• Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC

Are You Too Strong?


“So speak encouraging words to one another.

Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out,

no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.”


1 Thessalonians 5:11 (The Message)


The past few weeks have been, well... sucky.


I wish I had a better word to describe life, but sometimes this is the only word that fits. Nothing horrible has happened. Life has just had these moments of disappointment, frustration and irritation that have piled up, and a dark cloud of sadness came over me that I could not escape.


Just so I’m clear, even though I’d rather keep it hidden, the dark cloud I’m referring to is mild depression. I hate to even type those words, because I know that only those who’ve experienced any form of depression really know what they mean. It’s hard to explain to someone why you just want to cry, are tired, have no motivation and generally feel blah, even when there is nothing bad going on in your life.


So yeah, “sucky” is the best way to describe it.


In 2 Corinthians 12:7, the Apostle Paul talks about a “thorn in the flesh” that keeps him grounded. That’s kind of what the dark cloud of mild depression is for me. It been more than two years since it's been present, and though it never lasts more than a few weeks, I can’t stand it. But the truth is, every time it hits I’m forced to let go of my role as “the strong one” and let others love and champion me for a change.


The question is will I? Or, “am I too strong” to let others help me?


I have a few close friends that I can reach out to when this hits, but in the past I’ve always tried to hide it from my kids or those I was walking along side in life. I mean, isn’t that what a strong leader does? Well, yes and no. While not everyone we do life with (especially when we are leaders) needs to know the specifics, there are those close to us that need to know that we struggle too. To show them otherwise is to give a false picture of who we really are as Christ-followers – and I don’t want to be that person.


So the past few weeks I’ve let a few people into my struggle that I might not usually. I shared my sadness with my daughter, a woman I mentor, and another woman I’ve spent time encouraging over the years. The outcome has left me undone. Rather than being disappointed in me because I was struggling, these three championed me.


My daughter sent me texts and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. My mentee sent me emails of encouraging Bible verses and stories, and I received loving words of encouragement from the other woman as well. Instead of my sadness hindering their faith, it spurred these three on to seek out answers for themselves to encourage me.


What I came realized in a deeper way this week is that those around me NEED an authentic and vulnerable leader, mother, mentor and friend.


The words above from 1 Thessalonians came to life for me as these faithful women “spoke encouraging words”that “built up hope” in me, all because I was authentic and vulnerable enough to let a few people into my temporary world of sadness.


As the dark cloud has now lifted and I’m back to feeling like myself, I see the faithfulness of my Savior at every turn. Even on my worst day I knew Jesus had not left me, but thankfully he knew that I needed to not just have this knowledge in my head. I needed to see it tangibly through the words and actions of his followers. So in his grace, he took care of me, allowing me to let go of my role as “the strong one” and just receive.

God is good.





For Your Reflection…


How are you at letting others champion and encourage you? Who do you need to let in to your current struggle so that they can encourage you?

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The mission of ECHOES OF HOPE is to move individuals toward emotional and spiritual health through the knowledge that God is speaking in our world today, offering hope through His son, Jesus Christ.

 

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