The cure for homesickness, she said, is to think of 600 things I like about Texas. My roommate's snarky comeback was that Texans don't need 600 reasons, they only need one: it's Texas. (She also added a second snarky comment to that one about how Texans also can't count to 600. But she's Texan, she's allowed to say that.)
It's no secret that I'm all up and anti everything that feels like calisthenics for the heart, Five Easy Steps to dot, dot, dot and Ten Quick Ways to dot, dot, dot. So counting my blessings (and the things I love about Texas) probably wasn't going to be the fix me up.
1. I differentiated in my heart the difference between feeling sad and being depressed. For a long time depression has been the corner I've run to for safety. I understood my sadness and I understood how to reason my way out of it, and so I've done this for years. Be sad, embrace my sadness, grow tired of my sadness, reason my way out of my sadness, be happy, until I'm sad again. This cycle has gone on for more than a decade of my life and until about seven months ago, I fully planned on it being the rhythm for the rest of my life.
Until I understood grace (and this may seem simplistic to some of you, but feel free to read the archives and believe me when I say I never understood it this way until this past year), I did not understand that the fix to depression was not contingent on me alone.
In the past the only thing I accepted was that depression and discouragement was my lot in life, I believed that I was unrighteous and unworthy of Christ's full covering, and I thought that I would always be outside the pasture of true sheep. But now I see that it is not my job to battle or reason my way out of it, it is my job to accept grace for my doubts and struggles, accept my righteousness under Christ, and then abide in that. Simple.
And still hard. But it's getting easier. The past week or so was necessary, I think, for me to see that.
2. I confessed. In the past I just wallowed. But this week I confessed. And if the situation was at all appropriate, I asked for prayer. It was amazing to me how many conversations this opened the way for. I find that the more we just assume that when someone asks "How are you?" they really mean it (even if they don't), the more able we are to have transparent conversations where Christ is ultimately glorified. Because when I am transparent about my very real, very raw struggles (to the point where tears pooled in the corner of my eyes every single time I mentioned it), it begins a conversation, which is ultimately what creates culture. And I want a culture of confession because it is the quickest way I know to the cross.
3. I asked God in very raw and real ways to help me see that the gospel is for every part of me.
Every cell and molecule needs Him. Every joint and muscle needs Him. Every breath and laugh needs Him. Every word and motion needs Him. Every thought and emotion needs Him. Every part. Christ didn't just die so I could spend eternity with Him (though that was nice of Him), He died so that here on earth we could have abundant life too. That thought is staggering to me. He wants me to feel the deep reaching effects of the gospel in every weakness, every joy, every struggle and every victory.
This might seem like it's Three Fast Steps to Fix Your Depression, but it's not. This is just my story. This is just what I'm learning along the way.