When I first started this blog, I committed to myself to be completely honest. I didn't want to paint an unrealistic picture. I like how my friend expressed this idea to me in an email (when I was feeling bad for being whiney):
"Making things that are really rotten look like roses doesn't do you or anyone else any favors. Sometimes, life is hard. Really really hard."
I also committed to myself years ago, to be transparent. I committed to be open and honest about my sins and my struggles. I fervently avoid the temptation to make myself look better than I am (although who can completely remove self-bias??).
In my attempts at being transparent, I often err on the side of being too open, and too blunt, as my close friends can attest.
Because of these commitments, you have seen my struggles. You have seen the hard times and the joyous times. You have seen me stumble, and you have seen me overcome.
[Of course, transparent honesty must be balanced with obedience and faith, especially regarding my words. The Bible has much to say about the fruit of our lips...but that's not what this post is about.]
Now back to my secret. I'm going to tell you my secret for getting back up when I fall down. Prayer and encouragement from friends is a huge help which should not be underrated. But friends don't (and shouldn't be required to) sustain me.
So, do you want to know how I go from the depths of depression to the heights of joy? It has very little to do with my circumstances, or emotions, or hormones, or side-effects of drugs. It is very simple.
I praise the Lord.
I praise Him with all of my heart, with all of my strength, with all that is within me.
It is very different from being thankful. There are times when it is difficult to find things to be thankful for. And even thankfulness entails a self-focus.
When I praise the Lord, I focus on who He is.
On His character.
On how amazing and awesome and powerful and loving and kind and good and merciful and beautiful He is.
On how much I love and adore Him.
I focus on the beauty of His presence. I focus on His countenance.
It doesn't matter how I feel, and it's not a particular method. There is no formula for praising the Lord. It can be in the quiet of my sickness, when all of my strength entails just a tiny whisper. It can be when I feel strong, and worship with dancing and shouts of praise.
Regardless, when I reach the point where I have given all my strength and have nothing left, when I have worshipped God with all of my heart, then I break through. It is in that moment that I overcome, that all the worries and pains and depression and frustrations cease. Then comes that unspeakable joy!
Something supernatural happens when I turn my focus off of myself and my circumstances, and on to God, who is always worthy of my praise. It reminds me of the famous song...
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.