Yesterday I received some feedback from a reader. She said, in part, “I’ve got to unfollow you. Wishing you the best but three years of downers is making me depressed.” After seven years as a blogger, I’ve come to accept that you can’t please everyone. I’ve also learned a lot about how to minimize negative feedback. But I’m in a really vulnerable place. So this one really hurt.
I tried to keep reminding myself that the overwhelming majority of the people who are following my blog care about me and appreciate my honesty about my struggles. But just minutes after wincing from this “unfollowing” incident, I received an email from a friend. She has been in these agonizing trenches before. She gets it. Her words were just what I needed to lift me in that moment. I hope she won’t mind me quoting her here:
I wish I could say anything that could help, but I know I can’t, because I remember what it feels like to be there. It is soul crushing and more than anyone should have to bear. Just know that each day you’re around, I’m here knowing what an amazing victory it is that you’re still there. . . .
Know I’m praying for you. Know how proud I am of you for fighting back. . . . You are doing wonderfully well. Even when it seem like you can’t go on for one more hour (and if your experience is like mine, it feels that way frequently), just know that each minute is a victory.
People so often say to me, “I know I can’t say anything that will help.” But here’s the thing… the fact that you’re saying anything at all is help. The fact that you care to reach out is help. The words of encouragement are help. No, they can’t take the pain away, but they do give me something to hold on to. When I can’t muster the strength to hope, your hope sustains me. When I can’t imagine a better future, your promises of light around the corner help me get through another hour.
Yesterday afternoon, a woman I know showed up at my door. We had only spoken to each other maybe twice in the past. But she showed up. She has seen the bitter darkness of despair. She gets it. She told me God sent her. For a night and a morning she resisted the prompting to come over until she felt like a voice right next to her said, “Get over there now.” I’m so grateful she listened. She was God’s mouthpiece for the next two hours. In her presence, bathing in her words, I felt a peace I can’t really describe. I didn’t want her to leave.
Tomorrow, hundreds of people will be fasting and praying for me. Family, friends, my church congregation, and even people I’ve never even met who love me. I would so much appreciate the added strength of your prayers and hope. Two years ago, when I was first getting on a medication for my anxiety/depression, it was an organized fasting/prayer effort that pushed me into feeling better and better. I pray that tomorrow’s fast will do the same.
I can’t wait to be the one who has “been there,” who “gets it,” reaching out to lift, showing up at other people’s doors, sending emails with just the right words, telling those care-worn and tear-streaked faces, “You will get through this. I promise.”
Please help me get there.