I beg your patience as this will be lengthy, but I believe it to be worth the read. This is my first post in almost 2 years. Every time I sat down to write, there was this wall. I couldn’t see past it and was ashamed to admit it so I let the blog go unattended.
Ya’ll, I’m about to get vulnerable. Please, be kind. And if you would pray for me as I can assure you I am trying not to have a small (ok, gigantic!) panic attack as I type knowing I’m publishing this for others to read. Letting people in has always been a struggle of mine, but my desire above all is to glorify the Lord especially in my weakness.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.2 Corinthians 12:9
These last several years have been nothing short of painful torment from migraines to pain that consumes every inch of my body and as of late degenerative arthritis within my spine. If I’m being fully transparent these last few months have been hell on this earth. My body is breaking down, betraying my once vibrant and active self. You might not know it if you see me because I try to hide it with a smile. Not a fake smile, but one that was forged through the darkest of times and came out victorious through Christ.
It began in college after almost 2 decades of non-stop sports. Most weekends consisted of at least a 3 game series maybe more if it was a tournament. Those Sunday mornings I would awaken to what I could only describe as feeling like being hit by a Peterbilt. Even making it to the restroom was a feat which consisted of me hobbling like a 90+ year old in desperate need of a cane. Over time, I came to resent that even in my prime healthy state my body screamed almost constantly with pain. Eventually I gave in. I quit. I quit trying to eat healthy. I quit working out. The depression was dragging me under like a rip tide. And I quit caring.
Consequences of my own sinful gluttony have compounded the horrible genetics that plagues my family. Today the physical pain makes it nearly impossible to function as the wife and mother my family need & deserve. My mind is often so clouded by the pain, that I’ve shut myself off from real face-to-face interactions as its become increasingly harder to form coherent thoughts and have genuine connections with others. Not to mention the internal battle with knowing the person folks see – the obese me – is not who I was or want to be. The shame. It’s massive. It’s always in my mind. There is never a moment where I’m not so self-aware of the size of my body and how it reflects on me, my family, my husband, and my Lord. From this pain has come an even deeper desire to see Jesus…sooner than what He’s planned. Full stop. Yes, yes those thoughts invaded in the midst of agonizing, ever increasing pain. They have screamed loud…and persistent.
No one sees the struggle. It’s invisible, but the pain is ever present.
As I lay my heart open, bare and raw, for the public to see, I know that some will inevitably say, “Well, its your fault. You make the choice of what goes into your body.” “Just suck it up and quit throwing a pity party. You don’t like how things are, then get up and make some changes!” I get it. You have no clue about the depths of depression and severe chronic pain. I don’t blame you for your ignorance. I, too, ashamedly reacted to others without compassion before. Now I know.
If you are still with me, please continue reading. Allow me to share what the Lord has taught me about depression and thankfulness.
God has blessed me abundantly, but even if He hadn’t, if Jesus was all I had…it would be more than I deserve. Hear me. Jesus is my ALL, my everything. He is who I cling to in the dark when I’m writhing in pain unable to sleep. He is my only source of joy in the midst of the sorrow and what sustains me when Satan tempts me to relieve myself of this earthly pain. Jesus is the reason why this broken mess of a woman smiles.
This is not to say that medicine isn’t a biblical option, because I very much believe that it is. Just as the Lord saw fit to inspire doctors with treatments for cancer and other diseases, I believe that in the right context medicine for depression is valid and needed. However, I believe that first we must take a long, hard look at our hearts. We must ask ourselves the hard questions. How is my walk with Jesus? Am I daily spending time in the Word? Have I sought out biblical counseling? If you’ve done all of those things, but still the depression deepens – talk to your doctor. One of the best decisions I made next to accepting Jesus was recognizing that I needed help. For years I lived in shame that it made me “less than” as a Christian, but after seeking out some solid biblical counseling I have realized that my weaknesses confirm my need for a savior. In Christ I will boast, though He may never remove this “thorn in my flesh”
1, I know that it is for my good and His glory.
Friend, if you are reading this and you do not have a relationship with Jesus, I would strongly encourage you to start there. The only remedy for any of our brokenness is Jesus. Please, reach out to me or another believer that you trust.
In Christ’s redeeming love,
1 2 Corinthians 12:7
3 thoughts on “Perception vs Reality: Behind The Broken Smile”
Thank you for sharing your story Amanda. I have someone in my house who is struggling with something almost identical and I plan to have her read this. And I can’t say that I haven’t had some of the same thoughts and feelings…although I do t deal with the chronic pain. I truly can’t imagine, but i do commit to praying for you now that I know. I love you sweet friend!
My dear the first time I saw you I was deep in depressions hold. To see your smile was a beacon light to me. God was speaking to me through your smile. Anytime I see you in person or in your family updates it brings a smile to my face and it reminds me that he is with me in good times and in the darkness when no one else is there.