*written around September 15
I spent a fair amount of April and May ‘12 consumed with the thought of going back to America for our furlough. I tweaked plans. Wrote lists. Emailed friends. Imagined shopping. Thought of eating. Dreamt of romantic bed and breakfast dates with my husband. Relished in the joy of easy cooking and driving. Delighted in the images of fellowship with sweet friends and family.
June quickly came and the boys and I were off at last. Oh to be on American soil was delightful. I drank in the fellowship and shopping. Family and friends. Long walks and drives. Yummy familiar food. Darron joined us 2 1 /2 weeks later and our reunion is now one of the romantic highlights of our marriage.
July was filled with working on our home and snippets of many lovely encounters with friends and family. Shopping. Food. Fellowship.
By the third week in July a heaviness settled over me. A dark weight. A deep sigh. A sadness that was deep in my soul wanting to escape, yet no tears would come. It was always hovering over me. Even though I was surrounded by everything I had longed for. I knew that my American time was coming to a close and it was almost time to return to the land far away. I was depressed.
Depression (through my experience) is so utterly frustrating. I can recognize it for what it is, but have little control to change those dark feelings. I did cry out to several of my close friends and asked for specific prayer. I was most frustrated the week I was at the beach with my parents and brother’s family. Here was my most favorite place….the beach. With some of my most treasured people and I was so blue. Fortunately that week the cloud did lift for a few days. However, it returned.
The last weekend we were in the states, Darron was doing a presentation about Papua at his parents church. It was question and answer time and people began to ask about our safety. Darron’s answer was of a “no fearing male”. Inside I was just screaming. “Why God are we asked to be in a place that is not completely safe and secure?” After church one of the mother’s came up to me and asked smiling, “So are you ready to go back?” When I replied, “Not really, but I’m going.” Her happy look, was quickly replaced with questioning concern and surprise. By that point, I was done with not being real. So many people asked me, “Are you happy there?” I knew what they wanted to hear, so I told them what they wanted to hear. But I felt like I was lying, or at least not being completely honest in the answer. Darron was getting really concerned as we were 2 to 3 days from flying and I was clearly not in a healthy place.
Yet in my heart, I knew that Papua was where we were suppose to be. I believed that there were many exciting things waiting for my whole family. I knew that the experience would continue to shape and mold us all into something beautiful that giving up or backing out would dissolve if not take away from who we are. I knew that God has asked us to go and that He would give us the strength to endure even if it were just one day at a time. So I kept on packing and moving forward, one box, one item at a time. At times, I was so overwhelmed (ask my dear mother-in-law) that I could not even make other simple decisions. I just kept packing. Many of my friends had asked for “one last phone call". I did not have the emotional strength or energy to say goodbye again.
The day arrived when we were to begin the journey and I awoke feeling lighter then I had in a long time. I chalked it up to that I knew it was time to put on my big girl attitude and face life, to be strong for the family. The night before we flew was filled with light hearted chatter with Darron’s sisters and their families. Then we were off. Flying for endless hours. Arriving with days and nights so jumbled that could send anyone into depression, but I was ok. The first week, my soul felt fragile, like a wind would send me back over into the darkness….but I was anchored.
We are now into our 5th week back. The depression is gone. My days are filled with “normal Ruth feelings”. In retrospect I now believe that my depression was brought on by all the insecurity and stress of the land issues and threats that we dealt with last spring. It was very disturbing and disruptive. And we did not carry the brunt of it. It’s not the bugs, heat, language, distance or separation that pushed me…..but the lack of feeling completely safe. Even though “complete safeness” is such a false security. Our boss just recently shared with us that if any of his hundred’s of missionaries that he overseas had a reason to leave, we did. Comfort or courage (or foolishness)? I’m not sure what those words accomplished. Other then the confirmation, that those circumstances were stressful and acknowledged as such by our employer.
Why do I make myself vulnerable and write about this subject. I think my motives are varied. One: depression is such a debilitating ailment. I have great empathy for people who struggle with this on an ongoing basis. Two: I want to dispel a myth, that just because a couple may be “called to go”, does not mean that they (or one) does not struggle with the actual act of going. Nor do I think there is anything “unholy” about that struggle. Three: I think I have at least 5 or more friends/family that I never did “call again”. To you, I am sorry. Please forgive my unexpected depression. Rejoice with me now, in my blessed joy and happiness.
If you struggle with depression on an ongoing basis, please continue to reach out and seek help until the answers come…and may you feel held by the One who has promised to never let you go. May your new day dawn soon, with joy and love. Something beautiful will come to all of us if we don’t give up or back out. Blessings.