Your Insides Matter to God
By Margot Starbuck
As a young mother, suffering with depression, I was at the bottom of the proverbial pit. In desperation, I’d cried out to God, I’d shared with my pastor, I’d sought out prayer and I’d begun to visit a skilled Christian therapist. Yet despite my earnest pursuit of help, I still hurt. I was at the end of my rope.
When an old friend was visiting our home for the weekend, I poured out my troubles. I even dared to share with her the sneaking suspicion of my hurting heart.
“I’m so tired of pouring time, energy and money into trying to get fixed,” I explained. “Maybe I should just live broken. Clearly God has bigger fish to fry. I mean, really. Poverty? Oppression? Injustice? God has got to have better things to do than … help me.”
I was certain she’d agree with me that God was obviously more interested in liberating all those folks from visible bondage than he was in helping me. However, as I glanced at her face, her expression said something different – Not really. I’ll never forget that moment.
According to my conservative divine math, there was a limited supply of God’s grace to go around. For God to care about the most intimate details of my life and the hurts of my heart would have meant that someone someplace else would be left hungry, abused, scared or abandoned. Weird math, huh? The fact was that, although I was convinced that God loved the poor, the weak, and the marginalized, I was unconvinced that he cared for me.
Talk about a Catch-22! So many of us who wrestle with depression and with unresolved hurts from our past have learned – from our experience – that we’re not worth loving. And if we’re not worth loving, then we’re not worth fixing. Now that’s a real pickle.
Graciously, through the faces around me, I began to realize God wasn’t sorting out the hurting ones he loved. He wasn’t starting at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked before he could care about the deepest hurts of my heart. Quite the opposite! His care for the world was entirely consistent with his care for me. The two were inseparable.
As I cautiously allowed God access to those deepest hurting places, healing eventually came. I became the vessel God used to feed the hungry – filling up empty sippy cups – and to clothe the naked – helping a preschooler find both of his sneakers before school.
God didn’t care for me simply because I was a useful vessel through which he could love others. I gradually came to understand that God cared passionately for me for no other reason than that I was his. That was enough.
If you’re hurting, if you’re depressed, if you’re suffering, know that God cares intimately for you. And know that you do honor his purposes as you spend the time, energy and resources necessary for your insides to become aligned with that fundamental truth.
Passing the reality of that truth on to children is just sort of a fringe benefit.
Margot Starbuck, is the author of “The Girl in the Orange Dress: Searching for a Father Who Does Not Fail” (InterVarsity Press, 2009). Learn more about her at MargotStarbuck.com.