Where growing in Christ...meets everyday life
Today I'm honored to share a guest post from my friend Dr. Michelle Bengtson, an author, speaker, and neuropsychologist who specializes in helping women overcome depression and live hopeful lives in Christ. Whether you're suffering from depression, or know someone who is, today's post is evidence that "hope prevails."
I knew something had to change. I couldn’t go on as I was.
Sick and dying just a bit more each day, being kept alive on I.V. hydration and nutrition. Truthfully, I came to the point where if this was all my life was going to be, I wasn’t sure I wanted to live it.
I could no longer be the doer, the go-getter, the doctor, the wife, or the mother. About all I could DO was sleep, pray, watch sermons online, and listen to praise and worship music 24X7. I began to lose my identity.
Slowly I began to slip down the slippery avalanche into the pit of despair, into the valley of depression.
Like never before I related to David’s oft repeated words, “Why so downcast Oh my soul?”
Darkness was all I could see. Simple things like brushing my teeth and taking my vitamins took way too much effort…more than I could muster.
At first I couldn’t sleep and all I wanted to do was eat, but by the end, all I wanted to do was sleep the day away, and I could no longer eat.
Outwardly I wasted away. My body was a mere shell of its former self. I had dwindled from 113 pounds to a skeletal 74 pounds, unable to keep any food or liquid down, and dependent on IV’s to do that for me.
On the night before surgery, a dear friend and mentor called to pray for me. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure if it would do any good. Look at the shape I was in. Yet unlike all the other church going friends who had thrown Bible verses at me hoping they would stick and make me feel better, because they had nothing better to offer as I lay in my sick bed, this friend offered her heart and in doing so, she offered Living Water.
As I listened to her, too weak to say much myself, there was something different about her. I could tell the real attitude of her heart. She wasn’t merely offering platitudes, but a true sacrifice of time and the hope that sustained her during hard times. She wasn’t in a hurry—for that time, I was clearly her priority. Her prayer on my behalf was urgent and pleading, just like you might expect a mother’s prayer would be for her hurt child.
After she prayed, she shared how she had clung onto certain Scripture during a very tenous point in her past, a time not too dissimilar to what I was enduring myself. In that moment, I felt an urgency to write down a Scripture that she had shared: “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.” (Luke 3:5) I wrote down that verse on a post-it note, stuck it to my I.V. pole, and held onto it as a promise for myself during those dark days.
Following the one verse my friend and mentor shared, as I recuperated from surgery, other scripture began to leap off the page. God led me to verses that would encourage my heart and remind me of His promises.
When I started feeling bad about myself or my situation, and hear the enemy’s lying whispers that I was never going to get better, I would repeat the verse out loud that said, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
When I began to feel like a failure, I had to remind myself of God’s truth which says “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
When I feel weak, I remind myself, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
When I would begin to feel like a victim, I recited, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
I wrote each of these Scriptures on post-it notes and stuck them to the lamp on my nightstand. I stuck them to my I.V. pole, to the footboard of my bed, to my light switch, to my bathroom mirror, to just about every vertical surface that I regularly saw. Then each time I saw one of those post-it notes, I recited it out loud.
Why? Because Scripture says “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
As I began to do that, I very slowly began to recover not just physically, but emotionally as well. Every morning I recited Psalm 143:8 as a declaration of my trust in God: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
Because a friend and mentor took the time, in love, to pray with and for me, and to share an encouraging verse to hold on to during the difficult days I was going through, I began to renew my commitment to spending time in the Word of God and learning just how important of a weapon it is in our battles. She knew the value of discipleship. Not in browbeating someone with the Bible, but in being present in their struggles and offering a due word in season, to help fight back with truth. It made all the difference in my life, and now I do the same for others. And you can too!
In honor and loving memory of my friend, mentor, and spiritual mother, Margie Houmes who left this earth much too early for many of us, but who is dancing and laughing with Jesus now. You can read my dedication to her in my book Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression available on Amazon (amzn.to/2zB0e7J) or most other major book retailers.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson (PhD, Nova Southeastern University) is an international speaker, and the author of best-selling “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the newly released companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study.” She has been a neuropsychologist for more than twenty years. She is in private practice in Southlake, Texas where she evaluates, diagnoses, and treats children and adults with a variety of medical and mental health disorders. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She and her husband of 30 years have two teenage sons, and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com
For a Free eBook on How to Help a Depressed Loved One, click here: http://drmichellebengtson.com/how-to-help-a-depressed-loved-one-ebook/
For more helpful information about what you need to know when you have a depressed loved one, read here: http://drmichellebengtson.com/10-things-to-know-if-you-have-a-depressed-loved-one/
For more about what not to say to a depressed loved one, read here: http://drmichellebengtson.com/what-not-to-say-when-a-loved-one-is-depressed/ while here are suggestions about supportive things you can say to a depressed loved one: http://drmichellebengtson.com/what-to-say-when-a-loved-one-is-depressed/
For more hope, stay connected with me at:
To order Hope Prevails: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/DrMBengtson (@DrMBengtson)
To order Hope Prevails from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Prevails-Insights-Personal-Depression/dp/080072707X/
In addition to being friends, Michelle and I also share a beloved mentor in common. Don't miss my guest post on her website this Wednesday 1/10 to hear my Mama Margie story...and much more!