A few years back, when my husband and I had been dating for a few short months, we went snow skiing. I am not exactly athletically inclined, and I had never skied before. My husband, however, is a different story. He grew up skiing, and he’s a natural. Though I warned him before we ever even got there, that this was going to be comical at best and a complete nightmare at worst, his confidence in me was unwavering. When we arrived at the resort, I took a quick lesson. I focused in, I listened, and I did everything that the instructor told me to do. When my husband and I met back up, his enthusiasm and optimism was obvious. “I’m going to miss the ski lift and fall,” I informed him. He laughed at what I’m assuming he thought was a joke. “Nobody misses,” he reassured me, “You’ll be fine!” So off we went.
As we approached the ski lift, my heart pounded within my chest. “You’ll be fine,” I reminded myself. “You’re being ridiculous,” I chastised. “Nobody misses,” I told myself, as my foot caught on the snow and my husband frantically pulled my body back onto the lift while everyone around us gasped and tried not to laugh. But off we went; too late to turn back, because once you’re up on that hill, there’s only one way down.
Upon arrival, my confidence was soaring. I was 100% confident that this was a terrible, dreadful idea. Still, I could see the excitement in my husband’s eyes. “You’re going to love this,” he said with delusion. For a minute I was gold. I carried out my “pizza legs” formation with the ease of a clumsy toddler, but I was getting it done. I was going places. Just as I began to relax, however, it happened; one minute I was upright, taking in the beautiful mountain scenery as the snow glided beneath me, and then I was on my back staring up at the clouds. Frozen and wide-eyed, I just sort of laid there for a minute like, “This is it. This is where it ends. This is my new home.” Suddenly I heard my husband’s voice from somewhere vertical saying, “Are you okay?!” I snapped out of it then, and tried to shimmy my way back up, but it was useless. My legs were no longer mine. They had been taken hostage by these gigantic sticks that had attached themselves to me and all I could think was, “Why am I here? Whose idea of fun is this? What was I thinking?” As I frantically kept trying to get up, like a hamster on a wheel, I was getting nowhere. My husband’s voice became increasingly more frustrated with each useless attempt that I made.
“Well,” I thought to myself, “At least things cannot possibly get any worse.” Of course they can, however, so as I lay there panicked and embarrassed, I heard the voice of my beloved impatiently call out to me, “Hey! Just get back up!”
Up until this point in our relationship, he was unaware that my salty was just as savage as my sweet was tender. I had carefully and meticulously offered him the very best of myself for months and months, so imagine his surprise when my beat red face snapped up and through gritted teeth I hissed, “GET UP?!? GET UP, HUH?! ‘Get up, he says!’” I waved my arms out encouraging everyone around us who was staring at me like a crazy person, to join in. “That’s all? I hadn’t thought of that! Because while laying here in the snow is TERRIFIC and all, it NEVER OCCURRED to me that maybe I should just get back up! What a GENIUS idea that is! THANK YOU! Whatever would I have done without you here to make such a brilliant suggestion?!?!” I clapped at the people… and on and on it went.
Eventually, I was helped back up and went on to fall probably a hundred more times that beautiful, terrifying December day, but that moment has stuck with me for reasons beyond mortification.
This is what we do to our depressed, our grieving, our addicted, our broken. We patronize them in the snow with frustrated eyes, imploring them to simply “get back up.”
The snow is cold, quiet, and unforgiving. It’s softness envelopes around you as it lulls you into its depths. Once is closes around you, there’s no getting back up; no matter how loudly the echoes of those around you beat against it. It doesn’t matter how hard you try.
You cannot see the exhaustion beneath the surface from your vertical position. Nobody is there for lack of trying! They are not there because they want or choose to be. They are stuck. There’s not a single thing that they can do in their own strength to get back up. Your impatience and frustration only bury them deeper into the snow.
Much like learning to ski, (though far less forgiving), depression, is watching the smiling faces fly by you while you lay buried in the snow. You can see the beautiful scenery. You can see the ease with which they glide and maneuver the hills and valleys as they come. The enthusiasm and laughter tell the story of a wonderful adventure to which you are invited but incapable of experiencing. It’s looking at a sunset, the ocean, the mountains, a newborn baby…and choking on your own heart, because like the snow, it has grown cold and you are trapped beneath the weight of it. The joy of these things is a memory that haunts you with how things used to look…taste…feel… but hey, just get up, right? Just look at it, just swim in it, take it all in, hold that baby…and don’t cry at the hollow sting of it all. “YOU USED TO STAND!”
Beloved child of God, lying in the snow; buried up to your neck in depression, grief, addiction, or whatever broken name you’ve been handed, getting back up is a painful process; not an event. Take all of the time that you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ignore the screams as best you can. Take that hand if it is offered. Believe that those memories aren’t meant to haunt you, but rather to remind you of who you really are. Let them. Don’t run from the tears. They will always find you. Let them cleanse you. Don’t flee from new hope when you see it, even if it looks different than before. Do run from the lies that tell you to. Don’t trust your heart in the darkness. Listen only to the Voice of Truth. Feelings are not truth. Feelings are fickle and it hasn’t always been this way. Dare to believe again. Dare to dream again. Dare to hope again. Let Him love you again until you can love yourself as well. Fall. Rise. Fall. And rise…again. Learn. Don’t stand back up. Stand down, and let Him lift you back up. You may be buried in the snow right now, but Spring is coming.