Depression: How to Explain It to Others

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 ESV

Looking back I can see it plainly. I was depressed and desperately clinging to my faith.

No one from the outside could see it. They knew I injured my foot. They knew my house had to have all the pipes redone, but they couldn’t see. They didn’t know about the darkness.

When I told my daughter I how depressed I was she asked, “Why didn’t you tell someone?”

And God gave me these words.

Imagine you woke up one morning and the sun didn’t come up and you couldn’t find a light switch. The sun had been slowly getting dimmer over weeks and months so the darkness wasn’t a surprise. It just was. And the lights, they slowly became like a kerosene lamps, feeble, getting more and more useless. So darkness seemed normal, as if everyone woke in the dark.

Despite the darkness you had to live. You had teeth to brush, kids to feed, bills to pay. All in the dark. Everything became more difficult and there never was enough time. Without light obstacles easily tripped you up, slowed you down, or kept you from trying. And every day some obstacle moved so you could never quite learn to navigate through your day without bumping into something. Any new unexpected event – whether welcome or not – added to your difficulty. And the darkness only deepened.

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I could not remember what light looked and felt like. So the moments of subdued laughter or excitement I felt seemed normal. But my tears. I noted I may have a problem when I struggled to read out loud a page from a book I was reading to my kids. The story was not particularly sad, no one died, and yet I struggled to read sentence after sentence as tears streamed down my face. I chalked it up to being sensitive. I often cry. Things are just difficult now, but I’m ok.

But I wasn’t. And the crazy thing is I could and did tell people the truth about God and His tender care for me. I saw His hand moving in all the crazy circumstances of foot injury, my husband’s job changing, and service man after service man after service man in my house. I knew God was there working. And I worked hard to find joy even in a knee scooter.

But that didn’t mean I wasn’t depressed, because one day a few weeks ago the light came back on. The heavy darkness that clung to me for months was dispelled.

Suddenly I accomplished more in one day than I had in a month or more. Things that were a struggle took me no time at all. And the joy of the Lord was that much richer and amazing. And I don’t have to cry my eyes out when I thought about it.

Sometimes we slip into depression like a slowly dimming light and we do not even know we are walking in the dark. Sometimes we do not even know we need to tell someone.

That is what depression was like for me. What is your experience? How do you describe it to others who have not experienced it?

Please note I am NOT saying that people who are blind are always depressed. I am just trying to offer a physical example of what depression can feel like for a seeing person.

Angela

New Beginnings: Grace, Growth, and Gratitude

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19 ESV

God is in the business of doing new things in our lives. Why? For our good and His glory. So that this world that is lost in darkness can see God’s light.

But in order for us to see or perceive the new thing God is doing we often have to let go of somethings that are no longer serving us or Him in our lives.

This flower arrangement, my husband gave me, was quite beautiful for a while.

But it didn’t take long for some of the flowers to start to droop and die out. Interestingly though not all the flowers died at the same time. To keep the arrangement looking nice I had to let go of what was dead and dying so that a new beauty could be seen.

Certainly I could have cried over the dead flowers or clung to the dry disintegrating petals. But then I would miss the beauty of what was next. I would miss the chance to develop a new perspective, to see beauty in something I never planned or wanted. When we allow God’s grace to show us beauty in the unexpected, unplanned, new things in life, we develop gratitude for a God who can bring beauty out of ashes.

He turned a device intended to torture and kill into a symbol of victory and hope (the cross). He transformed the grave from an ending to a beginning.

If only we let His grace help us let go of our dying plans then we are free to embrace the beauty of the new thing He is doing.

So are we ready to lay down our old things, so He can make them new?

What do you need to let go today?

Angela

Celebrating Along the Way: How to Grow When You Fail

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 ESV

“UGH!” I groaned as I stepped off the scale. I was “trying” to eat healthier and watch my caloric intake. My scale proved that two days in my attempt was not very successful.

I don’t like processes. I prefer to decide to lose weight and then just lose it. If I want to be able to run a long distance, it would be easier if I could just decide to do it and then successfully run a marathon. Sort of like the movie The Matrix. I could just download how to fly a helicopter into my brain and I could do it. Suddenly I would know Kung Fu. There would be no process, no tries and failures along the way.

But that isn’t reality. How many times did we have to fall in order to learn to walk? Do good parents yell at their kids’ wobbling attempts to stand or take a step? NO! We cheer them on when they start pulling up and offer them our fingers to help them “walk” with assistance. We don’t give them an F when they fall. We encourage them to try again. And even when they begin to take wobbly steps we cheer. No, they are not walking briskly, they look more like tiny drunkards. But we cheer each step in the process.

So why do we stop doing that? Why do we expect perfect results today? Why don’t we cheer on each stumbling bumbling attempt? Each wobbling step brings us closer to our goal. So we need to celebrate even the tiny things.

A friend recently told me “Doing something imperfectly is always more productive than not doing something perfectly.” What keeps us from not doing something perfectly? I believe we fear falling and failure. What if instead of fearing falling and failure we celebrate attempts as we keep our goal in mind?

“Good try. Get up and try again!”

“So close. Try again.”

“Maybe today isn’t your day, but you tried. Now let’s try again tomorrow.”

Celebrating those crazy out-of-control wobbling steps will encourage us to keep trying. It will free us from the fear of failure and maybe one day we will fly.

What can you do today to celebrate your tiny steps forward?

Angela

I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot: Living in the Present

 “…And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15 ESV

Too I often I pretend that today is not all I have. I act like all my days will roll on forever in either the wonderful bliss or the horrible chaos depending on how my morning is going.

I think that “some day” I will write a blog post about that. Or “some day” I would like to be more healthy. Or “some day” I will get that done.

The thing is “some day” never comes. There is no convenient time to do things in life. Anything we choose to do there will be obstacles, inertia, doubters. And so we wait for some day.

I’m done waiting. God doesn’t ask us to serve Him some day. He wants us to serve Him today! And if He has put a dream in your heart today is the day to make the first step. The first stumbling step of obedience that will lead you to a life of significance in Christ. A life of passion to do what He has called all His children to do, make disciples in different and creative ways.

So today is my only shot. I am not promised tomorrow and yesterday is already gone. Today, the present, is God’s gift to me. What am I going to do with it?

What are you going to do?

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Angela