Soul Rest

Do you keep a journal? I do–and I have done so for years. Looking through my journal from 2014, I ran across this:

“This has been a year of emotional strain. Not that there have been any major upheavals. My depression returned at the beginning of the year. It pummeled my spirit with heavy fists: ‘You never carry through on your resolutions to get organized, lose weight, spend less. You are a terrible mother—you don’t spend quality time with your children, you lose your temper too often. You’re a poor excuse for a wife, a daughter, a friend—you lose your patience too easily, hold grudges, judge too quickly, love too little.’

By March, my joy was gone—I woke up morning after morning, just wanting to be done with the day.

I read a post on Facebook one morning from some Christian writer or other. I had been feeling especially out of sorts with my husband. The quote was something like, ‘If you are frustrated in your marriage, go to God’s Word. Spend more time reading your Bible, more time with God and you’ll find your relationship with your spouse will improve. The frustration often has more to do with distance from the Father than something your spouse done.’

Even in my depressed state that made sense. I knew I’d distanced myself from God. So I opened my Bible and I read Philippians in almost one gulp. Someone once called Philippians the “Joy book” and I needed some joy. I was so starved for the Word. I read and decided to memorize this passage: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say Rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all men, the Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in all things through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving make your requests known to God. And the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:4-7).

These words were a balm to my raw and aching heart. I began to read more, hungry for the Word of God. I also began to read Ann Voskamp’s book: 1,000 Gifts. I am beginning to see the scope of God’s love for me—from the ordinary to the extraordinary. In the book, Ann tells a story in which she hears Jesus ask her “What do you want?” I took this to heart and mulled over the idea of my Savior asking me “What do you, Olivia, want?” My answer to that question is TRANSFORMATION. I want to be made new.”

I read these pages from my journal of two years ago and they are still true today. Hear my heart, depression is not easily dealt with. I have faced down that monster for years and I’m not suggesting that there is a simple answer. But I do believe God knows our struggles and He desires to give us His peace, if only you and I reach out to Him.

Whenever I find myself feeling discontented, short-tempered, frustrated, impatient, and all-around annoyed with people and with life in general, I find that my problem isn’t “THEM.” It’s me. Or rather, it’s the fact that I’ve been too busy to keep in step with the Holy Spirit—my counselor, my guide, my friend. I race to accomplish my plans in my own strength, and in the process I neglect God’s Word. My prayer-life becomes a To-Do list for my Creator. And at the end of the day I feel burned out, worn down, and ready to give up. Hopeless.

But if I stop and listen, really listen, I hear Him calling: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Yes Lord. Let it be. Transformation begins with giving up my perceived sense of control and resting deep in the One who really has it all in control.

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