Grunge and Depression

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a “there’s demons in the rock music” type of post… just some random reflections and what’s been rolling around in my head lately.

Just within this past week or so I have been coming to grips with the fact that I have depression.  I think I’ve always put my depression in the context of “overcoming” just because that’s how I’m wired.  I’m an INFJ and part of that I am always aggressively looking for ways to improve myself, including my mental health.

“Feeling sad?  Feeling down?  Nothing a good workout and chocolate protein shake can’t fix!!”

Recent events have brought it more clearly into focus.  I have depression.  I’ve probably had it since I was 13.  I usually manage it well enough through healthy coping mechanisms (and let’s face it, sometimes unhealthy ones).  I’m a sensitive person, I think and feel very deeply.  I naturally tend towards melancholy.  Out of all 4 of my siblings and I, I think it is safe to say we all struggle with some degree of depression and anxiety every single day.

There is certainly a genetic component as well as a very real spiritual one.  I do struggle with depression however I do still hear from God, I do still feel a great deal of happiness in my life- because of my relationship with Him and all the gifts he has showered down onto my life.

I can honestly say I don’t think I would have survived my depression without God breaking through into my life.  “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16

With the passing of Chris Cornell I can’t help but reflect on my past and the impact depression has had.  I was only a kid when the grunge movement was big but my older siblings were really into it.  When I got into my teenage years the angst and authenticity of the music really spoke to me.  My favorite band was Soundgarden…and then of course, Audioslave.

Chris Cornell was, like many artists, a sensitive soul that battled his own demons and dealt with depression.  We don’t know for sure if his death was a suicide, but it seems likely.  He likely fought the depression and the darkness the best he could, until he couldn’t.

I’ve gone through major crisis’ in my faith.  When I came to God I knew I had major issues, deep pain in my heart.  I knew I needed healing.  I knew I carried a shame around in my soul that tainted every part of my life.   I sought God with everything, I sought healing.  I prayed, I fasted, I wept…. for years.  Yet I still feel such angst in my soul.  I still wake up everyday and feel the need to prove my worth.  I still fight to keep the depression at bay.

I really don’t like offering up “untidy” blog posts.  I really like to post when I’m pumped up on a spiritual high with God and feel like I can offer inspiration.  Those times are true and genuine but they certainly don’t capture the whole story.

I feel like I want to be a little more real in my writing.  Because, well…there are no “successful Christian makeover!” stories, at least not in the sense that we get so healed and delivered that we live in a sort of spiritual reverie, immune to the flesh nature, with a perfect grin and perfect family until Kingdom come.

It just isn’t reality.

In being thrust into a caretaker care for my son, a lot of the self-medicating (or coping, tomato-tomato!) tactics I’ve used have been really messed with.  The things I use to prop myself up (don’t we all have them?) where suddenly taken or just not enough.  I’ve realized my motivation for serving God is actually very little when I am really hurting and my prayers seem to go nowhere.  “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.” 2 Timothy 2:13

Just today I was feeling down about something when I heard God speak to my heart about how He loves me.  He loves the “hot mess” me.  I remembered a time, when I was in my early 20’s and seriously depressed.  I couldn’t love myself and couldn’t imagine God could either.  I stopped praying.  I remember sitting on the dusty carpet in my bedroom near tears when this song came on the radio… https://youtu.be/Ek4I6BeMQIs

I just knew that song, at that moment, was for Me- from God.  I bawled and bawled.  It was a real moment in my life where his light burst forth into the deep darkness I found myself lost in.

I struggle with wanting to wrap everything up into a neat little Christian bow but I really can’t.  As my 8 year old was asking me why God has allowed him to go through these years of suffering, there really aren’t any easy answers.

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Copper the dog looks sad for Gabe too~

I think in this life the pain is real.  The hurts are real.  Especially the hurt we all carry around in our hearts.  So much of life seems random, chaotic even- but for the moments that the light of God breaks in.  Somehow we survive and come out a little softer, a little stronger.

It’s ok to be hurting.  It’s ok to have questions.  As long as those pangs and hurts ultimately lead us to our Healer, into a deeper relationship with Him, as he slowly unravels the hurts and shines his light into our deep darkness.   And if we take a detour, He will come and rescue us when we are ready.

Dark Tunnel

Today I’ve been thinking about brokenness in life and finding glimpses of light in dark spaces.  Cheery, no?

Life is heavy.  Life is hard.  Sometimes it all, plus the unrelenting pull away from God can all be too much.

I have a child with aspergers, high-functioning autism.  It’s never easy but sometimes it is just so hard.

Another child has eczema an it is a daily struggle to keep it under control.

I have my own health issues- which means I am on a very restricted diet or  I feel awful.

I tend to get sad and withdrawn because of the weight of it all.  So often we bear our burdens alone.  No one can totally understand what we go through.  Or we get platitudes or the dreaded unsolicited advice.

Plus the pressure we feel to act like everything is ‘ok’ when it isn’t.  Suffering is just part of life.  I wish we could just let things be what they are without trying to put a positive spin on it.

But if we are real we risk being judged or having our pain minimized.  Like Job.  We are uncomfortable with suffering so we try to come up with a quick fix, an answer, a reason…when sometimes things are just broken.  Sometimes prayers just go unanswered.

If we can’t be real in our brokenness and honest is our faith even real?  Jesus was the ‘man of sorrows’.  He understands even when no one else does.

“Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne…” Matthew 19:28

I’ve been thinking about that a lot- that there is going to be a great renewal of all things.

Every burden lifted.  Every tear gently wiped away.  Every last broken thing gloriously made right.

In the mean time I pray that my own pain and brokenness makes me a more compassionate, merciful, caring person.

No one has it all together.  We all have private hurts, pain, and burdens.  We all need mercy.  I think pain can be like the surgeon’s knife- cutting out the pride and arrogance and leaving something a little messier and tender and Christ-like in it’s place.

“Lord, all you asked us to do was to believe and follow you.  Help us to do that in spite, or even because of, our circumstances.  Help us to love.  Help us to be beacons of grace in a harsh world.  Help us to be strong until you come to set all things right and make all things new.”

 

 

Depression and Anxiety

I’ve read a couple articles in the past couple days that stood out to me.  Sarah Silverman and ‘Lady Gaga’ have both come forward to talk about lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression.

I get it, I do.  Celebrity or not.  I imagine it might be worse for them- to reach the pinnacle of success and to find yourself more lost than ever.

Personally, anxiety and depression almost took my life.  I know there is only one cure to the ache- Jesus.  We are spirits first and foremost and that part of us longs for more.  We sense we were created for more.  We know there has to be more than this.  Without the light of Jesus we are wandering around in the dark.  And how great that darkness is.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 rays-of-light-shining-throug-dark-c

It isn’t a mental disorder.  It’s sick soul disorder.

We all carry the original design in our D.N.A.  We were created to live in harmony with God and at peace with each other.  Depression and anxiety is the natural affect of being cut off from that.

I get that some people do well on medication.  I’m not knocking that.  But if you take a pill for an ache in your soul it is like putting a bandaid on a deep, gushing wound.  Not gonna cut it.

Jesus is sufficient.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9

Sarah Silverman described her anxiety as a ‘homesickness’ she felt even when she was home.  I think what she feels is homesickness.  I’m praying for her, and for others like her, that they find that problem is an easy one to solve- the answer is Jesus.

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Importance of Community

bekerI am 100% introvert.  Not by choice, by design.  I love people but my natural tendency is towards a ‘lone wolf’ approach to life.  I hate asking for help.  I don’t want to burden anyone.

‘Downward spiral’ sounds a bit intense but I’ve definitely been struggling.  I haven’t gotten much time with God and the voice of the enemy has been so loud and persistent.  The downward pull of life has gotten me adrift.  And then my tendency is to isolate (at least I my head) and that makes me an even easier target.

(me and my good friend, who is always encouraging and blessing people- Becky)

So church this morning was a huge blessing to me.  My pastor had the exact message I needed.  (coincidence?  um no) I went up for the altar call and a woman shared a word from God with me (again, exactly what I needed to hear to gather courage and strength for the battle).  I went in feeling really defeated and left feeling encouraged and loved.

Getting a big hug, literally and figuratively, from the body of Christ is exactly what I needed.  I am so glad that the Kingdom of God is built on love and relationships.  We are a body, a family, all knit and bound together in love.

I am just thankful today for the faithful church.  The people who show up to be the hands and feet (and hugs!) of Christ.  You know who you are!  I love you and appreciate you so much.

Our Only Hope

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/healthy-24-year-old-granted-right-to-die-in-belgium/ar-AAckxLg?ocid=iehp

I remember watching a video clip of a prison in South America that would take and rehabilitate the worst prisoners- the ones that no one else wanted.  The prison was completely Gospel-centered.  A sign over the entrance read, in Spanish- “Jesus Christ Our Only Hope”.

That saying has stuck with me.  Jesus is our only hope.  Nothing else can suffice, nothing else can save.  When every other option fails, when the anti-depressants don’t work, when life is just too much, when you want to go to sleep and not wake up… Jesus Christ is our only hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

We serve the God of HOPE. 

I know what it is like to be horribly depressed.  I know what it is like to be suicidal.  I also know that the Gospel is real and it is possible to trade in sorrow for JOY.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. And even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy…” 1 Peter 1:8

I really believe sorrow, heart ache, and life’s difficulties can be a gift leads us to finding Jesus and everlasting life.

In Godless Europe, specifically Belgium, when people lose hope the best the government/health care system can offer is- the right to die.  People have tried to take God out of the equation and replace him with government, science, psychology, etc.  But the human soul still has this gaping (God-sized) emptiness that refuses to be filled or satisfied with anything but the living God himself.  When we try to fix depression as a mental, physical, or emotional problem we fall short.  We are not animals.  We are spiritual beings that happen to reside in a body.  Spiritual beings that were created for experiencing love and fellowship with our creator.  It makes sense that if we are completely missing the point of our existence that a deep depression would result.

Not only are we spiritual (even the staunchest atheist) but we are eternal beings.  When the body dies the soul leaves and goes to it’s eternal destination.  “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:15  I don’t want to flippant or callous.  The tragedy is that people think their suffering is going to end by choosing ‘the right to die’.  It is beyond tragic.  It is completely unnecessary.

Putting your trust in Jesus does not ‘fix’ all your problems.  But the peace and joy is real.  You can know where you are going after death.  You can know there is nothing to fear.  You can know you are loved. god-of-hope

I see my depression as a parameter around my life, it is a safeguard.  When I start to drift away from God or allow something to come between us, the depression starts creeping back in.  When I am living for Him, in close fellowship, I am being continuously filled with joy.

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11

“Lord Jesus, my prayer is that when people come to the end of themselves that they would find you.  When people find that nothing on Earth can help, let them turn to you.  I pray that you would reveal yourself to those contemplating suicide.  I pray that you would deliver with your mighty out-stretched arm.  I pray for a revival of faith in Europe.  Amen.”

The Quickest Way to Get Depressed

Years ago I had been a believer for about two years and was drowning in depression.  I was talking to my sister about this depression and she point blank asked me if there was sin in my life.  Why, yes, actually.  There was something I was doing that I felt convicted about but was doing anyways.  Because I was depressed.  Because God felt so far away.

It is a vicious cycle.  Life often disappoints.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”  A sick heart, a.k.a. depression, can make us lose sight of the goodness of God and lead us to turn away, fueled by a lack of trust, and a feeling that we have to meet our own needs.  The more we harden our hearts towards God the less we feel his gentle leading and the more lost in depression we get.

Sin hardens the heart.  Hebrews 3:13  Sin acts as a suffocating blanket that smothers our prayers.  Psalm 66:18  Sin acts like a dam that blocks the joy of the Lord and leaves us weak.  Sin keeps us from being the pure vessel that God can use to bring reconciliation, healing, and salvation to others.

My advice- keep short accounts and a clear conscience before God.  Don’t let hopelessness set in.  Take your disappointments to God.  Pray often that God would work in you the willingness to obey, a heart that trusts, and a growing faith.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” Acts 3:19

Any downward spiral can be halted immediately.  “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:7

Unconfessed sin is not, obviously, the only cause of depression.  But it is a biggie.  For me, virtually every time I find myself succumbing to a cloud of depression it is because there is something off in my relationship with God.  Like a kink in a hose.  Locate it, get it straightened out, and the joy and peace bursts forth.

Depression may by a red flag, an invaluable warning.  Don’t treat the symptom.  Address the root.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 apple-on-tree

Remember a tree doesn’t toil to produce fruit.  it just acts in accordance with it’s nature and draws it’s strength from it’s roots.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

“Jesus, helps us to be your pure vessels here.  Help us to keep our hearts soft in responsiveness to your gentle leading.  Enable us to discern and heed your voice.  We ask that you would renew in us the JOY of our salvation.  Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you and fill us with fresh hope.  Amen.”