I have never been able to do the monkey bars. Ever. I am not sure if my arms are uneven or they are abnormally weak but for whatever reason I just have never been able to conquer the simple playground activity. I get myself into position, take my feet off, ready to swing and grab that second bar, and I just can not muster enough strength to make it there. I stay there a minute holding on and holding on until I eventually fall. (Yes, this is present tense. I still try in hopes a miracle has happened and I was blessed with intense upper body strength.)
Lately life has felt like me doing the monkey bars in the middle of the ocean, in the midst of a storm, and I can feel myself sinking.
A little backstory, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 17 years old and dealing with symptoms of depression for the past 14 years. I came entirely off of medication in 2015 and have been treating my depression with diet, exercise, and a lot of grace. I can say without a doubt that God outstretched his hand and pulled me from an extremely difficult season. I discovered a lot about myself during this time. I realized that no one person can say what the perfect treatment is for health and wellness. Mental health is not a one size fits all and getting better looks different for everyone.
I hear it all the time that “God has the power to deliver you from depression!” That is true. God has the power to do it all and he is going to do it all for good(Romans 8:28). I am a living, breathing, example of that deliverance and redemption but, God also empowers minds to create medicine. Medicine that is sometimes needed in order for us to see again. He breathes life into brilliant doctors so they can help us when we need it most. The biggest fact of the matter is that no matter what, whether we choose to use these outlets or not, God love’s us and sees us just the same. Nothing can ever change that.
God is taking me somewhere new, you see. I always saw medication as what was enslaving me and inhibiting me. After all, I was on every mood stabilizer/antidepressant known to man and had a mind so foggy from side effects I could not comprehend a single paragraph from a textbook (very true story.) That is where I was wrong. For three years I have lived with all of my natural brain waves, feelings, and emotions. Now my thoughts are smoldering the voice of God. The depression I am feeling is sucking all of the life and joy I once felt right from under me while being laced in this deceitful web of pride that screams “No, I do not need meds. I have Jesus.”
I have Jesus. I will always have Jesus. He is never going anywhere (Deuteronomy 31:6), but I am severely depressed and I live in the 21st century with amazing medical advancements that make it possible to see the joy of life again. Depression is the real issue here, not having enough energy to leave home, or being so irritable you can not even stand yourself let alone the people that love you, those are real issues. Mental illness is very real and very ugly. As big as this depression is, my God is always bigger, but he is also a provisional God, a good father who has made a way for help so I may get a leg up and live into my truest potential.
All that being said, I may be awful at the monkey bars but gosh darnit I birthed the next generation of Monkey Bar Champs. My oldest can do the “grown up” monkey bars in 10 seconds flat. Want to know how she learned? She asked for help. We would go underneath her (sometimes getting kicked in the face,) hold her legs, and give her a little boost.
Sometimes we need that little boost to give us the confidence to move forward. We need that boost to realize we do not have to be stuck at that first bar. We need that first boost to realize God did not intend us to live in that valley forever.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ezekiel 37:5