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Today’s Truth

I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 40:1-2

Friend to Friend

I hate depression. It is an all-too-familiar foe in my life. I know. I am a grounded Christian and have walked with God for many years. I am a pastor’s wife … a Christian author and speaker. According to many people, I shouldn’t struggle with depression, but I do. It keeps me on my face before God. It keeps me broken and desperate for Him.

Thousands – seriously – thousands of people have prayed for me to be delivered and set free from this battle.

I continually search my heart, mind, and soul for some un-confessed sin.

I have sifted through my past and dealt with every painful memory God has brought to mind.

I have tried dozens of nutritional cures and am on the healthiest eating plan of my life.

Exercise? Do it. It helps … but the darkness never quite goes away.

I have had two sleep studies, been given a light box, taken I don’t know how many different anti-depressants, and seen countless psychiatrists and counselors, searching for an answer. They don’t seem to have one that I like – you know, the one that takes away the darkness altogether.

I have come to the conclusion that my real name is Pauline.

No, I am nowhere close to the faith level of the apostle Paul, but we do have one thing in common. A pit. I’m not sure what Paul’s personal pit was. It doesn’t matter. When Paul begged God to take away his pain, the answer was a resounding “no.” God then proceeded to use Paul in amazing ways – because of and through the broken places in Paul’s life.

I want to be like Paul. I want to be okay with just being okay some days. It’s funny. On those days when I want to give up … I invariably receive an email, a phone call, a Facebook message, or a text telling me how God has used something I wrote or taught to change a life. I am just flat out amazed to think God can use me in such a way! That’s when I truly thank Him for the pit, knowing that He is working through my brokenness to encourage other broken people.

We are all broken in some way. We all have pits.

A pit is slimy. It is impossible to get a grip on anything because of the slimy walls. You can’t climb out. I tried. But I kept sliding back down to the bottom. Evidently, God thought I needed to learn how to sit, be still, and know that He really is God.

And the bottom of my pit was just lovely – covered in mud. As I dredged through that mud, I came to a startling realization. I was a pig. I evidently loved wallowing in the mud of my messy past. I discovered that I had spent a lot of years burying a lot of junk in that mud.

Emotional junk that was just too painful to face.

Physical junk that I simply didn’t have the strength to master.

Mental junk that forged faulty thought patterns and nasty habits in my life.

Spiritual junk I desperately tried to hide as I attempted to find my worth in performance, human approval and effort.

I wish I had known then what I know now – that God loves me simply because He is love and He just can’t help Himself. I wish I had known that nothing I do or don’t do will ever change His love for me, and that no one – absolutely no one can take my place in His heart.

But it took the pit of clinical depression for me to learn those truths.

So today, I embrace the pain. I celebrate the fact that even in the darkness, I know He is there. God is with me. He is faithful. Jesus loves me, and He is for me.

Yes, the pit of depression is never far away and that is a good thing.

Anything or anyone that makes me desperate for God can be counted as a blessing. Honestly, I hate that truth – but I also love it. God has used it to make my life a living illustration of the wonderful horrible certainty that His power shines best through the broken places. He is drawn to broken people. Broken people are why He came.

Did you know that my given name, Mary, literally means: “bitter, but when broken, sweet?” I guess I will keep it. After all, it is the perfect picture of who I really am.

Let’s Pray

Father, Thank You that You are my strength and my joy. I turn to You in faith and seek Your forgiveness for the pride that blinds me to the hope I find in You. Please help me see Your hand at work in my life, and even when I can’t, give me the power to walk by faith and not by sight. Right now, I lay the broken pieces of my life at Your feet and am counting on You to come through for me.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read and memorize Psalm 40:1-3.

Record these verses in your journal.

When the darkness comes, remember each promise and count on God’s grace.

More from the Girlfriends

Mary’s book, Hope in the Midst of Depression, is her story of desperation, brokenness and restoration. It will help you discover the steps that will lead you to the light.

And be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary’s website and connect with Mary through email or on Facebook.

24 Responses to “My Bitter – Sweet Life”

  1. carol says:

    Broke my toe yesterday, which is minor compared to the year I have had. God reminded me I need to remember his goodness towards me and never forget he redeemed me. He took me from being separated from my husband for 11 years to being divorced. Hearing my daughter say his newest gf was like me was gut wrenching. In the midst of that heartbreak I was told my thyroid was A-typical. I had an elder harass me about divorce being a sin, he told kids in the youth dept, they started saying it, major confrontation that ended with him stepping down and his family digging their claws in. I became homeless, only to have God provide a beautiful house in the country for me. 2nd biopsy showed the

  2. Deb says:

    Mary, I am sitting here weeping because your words explain how I feel. Your devotion put into words what I struggle to say. It hurts to know I am not my best self because of this pit. It’s difficult to reflect joy while wallowing in “the pit.” I find it is hard to move forward, to focus, to even get dressed some days. Often I don’t want to leave my house because others only see me as smiling, laughing and carefree. I often “fake it ’til I make it.” That weighs me down even more because I don’t feel genuine. I want to be transparent to the world and those in my circle of influence, but don’t know how to share without coming across needy and weak. It is only recently that I have allowed myself to come to terms with this slimy pit. Yes, I pray. Like you though, it seems God has something He wants me to discover and I have not done that yet. Thank you for being a voice in the dark – a light that shines as a beacon to those like myself who feel tossed in the storms and lost in the waves of a turbulent mind. God truly is using your pit to help others, and I am thankful you point us right back to Him for our strength and courage to go through each day.

  3. Fran says:

    Thank you Mary, you are a true blessing to so many.

  4. Tammy Croyle says:

    Mary,
    You are truly a blessing for being so transparent. We need to know being a christian does not take all our problems away! I struggled with hiding depression for a year before I sought help. Life is truly a mystery, thank you for being real!!

    Tammy

  5. Janet says:

    Thank you for your story and your faith in God’s truth that He loves us no matter what. That truth has gotten me through losing my aunt, younger brother, brother in law, and dad in 2016. It is painful and I will never understand the “why” but I do understand God’s love for me in my grief. He holds me up and keeps me going. I have journaled Psalm 40:1-3 many times. Thank you for the reminder. I needed that today. I pray God continues to bless your ministry. It has been a blessing to me over the years.

  6. brandy says:

    Thank you for your honesty Mary. I am weeping as I read this. It’s as if you are holding out your hand to me and pulling me up, out of the pit. “Wonderful horrible certainty”…. exquisite. God bless you.

  7. Cathy says:

    Mary,

    Thank you for your vulnerability and transparency. I’ve struggled with depression since my early 20s and I’m now a Grandmother…so it’s been a while. Today it’s dogging me, nipping at my heels…Over the years, with counselling and anti depressants as well as pray, it’s better and I thank God for that. You are a blessing…keep writing, keep on keeping on!

    God’s richest blessings
    Cathy

  8. Lynn says:

    Please pray for me. I am so depressed. I have no friends or family to talk to.

  9. Kathy says:

    Thank-you so much for sharing. It helps to know others are going through the same things i am. Sharing your struggles and your journey with God encourages me.

  10. Kristi says:

    Beautiful transparency! Even before I read to the part about Paul, I thought “Paul’s thorn in the flesh.” My own battles in these areas have indeed brought me to greater dependence on Him, but not just dependence – intimacy! I heard a lady minister once say “Jesus is in the crying room.” If there is no coming out of a wilderness without learning to lean upon our Beloved (Song of Solomon 8:5), then if He chooses for that wilderness to encompass a lifetime, what a great “leaning” that will be, what closeness….when we transition from here to that amazing There!!!!!

  11. Crystal says:

    I have learned to be thanking for all the pits in my life. It is in there we find our purpose to show others how truly amazing our God is.

  12. Denise says:

    Wow! I was just talking to my God about this. Truly this post is a holy moment for me. God bless you Mary. xoxox

  13. Wendy says:

    Mary, thank you so much for your post today. I struggle with anxiety and depression. My depression comes in the form of condemnation. It has been quite debilitating at times in my life. It has been particularly difficult as a Christian accepting this. However, I am always encouraged when I hear of others experiencing similar troubles and their walk through them. I am hopeful that one day my story will be a blessing to someone else. I know that God uses all things for good.

  14. Elaine says:

    Depression is a horrible thing. I know. I have lived with depression all my life. I never even knew I had it till around 2004 after my brother died suddenly at the age of 60. I fell apart. I went on anti-depressants. Saw a therapist & a psychiatrist. All the anti-depressants did was made me gain a lot of weight which only made me more depressed. I was down in that slimy pit. It was dark, scary, & all I could do was cry out to the Lord, “Help me!” He heard my cries for help. I reconnected with a childhood friend in 2009. The Lord worked through her to reach me. She told me over and over again, “God is not finished with you yet!” It turned me around. I saw the light. I reached out my hand and God pulled me up and out of that horrible pit. He made me see that I am worthwhile. I am loved! I stopped taking all the anti-depressants in 2011. I lost the added weight. I started to finally feel good about myself. But I still struggle with depression every day. The devil still whispers in my ear, “You’re nothing!” I pray and recite scripture to get my mind away from the grasp of the devil. God’s not finished with me yet! My friends words resonate within me still, even though she has gone to heaven 2 years ago. I still hear her voice telling me I am worthy!

    God bless you for sharing your story with all of us who are constantly battling depression!

  15. Aoril says:

    Hello Mary thank you so much for your openness and candidness. What you call the Pit is what I refer to as the valley but it is the same. I refer to my Valley as a place where I grow. It’s in the Valley where I weep about past memories and surrender to God’s will. I truly believe with my whole heart that God is teaching me to be more faithful and knowing of his love and in turn he wants me to spread it to others. Jesus suffered so that we may have eternal life and I choose to use all my suffering as a sacrifice for Jesus, for he so Loves me. Knowing who I am and who I belong to sets me free because I know the promise of where I will be going. Stay strong and encourage everyone!

  16. Mary says:

    Mary,

    I absolutely LOVE your devotionals! I can relate so well to what you write, and so willingly, vounerably share with us. I am ever so grateful that you allow yourself to share such precious pieces of your heart; I am deeply encouraged by them! Thank you!

    With warmth,
    (another) Mary

  17. Stacie says:

    Hi Mary,
    I agree w/ the other ladies..appreciate your transparency. Also how you take the cross God gave you & use it to tell your story to help others. I can’t imagine the number of people you’ve touched w/ your message & giving God the glory!
    Stacie

  18. aurora says:

    Mary! i absolutely love this. happy to say that you are my best writer on GiG now i see why, your posts are always so real, relatable and transparent. God always gives beauty for our ashes. Your pit is the ash that gives beauty to all the lovely women who read GiG everyday.
    In this world, we will have trouble but God has overcome the world. No pit or darkness or depression can ever be greater than the love of our wonderful Father. I pray for you that you would start to experience more light in your life each day. it is well with you. God bless you. and Thankyou so much for your devotionals.

  19. Khris says:

    Thank God for your life Mary, my sister is also struggling with depression. A lot of people do not know that it is really a sickness that needs to have medical attention. A lot of people also do not understand that it is not easy to fight this. Thank you for your message, it is very enlightening. I will be sharing this to my sister and will be praying for you everyday. God bless GIG more and more.

  20. THEMBI says:

    Your story Mary relates to me and today s devotion makes me realize that God still speaks to me .I have learnt to kiss every wave that pushes me to the Rock OF Ages.

  21. Darlene says:

    Mary,
    I loved your article on depression. I have family members that suffer with this and it’s hard at times. I often have thought about how David played his instrument and sang to Saul and it comforted him. When my family calls me I listen then encourage them to listen to Praise music and start singing to the Lord. I believe as I have seen this releases the depression and brokenness. Even if you can’t sing do it anyways. There’s always a place for every voice in heaven and it resounds greatly at the Lords ear.God Bless

  22. Ana says:

    I can relate so much..I’ve been struggling with depression for several years (I’m in my early 20s now), sometimes I feel so hopeless all I want to do is to crawl in my bed and just stay there and cry. But at the same time,like you said,it keeps me desperate. I’m sure that if it wasnt for depression I wouldnt seek God like I do. I’m really desperate most of the time so I try to keep praying,reading the Bible and trusting. I remind God of His precious promises and I try to surrender to Hispleased. However I feel almost nothing,no closeness to God, most of the time I think He’s not pleased with me. I get approx. 1 happy rather peaceful day in a month or a few weeks. So many times I want to give up,I know its not God’s will for anyone to be in a state like that, but I don’t know what am I doing exactly wrong and how to change that. The only thing that keeps me sane in the middle of eveyday tasks is a few God’s promises that I hang onto like a drowning man. The ones that say God doesn’t forsake those who seek Him etc. I think psalms is my fav book of the Bible, I identify with David when he cries out to etc Lord in distress.
    God bless you dear sister and may He shine His light into your heart that You may find rest peace and joy in Him with rightesnouess.

  23. Meredith says:

    Thank you, Mary. Your words are so genuine and brave. I can relate so closely. Thank you for your encouragement. I am in the slimy pit right now but I feel some light shining through. With Jesus we are never alone.

    Meredith

  24. MaryZ says:

    My name is Mary, too, and I’m definitely bitter with some sweetness. When I get depressed, I realize that it’s because I’m either looking back at what I lost, or looking at what I could have had that didn’t work out, or comparing my life to others’. I’m trying to keep my eyes on Jesus and look to the future and make it the best I can with His help. I think rehashing old problems and pain would just keep them present in my mind and keep me depressed!

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