God is Good. All the time. This is a truth I have come to learn intimately in my life, and the power of simply acknowledging and believing such a statement is bigger than anything else I’ve experienced. Getting to the point of such revelation has not been a simple journey for me, though.
From the outside looking in, my life doesn’t seem that bad. I have friends and family that love me, I have a full-time career that I’m very passionate about, I recently moved in to my first house, and I have two adorable puppies. What people don’t usually see, though, is how I have struggled with anxiety and depression on and off for most of my life. Because of these horrible illnesses, there have been many times where life has not seemed good. In fact, I’ve often felt that everything around me was falling apart, and I was drowning while trying to get my life back in order.
As someone who is far too familiar with these beasts called “anxiety” and “depression”, I’ve tried many, many ways to defeat them. I’ve tried counseling. This helped some, but as a social worker with a degree in psychology, I had lots of knowledge for what causes these problems and knew most of the techniques for how to “fix” them that counseling provided. I’ve tried reducing stressors in my life and taking more time for myself, as so many people have encouraged me to do, but this is like a double-edged sword. While there are times my life is so busy I nearly shut-down from the stress of it all, I’ve been raised to be a hard worker and I thrive in crisis situations (which is what makes me so good at my job). Resting will often cause me more stress and anxiety than staying busy. I’ve tried praying more and sozo (which I highly recommend to those who have not done it), which is so often the answer given by the Christian community. I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember, and I LOVE to pray. I am all about early morning prayer groups, and I try to “pray continually” as the Bible teaches. This helps in so many ways, but in the darkest moments, my overly-anxious mind needs something more structured than “pray more.” Praying continually for the same thing and not seeing any changes can be discouraging for any situation, but it especially becomes frustrating in the midst of depression and/or anxiety, when hopelessness is already trying to sneak in.
During a particularly difficult time in my life, right in the middle of my time as a university student, I spent months in utter frustration because nothing was making the darkness flee, and I tried everything I could possibly think of. I prayed constantly. I asked people to pray with me and for me. I surrounded myself with encouraging people. But the thing about mental illness is that it’s more than just a response to bad circumstances. I have very rarely had bad circumstances in my life, but still I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for 15 years. Mental illness is an illness like any other – it’s coming and going are largely out of my control. I do fully believe in the healing power of our loving Father, but much like any other illness, that healing does not always come when and how we want it. It’s in the Lord’s timing and plans.
There’s a secret I have learned through all of this, though. A simple statement of fact that has changed my life. A truth that I hold on to when I have nothing else. A flotation device to keep me from sinking into the darkness of this world. God is good. It’s such a simple statement, but oh so powerful when fully believed. When I was hit with the revelation of the truth of this statement, things started to change. My circumstances didn’t always get better. My mind didn’t always get better. However, I had something to hold on to, and it’s always been enough for me.
So in the seasons when my mind is spinning out of control and I can’t find the words to pray, I simply repeat, over and over again, that God is good. On days when I’m busy and start to feel overwhelmed, I remind myself that God is good. Whenever I feel like I’m failing and I can’t get anything right, I remember that God is good. I keep this written in different places so that I can have a visual reminder during times when I fail to bring myself back to reality. The goodness of God never has been, and never will be, shaken or changed by circumstances or feelings. Knowing that I am loved and protected by a good Father who is bigger than anything in this world is incredibly comforting.