Though all the wealth of men was mine to squander
And towers of ivory rose beneath my feet
Were palaces of pleasure mine to wander
The sum of it would leave me incomplete
Though every soul would hold my name in honor
And truest love was always by my side
My praises sung by grateful sons and daughters
My soul would never still be satisfied
It’s not enough, it’s not enough
I could walk the world forever
Till my shoes were filled with blood
It’s not enough, it’s not enough
-Dustin Kensrue, “It’s Not Enough”
I grew up in a godly family, where we regularly had family nights and did devotions together. I also made a profession of faith in God when I was six years of age. Nevertheless, I regularly was overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness from around age twelve. I recall the constant battle of striving to measure up in the eyes of others. My chosen outlet for striving for worth and escaping my overwhelming emotions was music. It literally became what I chose to identify as—a musician.
When I was in high school, I constantly felt like I lived under a dark cloud. I went through seasons where I was able to express confidence, but that nagging weight of depression clung to me like second hand smoke. I could not escape it. One of the hardest elements of my experience was that I felt like I was the only one dealing with these struggles. I am especially grateful for the Christian adults who invested in me during this time in my life. The letters I received from them, in particular, often gave me hope to go on.
In between high school and college, I reached one of my lowest points. I made some progress with a counselor, and reluctantly, tried medication to help me work through the pain as I dealt with my inner trials. I had some relief, but it was incomplete.
I found college to be a season of ups and downs as I met with other counselors, attempted to build new friendships, and continued taking medication. The hardest part was maintaining friendships. I still felt like I had to possess some set of traits in order for me to me worthy of attention and relationship. I hit another deep valley during this time period, and had to get class extensions during one semester in order to complete my coursework. I continued to feel like I could not measure up, and all my efforts to do so came up short.
Fast forward to when my redemption began.
My husband and I met and were married a few years after I finished college. I managed to wean off of medication before we wed. While some find some relief through their use, they did not provide me with consistent help. As I continued to battle seasons of depression and anxiety, resentment also began to creep in because I felt unappreciated musically. My husband wisely saw that I was setting music up on a pedestal that it was not meant to be on, and the result was the feelings I was experiencing. It took time to digest, but I knew he was right. I told God I would give up music, permanently if He desired, just to make sure my affections were rightly set. After a significant amount of time, God made it clear that it was not to be permanent.
I also came across a book by Tim Keller called Counterfeit Gods, and it reinforced the seeds of redemption God had planted through my husband. It reveled that my idols and what they branched out into were extensive. When I couldn’t satisfy those idols, they bestowed on me brokenness and emptiness. More chains fell off through these lessons.
Another set of chains needed to be addressed. My sense of personal worth was so unreliable. God showed me that it would be built on shaky foundation as long as it was based on the opinions of others. It is what He thinks that is of ultimate importance, and His affection for me is unchanging. He offers complete rest in His love when we follow Him. Furthermore, who I am is not what I do or where I am employed, but my status as a child of God—fully loved and fully approved. This is an area of my life that continues to require great diligence, as it seems to be the most vulnerable to distortion.
Unfortunately, I lost some ground at one point. I wallowed in depression once again, feeling like I had wasted my ability to work thus far and had nothing to show for. I was in the midst of caring for young children, and not doing much musical work. I had no advanced degrees, as I saw others go on to pursue.
I had lost sight of why I was made. The reformed catechism so succinctly states that the ultimate purpose of man is “to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” As long as I was invested in this goal, God showed me that it didn’t matter whether I was changing diapers or doing brain surgery.
I never thought I would have a sense of deliverance in this area on this side of heaven. I had come to terms with medications being a lifetime practice, even though they did not provide a complete solution. God has brought me to a place where spells of “lowness” are not all-encompassing as they once were, and eventually do pass. I have been able to find joy in my daily life and work, not as my identity, but as a gift from God.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9