refers to as “soul murder.” He and the experts he quotes believe that this sort of shame and soul murder is the source of many mental illnesses, including depression.

And this is exactly what played out in my kitchen the other night.

The house is always such a mess. Why can’t I keep up with it? What is wrong with me? I am a poor excuse for a wife/mother/housekeeper. I will never be good at this. I am not good enough. I am a failure.

The funny thing is that it sounds completely ridiculous when I write out my internal thought process. I am not my house and my house is not me. My house does not define who I am. As my mom likes to say, “Let’s not ascribe morality to this.” My inherent goodness or badness has nothing to do with my housekeeping prowess or lack thereof.

Christian Maturity

The antidote to this kind of unhealthy shame and false self is unconditional love and acceptance of your real authentic self, of course.

I think this is the difference between spiritual and emotional maturity and immaturity. The immature cling to their false self; the mature are firmly rooted in their authentic self—no matter what.

This plays out in so many different ways in our lives. For example, Paul Byerly over at the Generous Husband writes,

Your pain has far more to do with your immaturity than it has to do with [your wife’s] immaturity. Sure, much of what she does and doesn’t do is because of her immaturity, but the reason it hurts so much is almost entirely on you. 

Next time your kids are being mean to each other, think about it. Most of what they do to hurt each other emotionally wouldn’t faze you at all. The reason for this is two-fold: you are mature enough to not care, and you clearly see their words are coming from their own immaturity. The same is true for adults if we can just see it. Some of it is intended to hurt us, or get a reaction. Some of it has nothing to do with the target; it’s all about the immaturity, pain, and need of the one doing it.

They say that time heals all wounds. Maturity takes time. Does this mean that maturity heals our wounds, or at least prevents future offenses?

I think so. Paul talks about the benefits of growing up:

I enjoy everything more, and I hurt less. I still have plenty of struggles, but I’m learning to beat each new problem with less stress and effort than in the past. My only regret is taking so long to get serious about growing up.

I am serious about growing up.


And so God doesn’t feel so silent anymore. In fact, I can’t keep up. I am spending my evenings looking into what a spiritually mature person looks like according to scripture. I have a lot of growing up to do.

It’s exciting though. When you are younger, there is always so much to look forward to. At ten years old, I looked forward to 13 when I could be considered a teenager, at 13 I looked forward to 16 when I could drive, at 16 I looked forward to 18, and at 18 to 21, etc, etc. We look forward to these milestones because each of them comes with new privileges. Responsibilities too, yes. But a whole new world opens up to us. The world becomes a bigger place.

I am excited to explore my expanding, maturing faith.

“Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame.” (Ps. 34:5)

Posted in Spiritual Growth | 3 Comments

With Love, from Panera: You’re Doing a Great Job

Dear mama at Panera.

You’re doing a great job. When your boys start fussing because the line is too long, you march them right up to the window to admire all of the goodies you are going to get. You scoop up the little one in your arms so he can see better, and when his big brother protests, you somehow manage to scoop him up too. Both boys so heavy in your arms but you make it look easy. When the youngest hollers, “MAMA. MAMA. MAMA. MAMA,” so loud it hurts your ear drums, you don’t shush him sharply or tell him to be quiet; no, you gently respond, “What, buddy?” and seem genuinely interested in what he is trying to show you.

Dear mama. You’re doing a great job.

Dear mama at Panera,

You’re doing a great job too. That baby girl is so new, she still feels clumsy in your arms. You are rocking her and bouncing her and she isn’t making a peep. You stroke her face and you cannot stop looking at her. When you do look up, you are smiling. Beaming even. Your grin is wide and it is real.

Dear mama. You’re doing a great job.

Dear mama at Panera,

You’re doing a great job. Even though you are in Panera alone, hiding from your kids. Even though you screamed when your toddler threw an entire cup of yogurt on the carpet. Even though you can’t let go of the guilt after you squeezed your toddler’s arm harder than necessary. Even though motherhood, for you, doesn’t feel anything like it *looks* for those other mamas at Panera.

Dear mama. You’re doing a great job. Even though you collapsed into sobs when your sister-in-law told you that you are doing a great job. Because you don’t believe her. Because it’s when you don’t believe it that you need to hear it most.

Dear mama. You’re doing a great job. Because as they say, bad moments don’t make bad moms.

Dear mama at Panera. I wanted to tell you what a great job you are doing with those boys on your hips. But I wasn’t brave enough to reach out. It would be weird, wouldn’t it? Dear mama at Panera. I wanted to tell you what a great job you are doing even if you are terrified of that tiny, new creature you know nothing about. [Yet.] But I wasn’t strong enough to stifle my own tears if I reached out, and crying in front of you would be weird.

Dear mama at Panera. Holding back your tears. I don’t have to tell you that you are doing a good job, because you… are me.

And I am doing a great job because I know when I’ve had enough. I am doing a great job because I know when it is time to hide from my kids in Panera and write love letters to the other mamas in Panera. I am doing a great job because I know I won’t (and don’t) always feel like I am doing a bad job. I am doing a great job because I know that sometimes I have to cry big, ugly, fat tears to purge all of the things I stuff down, and so I give myself permission to cry those tears… just not in Panera. I am doing a great job because I know I will be okay, even if I am not right now.

Dear mamas everywhere. You’re doing a great job. Whether motherhood feels easy and natural and right. Or whether motherhood feels hard and dark and suffocating. Whether motherhood feels all of those things at the exact same time. You’re doing a great job.

You are.

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Life is in the Blood: The Gospel According to Biology

Life is in the blood.

Every month we bleed, we lose a bit of our life.

We bleed when we miscarry, we lose the life of another.


This is what it means to be a woman. To be a mother.

This is the sacrifice of motherhood.

To lose a bit of life.

But it is through the bleeding that new life begins.


To some extent, we don’t have control over this. This loss just happens.

How much more amazing is it then that Christ gave himself up for us. He chose to spill his blood.

New life begins this way. There is no other way. Even our bodies know it.


I make my sacrifices willingly. I choose them. And most of the time I am happy to do so. But not always. I choose them, yes, but I don’t like them. I do them because I have to. Because it is the right thing to do. Because it is best for my family.

I used to feel guilty about this. Shouldn’t I have a better attitude about the sacrifices I make?


But maybe not.


The thing about sacrifice is that it isn’t supposed to be easy.

Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t easy, and he was the Son of God! I doubt he felt happy about making that sacrifice. In fact, we know he did not. He wept tears like blood and begged the Father for a way out. But he did it because he had to. Because it was the right thing to do. Because it was best for His family.


My sacrifices are pitiful in comparison. But it helps to “consider him who endured… so that you will not grow weary or lose heart.”

Because life is wearying, isn’t it? Why else would Jesus command, “Come unto me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.”

We all grow weary. Blood-letting is wearying. But we serve a God Who knows all about that. Who CHOSE that. To give us rest.


Sweet rest.


Posted in Motherhood | Tagged , | 1 Comment

On Fear and Insecurity Cont’d: Loved No Matter What

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.

Posted in Marriage, Spiritual Growth | Leave a comment

On Fear and Insecurity: The Idolatry of Marriage

As much as my depressive episodes are devastating to me and to my family, I cannot deny that God uses every episode as a tool to rock my faith to its core and reinvent it. This episode has been no exception.

Looking back, I think God told me in advance what my lesson would be. One week before Lizzy was born, I met with an author of mine and listened as she discussed a concept that inspired her to start the marriage book she was writing. (She just signed a publishing agreement for the book this past week, by the way. Go me.) She painted a picture of “the idolatry of marriage,” how so many people—women in particular—look to their spouses to fill an emptiness only God can fill.

The idolatry of marriage.

I felt like I had been punched in the gut when she said it. (And it wasn’t the massive baby in my belly.)

I do this. I am guilty of this. Terribly, terribly guilty.

My self-esteem, especially when I was struggling with depression, was—okay, still is at times—inseparably tied up in Chris’ opinion of me. And what’s worse is that I “ask” for the reassurance I am desperate for in passive aggressive ways, in GirlSpeak. For example, when I complain to him that I am a horrible mother, my complaint is really a request in disguise; I am not making a statement but actually asking Chris to reassure me that I am a great mother. It is like whining to a girl friend that you feel fat because you know she will immediately respond by telling you that you look great.

Unfortunately, Chris does not speak GirlSpeak. My indirect requests are met with blank stares. He has no idea what to do when I beat myself up in front of him. He has no idea that I am desperately clinging to him to tell me all of the ways I am awesome. And when he doesn’t tell me how awesome I am, I—very logically, of course—assume it is because he doesn’t think I am awesome. Because he did not argue with me when I said I was a terrible mother, it must be because he really does think I am a terrible mother!

Are you laughing right now? You should be.

Ladies, this is ridiculous. I am ridiculous. And Chris has absolutely no idea any of this is going on in my heart.

And for a very long time, neither did I.

I am learning that I am a deeply, deeply insecure person. I am learning that I look to Chris to fill my insecurities. And I am learning, slowly, that Chris cannot fill them. Not even a little bit.

He is not. big. enough.

I have a God-sized hole. And only God is big enough to fill it.

At the prompting of another blog I follow, I decided to write down every single fear I could think of. It doesn’t matter if I know it’s not true or if it doesn’t make sense. I wrote everything that came to mind.

Want to see the list? Oh, boy.

  • I am not enough.
  • I am a disappointment.
  • I am not seen.
  • I am not known.
  • I am not delighted in.
  • I am not worthy.
  • I am unlovable.
  • I am weak.
  • I am lacking.
  • I am not worth pursuing.
  • I am not beautiful to others.
  • I am not approved of.
  • I am not worthy of affection.
  • I am too broken.
  • I am too insecure.
  • I am not wanted.
  • I am not pleasing to others.
  • I am alone.
  • I am too “other.”
  • Chris deserves more.
  • Chris is unhappy with me.
  • Chris regrets marrying me.
  • Chris wishes things were different.
  • Chris wishes I were different.
  • Chris resents me.
  • I am not loved for who I am.
  • I am unappreciated.
  • I am not valuable.
  • I am not strong enough.
  • I am not brave.
  • I am not safe (emotionally).
  • I am suffocating others.
  • I am too needy.

Most of these are lies. I know that. But that last one—I am too needy—is true. I have an approval addiction, an affirmation addiction, and an appreciation addiction. I am needy, but I am mistakenly looking to Chris to fill those needs, with Christ in my back pocket. Whenever Chris fails to fill me—as he often does—I reluctantly turn to Christ to fill the gaps. A last resort.

How backward.

Why am I so desperately seeking what I already have? I need to chase after Christ. Period. Chris can complement and accompany me on my journey, and he actually does a VERY good job at this; I am tremendously blessed to be called his wife. But he is not the destination; Christ is.

John and Stasi Eldredge do an amazing job of expanding on what I am getting at, so here are random pieces from the chapter “The Greatest Gift You Can Give” from their amazing book—seriously, go read it—Love & War.

love and war

Yesterday was a good day. But that was yesterday. As I (John) am regaining consciousness this morning, coming back to myself, none of that remains. My soul is needy again. Good grief – I feel like a sponge. I can take in so much in a day, almost ravenously, feel pretty good, but the next day I am dried out. Again.

This is the nature of our condition. All of us are leaky vessels. When it comes to happiness, our soul is like a colander.

This is brutal on a marriage.

We can have the best sex, kick over the nightstand sex, but as a man I want it again the next morning. That was last night. What about today? We can have the most intimate conversation, deep soul connection, but as a woman Stasi wants it again the next day.

Sometimes it is just a look in Stasi’s eyes as she comes into the kitchen in the morning—Am I okay? Are we okay? And I think to myself, Geez freaking Louise, we had a great night last night. It made no difference? What’s it gonna take? It can be wearying. You’re not satisfied?

Let’s face it – we are insatiable. We have in each of us a famished craving. An aching void. A returning hunger. If we are not aware of this, and if we don’t know how to handle it, our insatiability will do a lot of damage.

The human heart has an infinite capacity for happiness and an unending need for love, because it is created for an infinite God who is unending love. The desperate turn is when we bring the aching abyss of our hearts to one another with the hope, the plea, Make me happy. Fill this ache. And often out of love we do try to make one another happy, and then we wonder why it never lasts.

It can’t be done.

You will kill yourself trying.

We are broken people, with a famished craving in our hearts. We are fallen, all of us…. Every woman now has an insatiable need for relationship, one that can never be filled. It is an ache in her soul designed to drive her to God. Men instinctively know that the bottomless well is there, and pull back. I don’t want to be involved by that. Besides, no matter how much I offer, it will never be enough. This is the break in her cup. She aches for intimacy, to be known, loved, and chosen.

Of course you are disappointed with your marriage. It is not a sin to admit that. It is not a betrayal. Of course you are disappointed; your spouse is disappointed, too. How can we possibly be enough for one another? Two broken cups cannot possibly fill one another. Happiness flows through us like water through a volleyball net.

The good news is, of course, you aren’t enough. You never, ever will be. This should come as a tremendous relief, actually. How your spouse is doing is not the verdict on you. Your spouse’s unhappiness — and yours – means you both have a famished craving within you that only God can meet.

And so the greatest gift you can give to your marriage is for you to develop a real relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the kindest thing you could ever do for your spouse.  We are talking about a relationship where you are finding in God the life and love your soul so desperately needs. The love of God is real, and personal, and available. He wants to be this for you.

Understanding how deeply a woman needs to know she is loved, that she is beautiful, that she will not be abandoned — these are the very questions she must bring to God. Ladies, your marriage better not be the primary place you are looking for intimacy!


This is the kindest thing you could ever do for the people in your life — to have Somewhere you can turn, Someone who loves you and understands. It does not mean you don’t love your spouse. It does not mean that your spouse is not important to you. It simply means that you understand you are not a well and your spouse is not a well. You are both leaky buckets in search of a well. It lifts all of that crushing expectation off the marriage. It rescues your marriage from resignation, and then you have something whimsical and light to bring to the relationship.

There’s all sorts of joy to be found in your marriage, once you stop looking to your spouse to make you happy.

Nailed it.

Posted in Depression, Marriage, Motherhood, Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments