March 10, 2014

Doors Closed, Doors Open by Sharon Espeseth

If we plan to take seriously God's great commission to go and make disciples of all nations, he isn't asking us to tiptoe. To get the whole message on how bravely he wants us to act, read the 10th Chapter of Matthew. As well as healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing leprosy, and driving out demons, the disciples were asked to preach that the kingdom of heaven is near.

Today, Jesus asks us to preach this same message. He told his disciples, and he still tells us today, not to mince words and not to worry about what we will say. Jesus still reminds us that it will not be us speaking, but the Spirit of our Father speaking through us. In this same talk with his apostles, Jesus reminds us, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

Gratitude for my family
Jesus knew that once the apple had been eaten in the Garden of Eden, the world had changed forever. God knows that storms will come, trees will fall, and branches will be broken. When faced with a mess like that, our first inclination would be, at least, to clean up the front yard. Unfortunately, when we're dealing with people, illness, misfortune and sin, the clean up isn't that easy. We also need to do our part to bring the kingdom of God to more than our own little circle of family and friends.

Since we all live outside the security and peace of Eden, misfortune, and illness do surround us. We cannot outrun or hide from the ill effects of evil. The closer it comes, the more we want to hide either the facts or ourselves in the proverbial closet.

Is there any social network in real or virtual life that can escape mental illness, divorce, sexual immorality, failing grades, cratered careers, unwed motherhood, abortion, homosexuality, imprisonment, any kind of abuse, suicide, cancer, addictions. . . ?" Well, you get the idea. If we have none of this list to deal with, we are either extremely blessed or we are avoiding the truth. When circumstances deemed to be beneath our family dignity occur, what do we do? Turn a blind eye? Turn off our computers? Rip pages out of our journals?

I don't think so. These matters are part of life and God intends us to grapple with and grow from the nitty-gritty of daily living. He has also promised to be with us through our trials and temptations. Today the closets are squeaking open and formerly taboo topics start tumbling out. We do have the responsibility to decide if and how such matters are to be handled. Some of these subjects are, as young people say, TMI (Too Much Information), especially for Facebook, coffee chats, dinner or idle gossip. Still these issues may need a platform.

For instance, we would like our families and ourselves to be spared from mental health concerns. Statistics for 2011 suggest otherwise. "In any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem." (CAMH: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health website)

Nature and exercise--good for all!
For me, the above revelation becomes more than a statistic. In the mid-nineties and again about ten years later, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. During each episode of this illness, my doctor and counselling psychologist reminded me that stress over a long time puts the chemicals in my brain out of whack. Through both major bouts, I needed to slow down, stop work and take meds. My prescription included rest, prayer, reading appropriate material, exercise, eating well, and relying on faith, family and friends.

To this regimen, I added writing, which included sorting things out, expressing gratitude and praying. I determined to figure out, with God's help and counselling, why I was so driven, why I set unreasonable standards for myself, why I as a Christian with my hope in Christ could become depressed, and what I could do to prevent further burnout and illness. For one thing, I need to practice "self-care" and learn to know my own limitations. I need God's guidance in choosing when to say "Yes" or "No" to requests for my time and resources. I am still a work in progress.

I am concerned when I see other people who take on too much responsibility and and who do too much. I do feel God telling me to be more open about my battle with depression so that I may promote prevention, healing and hope to others. It is time for me, with God's help, to push this closet door further ajar.

Which doors, Lord, would you have me open?
Prayer: Lord, help us to submit to your will when deciding how to use each day. Bless our efforts. Amen


  1. Somebody has to begin the discussion. Good for you, Sharon for stepping up to the plate. A thought-provoking post.

  2. Anonymous3:34 pm GMT-7

    Real life happenings around our house.

    Thanks for your honesty and helpful blog.

  3. Thanks for your comments, ladies. I'm hoping that my opening up might be a comfort to some just knowing others have walked this "lonesome valley." Yes, depressions, and I'm sure other mental illness, can feel like a lonesome place, even though, at the time, I could feel God working in my life and I could appreciate friends, family and teaching colleagues who stood by me.

  4. Sharon, it would seem that sometimes the controversy is internal. May our Lord bless you richly for sharing honestly. I hope you'll share more about your journey as you learned to find stability. It's one thing to heal from depression. It's another to remain in that state. You have in important message to share.

  5. Thanks for challenging me with that thought, Bobbi, of sharing what I've learned about dealing with depression. Yes, for me, healing from depression has been a growth experience. I was able to go back to teaching and have four successful years of teaching and writing course material at Alberta Distance Learning Centre before retiring from education.

    With God's help, I do plan to write more about mental health.

  6. So much wisdom in one article! I so appreciate you writing this, Sharon. Sometimes I feel like I'm on the edge of anxiety and depression for weeks at a time, and habitually too busy, no matter how hard I try not to be. The solution to slow down and take care of ourselves seems so simple, but it almost seems like an addiction these days for so many of us to be overdoing it. Bless your heart for sharing your personal struggles and encouraging us!

  7. Thanks for your comments, Ramona, as they do encourage me to divulge more of what is behind the door, more of what I've learned, more of how God is protecting me.

  8. Thank you for your honesty, Sharon. I have discovered that stress triggers depression in me as well. Like you said, it is so difficult to say "No' to everything streaming into our lives, but we need to take care of ourselves so that we can care for others. It's good to know that we are all a family in Christ and can support each other through these times.



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