I marvel at what God accomplishes through the lives of obedient women.
I absolutely love spending time listening to their experiences with The Respect Dare – I feel He wrote the book, and their experiences add depth and a richness to the small bit of understanding I have about it. This week, I had the privilege of talking to this sweet young mom who revealed to me that God is helping her with depression as a result of what He taught her in the book. Depression plagued me each time I cranked out a child, however, medication and cognitive therapy moved me through those dark days. I leaned heavily on Him as well, and somehow we all survived. Stephanie had a different experience and I’m in awe of His strength within her. Maybe you are in a stormy part of your life right now and her story will encourage you. She blogs over at http://kittiecatgirl7.wordpress.com/ if you are interested in more of her writing. Here’s her story:
Stephanie reluctantly opened her eyes to the dark ceiling above her. No light shone in the room, not even from the open window. It was still extremely early. She rolled onto her side and tapped her phone, squinting at the sudden brightness. “Only 5:23? Ugh…” Stephanie groaned and slowly dragged her body out of bed, careful so as not to wake her husband. She didn’t really want to be vertical at the moment but she felt too awake to stay in bed. Stephanie went through her morning bathroom routine, avoiding the mirror despite the fact that it ran the length of the room. She didn’t want to see the puffy, red eyes that would be the product of her sobbing the night before. After shutting off the light, she dragged her feet to the living room and sat cross-legged on the couch, pulling a blanket around her shoulders. She listened for any sounds of wakefulness but both children were asleep. “Even they realize it’s too early,” she thought glumly.
Stephanie hadn’t bothered to flip on the light. The green numbers from the cable box glowed faintly in the room, giving her just enough to see by. She stared at the pictures on the walls, particularly the family portrait they had just recently taken. Tears began spilling down her cheeks. A sob escaped her lips and she felt the familiar pain crackle in her chest. “God, why am I so unhappy?” she wondered. “I have a beautiful family and a wonderful husband. Why am I so sad I can’t even function?” Stephanie grabbed a pillow and pressed it to her face to stifle the sound of her sobs. The last thing she wanted was for her husband, Billy, to come down the hall and wonder what was wrong. He’d dealt with enough of her depression lately, particularly since she had recently fought against overwhelming thoughts of suicide.
Open your Bible. Stephanie heard the command just as clearly as if God had whispered it into her ear. Forcing herself out of the ball she had curled up into, she reached for her phone that she had put on the coffee table. Read Matthew 14:22. She opened up her Bible app and went to Matthew, recognizing that it was the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water. Stephanie read through the story, a familiar favorite since her childhood. Then she sat quietly, listening for the Voice that calmed her. But He was silent, letting her reflect. She remembered one of the dares she had read in a book called The Respect Dare. The reader was supposed to put herself in Peter’s place and imagine she was there in the story. At the time, Stephanie had thought it was silly and hadn’t gotten much out of it. Now, she wondered if there was something applicable for her. She set her phone down and closed her eyes, leaning back against the couch.
Stephanie sat in a wooden boat, tossed and flailed by the wind and waves of a stormy sea. She was terrified of being thrown over the side and drowning in the angry, black depths far below. Suddenly, she could make out…something coming across the water towards her. For a second, she was even more frightened, thinking that a ghost or a demon was floating on top of the waves. Then, He spoke to her. “Do not be afraid, Stephanie.” With a start, she realized it was her Lord, Jesus.
Stephanie’s heart swelled with relief and she felt a strange longing to go to him. “Lord, if it is You, tell me to come to You and I will walk on the water with You.”
Jesus said one word to her. “Come.”
As Stephanie imagined herself walking on the storm-tossed water towards her Lord, a strange thought occurred to her. She felt as though she was adrift on a sea of depression. The waves longed to swallow her up and hold her beneath where she would drown in a sea of sadness and despair. For a time, she was able to walk on top of the water, focused only on her Lord. Then, distraction would creep in and the angry waves would pull at her, trying to force her head under where she wouldn’t be able to fill her lungs with air. As Stephanie started to sink, she cried out, “Lord, save me! Please!”
Immediately, Jesus reached down and caught her, lifting her back on top of the surface. His powerful eyes gazed deep into her soul. She was held spellbound by those eyes, unable to look anywhere but at her Lord. He gently shook His head and said, “Daughter, why did you doubt?”
Stephanie opened her eyes and looked around the living room, slightly surprised to be on solid ground. The room was slowly becoming bright, reflecting the rising sun. She sat and marveled at what God had just shown her. It was possible for her to defeat depression. Happiness and the joy of her salvation were within her grasp. All she had to do was focus on her Lord and He would guide her. She knew it would be a struggle. Instinctively, she was bracing herself for the fight that she knew was ahead. But Jesus had just promised her that she would overcome, as long as she didn’t doubt.
BOTTOM LINE: Christ makes all things possible (Philippians 4:13). Sometimes, rather than clinging to the side of the boat, we need to step out in faith, knowing that He will lead us where we need to go. While distractions may come, He will always be there to save us when we start to fall.
It is so true that this life will be difficult – but with Christ, we have HOPE. That’s what separates us from those who don’t know Him. What about you? Do you have a Respect Dare story to share? I’d love to hear it! Please email it to us at information<at>GreaterImpact.org and put “Respect Dare Story” in the subject line. I’d love to share what God has done in your life with others!
So glad we are on the journey together!
Love to you,