Depression is a problem, but it is not a shame. It’s the outworking of pain, it’s a spirit crying for help, to be noticed, to be seen. There is nothing shameful about recognizing this. There is nothing embarrassing about answering that cry, or noticing the request. Your identity as God’s Beloved doesn’t changed based on your mood, your illness, or your circumstances. Depression doesn’t make you less of a Christian, less loved by God, or less valuable to those around you. Lock that one in, because shame is a close friend of depression and it’s got to go. Some of the bravest people I know are the ones who are in a long battle with depression. Yes, I have been there, I’ve battled this dragon. That’s not what qualifies me to offer this advice, because each of our stories and journeys are unique treasures. The only thing that qualifies me is that I’m looking at the heart of Jesus for what He has to say about depression.
Healing from depression can come as a miracle, in a moment, in an encounter with the Father who loves. But most often it is the slow kind of miracle, the messy ones that stretch out over time and require the brokenness of community, risk, medicine, and many encounters with the Father who loves.
Don’t put a timeline on it
Time isn’t as important as we think it is. Your wholeness is more important than your schedule. God holds your past, present and future all in His hands, and His timing is perfect. If you demand that He fix you before that thing coming up next month, you’re setting yourself up to fail. You’re giving yourself an excuse to give up if He doesn’t give in.
Protect your story
The healing work that God has planned for you is sacred. It’s fragile, because He’s working out His grace in you. He’s telling a story of redemption and hope and love. What you need is 2 or 3 people who will hold that story with grace, who will speak truth and remind you of your true identity. You need a small circle right now, of people you trust. You don’t need to hide from the world, but don’t give everyone a voice to this sacred work. If you throw your pearls to pigs, they will trample them, and you in the process.
Know it’s temporary
I put my back out recently, and it’s probably the most painful thing I’ve experienced. But after the muscle is torn and the joints are popped out of place, the healing begins. Immediately the body starts to work to correct the problem, and all of my efforts go towards encouraging the healing process. The doctor can’t give me a definitive answer of when I’ll feel normal again, I have to trust the process. I have to trust my Father, my medicine, and my healthy choices. Is it still painful? Yes. But it’s healing. The worst is over, and the rest of the pain is a sign that a healing is at work. Every season has an end, and depression is just that – a season.
Be kind to yourself
We have a thousand different moments in every day to choose life or death. Some of them are glaringly obvious, like battling suicidal thoughts. Some are more subtle, like broccoli vs cookies. Now is the time to prioritize life. Make a choice today that you will choose life in every moment tomorrow. Guard your thoughts, and guard your environment. Talk to your doctor. Find a biblical counsellor. People who speak shame & guilt about your depression don’t get a voice in your story at this point. Take a break from social media. Take a risk and go up to ask for prayer. Choose rest, sleep, exercise and nourishing food. Choose to have grace for yourself in heaping amounts. Choose to seek God, even if you’re sure He won’t show up.
Beloved, this is not the end of your story.
You are not a failure.
You are not an embarrassment.
This is not the best it will ever get.
You’re not a lost cause.
You are not alone.
You did not do something to deserve this.
The world would not be a better place without you.
It is not impossible to come back from this.
There is hope. Choose life, Beloved.
“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”