My heart pounds in my chest like a pep band bass drum, setting a tempo too rapid for this occasion—sharing dinner with family and friends. In this moment, my body occupies a seat on the bench. The bench is a challenging place. I watch the game blur in front of me, wanting to join in, but I still need rest from this hidden injury. This unseen wound is carved into my mind with the letters of depression and anxiety.
Coming off the bench and into the “big game” of everyday life makes my stomach churn with nausea. These thoughts are chanted from fans in the bleachers of my mind, What if I don’t know what to say tonight? What if people don’t like my answers? What if they think I look better, but inside I still don’t feel better? My body sweats, as if I am the one actually playing a real basketball game.
Apprehension swells when I think of engaging in conversation; I worry about participating in back and forth dialogue. These anxieties threaten to conquer me, making it impossible to hoist myself into the competition. And when I submerge to the base of my feelings, I am worried that if I share my anxieties, I will be rejected by those who I love.
In these moments, the response of others is outside my control; however, I can rest in the truth of God’s Word. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says,
In this passage, Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened.” He doesn’t say, “Come to me all you who are energized and perfect.” He wants us to bring our burden-laden selves to Him. When we do this, we can feel His rest enveloping the imperfections of our stories.
I slowly rise off the bench and enter the game; my heart still pulsing adrenaline through my weary body. I can feel God with me through every conversation—He guides my hands and words, no matter how shaky and uncertain. Sometimes the expressions bubbling from my mouth are awkward, unsure, and heavy—the ball is fumbled and a turnover ensues. But Jesus is there, calling a time out, reminding me in a team huddle that I can come to Him with my imperfections and He is ready to welcome me into the most delightful rest I could ever imagine.
After the buzzer sounds, signaling the end of the big game, I am left sitting on the bench again; this time the bench looks like the cab of our silver truck, ready to make our way home from dinner. Anxiety blares across my shoulder, telling me that I am not enough. Anxiety whispers, You said too much. No one will ever understand. You are alone.
I crawl into bed, smoothing lotion over my legs and feet. You are worthy, I repeat over and over again, trying to dim the booming lies. The anxiety hangs heavy in the air, refusing to budge. Depression takes this as an invitation to remind me of the familiar lie, You are not worthy.
I am bone-weary, pain radiating from within. All I can do is tuck the covers underneath my chin and let tears roll down my face. I remind myself that I do not have to veil any of these burdens; instead, I exhale my burdens, letting them hover. And I come to Jesus, knowing that in His arms, regardless of if I can sleep, I will rest. Tomorrow I might be back on the bench recovering. Or I might fluctuate between playing and returning to the bench, trying to find my rhythm as I learn to play this game with a limp.
No matter where you find yourself in this lineup of living with depression and anxiety, let’s bring our burdens to Jesus and exchange them for rest. Let’s rest in Jesus together.
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