Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness.
We sat on the couch together, Phillip holding the Bible while I stared vacantly into the distance. As he finished Psalm 26, I tried to mold my incoherent feelings into thoughts — words.
That’s a new phenomenon for me. All of my feelings used to have names, and all of those names used to have reasons. My ability to articulate what was going on in my head is one of the major things I wish I hadn’t taken for granted.
That, and my ability — it seemed — to pray the psalms.
A Thief Called PPD
For years, I had used Don Whitney’s method of going through the Psalms, day by day, picking five, and praying through them. Even when my Bible-reading plans failed, my quiet time fell off the map, and my spirit was parched, opening to the Psalms never failed — until now. Now, I open my Bible, pick the Psalm of the day, and stare at it. It’s foreign.
Postpartum depression has stolen the familiarity of things that used to bring me joy.
But, the other day, at the lowest of low points, I asked my husband to read us a Psalm, and instead of incoherent feelings of estrangement, I had a very coherent thought: “I don’t feel like this applies to me.”
Bitter Like Sarah
As I have walked this lonely valley, as I’ve tried to make sense of this newly colorless world, I have felt my faith crumbling. The firm foundation that I had built — that others had helped me strengthen — has cracked beneath my feet. The truth of God’s word has been something that I know, but not somewhere I’ve rested.
I’ve been a bit like Sara, with her bitter laughter at the promises of God (Genesis 18:12). I’ve heard them, and I’ve seen them — I’ve tasted, and I’ve felt them — but those instances seem like a distant memory these days. Yes, Lord, I know you have promised good things, and I’ve seen you deliver on those promises, but I’m just not seeing it this time.
I Have Not Walked in Faith
In the midst of this season of postpartum depression, I have not walked in faith — I’ve been walking by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). And what I have seen has been bleak indeed. I’ve been confronted by my own weaknesses — my own fears — my own shortcomings. My walk has been more of a stumble, fall, and crawl, and my crawl is more often angled towards myself than towards the cross.
I’ve been a little less Psalm 26 and a bit more Psalm 42. My tears are often like a flood (Psalm 42:3), my soul is often cast down (Psalm 42:6), and I have felt forgotten by the very God I love (Psalm 42:9). I have begged to be heard, pleaded for respite, asked for healing, yet it’s been slow in coming.
As I shared all of this with my husband, he stared at me, a bit skeptical, because he knows that I know better. But I thank God he was there to remind me: “God doesn’t condition his willingness to rescue us based on our righteousness, but on the righteousness of another.”
Postpartum depression has been the darkest valley I have ever walked. And though I fully recognize that what I’m going through is clinical, I must also acknowledge that this fight is spiritual as well.
The Bible is full of men and women who walked through dark valleys, and many are listed in the hall of faith. How? The only possible answer could be that their faith did not sprout from their weak hearts, but, rather, from the heart of their Savior (2 Corinthians 5:21).
It is because of God’s matchless grace that they were able to be faithful in their callings. And it is because of that same grace that I trust that there is light at the end of the tunnel in my own calling.
If you’re where I am, seek help. Tell someone what is going on. And if necessary, see a counselor or doctor. But none of these things can supplement or replace communing with your father. God hears. He knows. He understands.
Pray the Psalms. Even when your heart is fainting in your chest, pray that the Lord will lift up your head — he’s done it before. Even when you have failed time and time again, pray with the knowledge that Christ’s righteousness covers you — it is more than enough.
As you wait for the clouds to lift, please know that you’re not alone. I’m also waiting in confidence that our God will act.