What To Do With A Depressed Christian

Recently God has revealed to me that I struggle with depression and have for a very long time. It’s something that I’ve tried to deny, but is a constant theme in my life. For years I was in denial because it feels like a bit of an oxymoron to call myself a Christian and also admit that I am depressed. In moments of vulnerability where I have chosen to disclose this information I am met with such things as “oh really?! i had no idea.” or “are you sure it’s not PMS?” 1) I have not forgotten how to smile and 2) yes, I am sure. 

One of the unfortunate things about my admitting to this is that some of you (or most of you) will label me as a depressed person and chalk a lot of what I say up to the fact that I am depressed. Let me be clear, I struggle with depression, but that does not define me. I have not lost my mind or my ability to ration or to reflect God’s image.

And as an encouragement to those who may be in the same boat as me: you are not your anxiety or your depression, you are an image bearer of the Living God, adopted and called His own. Do not allow the enemy and your sin nature deceive you into thinking that you are less than that. Shane and Shane recognized in their song “Embracing Accusation” by saying:

 

Oh the devil’s singing over me

That age old song

That I am cursed and gone astray

He’s singing the first verse so conveniently

Over me

But he’s forgotten the refrain

Jesus saves!

 We believe lies and half truths, we believe that we are less than who God has declared us to be. We believe this because it feels right, we recognize that we are sinful, that something is seriously wrong with us. But we exclude that solution, Jesus. God sent His Son to declare us righteous and to rescue us from certain damnation. This is the mighty God that we serve.

That’s My Story Too

I have been having such a hard time thinking of what to write about next. God has been showing me so many things in the past couple of weeks that it has seriously been so overwhelming (and draining to say the least). A few weeks ago I was at summer camp with my youth group. I had the pleasure of going with the high school girls and solo led a cabin of 9th and 10th grade girls for the first time. Let me tell you, we had a seriously incredible week.

Before leaving for camp I felt so heavy-hearted. God had been revealing to me sin in my life that at some point I had given up on fighting against. So that was really rough going up the mountain, sitting in a bus of happy-go-lucky students ready for an exciting week of camp. I looked around and saw their happy faces and there I was, sitting in my seat trying to stave off the anxiety of having to lead when I felt so weak and unworthy. I prayed that God would change my heart, that God would crack me wide open and begin to change me in a way that I had never allowed Him to before. For those of you who have ever prayed for something and seen that prayer answered you know how dangerous prayer can be. I call prayer dangerous because God does things in ways that we don’t understand, but it’s always exactly what we need.

By the second day of camp God paved the way for the girls in my cabin to really open up to me. They told me a lot of really heavy things that I wish that I could fix, I wish that I could take their pain. I was absolutely steamrolled by emotion and the goodness of God. It was just the wake up call I needed, but if I said that it has been a complete cake-walk, I’d be a liar. Following that week of camp I was asked with my band mate to play a small acoustic show for a 16 year old girl who had been battling cancer for a very long time and was beginning to win the battle against her body. I could hardly look her in the eye. She died this past Sunday. I know that she is with the Lord, but it still hurts to see someone so full of joy and youth go through so much pain. 

Whenever I have a coffee one-on-one with any of the girls that I mentor I always start my meetings with them by sharing my story so that we can build this mutual bond of trust. One of the most striking things that anyone has said to me after I shared my story with them was a 9th grader who looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “Your story is my story”. Our enemy likes to deceive us by telling us that we are alone, but none of  us are alone in this human experience. But more importantly, we have a Saviour who is fully able to sympathize with our pain and struggle and our stories.

I love that song that says “…There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning. And when the oceans rage, I don’t have to be afraid. Because I know that You love me, Your love never fails.”

I learned all of this and much more in the past few weeks, I can’t wait to share with you what God does from here.

Open Up

So I’ve been doing A TON of reading lately, I’m reading three books at once. Even though all of these books are different and by three separate authors, they all come down to one thing… vulnerability. I cringe at the thought of having to talk about my emotions. Emotions that are already on the surface are easy to talk about, but what about the deeply rooted ones? What about ones that are painful? What do we do with those? Are those emotions bad?

God has been showing me that He created emotions and thus, emotions are good. It’s what we do with those emotions (or even don’t do) that counts. There is pain that I have felt within my family unit (as most people have) and I can either allow that pain to become bitterness or I can use that pain and anger even to gain a better understanding of others in my life.

The other day at work, I was sitting and reading when another girl came and sat down with me, she asked me what I was reading, so I explained. After a bit of back and forth talking about the book she told me about how she has this reoccurring nightmare where she is being sexually assaulted. This is shocking, but I don’t think I actually felt shocked by this statement, it wasn’t until she admitted that she thinks these nightmares come from things that happened in her past that I realized the magnitude of what she was trying to tell me. She was very vulnerable in bringing that into the conversation, and although I didn’t really agree with the intentions I perceived for her to have spoken from, she opened up her heart to me. She will most likely be one of the people who is able to heal from deep trauma like rape because she is in a sense open to talk about it. 

The more I share my story, the less and less shame I feel about who I am, what I’ve done and what’s been done to me. The things I hold deep shame about are the things I refuse to talk about with others. I’m not saying that we should all go out and tell everyone our secrets, but that maybe we should stop keeping secrets. There are things we just choose not to tell others, but hiding or keeping secrets is indicative of shame, not power. I once thought because I could keep all of my own secrets and the secrets of others bottled up that I must be such a strong person. I now know that you are always as weak as the secrets you keep. 

The Weight of Desire

So I started reading this book called “See Me Naked” by Amy Frykholm and it has seriously been rocking my world. I’ve had to put it down several times, the content is so heavy that I can hardly read more than a few pages at a time. Well, it’s heavy for me. Basically the book goes like this, Frykholm tells nine different stories from nine different people. Their stories chronicle their life as it pertains to their sexuality and spirituality and how those two aspects are intermingled.

Just a bit before reading this book I began to question my own ideas of what I think of humanity. One conclusion I felt it very important to recognize is that we are within ourselves, many, but also one. Not in the same way that the Trinity is, so don’t go thinking I’m claiming we’re more like God than we actually are. But that we are not just body or mind or soul, we are all three all at once, and until/unless we leave our bodies, that is the way we will remain. So, not only are we all three, but God made us that way and called it “very good”. So to deny part of our humanity would be to go against how God actually created us to be. This doesn’t, however, mean that we can go on doing whatever it is that we so desire. God also set parameters for how we live out our desires.

This weekend, I was suddenly struck by how strong desire can be. It weighed down heavy on my body as I realized that not all of my desires are biblical. I watched myself, as the person with many answers suddenly feel as though she has none.

So I read a couple of stories in “See Me Naked” today and one struck me as very true. It was a story of a girl who as she went through church gleaned the message that our bodies are bad and we shouldn’t lead people astray with our bodies. So this girl began to deprive herself of any desire or as she called it “hunger”. She even stopped eating and was diagnosed with anorexia. When I first read it, I thought to myself “Well now, this is definitely an extreme”, but is it really? In the Christian community, we do this all the time, we starve ourselves of ourselves in hopes that it brings us closer to God. I’m definitely still on a journey to figure out what this even means, but what I know for sure is that I have a body and it has needs and desires, I have a mind that thinks and reasons, and I have a soul that is the essence of who I am. All three of these parts work together to make me and that is good and incredibly freeing. All too often in Christianity, we think the more we starve our bodies, the more freedom we gain, when in fact, we’re just shackling ourselves to legalism and setting ourselves up for failure. I must keep reminding myself that “there is power in the name of Jesus, to break every chain” (Break Every Chain by Will Reagan and the United Pursuit).

Sorry this post is just a jumble of thoughts, really this whole blog is a jumble of thoughts. I’d love love love to have discussion about any of these topics!

Fight the Power VS Fighting God

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes I just flat out don’t agree with God. There are some things in His word that I just don’t understand, on a very basic human level, I have a very hard time comprehending. Let’s not be confused, I love God, I try my best to obey His commands, and I am not being disrespectful. I am simply saying that I don’t agree with God because sometimes I just don’t understand. But I follow what He says because I trust Him more than I trust myself. He is the author of life after all.

Recently, I was hit with a tsunami of sin I thought I had done away with. Turns out I just hadn’t met the right set of circumstances yet. So what do you do when you’re in the thick of struggle? Do you fight the power (Satan) or do you fight against God? As a Christian, we know the obvious answer is to fight against darkness, and that answer is followed by a big fat DUH. But that’s definitely something that’s easier said than done.

I took a class once and we talked about the difference between belief and believing. Belief is the idea and believing is the action that flows from that idea. I believe that God knows better than me, so my actions should flow from that, right? But what about when (as John Piper puts it) I don’t desire God? What then?

I’m still in the process of answering this question, a question I feel like I know the answer to or at least I should know the answer to. I know that God is not this man sitting on a cloud with a great white beard ready to smite me if I should stumble, He’s much more gracious than that, but He also does not make light of sin either. What do you guys do in those moments of weakness or trial or pain? What do you do when you find that (if you’re honest with yourself) you don’t desire God? Please feel free to comment!

From Comfort to Fear and Back Again

Change. I feel like it’s not as easy to accept as we like to think it is. Change always feels better when we choose change for ourselves, but when change is forced upon me it leaves me feeling a little disoriented.

A very good change that I chose today was to return my new guitar and trade it in for an upgrade, I now own an acoustic/electric Taylor guitar vs. the standard acoustic Taylor I had previously. This change was good. But the mental shift that occurs within me when I find someone is not who I have spent my whole life thinking they were feels irreversibly cataclysmic.

So what do I do? Do I allow my anger to fester and become bitterness or do I work at forgiveness, reconciliation and ultimately acceptance? The easier option is give in to my humanity, just let it take over and never let go of the grudge of betrayal. I will unapologetically shake my fist in the face of God, demanding an answer and refusing to follow Him until I have received an answer that I deem sufficient enough (as if God owes me anything).

These words may seem harsh, but so often that is what I do. The other day I was listening to a speaker (Jonalyn Fincher) tell a story about how during the planning stages of her wedding she got so mad at her fiance that she just verbally ripped him apart. Instead of becoming angry and responding accordingly, he turned to her and said “Is that the way that you talk to yourself?” Instead of becoming angry, he saw straight through to who she was. He could see that she was talking to him exactly the way that she talks to herself in her head. It was heartbreaking for him to hear; he loved her instead of becoming bitter. I have never heard anyone ask someone that, what a beautiful picture of love and mercy. That sort of a situation hardly seems real.

So what do I do? What about me? Jonalyn’s husband was so wonderfully loving toward his soon to be wife even when she yelled at him. Forgiveness is easier said than done, but God has forgiven a jacked up person like me, I should forgive those around me. It takes time, effort and sometimes it even takes physical space, but this is what we are called to do and who we are called to be as followers of Christ.

Daughter, You Are So Broken

I work in a warehouse so I have plenty of time to think and reflect, to pray and to listen. During this time God has been teaching me so much that I feel I need some sort of outlet to share with everyone what it is exactly that I have been learning. I’ll try to be as consistent as possible.

Not too long ago (maybe a couple of months ago) God brought me to my knees. He showed me that I had made a mockery of one of his most precious and prized creations… women. Now, I’m a woman, I hate calling myself that, but I am. When I was around 12 years old I learned that women were weak creatures and men have all the power but they will always abuse it. I hated both sexes and I hated that I was one of them.

Through a series of events and after reading a lot about Biblical womanhood I began to realize what I was doing. Imagine this, your friend has painted a beautiful picture for you. They present it to you with a great sense of pride. You take it, hold it for a moment, examine it closely. But instead of thanking them for the gift that they have given to you, you laugh at it, you hate it, you even despise it. How dare they think that you would like something like this. This is a terrible example, but that’s sort of what it feels like to be a woman and hate it.

So I knew something had to change, I knew that I couldn’t go on essentially telling the Maker of heaven and earth, of things great and small, things seen and unseen that He somehow got it wrong with me. I am slowly beginning to accept that I am a woman and repent of my sins against humanity. The other day I even called myself a woman and didn’t cringe at the thought! It was truly a joyous moment in my life.

When I speak of my womanhood, I don’t mean to say that I’ve become the girliest girl you have ever met and wear makeup all the time. My womanhood is not about the external, if it were, well then I fail most days. I’m athletic and artistic, I don’t wear makeup most days (maybe a couple times a month), I play the guitar and sing, I love wearing button up shirts with long sleeves, I love watching TV shows about murders being solved and I can hardly contain my laughter if someone even mentions the word fart. Some aspects of me are more “feminine” than others, but my womanhood, that is from God. He has made me woman, I am not a man, nor will I ever be a man nor do I want to be a man. God makes no mistakes and I am of equal value to men according to God’s word. I reflect parts of God that man can’t and men reflect aspects of God that I can’t. We are equally fearfully and wonderfully made.