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I was talking to my mom as we were catching up the other day and she told me she almost had to go the emergency room because she was in pain. Of course, I asked what she did and if she was OK now. The answer was she just lay in pain and prayed, and she is still not really OK. If I have ever wondered why I have done the same thing in the past, I did not wonder in that moment, nor did I in previous moments with her like it. I once again reminded her of the story of the drowning man. Whether you are religious or not, I think the story has a great point, and my mom also just happens to be religious.

If you have not heard this story before, the shorter version is that there’s a man trapped on a roof during a flood and the water is rising. He fears he will drown and prays for God to rescue him. A man in a rowboat attempts to help him, then a man in a motorboat attempts to help him and a man in a helicopter tries to help him. Each time, he tells them is he is waiting for God to save him. The man eventually drowns, goes to Heaven and asked God why he did not save him when he had so much faith. God then tells him he sent a rowboat, a motorboat and a helicopter. What more did he want?

Before I went through postpartum depression so bad I did not want to live anymore, I once had so much faith, I was not even scared to die. I knew I would go straight to Heaven. I spoke to God all the time, every day. When prayer did not work during my depression, I first doubted my faith, but I knew I had a lot of faith, so why was it not working? So, then I cursed God, then I doubted God’s existence. None of this made me better. What finally made me better was finally seeking and accepting help. Going to church again and having an amazing supportive Sunday school class did help as well, but so did medicine, therapy and so many other things.

Even at the times I have had the most faith, I still believed in free will. I still believed God made people who became doctors and who made medicine, etc. So, what was I expecting? To magically feel better in a second? For God to magically come down from the clouds and save me? You don’t ever see that on the news, but I guess I thought that was what was going to happen, kind of like the drowning man.

When you are in a lot of pain, and especially when you no longer have much will to live, you often don’t have much will to do anything else either, including seeking or accepting help, even if that is the only way to get better. It is not easy, you often want someone to save you and to do it for you, and people can try to help, but you must accept the help. Now, I do not wait until I am in major pain to take pain reliever, or to get a massage, or to go to the doctor. I have tried so many things I would have been uncomfortable with before for my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), for my anxiety and for some back pain, including medication, therapy, acupuncture, cupping and next week I am trying raindrop therapy. I will now try almost anything at least once now.

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Recovery Warriors group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Recovery Warriors is a safe space for anyone who's in the process of mental or physical healing. Lean on others for support and celebrate your recovery milestones here. Click to join.

As for my religious beliefs these days, I do not talk about religion a lot on here because for one, people of all beliefs get depressed, and as I have mentioned before, at times I have had more faith than anyone I know, and at other times I have not been sure if I believe, or what I believe. In all honesty, even at my highest times of faith, I have thought of religion as something much more private and personal than it is typically treated. Not that I think you should be ashamed of your religion or have to hide it. However, when Jesus saved the man on the cross next to him, He never did so until the man asked him to. He never tried before that, or forced it on him. I also took that Bible verse about praying in private instead of public, for show, seriously.

There were a couple of people I truly thought when I was younger were so much like Jesus. Sure, in some ways they were, minus one who also turned out to be a racist, and the other’s main motivation to be good was their fear of hell. I have always had questions and I was never OK with not being able to seek the answers to them, even if that led to questioning my faith at times. Because in the words of Richard Feynman, “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered, than answers that can’t be questioned.”

Getty image by Anastasiia Stiahailo

Originally published: January 21, 2021
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