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I was listening to the radio station KLOVE today as I was driving and heard a Christian singer talk about a time in his life when he was de...

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Faces of Depression

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 23:35 ESV).
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12 ESV)

"Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor." (Romans 12:10 ESV)

"...with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:2-3 ESV)

What do these scriptures have in common?  They all say, "love one another".  I ask you, do we truly love one another as Christ has commanded?  Loving each other in the Body of Christ is an honorable calling, but we do not do it like we should, especially when it comes to fellow believers who have a mental disorder.  It's too complicated, too uncomfortable, too unknown, too hard to understand, etc. the list can go on.  Do you know or suspect that another believer is suffering silently--that something seems a little off?  The face of depression can look 'normal'.  I guess normal means looking like nothing is wrong with life.  It can be deceiving, right?  It is easy sometimes to put on a face of niceties, to say you are fine when you are not because that is just easier.  Because does anyone really want to know how we are---really?  No one expects people to spill their guts of emotions when asked that question.  And if someone by chance did---would you know how to respond?  Would you love that person through their mental challenges, their sadness, their despondency?  It is uncomfortable when we know nothing or very little of mental disorders and are suddenly faced with it.  It can be unsettling.  Truly, no one knows what it really feels like unless they have experienced it.  And I am not talking about situational or circumstantial depression that is gone in a week or two.  I am talking about chronic depression that can be debilitating.

Will we go out of the way to help someone like we would help other believers with, for example, babysitting a single mother's children when she needs a break, help the elderly with home maintenance--meeting people's basic needs.  But we are missing the mark when we miss the faces of depression.  The last thing your fellow believer with mental illness wants is to be treated like a weirdo, like they are crazy, like an untouchable.  That's why the silence stays silent.  They already feel like they are abnormal to the world.  

Compassion and listening is the best help you can give--along with an abundance of love--to the faces of depression.  Try to imagine it for yourself.  We do not want to leave these believers behind in the face of their needs.  We go to prayer for those suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.  We need to go to prayer on a regular basis for those suffering with depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.  We are called to love ALL people.  Look around in your church, ask God to show you those who suffer in silence and how to meet them right where they are at.  God did.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen.  Do not try to preach to them, like other believers might have done--that if they had more faith they could overcome their depression.  Please do not be that believer.  You may mean well, but you are wrong.  Don't make them the victim of some horrible shunning from God that is not even in God's character.  Be sensitive.  Listen.  Check up on them--visit them, or better yet, invite them to go somewhere non-threatening that may lift their mood, however temporary.

Do your research on mental disorders.  Is there a mental health professional in your church who can give you some insight in how to minister to your fellow believer?  YOU can make a difference in making one feel accepted, rather than rejected.  We have the power of God, through the Holy Spirit, in us to accomplish so much.  And sometimes, we are looking at witnessing to unbelievers and trying to lead them to Christ rather than looking at who and what is in our midst right now who need our help.  Will you step out of your comfort zone to imitate Christ's love, to be your brother's (or sister's) keeper...to love one another?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

We All Crave Hope

Everyone craves hope.....and love.  I believe it's an intrinsic part of our nature.  People hope bad situations get better.  They hope a family member will get well.  Olympiads go to the games hoping to win for the USA.  The Bible is full of hope--it's all about hope found in Jesus as our Savior.  He's the best hope anyone can have.

"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."  (Romans 15:4, NIV)

There are two words in that one scripture alone, that are very important to the meaning of 'hope'.  The endurance pushes us to continue the race that was started the minute we said yes to Jesus.  Keep your eye on the prize.  Through thick and thin, you keep pushing through the tough times--why?  Because you have hope something better is coming.  The other word, encouragement, helps us get to hope.  How?  Have you ever encouraged someone to keep pursuing something that person has a passion for--and then see them accomplish it--again because they pushed through the yuckiness and saw hope meet them.  God meets us at hope.  Because our lives without God would be hopeless.  Unfortunately, unbelievers do not have an eternal hope.  They die and then they are judged for not accepting Jesus as their Savior.  It is very saddening.

Sometimes it takes us more than once to see what we can't see at the time---hope.  I instantly had hope in January of 1993 when I got saved.  But, when I was first hospitalized with depression and OCD, I was desperate for hope....absolutely desperate....for God to tell me what was happening to me.  I had my Bible with me, and at first I could not manage to do anything but ask, "Why?"  My lack of education about my mental disorder set me on a path of hopelessness.  I remember the relief I felt when a social worker came to me with a picture and caption that so clearly described my symptoms to a tee.  I was so relieved to hear I had clinical depression and OCD.  I just wanted to hear a name for it.  Then, I could start learning about it from the professionals who were put in my path at an intense point of my life.  God showed me He was my only hope in that situation of learning about myself.  I swallowed the word, 'hope' completely and wanted to share it with other hurting people.  It is SO beyond powerful.  Lives are won and lost over it.  Most people who harm themselves or commit suicide lose hope, listen to lies and then end it all.  God's hope can reach down inside our yuck, and pluck it out.  It can happen in an instant! 

Do you have hope you can impart to someone else?  Then share it.  It's not meant to be covered up because it is so powerful.  When I was little I would tell my mother that I needed something to look forward to--something to be excited about that was coming up.  She told me to look at the little things (and think on these things) like flowers in the field being blown back and forth by the wind.  I never forgot that because it did create a sense of hope for something good in my mind...and to appreciate things we take for granted.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

 "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15)

Monday, June 20, 2016

It's Me Again

Hello to everyone out there in cyberspace who may have been wondering why I have not posted anything for a long time.  Well, we have moved back to where we lived before in another town, but still in mid-Missouri.  I hate the stress of moving---the packing of boxes, trying to stay organized, the clutter that ensues because boxes are sitting everywhere.  And the same thing when you reach your destination---the thoughts of, "Where did all this stuff come from?" and, "Where am I going to put it all?"  I bet you can relate.  

We have too much 'stuff' in our lives sometimes and it can get overwhelming to deal with all at once.  That's where I was mentally--feeling overwhelmed by everything.  So, I did not feel moved, no pun intended :0) to write on this blog.  I apologize if you thought I would never return or that this site was helping you and you felt perhaps abandoned by needing someone who can relate to mental disorders AND is a Christian to leave all of a sudden when I was writing pretty regularly.  I did not create this blog to be a fly-by-night temporary 'hello' to the world.  I created it because I felt strongly led to do it and have had that same sense in me recently now that my life has calmed down a little more.

I want to hear more from you guys on what things you are dealing with in your lives.  I understand if you are afraid your identity might be found out and possibly know what church affiliation you have.  But, as I have said before, do not let fear rule your life.  It's a bondage the enemy can use over you and have a foothold in your life--keeping you feeling knocked down.  You have God's strength to get you through anything in life--and He does NOT bring fear into our lives.  It is just not his character.  It's not.  My family hears this often from me when things get hectic and we sense that hovering cloud above our heads.  Things just happen in life, in this world, we have no control over.  And fear can creep in like a mouse.  We are not dealing with flesh and blood, but with a real spiritual warfare inside a realm we cannot see.  It is as real as you and I.  God is fighting for us, along with His angels, I believe on a constant basis.  That should bring you comfort.  And we know who will win in the end.  Right?

I will start discussing more subject matter related to what we, as Christians with depression deal with, possibly on a daily basis.  So, stay with me on this ongoing journey.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.