Preparing for the Battle

Thankful for the respite

This spring I cycled out of what always feels like a very long depression. As the flowers blossomed and the trees unfurled their new leaves, I felt alive. The spring breeze would caress my hair and I would close my eyes, breath in deeply and just “feel”. Lon would catch me with my eyes closed and a smile on my face, ask me what I was doing and I would answer, “Just feeling. It feels so good to feel…good.”

Sharpening my sword

I embrace this time wholeheartedly and try to steward it well because I know it won’t last. I begin to “sharpen my sword”. That phrase comes from when Lon and I were dating. While I was living in Minnesota and he in Massachusetts, he wrote me a letter stating, “A soldier always sharpens his sword before going into battle.” This was referring to us as Christians staying in God’s Word and making it a part of us before the battles of life ensue. I’m taking a long, deep look at what feeds the depression in my life so I can begin applying God’s truth to it.

Using the sword on my heart

One particular area I needed to apply the truth to concerns a significant, personal  relationship (I need to be anonymous here). This person does not like the choices I have made for my life, which means I do not have this person’s approval. I crave that approval and allow the lack of it to shadow the joys in my life. But the Bible teaches me that through Christ I have my Heavenly Father’s unconditional approval and that is all I need. Zephaniah 3:17 says that He sings over me and rejoices over me. As I revel in this, my craving for that person’s approval (and my fear of their disapproval) diminishes and it no longer has the hold on me it once did. My heart is awed at how applying God’s truth to my life can so free me from an inappropriate need for approval.

How do you prepare for your spiritual battles?

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Lost, But Not

As I write this, I’ve been enjoying a season of peace and quiet in my mind. I have felt relatively “normal”. But today I’m want to share some thoughts I wrote a while ago when I didn’t feel normal that paint a picture of what depression can feel like.


Depression makes me feel lost – the kind of lost you would feel if being caught in a tide that pulls you from shore. You see the shore, but you’re powerless to free yourself from the surf that sucks you further and further away. You begin to panic, fearful of being lost in a sea of dark emotions and turbulent thoughts that carry you further from yourself and your Heavenly Father.


When I feel this way I can’t help but cry out, “God, don’t lose me.”

He Answers

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely, they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you in the palms of my hands.” (Is. 49:15, 16a)

“My sheep hear my voice…neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27, 28)


This truth gives my feet their footing in the ocean depths. The truth breaks the power of the tide so that it no longer drags me under. My panic subsides, and the fear is gone. I am still in the dark sea of depression, but I am not lost. I won’t drown. My Heavenly Father is holding me in the palm of His hand. My name, my life is engraved there; it is permanent. I can hang on to that truth. It has handles I can grip. Sometimes, it has to be my life preserver.

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Hello, My Name is Dawn, and I’m a Junkie

Over the years my eyes have gradually been opening to this fact of my life: I’m a junkie, an addict. It’s not to something I could smoke, shoot, swallow or snort. But I have been dependent on “it”, and at times have felt like a slave to it. “IT” has been the thing I relied on to protect me from my deepest, deepest fear – that God would be angry with me and condemn me to hell. As a little girl, somehow I developed an unhealthy fear of God. He was so easy to anger, so hard to please. I believed that His anger might flare up at me at any moment, for almost any reason, so I did all I could to find something that would protect me. And what could possibly protect me from the wrathful God I imagined?


Legalism is the belief that you can keep enough rules, do enough good things, avoid enough bad things to earn God’s love and stave off His anger. I believed that if I could just do everything right, if I could be perfectly good in every way, then I would have the protection I craved. You would not believe the rules and rituals I made up for myself as I sought to appease God.

Years later, as a teenager, I began to unlearn my earlier, distorted view of God. I began to understand what a healthy fear of, and love for, God meant. It was then that I began to see that my legalism was not a shield that protected me; it was a chain that bound me. I started praying, crying out to God to free me from my addiction. But the habits of a legalistic life die hard, and they would not let go of me without a fight. Legalism constantly reared it’s power in my heart, and like a chemical addiction, I turned to it again and again to survive (I thought) spiritually.

An Unlikely Remedy

However, God does answer prayer, and His ways of answering are not always what we would prefer. In my case, He had a surprising, slow-working, painful instrument in mind. He used depression.

How, you ask? Simple. When I cycle into depression, my legalistic “fix” doesn’t work. I don’t have the emotional energy to depend on myself for anything, let alone trying to be perfectly good and blameless.

During my episodes of depression, I go through a sort of withdrawal. My brokenness and imperfection become so much more obvious to me. I know God sees it too and my instinctive response is to fear His anger. I again crave the chains that masquerade as my shield.

He Opens Blind Eyes

But it isn’t real. Legalism isn’t a shield. Nor have I need of one. Through depression, ironically, God frees my heart and opens my eyes with this truth:

The cross is my shield.

Because God loves me, He poured His wrath on His only Son. Because the Son loves me, He surrendered to that wrath on my behalf. Because of the cross, I will never know the wrath of God, only His love.

That is true grace.

No chains attached.