About the Author

Alia Joy is an author who believes the darkness is illuminated when we grasp each other's hand and walk into the night together. She writes poignantly about her life with bipolar disorder as well as grief, faith, marriage, poverty, race, embodiment, and keeping fluent in the language of hope in...

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    • When I read your story I thought I was reading my own! I, too, suffer with depression, and your description mirrors my past experiences with it. I felt the same way you did regarding my children. I felt like such a failure as a mother. Not many people, friends or family, understood my plight, but there was one who was willing to sit quietly with me, and I thank God for her! Thank you for sharing your story!

      • It’s an amazing gift to have someone who will sit with you during the hard times. What a gift to have her.

    • Outstanding. A true statement of friendship. When you can be who you are at all times and are loved and accepted and encouraged forward. Jesus thank you.

  1. Alia Joy,
    I too struggle with mental illness – OCD and depression to be exact. I just spent a weekend with my “sit at McDonald’s at 3 am.” friend who now lives in a state far away from me and the Lord moved me to write about our friendship. We ALL need friendship that sees us in our ugly and doesn’t run away. My friend joined me in the menial when pouring a bowl of cereal seemed like climbing Mt. Everest. She unloaded my dishwasher, folded my rumpled clothes in the dryer, made meals for my family when I just couldn’t. I saw the hands and feet of Jesus through her. Maybe this is part of the beauty from our ashes that God wants us to find. Sometimes it’s in the really raw places that the love of Jesus stands out more prominently. I am so sorry that you ride the roller-coaster cycles of depression. I truly feel your pain and am praying for you….thanks for sharing so beautifully here….your majestic writing born out of pain. You are a gift. You help us see God in the “real”.
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Bev,

      I will pray for you. Depression can be hard. May God continue to heal you and bring good friends like that your way!

      Blessings 🙂

    • As always, I’m thankful for your encouragement here, Bev. Sometimes just the knowledge that we are not alone in it, that God is with us and that sometimes he brings people who can minister to us so specifically is a balm for those broken places.

  2. Thank you for your beautiful words. I pray I can be that friend to someone. What a precious gift God has given you. God bless you. In Christ, Ellyce

  3. Breathtaking story. Thank you for giving us a glimpse behind the scenes of your friendship and how we might have the courage to both accept and offer such holy hospitality.

  4. Well said. Well done. Your road will not be like this forever my sweet friend. Your cross to bear is not in vain.

    • I am thankful for a God who does not waste a single thing but is always in the process of redeeming the broken things around us and in us.

  5. I’m crying! I’ve been there and am still haunted by years of feeling worthless and praying my children don’t remember and judge me when they are older. I wish I could give you a hug and cry with you. Thank you for reminding me that I am not an oddity. Thank you for reminding me to look for friendship when I feel like I cannot and to reach out to others in pain with more than a casserole. You are beautiful and loved! Praying for God’s peace and strength for you and your family.

    • It’s a very hard burden to bear when you feel like you are letting others down, especially your children. I have felt this too and all I can pray for is the faithfulness and grace to be the best mom I can be and to hope God makes up the difference. As much as I know it’s been hard on my family, I also see a tenderness and a willingness in them to sit with the broken. To see the beauty and worth of unfixed things and to know God meets us there. They have learned grace by loving me and though sometimes I wish it were different, easier, I find that their mercy is a beautiful thing.

  6. Alia, I feel your pain. I know it well. My heart breaks for you. I ask my Lord and Savior to gift you with peace and flood you with the overwhelming awareness of his infinite, unimaginablely glorious love for you. When I allow myself to lean into his warm embrace by saturating my space with worship and praise music, he directs my vision to others with needs like mine that need what he has taught me. As I focus on their beauty and ask The Holy Spirit to love them through me, a beautiful thing happens. I am lifted out of my darkness and so are they. Your writing demonstrates this very thing. As you so gallantly share your pain, it gives others courage to deal with theirs. It is a beautiful illustration of what the scriptures teach, we comfort others with the comfort we receive. Thank you.

  7. I could have written this. I am in the death grip of depression right now. I get lots of Bible verses thrown at me…lots of judgment…lots of hurt. Maybe people don’t realize they are just cutting me deeper, but they are. I fear my own thoughts. The pain is so real, and hard. And lonely. So very lonely. I don’t live close enough to a friend like you wrote about. I wish I did right now. Maybe things could be different. Maybe not. Maybe my life is just destined to be this way.

    • Becky, don’t give up hope. I know what it is like to fight and claw my way out of the pit of depression and have found myself there more times than I ever imagined. Thank you for sharing where you are at right now. I pray that God will bring you that McDonald’s friend who will just sit with you and who will be there for you. I love you and I know you have heard He loves you. He sees the pain and He truly cares. Sending you cyber hugs.
      Renae

    • Becky, you are brave to comment and reach out. I hate when people throw Bible verses at me too, as though I can’t read and don’t already know those things. As if launching a truth grenade at me will help because they’re too scared to get any closer when I’m hurting. My heart hurts with you. Dear Jesus, please draw near to Becky in a way that she can feel, in a way that feels comforting, in a way that’s personally meaningful to her. Please help her through this dark, lonely time. Please hug her heart today. Amen. And Becky? I’m sending a hug too.

    • Becky-
      Here we are. Sitting on the blog at 10am. Right next to you. Praying over you and reaching out a hand to comfort you. Fight it, girl.

      Your sister and virtual friend,
      Stacy

    • Oh Becky, dear sister, I understand this place you are in. I’m so sorry for the judgement and pain that you feel, the loneliness that is there. Don’t give up the hope-we are here with you, sweet sister! Let Him embrace you with His love and grace-I know how hard this seems. I pray that the One, Jesus, who lives in us overcomes, loves us so tenderly, takes hold of your hand and wraps you in His tangible hug. I pray that He sends a loving friend who will sit with you there, loving you through right where you are. Sending you so much love, Becky, right here with you 🙂 Many, many hugs! An

    • I am so sorry you’re in this place right now and I hurt for you because I know how hard it is to feel isolated and alone and so misunderstood. Not long after the major depression I wrote about here, my friend moved away and when another depression hit, I felt very alone. Sometimes still do. But it helps to know that we are not, even if we can’t feel it. It helps to know God is with us, even if we can’t seem to feel his presence in the pain. My heart is with you and I pray that you will know the surpassing peace and presence of God and that you will see joy again. In the meantime, just know you are not alone. There are so many joining in prayer for you and willing to “sit” with you and hold you up when you can’t seem to stand on your own. Dear one, you are not forgotten.

  8. I love reading your thoughts here, because when you share your story, you’re helping the helpers.
    For instance: “She doesn’t rush into the pauses.”
    Ugh. That’s a bad habit of mine, because I wonder how sitting in silence could possible “accomplish anything.”

    • Michele, I’ve caught myself rushing too lately. But with Him, we can sit in the pause-we can do it because He is faithful!

  9. Thank you for sharing this Alia. It takes courage to share your deepest feelings and I thank you for that. Your friendship is a beautiful one, and courage is shining through you. I know sometimes words don’t help in these trouble times. I too battle with anxiety and depression. I tend to keep it to myself and only speak to Jesus and my sister about it, but I am glad you shared your story. You don’t have to strive to be perfect. We’re not perfect, we are called to love and I can tell you do that. Just by worrying if your a good mom, that shows how much you love your babies and I just know with a sweet mom like you that they love you and always will. God’s love doesn’t change. You are beautiful, courageous, a talented writer, and most importantly God’s baby girl. He won’t leave you, during these hard times he is carrying you. He is carrying us both. He has beautiful plans for your life Alia to prosper you and give you hope. May God bless you Alia and fill you with peace and trust.
    Love your friend,
    Stephanie

  10. wow. Thanks for your honesty. That was beautiful. God is starting to provide some friends like that but they don’t come easy or very often. 🙂 But I am so thankful for those who are there and we can share life together! It is so important.

  11. Offering QUIET HOSPITALITY is sometimes the BEST thing we can do – Letting JESUS into the simplicity of just sitting and being with a friend and LETTING HIM BE OUR COMFORT in the quiet of the night. At a church I use to attend I paid a visit one day and stopped in to see a few brothers and sisters. A gentle man came up to me and told me how much he missed my presence as he told me that I had offered him hope and comfort just sitting with him and listening to his heart. “Be Still and Know that I am God”.

  12. What a beautiful friendship you have. Thank you for the reminder to just be there, unhemmed by a schedule, without checking boxes or trying to quickly patch my friend’s aching heart with truth.

  13. An absolutely beautiful truth of how we are to love. Thank you for sharing that beauty amidst your pain.

  14. I was terribly ill for several months, and depressed because of it. Sometimes all I could do was lie in bed and say Jesus’ name. My neighbor and best friend just walked in one day in the middle of the afternoon and had an album with her. I hadn’t yet showered and was barely able to get up out of bed to answer the door. She came in and said nothing, walked to the dining room, sat down at the table and started showing me the pictures of her son’s wedding. She was very quiet, persistent, and gentle with me. I started to cry because I knew what she was doing and had nothing to say to her except “thank you.” I have never forgotten that. Friends are a wonderful gift from the Lord.

  15. Alia, I praise the Lord for these beautiful and gracious words of courage and sharing. What a hugh example of love in this sharing in your pain. I am so grateful that the Lord is so present with you, how you love your family, and continue to take each step forward. Your words touch my heart deeply and I am blessed by your courage-I had prayed for this reassurance and encouragement today in this sad. It reminds me to be a better friend in the spaces. I understand your words as I battle things too that many don’t want to be around, leading to loneliness and not talking except to Him. Yet our Savior is there as we take His hand and rest in His arms, He is our hope. So thankful for the comfort that you give out of that you received. He never fails, there strengthening us, helping us, upholding us with His righteous right hand of tender grace 🙂 May we all feel His loving hug today, having a friend who will sit with us in these places, sharing the Love of Christ in our broken 🙂

  16. A wonderful example of true Heart Sisters…..one sharing her calling as a supportive and encouraging sister….the other sharing her broken and scattered pieces with her sister as they leave our heart prints in the sand.

  17. Alia Joy, I have a friend like that, and she is beyond words. (I must go to her since she is confined to a wheelchair because of her illness.) Your friend is such a good gift. I am so glad you have a friend who is your friend because she is your friend unconditionally. She is Jesus with skin on. The wonder of these kinds of friends is being able to see you as beautiful right in the ugliness of the utter despair. That is love and true acceptance, and a rare jewel. What I found crazy is she didn’t think I was ugly in my utter despair. I believe your friend feels the same way; seeing you as hurting but beautiful just the same because of the privilege of seeing you as you really are feeling instead of hiding from her and knitting your heart with hers, and she with yours. Blessings, Joanne

  18. This writing has touched my aching heart. I have a close relationship with the Lord, but with my ups & downs, It’s not very consistent. I have bipolar disorder…ups & downs, ups & downs. Right now, I am in between. I’ve been stable prior to the time we (platonic friendship with my ex),moved from a 2 story townhouse to a 1floor Condo. While at the townhouse, I fell down the stairs head first, face up, & really did alot of damage. J right away helped me up & down the stairs. That’s when we decided to move. Our condo is very nice, but because I’m up & down & J has beginning stages of dementia (up & down), we’re a long ways from unpacked. Please pray for us as we try (again) to get into the swing of unpacking. Thanks to all who pray. And, Alia Joy, thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life with us. It has helped to open the door to more people with “secrets”. God bless you & I’ll be praying.

    • I have been diagnosed with bipolar as well and I know how hard the cycles can be. I also know God is faithful to me, so merciful and good and that his mercy never ceases. These are the promises we cling to. This is what walking around in faith looks like. He holds us even when we can’t hold on. Praying for peace for you, I know how hard change and stresses can be when managing bipolar disorder so take care of yourself. I hope you’re able to unpack and settle but also know that sometimes to take care of ourselves we need to make peace with undone things.

  19. I feel as if I have just walked into a very holy and beautiful place. I have been touched and my eyes have seen something wonderful. Thank you.

  20. This is the second time I’ve run into the term holy silence today. Sometimes, that’s all you need to do is sit with a friend or best of all Jesus in that silence, ask Him for His peace, His rest. If you are trying to do defeat mental illness, addiction or anything else , you won’t be able to alone. Acts 10:38 says he went arount doing good, healing all who oppressed of the devil. I’m not throwing a Bible verse at people, I know you can read. But wisdom and understanding is key, Jesus is there for you, He loves you more than anything or anyone. If you think He’s condemning you, upset or disapointed in you, think again. As a believer, you are beloved. He wants you to seek Him, let Him be your feedom. It is very easy to type and say don’t listen to the enemies thoughts about how bad or hopeless it. These thoughts cross my mind, too. I’ve learned that I have to refuse them and replace them with hope and the promises of God. I hope this helps. Never give up.

  21. I too suffer with debilitating depression & anxiety and am in the depths of it now. Have suffered with it for years and with God’s help have come thru each time, but the periods of depression, anxiety, darkness, fear, loneliness, sense of failure to everyone I love, bearing misunderstanding with no one close who understands…..those periods are getting closer & closer together and lasting longer. Losing lots of friends, my church where I served for over 20 years, left alone in my isolation. I have one friend of 40 years who tries (by text) to encourage me, but she doesn’t understand and also throws scripture, and when she doesn’t see the results she wants to see, gets frustrated and withdraws. I don’t blame her. I have a wonderful friend who I met here thru (in)courage and she understands totally as she also suffers times of this. She encourages me tremendously, but she is 2000 miles away. She is always there when I text for prayer and I am so grateful for her, but sometimes feel I am leaning too hard on the one person in my life who truly understands. I need a friend like your’s Alia, one who will just come and let me cry, not judge me, not get frustrated with me and withdraw. I feel I have to cover so much for others….my husband, my step-daughter and 9 yr old grandson who live with us. My husband is wonderful and does so much to try to help me, but he can only do so much…..and doesn’t understand either about this horrible debilitating malady, except his own experience with me, and I feel so guilty that he is having to do so much. We are both in our late 60’s. I will be 70 in November. Sometimes I feel they (my family) think I am losing my mind because I think that too, but it is so hard sometimes to see the looks on their faces. I do what I can, but get so exhausted so quickly. I want to live again, Lord Jesus!!! For my family’s sake, for Your Name’s sake! There seem to be so many of us, Your daughters, who suffer with this. Even so, come Lord Jesus!!!

  22. Alia Joy, thank you for your transparency. Your post is poignant and beautiful. I have a friend walking through very hard seasons right now. Thank you for the affirmation that sometimes, just sitting with her, listening, engaging as God leads, is truly enough. Saying a prayer for you today.

  23. Oh if only we could al be like your friend. Sometimes I am and other times, I give too much unwanted advice. O LORD help me to sit in the holy silence. With You. With my friend. With my daughter.
    Praying for God’s mercy and grace on all who read this, who need this today.

  24. Wow. I know that I have friends like that, but I don’t know that I am that friend. Thank you for allowing us to see things from that broken state, in hopes that we can all strive to be the friend that keeps going back…

    So moving.

    Thank you!

  25. Alia
    What a blessed gift you have! To be able to express your feelings in such a beautiful way. To be able to say the things that so many people feel and can never express. I thank God for you today and for the words that you have given to all of us. I pray that God will heal you In your pain! I just thank you for sharing your story and helping me to realize that I’m not alone in this journey! God bless you
    Donnita

  26. you have taught me that being there is enough. it is hard to sit with the pain of another, and not be able to fix it. it is uncomfortable. I commit to pushing aside the discomfort to just be there – to sit with a sister who needs Jesus’ presence. Amen!

  27. Wondering if I would be able to be a friend like you describe. Maybe I am too hasty with words, though meant to comfort and encourage. Worth pondering. What a holy gift to you she is. Touched by your words, Thank you for sharing.

  28. Your words? Today they are a reminder for me to be this kind of friend…one who “sits with someone’s pain, lets it roll off their slumped shoulders and drags it across yours so you can stand together.”

  29. Alia,

    Praying for you right now. May God bring healing to your weary soul. Praising God for the great friend He sent your way! I am that friend. If someone needs to talk/vent I am there for them. No judging, just sitting quietly listening. I know some day I may need the same thing. Words don’t always help, but a good strong shoulder to cry on is just what the doctor ordered.

    Blessings 🙂

  30. Thank you for your transparency and tender words. Yes depression, so many of us experience it. I have been there countless times. I will sit with you in my prayers. I know what it means.

  31. What a beautiful story of friendship! I want to keep my eyes and ears open for those moments in need of some quiet hospitality. Thank you for reminding me friendship doesn’t have to be big gestures or pretend perfection.

  32. I am going through a very tough time, possibly depression, due to circumstances and feeling like everything is out of control despite my hard work and consistent effort to make things better–many family issues and major husband issues. Husband affair, lost job, does not want to parent, untruthful, just plain lazy with home life but will do anything for or to impress those outside, very hurtful with actions and words and always judging after-the-fact but wanted to offer no input ahead of time—no one would ever think he is like this because he is such a ‘funny and nice guy’ outside. I really struggle with forgiveness because it happens or goes on day after day and I feel I have become bitter and cannot love him because of all of this. We have special needs adopted children/adults with major issues trying to grow up and out of our home but making horrible, negative, life-altering and dooming decisions. We also have young biological children who are seeing and having to live with the fall-out of the turmoil around them. I really struggle with the issue of wishing my younger children had a better mom that was not so broken down and could deal with things better and do better with the get through life day to day things. I have no family support and only one real friend long distance. I attend church regularly, pray, read my devotionals and really do try to look toward the bright side of things and try to be happy—I know it could be worse, as I realize and have been told many times.
    I really appreciate your honesty with your feelings and am thankful today for your writing. I am also thankful for others’ comments. I am not alone. I still have hope. Please pray for my family.

  33. Oh girl, this post.

    Just incredible–just like you.

    You have me both thinking about how I can be the friend who “doesn’t rush the pauses” AND be the person brave enough to share the pain with those willing to show up in my life. Thank you for the gift of your words, dear one. You are a jewel, and I couldn’t love you more. xoxo

  34. Beautifully put. I struggle with mental illness too and i know many who do as well. You cant just try harder or pray more. And it makes you feel like a horrible person for not being “stronger”. God be near to each of you living through this.

  35. Lovely. A portrait of true friendship. Of loving another like our self. Sometimes we just need someone to sit quietly beside us and listen and pray and hope for us. So glad your friend is there for you.

  36. This friendship… I’ve never known it. Sometimes I wonder if I ever will. I know the gift she was for you and I was awed by it.

  37. Thank you for this beautiful reminder, Alia, of how we can love each other well simply by showing up in the spaces we often try so hard to avoid. It’s not the glamorous, world-changing passion that gets everyone’s attention, but “sitting with” is truly a gift that makes a world of difference when we are in that place. Thank you!

    • What a beautiful writer you are. I can feel your pain with your well chosen words. I too am feeling the deep waters. I too have a friend like you described; and I thank Jesus for her presence. These friends, Alia, are truly His presence and His way of showing us His love. God bless you and may He give you back your joy!

  38. Once again I read your words and there is just such a smooth artistry to them. This post touched me in a raw, but good way. I’ve been sharing in my IG and blog about some “struggles” of mine. I still do not have clarity about them but God is so graciously revealing more and more to me. But a lot of it does have to do with my emotional and mental state sometimes. You wrote about how there were conversations that required bypassing the living room and wanting your children to have a stronger mom, a better mom, one who didn’t have a mental illness. That part. That hit me. Because when I had my moment of desperation and exasperation last weekend it was those thoughts about myself and my children. Just thank you so much for your bold and vulnerable transparency. Your words speak life to so many. Just the knowing we aren’t alone. And just reading these comments got me misty eyed. What an amazing gift of a friend you have to sit with you. Blessings.

  39. Wow!! You write with such transparency and an incredible gift with words. You touched my heart; my own raw & tender heart that so often feels what you write. To have a friend like that, to be there for you is such a wonderful blessing. I pray for the gift of a friendship like yours, to sit with me through my struggles, my highs and my lows, never judging but loving as Jesus did! God bless you Alia.

  40. My 13 year old was just diagnosed with depression due to complicated grief. As her mother, I want to fix the hurt in her heart. I want the bright, bubbly little girl back. But I know that will never happen. So I try to do what I can.
    It’s very hard for me to join her on the bed and turn on a good movie, and just let her be. I want to drag it out of her, so I can figure it out with her. But I do it. I curl up on her bed, and let the emotions wave out.
    I hope I can be what she needs.

    Thank you for this post. For letting me know that doing nothing is doing something.