The good news first…you have hope!
Depression is like a cloud, and life is like a plane. When we’re depressed, it’s a though we’re flying blind. We can’t see what’s coming ahead, and we feel that at any moment, we will begin to tumble out of the sky to our demise.
We all struggle at one moment or another with disappointment and depression; it hits us for different reasons. For some, it could be moving or the loss of a job. For others it’s the loss of a loved one or an illness. And for others, it’s just life, in all of its normal struggles.
Often times, depression can be difficult in Christian community. I know that sounds odd, but let me explain. Sometimes, we place unnecessary expectations on ourselves. We think being a Christian means perfection. We think if our relationship with God is strong enough, we can ward off depression. Let me be honest with you, depression hits us all – the most praying Christian and the atheist, who curses God to His face. The difference is in how we address it.
It might be very tempting to give in to the depression. Believe me, I’ve been there. It’s so much easier to avoid people, avoid life and avoid dressing up. Did I say dress up? What about dress at all. Sometimes I’m happy to keep on a robe and some fuzzy socks on a cold winter’s day.
But stick with me here. Pushing through your depression is a journey, not a sprint. It might take days, weeks or even months for the fog to lift and for you to begin to see yourself as valuable and special – to see yourself with Jesus’ eyes. As you go on the journey, there are a few things I’d like to suggest:
My Small Suggestions:
1. Don’t Be Surprised: Don’t be surprised about the disappointment that you’re facing. Don’t be upset at yourself for the depression you may be feeling. You’re human. This world isn’t perfect. You’re not perfect. Your situation is not perfect. Life’s not perfect, but thankfully, your God is perfect and He can see you through absolutely anything! He’s big enough and strong enough. Lay it all on Him. He can take it! (I Peter 4:12)
2. Get Back in the Game: No, not that kind of game. If your depression was from dating, I’m not telling you to get back in the dating game. I’m saying, get back into a prayer routine. Even if the first few words you mutter are just grunts and goans, get them out. If you don’t feel like talking to God, tell Him. If you’re mad at God, be honest with Him. He already knows. By not vocalizing it, the only person you’re fooling is yourself. Seek out God and try to understand how He can bring something beautiful from the disappointment. Look for the breath of fresh air He can give you in the middle of your depression. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). What I’ve found to be most helpful, especially in moments like these, is keeping a journal. For one thing, it’s therapeutic, just to get it all out, but for another, it’ll help you see the journey God’s taking you on. However, you do it, whether 5 minutes in the mornings, ever time you feel sad or right before bed, begin to get yourself into a prayer routine.
3. Think about What’s up Ahead: When you’re flying in that cloud it’s hard to see 10 feet ahead. Heck! Sometimes it’s hard to see an arm’s length away. For those of you who may have lost loved ones, I can’t even imagine what you’re going through. It’s likely hard to see minutes ahead, let alone days. But I want to say, you’re still alive. Perhaps you have kids – they need you. I’m sure you have friends – people who love you. You’re still alive and they need you. Luke 12:25 says which of you by worrying can add an hour to his life? And the opposite is true, God has given you life. You’re alive. You’re reading this. For some reason, He’s seen fit for you to be here, so even though it may not seem like it’s worth it, God has something special for you to do. Push through the cloud. Even when you can’t see His plan, keep pushing forward – through the disappointment, through the depression, through the cloud. Look for God’s redirection.
4. Be careful who you surround yourself with. This one is oh, so true! Some people ooze negativity without even noticing it. Take an inventory of who’s around you. Are they helping you redirection? Are they helping you wallow in your disappointment? Surround yourself with people who can help you get back on track. (Psalm 1:1-3)
5. Remember, the only constant in life is God. You’ve heard it before, the only thing that stays the same is change. Life is constantly changing, but God is always the same. (James 1:17, Psalm 102:27)
If reading wasn’t enough, I wanna share these points with you again. Check it out!
Many People Wear a Mask
I recently preached at a church, and I invited people who wanted special prayer to come down front after the sermon. I’ve never done that after a sermon before, but I felt impressed to do so this time. I thought maybe one or two people would come down front, but eventually, about 10 people came down. One-by-one, I had a special prayer with them – bringing their requests before God. What really struck me was how many people stared at my during my sermon – by every look they appear to be fine — but upon closer examination, many were battling internal sadness. Many people wear a mask, but with God, you don’t have to. If you need special prayer, send me a message here, on Twitter @readfishfood or on my FB account at https://www.facebook.com/ReadFishFood
1. Find a good support system
2. Don’t forget to participate in activities you love
3. Make sure you eat and exercise regularly
4. Try to make it part of your daily routine to interact with people, even when you don’t feel like it
1. Eight Ways to Actively Fight Depression
2. Dealing with Teen Depression
3. One Family’s Struggle with Depression
Australia: Christian Counsellors Association of Australia
America: National Christian Counselors Association
How do you deal with disappointment and depression as a Christian? What works for you? Share with me below in the comments or on twitter @readfishfood or @rachelnlemons
(Photo Credit: Sander van der Wel, Flickr, http://bit.ly/UFlsLF, License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)