I woke up feeling down yesterday, which took me by surprise.
It reminded me of something that happened a long time ago . . .
My husband Bill was still serving in the Air Force; he was sitting at the computer in our dining room, working on fitness reports for some of the airmen he supervised. We lived in a funny little house back then. It had originally been a duplex. Because of the way the two units had been joined together, the house had no hallways, so getting from one part of the house to another required walking through other rooms. I was in our family room; between Bill and me there was a turn to get into the living room, another turn to get into the kitchen, and one more turn to get into the dining room.
As Bill worked, from time-to-time he’d call to me (yell, actually, so his voice would carry around all those corners) to ask me how to spell a word. Bill is a good speller, but sometimes he looks at a word he’s typed and thinks it doesn’t look quite right, and he doesn’t trust Spellcheck, so every so often while he was typing his reports that day, he yelled to me to spell a word for him.
I had been feeling out-of-sorts for several weeks, which is unusual for me. I went through a few years of depression as a young adult, but it hadn’t been a problem for me in a very long time. The feelings I was having felt similar to those I experienced when I was younger, and I was concerned that I could be entering another period of depression. As I sat on the sofa, looking out at the trees in our front yard, I worried about why I was feeling so miserable, and whether or not it might get worse. In desperation, I called out to God, asking,
“Why am I feeling this way?!”
The instant I finished asking God my question, Bill asked a question of me:
“How do you spell PRESENCE?” He yelled from the dining room.
Without a second thought, I yelled back:
“As in, Christmas PRESENTS? Or as in, ‘In the PRESENCE of the Lord there is fullness of joy’?”
As soon as the words left my mouth, I started laughing!
I had asked, and God had answered. Using my voice!
A string of difficult circumstances had kept me from worship and fellowship with other Christians. Bill had received a sudden and unexpected transfer back to Oklahoma after six years in Alaska. The transition was very rough on us and on our daughters. We had lived in Oklahoma before, but the church we attended then just didn’t feel right anymore. We visited other churches, but we couldn’t find one where we felt like we fit, and we had finally just given up.
I hadn’t been spending time in the Lord’s presence, and as a result, my joy reserves had been used up—I was running on fumes.
Although we never did find the right church during that brief dislocation, I made it a point to reconnect with some women I’d been in a bible study group with years before. We picked up where we had left off—meeting once a week for prayer, worship, study, and friendship. (We didn’t call it a Life Group—but that’s exactly what it was.) It carried me through until my family moved back to Alaska and back to our home church—no more isolation and no more dark moods!
And as for yesterday morning?
It occurred to me that the day before had been emotionally draining; it included a lot of driving, a funeral, and conversations with people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I realized I wasn’t really feeling down or depressed; I was just depleted. Fortunately, I didn’t have any major commitments yesterday, so I chose to make it a recharging day. I spent time listening to my worship playlist on YouTube, went about my work and errands as simply and peacefully as I could, got to bed early, and woke up today feeling happy again—back to normal, back to joy.
Psalm 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”
I frequently reach out for help from friends, counselors, or clergy when feelings of sadness, discouragement or depression become too much for me to handle on my own.
If you ever find yourself feeling emotionally overwhelmed, and don’t know where to turn, the following free resources can provide immediate help:
Katie Lerro is a happily proclaimed “Late Bloomer”—only finding her passion for writing upon hitting her middle years. She lives in South Philly with her husband, Bill, where she enjoys gardening in their tiny concrete yard, taking long walks around the city, and spending time with daughters Alexis and Alison.