As with anything, there is a story behind the title of my blog. It is very personal and very meaningful to me, but I feel that it is important to provide a little bit of insight for those who want to know.
The title for my blog came from a song and album sharing the same title by Cory Ashbury (You can find the song and album here, but beware- it’ll really put you in your feels: https://open.spotify.com/album/63fUIyRGFTFdVlDMTT5tLB). I was introduced to this song by my best friend. We were sitting in our room worshipping with just a guitar and our voices, and she began to play this new song that I had never heard. The first time I heard the chorus, I was brought to tears. It is so relevant to the struggles that I am currently dealing with. The chorus goes like this:
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
Talk about a powerful chorus. I’m already crying, and then the bridge comes around, and just totally wrecked me because it directly paralleled events that were happening in my life. The best bridge I have ever heard in my life goes like this:
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
Like I said, BEST. BRIDGE. EVER. So here I am on a school night, sobbing in my room because the Lord has just wrecked me with this amazing worship song. Now, here comes the super personal part, and I’m sorry if this is a little too intense for some people. It is something that I have hidden for a very long time, but that needs to be shared in order to better understand my perspective on reckless love, and also to maybe even help others who have struggled with similar things. So, here we go…
I have been dealing with untreated and undiagnosed depression for almost a decade of my life now, and I’ve only been alive for two decades, so… that’s pretty much since I’ve known who I was as a person. For about the first four years, not a single soul knew. During the next three years, I confided in one or two individuals at a time, and it was during this time that my parents also found out. When someone seemed to be done with me, the girl who couldn’t seem to beat her own darkness, they left, which only caused the darkness to grow. Then I suffered alone until I found a new person to confide in. I’m not gonna lie, it sucks having this immense burden. I’ve always told myself I just need to get over it, and that I’m just being dramatic because there are people who have it much worse than I do. I still couldn’t beat it though. Every time I made immense progress, and convinced myself that I had beaten it, my closest friend(s) would leave, and I would be alone again and worse than ever. I began to grow increasingly angrier with God. I never once questioned my faith, but I began to question whether God even cared about me anymore. When I went to my Christian summer camp every year, people would share how God was noticeably working in their lives, and I became so enraged. All I could think was God isn’t working in my life. He couldn’t be. I keep beating this, and it keeps coming back in full force. God is working in others’ lives, but not in mine. He’s not here. He’s neglecting me. How could He?
Oh, how wrong I was. It was in my last year of summer camp that I first realized this. I was about to age out of camp- my favorite part of my year and the only real time I felt even remotely close to the Lord. This summer I had a counselor who was only subbing in for someone for that one week that I was attending camp, and what a God send she was. She had struggled through similar burdens, and was able to give me incredible counsel and support. At the end of that week, the women of camp made a video to tell our coaches how they had helped us. In mine, I said, they had “helped a lost sheep return home.”
Senior year was all about renewing my faith, and truly making it my own. I dove into God’s Word wholeheartedly, I got baptized (again), and I quickly began to feel the darkness fading. But Satan loves to use old habits to break us, and old habits die hard, so when struggles came, I quickly spiraled right back down.
The time to move away to college came, and that was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I was surrounded by all of these incredible people in this amazing Christian university environment. Baylor was home. And that helped… for a while. The stress and the struggles came, and it brought the darkness back with it, but I was keeping it at bay fairly well… for a while. At the end of last semester, after more struggles with friends who had turned into family, my depression was rearing its ugly head again, and with it, came the deep dark struggle that no one knew about. I told two of my closest friends, and they pushed me to reach out and take advantage of Baylor’s free counseling center. I’ve never really liked the idea of counseling, which is why I’ve never tried it. I’ve had it suggested to me many times before, but this time was different. My best friend walked me to the counseling center, and made me feel comfortable going in.
That was the first day of this semester, and it has been such a life changer. After that abridged version of my testimony and my history with this struggle, here is the part that I hope can help others. I never saw myself as someone who needed anyone else’s help to “fix myself.” However, I did; as we all do. Telling a friend or a family member can help because when you tell someone, your depression looses some power over you. It’s no longer this taboo secret that you carry around having to pretend everything is fine. This helps a lot, but there’s only so much that friends and family can do to help. Telling a mental health profession, while definitely being both terrifying and unnerving, is honestly the most helpful thing I’ve ever done. In the end, the most important thing to do is to rely on the Lord above all else.
In the past two and a half months, I have done a lot of reflecting. I’ve realized a few things- getting out of the darkness requires a shift in mindset, and God is always working. All of those times when I thought I had beaten my depression, I hadn’t, obviously. I had just continually found new ways to shove it down and pretend like it didn’t exist. To lock it up in this little box until the little box couldn’t hold it anymore, so it burst open, and all of the darkness came flooding back in. Worse this time than the last though because another “solution” didn’t fix the problem, and I was running out of ideas and hope. A lot of what counseling does is help you to have an outlet/person to talk to about everything and to help you change your mindset. You have to realize that you may always deal with depression- it’s your struggle in life- but you can change how you deal with it. You can continue to live your life instead of letting it debilitate you. Then, eventually, maybe the darkness will get bored and leave. Yeah, it might come back every once in a while after that, but when it does, you can say, “Oh, it’s you… you’re back. I really hate when you come back, but I can live my life to the fullest in spite of you.” I’ve also realized that God was ALWAYS there. Even in the darkest times when I felt alone, defeated, and hopeless. He may have let me stray and struggle because if He had not let me chose my own path before leading me back to the righteous one, it wouldn’t be true love because I wouldn’t have had free will. I’ll admit, that’s maybe not the most comforting thing, especially for someone as deep in Satan’s web of lies as I was, but it’s the Capital T Truth. On top of this, you have to remember that God does not give you more than you can bear, and that He gives the hardest battles to His strongest warriors. I was shown some amazing scripture during this time that has really helped me, and it says:
Even when you are in your darkest places, God is ALWAYS there beside you. Take heart in that fact that even though “we are hard pressed on every side,” we are not crushed, and we will never be crushed so long as we walk alongside the Lord.
Now to circle back to the main point of this article, the story behind the title of this blog. Knowing the context of my struggles, you can probably now see why this song affected me so deeply. God’s love for us is so immense, so vast, so overwhelming that it reaches us even in our darkest of places. It is never-ending. There is nothing we can say or do to cause God to love us any less. God’s love chases us down when we are led astray, and fights until we are found and returned to Him. He leaves the ninety-nine (Check out Matthew 18:12-14 or Luke 15:3-7 if you’ve never heard of the Parable of the Lost Sheep.) because He cares so deeply for each and every one of us. There is nothing we could say or do to earn God’s love and/or His grace, and since we are all sinners, we most definitely do not deserve it. Yet, God still gave His one and only son away to death on a cross in order to save us from the permanent punishment of our sins- eternal death- and instead has given us grace, love, and eternal life. There is no darkness that God will not light up, or struggle that He will not help us to overcome. There is no mountain high enough or valley low enough to keep us from His love. There is no wall He won’t kick down to soften our hearts to Him, and there is no lie that He will not tear down to convince us of our worth and His love for us. God’s love for us is reckless. He loves us unconditionally and without fear of rejection. His love is not self-serving. He puts us first. He loves us without fear of consequences. The way He loves us is quite simply reckless. Cory Ashbury says it best in his explanation of his song, His love for us gets him hurt over and over again because our sin very deeply pains Him, “yet He opens up and allows us in every time. His love saw you when you hated Him – when all logic said, ‘They’ll reject me,’ He said, ‘I don’t care if it kills me. I’m laying My heart on the line.'” I can’t help but marvel at the depth of God’s love when I hear this song, especially because when I love others recklessly and they reject me, it nearly kills me. But God gets rejected every day, yet He still loves us recklessly. I have seen this in my life through Him, and from Him through others. So there you have it, the way that God loves us is what got me out of my deepest, darkest struggle. Now, I am able to share my testimony to glorify His name and His love that is purely reckless.