Looking In From The Outside

Depression is such a crazy, confusing, frustrating thing. I absolutely hate it, but I find myself there more often than I care to admit. Unfortunately, other members of my family also struggle with depression. We are all on the road to recovery, thankfully, but we are at various stages in counseling and in different phases of depression. As the mother and caregiver for two daughters, I find great difficulty in dealing with their emotions while I am walking down the same path myself.

During those stressful days when both of our daughters had moved home out of necessity, one week in particular was just horrible. There were days upon days filled with the girls’ crying, angry outbursts, selfish behavior, and even shutting themselves in their rooms.  I was constantly saying the wrong thing to them and making matters worse. Sometimes they would not even get out of bed in the morning, so it became my responsibility to get them up and out of the house. I had to keep our day-to-day lives going: wash, clean, cook, iron, pay bills, and do whatever else it took to keep the household from falling apart. On some days, I longed to be the one who was crying, who stayed curled up in my bed in my room. But I just kept going.

Finally, one Saturday, I had just had enough. My heart hurt. I needed encouragement or a word of wisdom from God. So He gave me a picture. As I stood at my kitchen sink, looking out the window, our cat suddenly jumped up onto the window ledge outside. She just sat there, staring at me with her huge yellow eyes. She watched me as I worked in the kitchen. I could feel her longing to be inside the house with me, but she was outside looking in. I realized that all she could see from that windowsill was me, working in the kitchen. 

I felt much like that cat concerning my daughters. I wanted to come inside their heads and know what was going on in their minds, but all I could get was a small glimpse into their lives. I could not understand them because, like the cat that could only see into my kitchen, I could only see the girls’ outward behavior. What was going on inside their hearts, souls, and minds was hidden from me. I longed to know my daughters’ struggles and what caused them to cry, why they turned away from me and hid inside their rooms. There were so many unanswered questions. Living with them but knowing that I could not “fix” them or protect them was very painful for me. The hurtful past was still influencing their lives these many years later. I was so sad. I left my kitchen, went away and wept.

But then God spoke to me through my tears. He reminded me that my girls were not alone in their houses of grief. He promised me that He was there in their houses with them. All I could see was the girls’ kitchens—and I could not see God there—but in the other rooms of their houses He was working. I needed to believe that. Just as my cat had been sitting on the ledge looking through the kitchen window into that one room, I realized that I could only see a small portion of what was happening in their lives. I could not see God in their lives, but I had to believe that He really was there.

Matthew 7: 24-25 says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock” (NAS). What my girls needed from me was prayer for their spiritual foundations, so that their houses would not fall. I had been neglecting my prayer time for them, but I now realized that I needed to repent and pray for them as they struggled on their paths to wholeness and healing.

Do you know someone who struggles with depression? Do you feel helpless, not knowing what to do to help her? Pray for her foundation. Pray for her to allow God full access to all the rooms of her house. He is the only One who can keep her life from falling apart. We can only peer into the lives of our loved ones through small windows, but God alone lives in their houses with them. Start praying today.

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