October 4, 2016
I was downright ugly to my family this morning. I kept barking at the kids—I felt so impatient and critical, like a dark cloud looming over everyone. I feel so broken, restless, and irritable. I just can’t do my life anymore. Your Word says that I can do all things through You, but I don’t believe it. I’m weary, exhausted, and alone.”
I wrote this snippet in my prayer journal during a dark season of my life when one thing after another didn’t go as I had planned. Sadly, though I loved the Lord dearly, for the first 15 years of my relationship with Him, I sat on the throne of my heart, running the show, and asking God to help me do my life in ways I saw fit.
Gradually, God stripped what power I thought I had in my life at that time right out from under my fingertips, and I was mad and disappointed. Further, a creeping depression that I could not control was the final straw. My stubborn heart, blanketed in pride, set out on a collision course straight toward Truth. I had no idea then that beauty could arise from those ashes of despair. God gave me a voice to share my struggles with you, and I pray that you, too, might find His overwhelming love and relentless Truth especially if you
- are at wit’s end these days and feel hopeless
- often lose patience with your family members
- seem to have a frown etched on your face
- cannot figure out the purpose from your seasons of pain
- lack peace and joy
- question your identity as a child of God
If we were meeting in person and you could relate to these questions, I’d be giving you a big bear hug about now. You would glance at my eyes and see them brimming with tears. At my lowest point, my dear mentor challenged me to learn what it meant to “take every thought captive” (2 Cor. 10:5). A lightbulb went on for me when I realized that if my thoughts got me into a depression, then it could be my thoughts that could get me out. In other words, God helped me to think my way out of the darkness, and He can do the same for you!
Fall to your knees.
The battle to overcome acute depression is best fought on your knees in humble prayer. Relinquish control of your life. Confess and repent from any lies you believe about your situation, about God, and about yourself.
Invite the Lord to “search you and know your heart, to test you and know your anxious thoughts, to see if there is any offensive way in you, and to lead you in the way everlasting” (from Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).
If you don’t trust God in any particular way or you don’t truly believe His Word, admit it. Call to God to help you with areas of unbelief just as the father did when speaking to Jesus in Mark 9:24 (NIV): “’I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”
Embrace a healthier vocabulary.
Sometimes the lies that you may be believing are sneaky and culturally imposed thoughts like “You are enough.” To overcome them, train your brain to think in new ways–you may be surprised at how much relief and energy these godly replacement thoughts generate.
- I am not enough. God is. God is enough for me. He is enough for my husband. He is enough for my children and grandchildren. The grace of Jesus is sufficient for me in all scenarios (2 Cor. 12:9).
- I don’t have to be strong. God’s right arm upholds me (Isa. 41:10).
- I don’t have what it takes. My Father does (Eph. 3:20).
- I don’t have to figure things out. God is in charge. He’s my Way Maker (Isa. 43:15-16).
- I don’t have to carry this load alone. I am yoked to Christ. (Mat. 11:30).
Your thoughts matter. What you speak to yourself internally or aloud exposes your fears, doubts, and unbelief. Take good notes on what you’re ruminating about most. Reframe your words with a perspective that puts God in the spotlight, not yourself.
Recognize that your feelings are sign posts.
Often your emotions point to deep, godly longings housed in your heart.
For example, if you feel sad you’ve alienated yourself from your kids, this indicates just how much you value these relationships and desire to have vibrant, healthy connections with your loved ones.
When you feel disgusted with yourself that you lost your temper and verbally snapped at them, this means you value demonstrating patience and grace when you’re pressed hard.
Acknowledge your emotions, but don’t allow them to characterize you or guide your behavior. Avoid making sweeping conclusions based on your feelings. Make a habit of believing God’s Truth instead.
Show compassion toward yourself.
You may be physically exhausted and overwhelmed with caring for others which only magnifies your depression. Perhaps you need to find easy ways to take better care of yourself.
Try to do simple things daily like drink plenty of water, consume healthy and whole foods, take quick walks outdoors, and find time to rest while listening to praise and worship music.
Choose one Bible verse to meditate on each day.
Make a list of who you are in the eyes of God and read this aloud every morning. Start with
- “I am worthy of God’s love,”
- “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” or
- “I’m a daughter of the King–He sees me and hears me.”
Over the coming days and weeks, may God infuse His Truth into your prayers, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behavior. May there come a moment when you, too, turn the corner, take His hand, and walk into the light of His life-giving love. May gratitude grip your heart and thankfulness to God overwhelm your soul. You’ve been made new. You’ve been transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2).