“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”  -C. S. Lewis

Hello, my friends. So I know that just because Lewis said it doesn’t mean it’s true, but I found the above quote very helpful while writing this post. Yesterday, the subject of mental health, particularly depression, occupied my mind as I put paper grocery bags into the car. Except this time, I was hit with a great wave of peace. It may have been because a white burst of light pierced through the waterlogged clouds and spilled sunshine out into the parking lot. But I believe it stemmed from a deeper place.

After riding the emotional waves common to mental health fluctuations, I’ve found that one thing stands true: they cannot always be traced, and they doesn’t always need to be. Sometimes they will come and they will pass before you’ve analyzed why. Other times, they’re present for so long, you can exhaust yourself trying to discover why you feel the way you do. I don’t know about you, but I’m weary of reading articles with lists boasting to cure depression, which usually look something like this:

  • Get 30 minutes of exercise daily
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Spend time in the sunlight
  • Journal
  • Consider seeing a mental health professional

Cause you know what? To someone fighting through mental pain, there’s nothing worse than reading a list of things you have tried with no success. Sometimes there’s a quick fix with medication. And sometimes it all stems from a little deeper — from places we cannot always trace. The last thing I want to do is inorganically scatter a sea of storm clouds, when my Good, All-Knowing Father is allowing them to hover there a little longer than I would like, for a purpose I cannot see. I don’t want to try to predict why you feel the way you do or how you should change it; because I don’t know the relationship you have to our Father, and I don’t know why He is allowing this. Not wanting to stick my foot out in the way of what He’s doing, in your lives or mine, I can pray for renewal and walk in truth while accepting that “LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure” (Psalm 16:5).

.          .          .

Here’s a little photojournalism (taken today during a downpour) to highlight just how hard winter can feel when you’re waiting for spring.

baileygillespie.com (1)
Just look at that sky and those moody silhouettes. And what looks like tears streaming down the watery windowpanes.

baileygillespie.com baileygillespie.com (3) baileygillespie.com (2)

On Andrew Peterson’s latest album, The Burning Edge of Dawn, there is a song called “The Rain Keeps Falling.” I quickly grew familiar with the song, not because it was my favorite on the album, but because of the response it was met with. Every time I saw a related concert video posted online or a lyric referenced or a album review shared, it usually included this song because of its vulnerability in expressing exactly what it feels like to be pregnant with sorrow and fervently waiting for spring. But it hurt for me to listen to because it brought me back to that place I was trying so desperately to escape.

I tried to be brave but I hid in the dark
I sat in that cave and I prayed for a spark
To light up all the pain that remained in my heart
And the rain kept falling

Down on the roof of the church where I cried
I could hear all the laughter and love and I tried
To get up and get out but a part of me died
And the rain kept falling down

Well I’m scared if I open myself to be known
I’ll be seen and despised and be left all alone
So I’m stuck in this tomb and you won’t move the stone
And the rain keeps falling

Somewhere the sun is a light in the sky
But I’m dying in North Carolina and I
Can’t believe there’s an end to this season of night
And the rain keeps falling down

There’s a woman at home and she’s praying for a light
My children are there and they love me in spite
Of the shadow I know that they see in my eyes
And the rain keeps falling

I’m so tired of this game, of these songs, of the road
I’m already ashamed of the line I just wrote
But it’s true and it feels like I can’t sing a note
And the rain keeps falling down

I appreciated the song, but it wasn’t until it came on in the car yesterday as I pulled into that grocery store that I really took in its full weight. Until then, I had always preferred the next track on the album — “Rejoice” — which is a tender unfurling of grief into joy, one where you can visualize the sky breaking with light as the melody crescendos. But in order to get to that place, of rejoicing and of valuing the hope of Light more than absolutely anything, you have to wade through The Rain Keeps Falling. And I did. And it was hard. But as the sadness washed up, one word from the lyrics was sung again and again, and it turned the song into a lullaby instead of just a lament:

PEACE.

Peace, be still
Peace, be still

My daughter and I put the seeds in the dirt
And every day now we’ve been watching the earth
For a sign that this death will give way to a birth
And the rain keeps falling

Down on the soil where the sorrow is laid
And the secret of life is igniting the grave
I’m dying to live but I’m learning to wait
And the rain is falling

Peace, be still
Peace, be still

I just want to be new again
(Peace, be still)
I just want to be closer to You again
(Peace, be still)
Lord, I can’t find the song
I’m so tired and I’m always so wrong
(Peace, be still)
Help me be brave tonight
Jesus, please help me out of this cave tonight
(Peace, be still)
I’ve been calling and calling
This rain just keeps falling
(Peace, be still)
I’ve been calling and calling
But this rain just keeps falling and falling
(Peace, be still)

I don’t fully know why things torment the mind the way they do, or how we’re always supposed to react to it. But I know that each time I experience depression, or other intense mood swings, I have a gift waiting on the other side:

JOY.

It’s silly to think about joy while in the midst of mental anguish, but once I come out the other side, the scenery is so different, I can hardly remember the places I’ve just been.

Take comfort in the fact that God allows this. King David may or may not have experienced the harshest circumstances in all of Scripture, but he definitely appeared to feel them most deeply, as we see in many passages like this one:

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:2-5).

I think Jesus gave David the gift of artistic expression as a form of release from the anguish he fought inside. I believe the same is true of Andrew Peterson and many, many others. I’m so very grateful for these people.

.          .          .

Thank you so very much for reading, friends. It means so much, not only to me, but to so many others waiting for the sky to break who have come before and will come after us. May God hold you close and bless your spirit with such richness and peace today, so that you might sense the good work He is doing all around us. He is Good always, even when it doesn’t seem true and even when we are not. And remember: REJOICE!

.          .          .

Enjoy this piece? Bailey would love to connect with you in other places, such as Instagram @oh_hey_Bailz, LinkedIn Bailey Gillespie, Facebook Bailey Gillespie, Writer, Twitter @BailzGillespie, or Medium.