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 a Master’s degree in theology from the The University of St. Andrews, taught high school English for ten years, is a published poet (Blue Tarp, Finishing Line Press), and writes for magazines such as Cordella, RELEVANT, and The Gospel Coalition. She lives with her husband Evan, who is a pastor in Glenwood, Iowa.

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