“What is happening to me? I feel CRAZY,” I thought. I’d heard of depression in pregnancy before but naively thought, “That doesn’t happen to people who love Jesus.” If you love Jesus and have been pregnant you may have felt like this at one point or another during pregnancy. Like me, maybe you tried to reach out and you got a response like “Oh you're just pregnant!” or “You’ve got 13 times the amount of hormones in your body now than you do on your period. You probably feel like you are on a roller coaster!” At some level, a sense of normalcy can help you get through the day but it certainly doesn’t take away lonely & sad feelings or give you a lasting hope.
For a good part of my pregnancy, I felt depressed. I cried and slept often. When my husband wasn’t home, TV and the couch were more than familiar to me. I’d never experienced the heaviness of depression. So I didn’t have a clue on what Jesus had to do with any of it.
One thing I was sure of: my sin. It seemed during this time that it was being magnified. All my “small” heart issues seemed to explode. If somebody said or did something that offended me, I didn’t just hide it away in the depths of my heart, no I cried about it, got mad about it, I was critical and rotten about it. During that time, my sin seemed greater than ever. And it was. My emotions took over and my sin soon looked bigger than Jesus. Occasionally I’d send up a shallow prayer of repentance but I still held back from His scary goodness. I felt like Elyse Fitzpatrick describes in one of her devotions* I ran in and out out of the Lord’s presence, asking for cleansing but not really wanting to know what this particular sin meant about me.
By God’s grace, He slowly brought me back to Him. One way was through my husband. When I told him things I thought I needed (deeper friendships, being out of the house, etc), James would graciously hold me, pray with me and remind me that Jesus is better, and He is what I need. Another grace was the book “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” by Paul Tripp** he addresses emotions in a way I’d never heard before. His words started to soften my hard heart:
“My emotions are one of the ways my heart expresses what I crave, treasure and serve….(they) reflect what we worship…God gave us emotions as he made us in His image; they are intended to help us live in communion with him. They are a key indicator of whether we are living in joyful covenantal communion with him or in the service of something else.”
Just reading something about God and emotions made me cry. It was a breath of fresh air to see what God intended with all these emotions. After all, it wasn’t an accident that pregnant women are loaded with hormones during pregnancy. God knows-He ordained it.
God continued to soften my heart through a sermon by our pastor. As Pastor Tim preached on Psalm 22 (where David cries out My God, my God why have you forsaken me?) This whole time I was ashamed of the things I felt but Tim validated through the sermon that our feelings are real. In Psalm 22, David really felt forsaken at that point in his life just like I really felt lonely. Tim explained how emotions can be real & strong without being true. The truth is, that though David deserved to be forsaken-just like me- I won’t ever have to be forsaken because Christ was forsaken on my behalf so that I could be accepted. So though I may feel lonely-that is NOT ultimately true. I am not alone-Christ is with me, he promises never to leave me.
Maybe you are pregnant and depressed, or maybe you are just depressed. Let this be a beautiful time to commune with God. Lift up your emotions to Him. Let God show you your heart, but not just that-His great kindness. At the cross, we see the perfect Jesus who not only felt forsaken but WAS forsaken so that we could be accepted. Jesus knows the heaviness of what you feel he felt it even heavier. There’s no hope during this time, but Jesus.
*Comforts from the Cross by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick p84
** Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp p196