|Sorrowing Old Man by Vincent van Gogh|
Reading God's Word
Our omniscient God has always known life would be challenging for his people. He knew we would push ourselves to keep several balls in the air at once. He knew there would be conflict, death, and disease. He knew we would get weary, overwhelmed, and discouraged--even depressed.
That's why God filled his Word with interesting characters, who would do anything and everything under the sun, and consequently would feel every emotion known to humankind. Knowing we would need lots of help, God provided life examples, instructions, and prayers. Above all, he sent Jesus to save us from our sins and show us how to live. Before ascending into heaven, Jesus assured his followers that the Holy Spirit would come to guide us on our journey.
As Christians, many of us look to the Psalms to help us deal with a whole gamut of emotions. For this blog, I recently reread an article about the Psalms by Sr. Louise Zundich published in the Western Catholic Reporter several years ago. Sr. Louise says of the Psalms, "They depict fundamental attitudes toward God and life that are valid at all times," and she lists some of them: "self-awareness of one's weakness and need of healing and strength." She talks about "trust and hope in God, God's care and protection, praise and thanksgiving in response to God's goodness, celebration and joy." When I feel discouraged, I read and pray the Shepherd's Psalm.
My writings may not be as permanent or powerful as the Bible writings. If I can, however, help one person put her depression or other mental illness in perspective, I must write. If I can inspire anyone or make a person love, laugh, sing, or dance, there is a reason for my writing.
Paul in his letters to the various churches wrote honestly and from the heart about his faith. In 2 Corinthians Chapter 12, Paul says, ". . . So I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me (Paul) down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees." While Paul was down on his knees praying, it was impossible for him to be "walking around high and mighty!"
Paul admits that he didn't originally consider this "handicap" a gift. He had begged God three times to remove it. After three begging sessions, God told Paul,
"My grace is enough, it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness."
Like Paul, I would like to "quit focusing" on depression as a drawback, and begin appreciating it as a gift. When I have a relapse into depression, I do write in my journal more and much of that writing becomes prayer. Paul concludes by saying, "And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."
For my writing, I would like to say, "The Lord has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary." My experience with depression, my reading on this topic, and counselling sessions do mean that I know more about this illness all the time. InScriber Marnie Pohl on Facebook quoted Christine Caine who says, "Sometimes when you're in a dark place you think you've been buried, but actually you've been planted." Have I been planted here to write words that would encourage others?
We can do much more than reading and writing to maintain our mental health. Physical exercise, healthy eating, doing outdoor activities, music, singing, socializing, being creative, taking time to do things we enjoy--all of these help a person stay mentally fit.
|Spending Time with Our Grandkids--Something I Love Doing|
The field of psychiatry and the knowledge of mental disorders continues to expand. There is no shame in admitting you are having problems. This is an illness. If you don't know where to go for help, start with your family doctor.
As for my experience with depression, I think that through this weakness I have become stronger in my faith, more positive in my relations with others, and wiser when I go to God for guidance.