Abiding Delight Blog Series, Anxiety, Carissa Sherman, Depression, Joy, Unsplash Photo

Rediscovering Joy Through Anxiety & Depression | Carissa Sherman

In this second post of the ABIDING DELIGHT series, Carissa expresses what it means to delight so eloquently. If you’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, her story will bring fresh courage to your heart…

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A few years ago, I found myself trapped in intense anxiety and depression. Every day, I asked God to make His presence tangible to me, to show me what to do.

 

But day after day, I felt my body getting weaker and my hope burning out. I felt stripped of vision for my future.

 

It seemed pointless sometimes, but I never stopped asking Him what to do, begging Him to help me, sometimes even in the very moments when I knew I had brought pain on myself.

 

One night, I was at the end of my rope in every way. I asked Jesus to make the case for my life and to fight the enemy’s accusations that there was no purpose for me.

 

Something shifted after that. My feelings were not all magically different, but my hope for the future was quietly reestablished.

 

Bit by bit, something new started growing in my life. People started giving me advice after I opened up to them about what I was experiencing. Suddenly, things started to fit together like clues on a map to finding joy in life again. I was clearly going somewhere new in my relationship with my Father, and that brought an anticipation that fueled me for the hard physical and emotional things I was still experiencing.

 

Pursuit of Jesus became a living thing to me again, because there was absolutely nothing to lose. When you’ve felt the worst, believed the worst, and survived the worst already – what can get in the way?

 

When happy feelings vanished, I started choosing to turn in towards Him with my thoughts by faith. It was hard, like exercise, or focusing to study. But I found that my lack of “feeling” something during prayer had no effect on the long-term building of my faith and relationship with my Father. It grew stronger every day, no matter how weak I felt.

 

The journey hasn’t been what I expected. Delight often rises up inside of me steadily over time rather than being a temporary wave of great feelings. I see now that the long-haul is proving God’s faithfulness to me so that His joy can become my unwavering strength.

rediscovering joy through anxiety and depression

I’ve noticed three distinct kinds of delight that the Father has been using to reveal his love to me:

  1. The delight of expectation

Often the anticipation of something exciting is half the fun. In our relationship with God, the “seeking” can be full of delight even when we feel helpless, because the smallest glimpse of His love for us can restore our hope in an instant.

 

Through repeatedly searching for and finding God’s truth, we learn new expectations that will transform the old ones. Where we have expected emptiness, the Father gives us a new anticipation: that when we seek Him, we will find Him.

 

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” Prov 25:2, NASB

 

  1. The delight of connection

As in my case, many people experience a pattern of vulnerability with others opening up new doors in their walk with God. There is power in connection and asking for help. It’s part of the treasure map in our journey to delighting in Him.

 

Sometimes I have to laugh at the wild connections that introduced certain people and teachers into my life who I needed in the moment. It’s mysterious, and makes the undeniable case to my heart that God is weaving all things together for me.

 

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11, NASB

 

  1. The delight of being welcome

We hear, read, and believe that Jesus’ blood has covered everything, that nothing stands between us and God. But after sharing with other women going through similar struggles, I found that I was not alone in the difficulty to think like this about myself!

 

Becoming aware of how many of my thoughts are focused on fixing myself or fear of making mistakes has been a sobering process. There is this complex…yet beautifully simple delight of being invited and welcome in God’s presence, in spite of how we feel.

 

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6, NASB

It can be unbelievably difficult to receive treasures from God when we feel unworthy or lost in our circumstances. But our feelings and self-image do not change His unconditional love and joy in us.

 

How has God taught your heart to delight through seasons of anxiety or depression?

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Carissa is a soon-to-be mom with a background in natural health. She writes about navigating anxiety and depression through addressing the body, mind, and spirit as one whole – designed perfectly by God.

IG: @carissasherman

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