By Nancy Virden (c)2021
I just read a well-intentioned post by a woman who wanted to encourage people who struggle with depression. Her post is long, and obviously thoughtful, but naive. Her point seems to be that if we would just believe a certain way depression would not exist. This is my answer to her and others who might say the same.
Dear Kind Lady,
All of our emotions stem from how we think. God renews our minds as we study the Bible, listen to wise teachers, and develop our personal relationship with him. Then, as we learn to walk in this newness, joy begins to fill our hearts. This seems to agree with what you are saying.
I doubt that you fail to realize that walking with Christ is not a cookie-cutter type experience. Perhaps the difference between what is mental, emotional, and spiritual in nature may have missed your understanding. Messages like yours, warm as they may be, can seem to imply that if we do not “fix” well and fast, we are somehow spiritual failures.
Proverbs 14:10 says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” We cannot know, let alone decipher another person’s emotional responses. In Psalm 32:8, God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Whether our struggles are physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, or all three and more, growth and healing is a God-led process.
The type of “When God is in your heart, there is true peace and contentment” that some might praise, in my case was, in part, actually denial. Lies and false core beliefs had created filters through which everything ran. How could these be challenged by God’s Word without awareness of the need to address them? When peace and contentment were my goal or obligation, deep issues almost destroyed the person God wanted me to become.
The Lord led me to therapists with the know-how to clear out these filters. It took years of hard work. God-given medication has helped to keep my brain stable so that I can truly and freely serve the perfect heavenly Father who loves me passionately as his beloved. Managing ugly thoughts successfully comes more easily. I do know wondrous joy.
People who teach that if we would only believe right we would not experience depression, do not allow the kind of space God’s gracious patience offers to all of us. I am responsible for every choice I’ve made that has been short of God’s glory, whether done in ignorance or not. I do not need to blame anyone or circumstances. Nevertheless, God knows what I did not receive from others that some take for granted. He has changed my missing ability to know and understand, over time. God is greatly compassionate and meets his children where we are.
Love in Christ’s living grace,
Today’s Helpful Word
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand.
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Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
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