Solving Depression by Learning… a Thankful Heart is a Heart Full of Hope!

They warned us, but we didn’t listen.  We thought we had this one.  We were experienced in relocation!  After all, we were already living in another country and had moved five times before that.  Asia was supposed to be great.  How could they ask if we were sure we could handle this?  What were they talking about?  Of course, we wanted it, didn’t we?  Who wouldn’t want a business package in a beautiful foreign country, a “helper” for the house and the kids, and endless travel?  One year later……”Joey, I want to move home now.  I won’t wait any longer.  If you don’t go with me, I’m leaving anyway and taking the kids.”  This was my heart as a very stressed out  wife and mother living in Asia.  It didn’t turn out as planned.  My husband’s job in Asia kept him traveling constantly and he was exhausted when he was home.  The kids were in school, we had hired “help” and I felt in my brain and my emotions that I had nothing.  Some people would find it very appealing to have virtually “no responsibility” and everything done for them, but I didn’t.  I tried it for a while. I traveled, went to the pool, and kept myself pampered at the spa, but I was empty.  Nobody needed me anymore, not even neighbors when they got sick.  Their “help” did everything for them. So much so that they were estranged from their children.  This scared me and made me cling to mine even more.  As well, broken marriages were rampant because of all the traveling spouses.  This made my nerves on edge every time my husband would leave.  I tried to control it, but the fear of losing him and my children to this place overwhelmed any beauty that was before me.  My family was gone, my friends were gone, I was gone.  In the states, I was the home school Mom, the church activity coordinator, the hostess of people who stayed with us all the time, a friend to many, a neighbor, and a very involved family member.  Then, it all ended!  My identity was stripped and I was depressed for the first time in my life!  My husband, still exhausted after a long trip said, “Steph, you need some help.  Let’s get you to the Dr. and to a counselor.”  At first, I denied that I had a problem, but then I decided to listen.  I went to the Dr. and came home with an antidepressant, which I stared at for a few days.  I never did take them out of the box, because in the back of my mind, I knew what was wrong.  I just wasn’t ready to admit it.   When we searched for counselors, we found that they had all gone home for the summer!  One day, after looking again with no results, my husband said, “I’ll call our friend, “Tim Kerr” and see what he says.”  Tim Kerr was my husband’s Christian mentor.  He was always there for us with every move and in any crisis that we encountered.  A true friend.  So, Joey called him and told me that Tim’s wife, JoAnn was a mentor for women going through tough times.  She would call me in a few days.  I waited, but not very patiently.  I wasn’t sleeping, I was lashing out at everyone, and I was negative about everything that had to do with my husband’s job or our situation.  I was far from God and I was trying to face things alone.  I remember the phone call.  I was sitting in the office upstairs and I had been crying as usual.  She was so caring and patient with me.  She let me just tell her my heart and I cried and cried.  She never once told me to stop.  After I finished, she comforted me with the love of Jesus.  She read me passages from His Word.  It felt so wonderful.  I just wanted to stay there.  I was truly wishing she was there to hug me, but I started to feel the presence of something that had been missing for a long time.  It was the presence of the Lord.  Although there are many Christians in Asia, and we went to church while we were there, the culture of “business” was very prevalent there and the depth of the messages I heard were not sinking in.  I had also removed myself from the practice of Bible reading and prayer.  There was idol worship all around us, including my neighbors on both sides.    She reassured me that it was going to be okay and that God would help me.  I wanted to believe her, but I didn’t know if I was willing to work with him.  My assignment was to make a journal and add to it each night.  It was to be a “thankful” journal and I was to pray prayers of thanks each night to the Lord and each morning.  As well, it was to include my husband and our situation!  What?  How could I do that?  I tried it and slowly, this is what I came up with.  “Lord, thank you that my husband cared enough about me to get me help.   Thank you that we have a home to live in.  Thank you that my kids have friends here.”  Okay, this was doable, but nothing was happening yet and my prayers were shallow.   I started to read the Psalms along with my journal and as you know, the Psalms are full of Thanksgiving and I started to realize that God is in control and I’m not, and in my power, I am weak, but through His, I am made strong.  So, depending on the Lord, my prayers became deeper.  “Lord, thank you for this crisis so that you may be glorified through this some how.  Thank you for my husband’s health so that he can continue to finish what you have given him to accomplish, Thank you that I see a need for a savior everywhere I look.  Thank you that my husband loves me and got me help.  Thank you that you brought us here to learn to depend on you.  Did I really just pray that?”    I actually did. Then my prayers of thanks were added to and I began to pray prayers of petition.  I began to pray for an opportunity to serve.  I felt the depression begin to lift.  I started to get more energy, my focus was not on myself anymore.  I was thinking of how I could help now.  JoAnn called me several weeks later and I told her that I had been healed of my depression through my prayers of Thanksgiving to Him!  I was so “thankful” for JoAnn and for her help during a time of crisis.  The Lord also heard my petition to serve and brought us a family that became very special friends.  Going through difficult financial times, this young couple and their kids moved in with us for a few months.  She was a brand new Christian and the Lord used me to minister to her, love her, and disciple her.  Through this, God brought her back from the unreality of the “life” that we were all living there into who God was calling her to be to her kids and to her husband.  This is what God had planned for me and my family all along, but because I was trying on my own to handle the situation, I missed my “calling” for a while, until I turned back to the Lord.  My heart was now full of hope.  My situation did not change, but my attitude did.  Joey and I still wanted to move home, but now we were going to the Lord with our requests.  About a year and a half  later we moved back to the states, but still not quite sure where we would end up.  We were so excited when they announced Atlanta as our destination.  It’s been almost seven years now, and I can honestly say that my time in Asia was God ordained and that miracles took place in my life, in the life of our new friends, and in the life of my husband as we learned to trust God instead of ourselves to comfort and keep us close to Him in the midst of chaos and stress.  My ungrateful heart gave me hopelessness and depression, but when I chose to have a heart of thanksgiving even for the trials, God gave me hope in my heart and my hope turned my mind and emotions back over to Him and then gave us a mission to glorify Him in our circumstances!   Thank you Jesus, thank you! Psalm 30:11-12 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; Thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness; That [my] soul may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to Thee forever.  Click here for more verses on Thankfulness!

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One Comment

  1. Wonderful friend,
    I love your testimony. God, also has used you in my life as an important messinger and guidance when I needed the most. As a new born in Christ I was lost between my old way of trying to find a way in me and with my own limited power and not in Christ who is The Way… I will never forget when you told me: “depend on The Lord and surrender your spouse to Him…” I love you, Steph. Thank you! May God use you and your testimony in others lives.

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