Recall the years gone by, when in your teens and twenties, where you reveled in the things of this world: the meaningless chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14). You loved to seek out challenges and conquer them, as though they would bring you lasting joy. The promotions, the paycheck, the partying, the playing, and all the pleasures that motivated you consumed your life. Although you were wholly aware of your disregard for the ways of the Lord, you persistently pursued each day with a passion for pleasing yourself. Your self centeredness had you in bondage, believing that if you could set your sights on something and attain it, you’d be more complete. In those days, you chose not spend time with God each day, but time on yourself. Time making plans and schemes that were devoid of holiness, but filled with the desires of your deceitful heart.
Then in your thirties, marriage and motherhood entered in, both fighting against you as you still longed for your me time. Your sense of responsibility kept you above water, but always wavering between the options available to Moms when acclimating to family life. And now, you’ve found the recipe for them all to come together only to realize that you’re not missing the selfish fulfillment in the ways that you once did. Your worth and accomplishments are centered on your role as a wife and mother, not how you earn a paycheck or what conquest you look forward to next. And increasingly, you know that these roles you’re playing still don’t define you. The years spent cultivating your new reality, settling into a new way of living, were only drawing you closer to the One who’s been waiting for you to find true contentment: in His promises, in the blessings of sweet fellowship, in the bonds rooted in a commonality of love for Christ, and in the desires to grow in goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7).
As you began your forties, the growth was becoming more apparent. On the gauge of the 2 Peter verse above, you placed yourself right in between perseverance and godliness. You felt the sins you always entertained as just being part of who you are melting away. Not just disappearing, but being replaced with holier attributes. The recent years spent dwelling on His Word have transformed you. This cannot last, you continually tell yourself, as each year passes. Yes, it’s been a longer and more intense “phase” of looking to God than any before, but there will come an event or time in life that’ll surely bend your compass back towards the empty worries of the world.
That’s where this letter to you comes in. It didn’t last. You fell short in pursuing godliness as your perseverance dwindled. Now, in your valley of choosing and/or the valley of God’s choosing to place you in, you’d have to start all over again if you wanted to be pleasing to God (as if you ever were). You don’t feel like opening your Bible when you can wake up and read the news, you can’t bring yourself to listen to sermons when Netflix is calling your name, you don’t feel like engaging your Christian community when all they do is challenge your choices, you don’t feel like serving your family anymore because they don’t appreciate it, and you certainly don’t feel “close” to God in this valley. So now what?
Remember this wisdom from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
“The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been repressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you’. Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have but little experience.
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’–instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet priase Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’….”
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures, pp. 20-21; emphasis added.