This article was written by Brooke Wilson and published by CRU
As my counselor welcomed me and sought to understand my depression, I felt the worn, oversized seat beneath me. I rested my arm on its soft leather and thought of two metaphorical chairs.
One chair was comfort and safety. The other was vulnerability and faith. There’s always a story behind how depression creeps into someone’s life, and I was about to share mine.
In the depths of depression, for faith to overrule our comfortable sadness, we must believe God is at the intersection, full of empathy and empowering us to move toward healing.
Seven years ago, when I was a junior in high school, field hockey season was a vivid high point. I felt a sense of belonging; I felt on top of the world. But when the season ended, I crashed emotionally, and the belonging became abandonment. But I wouldn’t have called myself depressed yet.
Still unable to process these feelings, I entered college, the place where you “learn who you are.” I tried to find myself, but not anywhere that lasted. I looked for that missing sense of belonging by partying. The places and people were satisfying for a moment, but I was soon met with emptiness and abandonment again.
When I began to journey with God instead, the feelings of emptiness and abandonment didn’t go away, but they came to the surface. My friends and family suggested I visit a counselor.
There comes a point where you’d rather risk going into a scary and vulnerable place to find healing than staying where you’re at.
Hands shaking, I began sitting weekly in that leather counseling chair, unmasking who I was. I would continue to bounce between the two metaphorical chairs of comfort and vulnerability, unsure of what God thought.
But when I looked at Scripture, I learned that God not only understands the seesaw of depression, but He understands it far better than we can in our humanity. In Isaiah 9:6, God is called the “Wonderful Counselor” to His people, and Matthew 5:4 reminds us that God comforts the hurt and mourning. We even see the depths of Jesus’ sorrow and grief in passages like John 11:35 and Matthew 26:38.
In light of this, I pictured what it was like to sit in each of the metaphorical chairs.
The chair of comfort felt safe and secure; it felt like peace.
I pictured a cozy chair near a window, where the sun comes beaming in just right, blanketing me in perfect warmth.
The chair of vulnerability and faith felt uncertain; it felt like fear.
I pictured a well-worn chair that has been sat on for decades. There are tears in the fabric, loose screws, and a layer of dust on the arms. But this chair also tells the stories of those who have sat in it before.
You probably know which one you’re apt to choose.
But what if God wanted to sit next to you? Would you offer Him your chair of comfort, and receive His comfort while you sat in the chair of faith?
This is a vulnerable place to be.
There are two reasons you may want to choose comfort over faith:
- We want to stay in the comfort of what we know because we don’t want to face the reality of depression. It’s an escape from reality.
- The feeling of being stuck in the chair leads us to believe that it’s better remaining in depression than working for the hope that can come from standing up. We are uncertain how to get out.
And there are two reasons you should choose faith over comfort:
- Imagine this: your arm is broken, and you have a cast. It isn’t healing properly, and you’re experiencing limited mobility. Frustration invades as you realize you’ll need surgery. This is where healing begins. True soul-healing involves wounds being reopened so they can heal properly. It hurts, but there is a Wonderful Counselor and Healer who is sitting beside you and refining you as gold is refined (Job 23:10).
- When you choose the well-worn chair of faith, you learn more about God and yourself. Through seeing a counselor, I have been learning more about God and His view on suffering. I have been learning that my story, when held with gentleness, can bring true healing.
I always chose the chair of comfort; my best friend was sadness. I didn’t want to give my chair of comfort to anyone — even God.
But then I saw Jesus is no stranger to suffering. He suffered the most agonizing and painful death. Why did He endure that? Not because He deserved it but because He desired to heal me. By urging me into the chair of faith, He continues to bring me from death to life.