Life is filled with ups and downs, and we all struggle with the dips and unexpected turns. But I’ve spent my adult life feeling like my emotions respond to every situation with the equivalent of nuclear warfare. If a mountain can be made of a molehill, that is how I will react to the speed-bumps on the road of life. It isn’t just the bad things; I get pumped up over good things, too. I am not bi-polar, but rather, I seem to over-react emotionally to the events of life. Getting excited over simple pleasures and small victories leads to big crashes when something negative occurs. I am sure there are others out there who understand how this feels. My brain chemicals struggle to process everyday happenings normally, so when big things come along, I am in trouble! I feel like I have lived most of my life on an emotional roller coaster.
As I was driving home from my parents’ place last Sunday, I was singing along with a Christian album I hadn’t listened to in a long time. The words of the songs resonated in my heart, and I felt earnest, humble, zealous, joyful, and content. It is difficult to describe, but I felt at peace. My mind was filled with thoughts about how I want to honor God with my life and truly be a doer of His word. That my mind was filled with these kinds of thoughts when I was alone shows a change in my heart. I wasn’t thinking about a book I was reading, or writing my own fiction in my head. I wasn’t feeling depressed or worried about the upcoming work week, and I wasn’t lamenting any aspect of my life. I was contemplating my relationship with God and my commitment to serving Him. I am sure there are few topics that could better employ my mind, and I felt happy.
[Jesus said,] “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
My drive home was just another sign that my emotional roller coaster has leveled off. I look around and think that maybe I am just going through a good season. Some good changes have happened in my life over the last year, specifically, a drastic improvement in my living situation. But I am still “hopelessly” single. My job is the same, and while I love it, it has its challenges. Niggling heath issues are unchanged. Yet joy and contentment are with me day after day, even when hormones factor in. I am definitely suspicious of the feeling. Lately, I have wondered if it is because I am excited for my upcoming vacation. A pre-vacation high wouldn’t be unheard of, but I am simply not sure. I believe that the change of heart came well before I began preparing for vacation. If I look back, I can see that the changes in me have been in the works for a couple of years. So, I am in uncharted territory, wondering if it is truly a new normal.
The consistency of my mood has me daring to cut back my antidepressants a bit. My last attempt to do so didn’t last long. But there have been times when I have taken a lot more medication and times when I have taken less. I know that I will feel my best mentally and physically when I am taking just what I need. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes a difference with depression. Only God truly knows how our bodies, minds, and spirits are intertwined. I feel certain that growing in faith and trust in God helps me to keep my depression under control. Daily time in Scripture and prayer keeps my feet firmly planted on terra firma. Yet without medication, it is nearly impossible to practice these essential spiritual disciplines.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
In the midst of my worst depression, I did seek God, and I know that He was there for me. I learned about His faithfulness in those experiences. This helped me to grow in faith, but it didn’t help me to live out that faith in any practical way. I was like a blind person groping around and eventually finding her way. In recent years, God has been teaching me about truly walking by faith, which does not involve fumbling about. I believe the key is taking one day at a time. I am worrying less about what is up ahead on the roller coaster track, and instead trusting God to help me deal with the section He has me on that day.
In the home I moved to almost a year ago, I have a door from my bedroom to the back patio, where I have placed a bench. In the spring, I began sitting out there for my morning prayer time. It has become a treat to me, to sit outside in the cool air with my coffee and my Kindle, which has the PrayerMate app. It is so peaceful and quiet where I live that every day my prayer time easily begins with gratitude to God for my home and all of the other blessings He has given me. Having a quiet time that is actually quiet allows me to begin each day with peace and contentment. I feel as though my heart is being transformed. I don’t think the roller coaster is pulling into the station, but I am certainly better able to handle the ups and downs.