Three days ago I was in the pit until Billy Joel pulled me out. Those of you who have or currently struggle with depression know what I mean…well, you know about the pit. The pit is when you hit a low and you feel absolutely worthless questioning your existence, your purpose, your everything. Yes, logically I know I am blessed. I have a loving family, beautiful children, a good husband, a roof over my head, an amazing Savior- I have all of the things. It is at this point when I list all the blessings that I usually start feeling ashamed about not being grateful enough for all of the things and then cycle back into the…you guessed it…the pit.
I don’t blame others for my emotional issues. My emotional struggles are largely hereditary and somewhat situational. The hereditary thing is something I will fight until I meet Jesus. The situational thing just isn’t getting better lately. Depression is tough. Cheery paragraph, right?
When I’m in the pit, everything about my brain tells me God is not there. My spirit gets so low in the pit that HIS Spirit is often muted. I hate this. Medicine helps. Staying in the Word helps. Loneliness hurts. Media hurts. For those in the struggle, you know what I’m saying.
Here’s where it gets weird. I am one of those people who still believes that the Spirit of God is living and active in our lives and speaks to us– maybe not audibly–but in sweet ways to remind us of His presence, His provision, and His love. This guidance has occurred many times in my faith walk. Sometimes His voice is louder than others. Three nights ago, I pray-cried myself to sleep. Have you been there? I was in the pit. In an effort to claw my way out of the pit on my own, I begged God to change me. I pleaded with Him to change our family’s situation. I asked Him again to make me the kind of person that would be a better, more supportive, minister’s wife. I drifted off somewhere between rehashing all the ways I needed forgiveness for my part in the ruination of my husband’s career for being too much me and not enough what I should be in a willingness to go wherever we are called or behave in acceptable ways etc etc etc. Some of you recognize the self-loathing journey down into the pit well.
Cue the next morning and my waking to Billy Joel singing LOUDLY in my head, “Just the Way You Are”. When I say loudly, I mean, it was shockingly loud and so odd that I giggled as I woke up wondering if Dave had changed the wake-to-radio alarm station. I am a big Joel fan. However, I haven’t listened to that song nor an album since we all transitioned to listening to music on our phones. I have the CD somewhere of his greatest hits. (My husband is really glad that we no longer own a CD player.)
Surely not, God. Surely you are NOT sending me a message through Billy Joel.
That’s crazy, right? Some of you have already written me off as delusional. Of course Joel is the greatest songwriter of all time (Don’t argue. I’m right here.), but God wouldn’t use THIS guy. This WORLDLY divorced guy who may or may not actually even believe in Jesus. I mean, I think he’s Catholic. <GASP> Shouldn’t I be hearing Hillsong or a hymn or something more…acceptable. Just to prove to myself this wasn’t God and that I was in fact losing it, I went down to my computer and pulled up the lyrics and here they are…
Don’t go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before,
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far,
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are
Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair,
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care
I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard,
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are
I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
Oh, but what will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you?
I said I love you, that’s forever
And this I promise from the heart,
I couldn’t love you any better
I love you just the way you are.
The final straw to prove this was straight from God was that I had considered the day previous about coloring my hair. When I read that line, I laugh cried for a good while. These lyrics hit every topic of my prayer the night before. I was reminded of God’s acceptance, His grace, His devotion, and love…all through the reverend, Billy Joel.
Please know. No matter how long you’ve been in the pit. God hears. He knows. He’s there in the pit. Pay attention though because it might just be Billy Joel speaking words of truth to help you on your journey out.