Both of my pregnancies were quickly followed by cross-country military moves and major bouts of postpartum depression. No part of you wants to meet the neighbors and find a new church home when you can’t even sleep at night or remember your own name. Really.
When my husband deployed and I was still battling depression, I took an acrylics class for the first time in my life at a local college. I put my toddler in Mommy’s Day Out once a week, pried her fierce grip off of me, and tried not to drown in mommy-guilt as I walked away from her wails and screaming down the hall. Then I high-tailed it to my painting class. That was the single best thing I did for myself in that season. Probably for her too. Making something beautiful fills me with life, and I needed that in order to pour back into my little girl week after week with daddy deployed. It gave me something new to try. It reminded me that I matter too.
Before children, I wrote prolifically, but the minute I got pregnant, my brain turned to mush. That was the first time I picked up a pencil and sketch pad after a long hiatus.
Painting and sketching have helped me find, process and step into my identity in Christ. Not my identity as an artist but as a daughter of the Lord, as his Beloved. During each pregnancy, the Lord also birthed in me paintings. I would turn on a Graham Cooke sermon about who I am in Christ, and then I would paint it. I began to see myself the way God sees me. Painting a visual of those prayers and truths set them deep in my heart. Scriptures jumped off the canvas and now they hang above my children’s beds like a prayer covering.
But in my most recent health trial, I couldn’t even consider painting or drawing. I couldn’t even lift my laundry basket. This was the lowest I had ever been in my health – physically and mentally. I was at rock bottom, getting about two broken hours of sleep most nights and only half an hour on the worst nights. I couldn’t blame that on a baby or the dog. It was just me. Tormented me.
My prayers were desperate and brief.
I avoided God for a while.
All I could muster was “Lord, heal me.” That’s about it. I couldn’t seem to think or pray or respond to the basic questions of my children or husband.
Finally, I got honest with God, “You promised to heal me, but I’m just getting worse! You promised deliverance, but the nightmares just get more horrific and twisted! You asked me to draft a book … How am I supposed to write a book when I can’t even form a prayer?”
They say you need tools like Instagram and Facebook to be a writer. However, I’d been an avid anti-socialist on media. I felt real nervous when I first opened up an Instagram account. But when I did, something opened up in the heavenlies for me. A little crack of light in that dark cloud of depression.
I realized my Instagram account was my own little space to worship God. It didn’t become my tool to be a better writer but rather a better worshiper. I was blissfully happy with my one follower because my audience of One and I had a small sanctuary all to ourselves. It became a gallery where I could curate everything beautiful, right, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (see Philippians 4:8).
Ever notice how all of creation loves to be on display? The buzz of hummingbirds in summer? The glow of aspen leaves in the fall? The trumpet call of lilies in the spring? We were created by a God who loves to show beautiful things to his Bride. That’s a good thing! We were created in his image, and so, we love to show beautiful things to others too.
I wish I could tell you all the miraculous breakthroughs and ways God came through to heal me! Miraculous, I tell you! I am now sleeping and, daily, we marvel at the evidence of God’s healing!
Instagram may not be the most dramatic or powerful part of my healing story, but it is nonetheless part of that story! Just a little camera on a little phone and a place to collect those pictures. It helped me begin to see my world again through eyes of wonder. It allowed me to capture beautiful things that the Lord showed me and then turn them right back around to him in a form of praise. When we set our hearts on things above and not on things below, it gives us eternal perspective, far above all the worry and fear and torment of our lives down here (see Colossians 3:2).
I share this with you today because maybe social media is not so bad after all. Maybe you need to hear that it can become another instrument you use to praise the Lord. I notice it keeps me accountable to “think about whatever is excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8). And helps me experience what is promised in the very next verse, “then the God of Peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). I have found this to be true. Whether you use a journal, a guitar, a sketchpad, a social media account or an old-school scrapbook, I encourage you to use it as a tool to collect, gather and present your praises and thanksgivings to the Lord.
Danita Jenae is a military wife, a young mom, and a little quirky. Meet her at www.theQuirkyKingdom.com to learn how to flip your home into a reflection of the kingdom of God, at www.SplatterJoy.com to praise God through prophetic arts and poetry, and on Instagram @danitajenae.