|River North Publishers, 2015|
desperately digging through a dark tunnel with very little oxygen, and making barely any progress, one of my characters tells himself, “This is not a grave, it is rebirth.”
Isn’t this true for whatever we must overcome in our own lives? When we’re in the midst of a trial, we may be isolated, in the dark, and gasping for breath. It might feel like our burial. But with God’s help, that dark place can really be a tunnel to get us to a new place of rebirth.
My own tunnel was very dark. Depression always is.
When I was twenty-two, I was in love with a man who didn’t love me back. I was determined to prove to him, and to myself, that I could live without him. So I hastily took a job as a private English tutor in Vienna, Austria. Yep, I moved to the other side of the world, and nope, I didn’t know German.
I had unwittingly placed myself in the care of a woman who was extremely manipulative, and her promise to let me take German classes was completely reneged. Not knowing the language made me illiterate, dumb, mute, and more isolated than I could have imagined possible.
Isolation breeds depression. I remember vividly the moment when I snapped—my knuckles white on the staircase railing—and I just started crying and couldn’t stop. For days. For weeks. Until a neighbor, who happened to be a missionary from Minnesota, told me that I needed to take care of myself and go home. I was reading the Bible and praying throughout this time. I did not feel that God had abandoned me, and I still trusted Him. It was not a matter of will-power, or of just “being more spiritual” to turn off my tears. My system was just overwhelmed and shutting down. My hair was turning grey. I lost weight until my clothes hung on my shoulders as if from a hanger. So I went home.
Back in America, I was diagnosed with severe depression and put on medication. I moved to Washington, DC, got a great job as an editor for a nonprofit on Capitol Hill, and found a church. Four months later, I decided to stop taking my medication cold-turkey, because I no longer lived in isolation and the triggers for my depression no longer existed.
Fast forward two years.
On July 5, 2003, I married my husband, an officer in the Coast Guard. Two days later, we moved from Washington, DC, to a small town called Homer, Alaska. On our one-month anniversary, he kissed me goodbye and left for a month.
It was a shock on many levels. I went from having a career to being unemployed. From big city to small town. From single to married, and from civilian to military. Rob was gone seven months of our first year of marriage, though not all at once. It was challenging. My worst month was November. The weather was cold, it was dark, and when our driveway was covered in ice, I was all but stranded at home. I had to put chains on my boots to walk to the grocery store. I really had a mental battle going on. I was terrified I would slip back into depression. I had to tell myself it was just one day, just one bad day. Everyone gets them. It doesn’t mean you fall into a tailspin. It’s OK to have a bad day, or two, or three.
I felt like I could have gone either way that year. Even if I hadn’t gone into a clinical depression, I could have become bitter and resentful about the sacrifices I made to tag along with Rob’s career. But, with God’s help, I made a decision. I would not allow myself to isolate. I joined two book clubs, two Bible studies, volunteered at the nursing home, and drove a cancer patient to her medical appointments in Anchorage, five hours north of us. God taught me things through his Word, in light of my new status as a military wife that left me in awe of Him.
God used that year to breed in me a passion for supporting the spiritual lives of other military wives. A few years later, my first book was born: Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. Fourteen other military wives from all branches of service helped me write that devotional book—and in 2011, a sequel was released: Faith Deployed . . . .Again.
I don’t believe God shoves us into our dark places. But I do believe that He brings us out of them with a greater capacity to live lives that honor Him. As Harrison Caldwell says in Spy of Richmond, it’s not a grave. It is rebirth.
Jocelyn Green is the award-winning author of ten books, including fiction and nonfiction. A former military wife herself, she offers encouragement and hope to military wives worldwide through her Faith Deployed books and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she co-authored with best-selling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her Heroines Behind the Lines Civil War novels, inspired by real heroines on America’s home front, are marked by their historical integrity and gritty inspiration. Her novel Wedded to War was a Christy Award finalist and the gold medal winner from the Military Writers Society of America. Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She is an active member of the Christian Authors Network, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Military Writers Society of America. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.