Fathom Mag
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Published on:
November 12, 2018
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1 min.
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Bootstraps 

I’ve been singing the gospel of grace since I was a child in the front row at church, looking up at my dad who stood behind a wooden podium, voice booming, with his Bible spread out like a treasure map. But I was thirty-two before I first realized I couldn’t pull myself up by my own bootstraps. 

No moment seemed safe from sudden sabotage.
Rachel Joy Welcher

I have claimed to believe this my whole life – that I am desperately dependent upon God. I have said with the Psalmist, “I am poor and needy, yet the Lord takes thought of me.” I thought I knew what it meant. I thought I’d tasted sufficiently of the dust of humiliation and could nod along with the rest of the world-weary. 

Then, a few months into my second marriage, I started finding triggers to depression everywhere - in between carefree laugher with Evan, in the laundry room between wash cycles, and even at the end of a good meal. No moment seemed safe from sudden sabotage. And I felt the disappointment of one who had hoped for better. For different. For good. 

How many times will I discover that I am more a mess than I previously thought? It keeps happening, over and over again. And God keeps being there - at the end of my rope, my broken bootstraps, and all the other clichés. He stays. 

He stays when the vitamins, exercise, kale-smoothies, and counseling don’t fix my depression. He stays when I visit the doctor and hold her scrawling prescription with tired hands, feeling like a failure because I couldn’t conquer this on my own. 

Evan squeezes my hand and says, “it’s going to be ok” and sometimes that means today, but this time it means someday. And I squeeze his hand back, thanking him without words, as the truth of my need rests inside a piece of paper that I struggle to hand over to the pharmacist. 

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Rachel Joy Welcher
Rachel Joy Welcher is an editor-at-large at Fathom Magazine. She earned her Master of Letters in Bible and the Contemporary World from The University of St. Andrews. She is the author of two collections of poetry: Two Funerals, Then Easter and Blue Tarp, and has written for The Gospel Coalition, Mere Orthodoxy, RELEVANT, and The Englewood Review of Books. Her book, Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality, is coming out from InterVarsity Press in 2020. Rachel lives in Glenwood, Iowa, with her husband, Evan, and their dog, Frank. You can follow her on Twitter @racheljwelcher.
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