Drained of Youth

These past six months, I’ve gotten older.

It’s a bizarre thing: colors seem darker, and smiles don’t come easily. So much has happened. It’s been a trip full of ups and downs; if I wrote a story about it, the reader would finish in a melancholy mood.

Does this mean it was a bad experience? No. It’s not a bad thing to see things with clarity. Hurt me with the truth, but do not shield me with a lie. I’ve always said I live by a policy of honesty: if I have to talk, I’m going to tell you how I feel, whether you like it or not.

Be careful encouraging me to opine.

Because of this policy, I didn’t know how to deal with liars. People I thought were genuine turned out to be faking with me. Please, don’t act like a friend when you really aren’t.

Since I’m a writer, I learned from this. It’s one reason why we write: to pour emotion into a tale readers can relate to. One thing I gained from this trip is emotion, the words for books with more depth.

Now I can write about heartbreak and feel it. I can describe disappointment. I know what it’s like to be stabbed in the back and see those I love cry. I even know what it’s like to live without water.

I know how to stick up for myself. I remember the day I stood up and said what needed to be heard. It was satisfying; I could tell by their reactions that someone had to tell them. My words were a long time coming.

Words are powerful.

Most of my stories so far have been hopeful, but we do need balance. In life, there is heartbreak and pain. This trip has put me through shadows, so I can write about darker emotions.

I have shed tears. I can write stories that shed tears.

Each experience made me stronger, made my future tales more powerful. I will be digging into sensitive parts of my memory.

Storytellers use our dark experiences to connect with readers. We see the positive side of suffering. We use our heartbreak to speak to those who read with broken souls. If this trip allowed me to one day help a person who’s hurting, I’m grateful for every tear.

I wouldn’t take back the memories. Everyone goes through times of suffering. I want my stories to mean something to you when, one day, you’re also hurting.

I leave this country with mixed feelings, a sore heart, and plenty of stories. I’m eager to share them. Reading got me through the darkness; one day, I hope my stories will help you get by, too.

Nothing in life is in vain, not even heartbreak.



The Light in Depression

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He put my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
Psalm 40:2, NLT

Depression is a clever tormentor. Each person’s struggle with this illness is different; some have it all the time, while for others it comes and goes.

Though we all experience it differently, we tend to share the same symptoms. Most of us have felt the condition drain us of motivation, taking the magic out of things we once loved, weakening us until we feel trapped at the bottom of a pit.

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, or who you’re with; depression will find you. It doesn’t matter how much you have, because depression isn’t repelled by riches or poverty. No wonder it’s easy to feel hopeless, when it seems depression will always find you.

But there is good news: We have a Savior Who will also find us. Depression always seems to know where we are and what we’re doing, but so does God, and He is greater. He never loses sight of you, and even if sometimes you can’t feel His presence, know He’s right there fighting with you.

He reminds us of this relentless pursuit in these words from Scripture:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7-10, NIV

But He isn’t finished there. Have you ever felt so covered in darkness that no one could find you and help you? Have you ever felt trapped in a shadowy place where no good thing could happen? In the very same Psalm, He continues,

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139:11-12, NIV

This doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. Depression makes it difficult to feel anything, God’s presence included. But know that He’s there with you during those nights when you can’t remember how to cry. He’s there in the midst of your anxiety, when you feel at your loneliest and don’t think this torment will end.

He’s lifting you out of the mud and mire. He’s wiping tears from your face, even when you can’t feel Him do it. And he knows you better than you know yourself—when your thoughts become irrational and you don’t know what’s bothering you, He does (Psalms 33:15, 38:9). When you feel alone in your struggle, remember He’s close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

One day you will wake up and realize He has plans for you (Psalm 40:5). He has always been your shelter (Psalm 39:7). You’ll experience the joy of one who trusts in Him (Psalm 34:5)—yes, joy.

On that day, sing songs of praise and thanksgiving—for He has always been there! Friend, remember this: Depression may be adept at finding you, but so is the Lord Jesus—and He doesn’t only find you. He loves you.

Courage, dear heart—you are not alone.