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The Grief of a Broken Design

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I’m going to begin with some vulnerability- I’m back in therapy. This was a choice that wasn’t easy. I knew I had struggled with depression in the past, but I believed that to be behind me, as I had a round of extremely helpful therapy my freshman year of college. This time, I simply thought I needed a little extra guidance to get over a more recent hurt.

A part of me believed I would go to my initial appointment and receive a simple “You’re doing pretty great! Let’s meet a couple of times to help you move on from this, and you should be good to go.” I didn’t expect for my therapist to recommend weekly sessions and for me to begin discovering years of repressed grief and pain or the reality that I never truly overcame my depression- that my depression just went from a debilitating numbness to an ever-present sadness that most people, apparently, don’t feel.

It’s not easy for me to admit that I’m haunted by the people I’ve lost. That I’m a master at compartmentalizing grief or what I perceive to be emotional weakness. That I’m left guarded, pessimistic and so different from the creative 15-year-old that I used to be. That I’ve been depressed for 7 years and, even after running as fast as I possibly could throughout college to distract myself, my depression was waiting for me the moment I ran out of early morning tours or late-night meetings.

I’ve begun to realize, though, that of course I’m haunted by the people I’ve lost. Or terrified of an evening left alone with my own thoughts. Is it really that strange that I can’t sleep because my nights are filled with the faces of the people I couldn’t save and I couldn’t fix? Is it so surprising that, even after 7 years and doing everything right, my depression still waits for me to fully submerge back into it in my weakest moments?

To be human is to experience loss but loss isn’t what we were built for. We’ve got to go back to the beginning- what we were designed for.

Our God breathed Himself into us. He breathed into us free will, humor, joy, passion, creativity- every aspect of Himself so that we are made in His likeness.

But we must not forget that our God is one of community and relationships- He is a Trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit have alwayslived together in perfect in unity, being both different and the same.

This need for eternal, everlasting community was built into us, too. In fact, after the creation of Adam, our Father looked down and saw that there was a need- Adam was alone and that wasn’t good. So, Eve joined Adam in the Garden and the design was clear- people were designed to be in perfect unity with both God and man.

But, sin came crashing in and broke the design. It’s easy to think of sin in a juvenile way- the bad choices we make, something that offends God or something we need to fight against. But sin is so, so, so much more.

Sin is death. Sin is the malignant force that steals away your loved ones and forces you to say goodbye. It’s the life force of your depression, grief, physical illnesses and the thing that causes your soul to cry out for what once was. It’s what keeps us ensnared in a cycle of wrong choices and self-destruction. It’s what keeps us from our design to be in perfect communion with our Maker.

We’re told in 2 Corinthians that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. 2 Corinthians explores how we are given what’s called a thorn in our flesh, a messenger from Satan himself. Not a lot of detail is given about what exactly the thorn in is, but it is made clear that the thorn doesn’t go away. The biggest take away is, in my opinion, that a messenger from Satan is out there waring against you. This doesn’t mean throwing random challenges or temptations at you, either.

These are challenges and temptations that come from someone who’s followed you since birth. They know every weakness of your heart, the wounds from your past and the anxieties that you just can’t overcome. They know how to stir up your grief and then place sin in your path and disguise it as a pretty escape. They know that you’re haunted by the people you’ve lost or the ways you’ve been betrayed. They know that your brain feels a little broken- and that you’re always dancing on the edge of being engulfed by total numbness.

But, God’s strength is made perfect in this weakness. He understands that we weren’t meant to sustain the grief and pain of this world because He’s the designer. His strength is made perfect in our weakness because every day He’s making us more than what we have become- He’s redeeming us back to our design. He’s giving His strength every moment so we’re not swallowed by our grief, our mental illness, or our sinful addictions. He’s there to lift us up and remind us that we’re more- that we’re His Beloved.

My depression isn’t me- it’s a broken world keeping me from my design. Your sin addiction isn’t you- it’s sin keeping you from your design. The loss of the people you love that ways heavy on your heart is always going to way heavy because you weren’t designed to bear the weight of it- but Christ can bear it for you.

I hope that if you’re struggling with grief, or mental illness or a sin that’s controlling your life that you feel brave enough to ask for help. That you realize it’s not weakness that’s keeping you from victory, but the simple fact you’re fighting something you were never designed to fight.

There’s relief in asking for help and there’s freedom in confronting the dark parts of yourself. I fear my depression and my grief because I remember when I was so sick I was fighting against terrifying thoughts and a seemingly undefeatable numbness. But now I know that I won’t find myself back in that place- I’m in therapy, I have friends that watch out for the signs of me slipping into a darker place and I have a family that supports and cheers me on. But even more so, I have a Father that whispers to me every moment of every day that the Light is coming- that I’ve healed so much since I was 18 and that there’s so much more healing on the way.