Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member, Emily Whatley! If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today and get your first week FREE! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. And for more info about what LO sister is all about, visit our Instagram Page!
Now, enjoy today’s post from Emily 🙂
If you were to ask me this time last year if I struggled with depression, my mouth would have told you no. But if I had been honest with myself and those around me, I would’ve said that I had been depressed for a while and had shoved it deep down, that it had always been a part of who I was and had just become normal. There are moments in my life where I can pinpoint where I was really struggling yet decided to ignore it, but it wasn’t until this past winter that it had gotten to a point where I couldn’t push it away any longer and was able to let my mouth say,
“yes, and I need help”
Today, a year later, I can thankfully say that I am in the best mental state I have been in a long time and am the best version of myself both physically, mentally, and spiritually. There’s so much I want to and will share about what I’ve learned to get there where I am today, but I know the #1 reason that I was able to get better is because I sought out help, both from a counselor and most importantly God. Through seeking help, I’ve been able to process my feelings better and learn ways to cope and handle my thoughts, and through seeking the Lord, I have been able to learn so much about what it means to have joy, a deep-rooted happiness in the Lord.
This summer I got the opportunity to work as a camp counselor, and during pre-camp, we were asked to pick a word to focus on during our time at camp. Immediately, I knew my word would be JOY. Not because it was a small word and would easily fit on a bracelet we would make the next week, but because I knew that there were going to be days this summer that were long, hard, tough, and exhausting. And for me to do my job well and continue to keep myself well, I needed to have joy and a renewed strength to get through each and every day.
“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” (Nehemiah 8:10)
The Bible says in Nehemiah that “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. That when we have joy, we can be strong. I’ve always looked at this verse as that, where if I’m happy in the Lord then I’ll find strength. But I think there’s so much more to it than it being that simple. Because to find strength, we have to recognize that we are weak. We have to see that we can’t do something on our own and have to find this inner power to push through and press on. And I think it’s the same way in our day to day lives. That when we understand that we’re tired and need help to put on a brave face, that we’re drained and need someone to give us the willpower to make it to the end of the day, someone who can give us a joy and strength that we cannot experience ourselves.
It took me a while to get to this point myself. For so long, I tried to hide my feelings and do everything in my own strength. I was the one who had to be strong, to take care of myself, to keep moving while hurting so deeply inside. But my feelings had become so strong that they were too big to ignore anymore, and my every day life was being affected. I knew I needed help but kept telling myself that I wasn’t that bad off and would get over it soon. But once I admitted I wasn’t okay and sought out help, God was able to transform my mind and give me a strength that can only be found when we are fully happy in Him. And when we’re able to find joy and escape the sadness, it’s not just something we keep inside; joy flows from the inside out for those around us to see! I wanted to picked joy as my word this summer because I never thought I was good at showing it and needed to work on it, but it ended up being something I was defined by because it had become a part of who I was. I realized that I needed help each and every day of my life, and in realizing my weakness, I was able to find joy and be strong.
“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 12:10)
There are so many long, hard, tough, and exhausting days in life. We all can agree that life is not always sunshines and rainbows. And on those difficult days, we try to ignore our feelings, putting walls up and forcing a smile on our face so that we can be strong. But when we do this, we only leave ourselves more hurt than we were before. When we humble ourselves and seek help, understand that we sometimes can’t do things on our own, and realize that when we are weak He is our strength, we can find this deep-rooted happiness in the Lord because we know that He is all we have and all we will ever need. And that is when we truly will be strong.
If you are struggling with mental health, know that you are not alone. There are many people who feel what you’re feeling and understand exactly what you’re going through. But most importantly, know that God will never leave you nor forsake you, and that you too can find joy and strength in Him.