I left the battlefield of my final Spanish oral examination still shaking with uncertainty and lingering anxiety. As I had been doing for the past two weeks, I made the usual long distance call to my mother and with eyes filled with tears, prepared to offload my worries onto her.
However this time I was greeted by a rather cold voice on the other end of the line, "Yes, Danielle", she answered. Ignoring the obvious frustration in her voice I commenced with my whiny explanation of the real problem at hand, "The exam was okay but I think I made a lot of grammatical errors and I still feel so anxious about it even though .... Mummy?" I asked as I heard an unusual silence on the other end.
With a long sigh, she responded, "I don't have time for this right now Danielle, we've already prayed about it and I told you to leave it in God's hands, there are only so many times that I can tell you the same thing, you need to believe it for yourself!" Extremely taken aback by her frustrated, direct tone, I tried my best to think about the truth in her words and ignore the heavy lump of offense that was growing inside my heart.
To make a long story short, she was correct—as usual.
In Our Weakness He is made strong
For the past two weeks I had been trying to tackle an overwhelming load of assignments and exams, while battling the fatigue of long and sometimes completely sleepless nights. These were among the factors taking a toll on me mentally, physically and emotionally, making the nearing end of my degree seem very far out of sight.
During that time I called my mother frequently for inspiration and so that she could pray with me and for me, because I was usually too discouraged to do it on my own. She had become my crutch, and source of biblical encouragement after I had traded in my bible for textbooks, and shortened conversations with God for tearful late night phone calls with her.
In hindsight, I'm tempted to label my state as depression; however, being that I am not completely sure I will simply rate it as among the top five worse times of my life thus far.
A Season for everything
After the conversation with my mother, I remembered the words from one of my mentors, who once said that depression was not a place for any Christian to stay. I readily agreed at the time; however actually being in the situation was a very different story. The more I thought about her words as well as my mother's, the promise of Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11 warmed my heart and I began to realise that the two weeks of stress were almost over.
I had been able to adequately prepare for and finish everything thus far, and despite my lack of sleep I had so much to be grateful for. My mother was right, all I needed to do was believe in the many promises of God that she had been constantly reminding me of.
As I walked home that afternoon, I began to claim and thank God in advance for my success in the exams and other assignments that I had already done. Soon I was sharing the story of how my mother's tough love had so put me right back on track. As I joked about it, I could not help but think about the many other people stuck in a similar situation without anyone to teach them the secret to getting rid of their weighty burdens.
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing
At the time, although my mother's approach seemed quite rough, she understood the importance of seasons and that it was no longer healthy for her to be my comforter.
Of course she would continue to pray for me, but I had to rely on God for myself and in that reliance believe that he would come through for me.Philippians chapter 4 verse 6 which tells us, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God," was another biblical promise that I continued to hold tight to as I emerged from my dark state.
Having experienced that and emerged victorious, I strongly believe that although fellowship is absolutely importantin our Christian walk, we ought to be wary of becoming too dependent on our brothers and sisters. Especially, to the point where we continuously seek their comfort and opinions more than we seek God.
By all means, this is a difficult step,particularly for less experienced Christians. However, the best place to start this process of remaining reliant on him in our dark times, is by reading his word and memorising promises related to our situation.
Speak the truth in Love
Finally I encourage us as friends and confidants of someone who may be depressed or simply in a dark place, to be careful not to become their everything.
May we always remember that there is a season for embracing and another for letting go; however, knowing when one season has begun and the other has ended is knowledge that we can acquire from seeking God about the matter.
All in all, let us not be afraid to show a bit of tough love, because it could be exactly what that person needs to get them back on the horse again.
Danielle Jones was born on the beautiful island of Barbados to phenomenal parents. She is currently approaching the finish line of her first degree in Jamaica and looking forward to her next step being ordered by God. She hopes to be fluent in Spanish very soon, do global missionary work and continue to be an example of the love of Christ.
Danielle Jones' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/danielle-jones.html