From the heart of a depressed pastor…

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I’ll say it up front: I’m a pastor.  I deal with depression.  

From the beginning of this blog I’ll say this: There is no way I can compare what I deal with to the likes of what others or yourself may go through.  But it’s what I personally face from time to time.  If you are dealing with depression, get help NOW.  

I can’t say that it’s been a recent thing.  I’ve dealt with it as long as I can remember.  For years (since I was a teen), I didn’t know who I could tell or if I had the freedom to tell anyone.  I was fearful of what people would think.  I thought people in the youth group would judge me.  I thought if I told my parents I would disappoint them. Depression is meant to isolate.  And for me, it succeeded at its job.   

My wife and kids have seen it in me.  My staff notices it.  It is hard to cover up. It’s not fun nor would I wish it upon anyone. 

Depression sucks (if you don’t like the word “sucks”…then “Depression displeases me immensely”). 

I’m in shock at the news of Robin William’s death.  In fact, my family can’t stop talking about it.  In a summer where my kids and I are going through movies from my past, we’ve found ourselves watching several of Robin’s movies. They love what he brings to the characters he portrays.  There are very few people who come along each generation that can entertain like Robin can.  

robin

Yet behind his humor was a man in pain.  Thus is the life of someone who deals with depression.  

When I fight depression, I feel alone.  I’m miserable.  Life seems joyless.  I cease to care about the little things. Anne will tell you that I pull away from everything.  I don’t want to talk or do anything.  I become a super-introvert and want to “hole-up” in the house away from people.  Yet when it’s time to rise to the occasion, the “game-face” gets put on and I push through as best as I can.

Why do I type this? Because you need a sneak-peak into my “funk” that too many people deal with. Even though my depression is mild in comparison to so many others, it has been only because of the Lord and the church that I’ve found help and healing. I fight through tears typing this when I think of so many intercessors and encouragers that have surrounded me in my darkest of days.  If you know of anyone dealing with depression…if you know anyone trying to cope with this darkness, you can be the changing agent in their life.  Please do not be silent.  Read up.  Recognize it.  Step up.  

A friend spoke into my darkness years ago with a specific scripture.  

Psalm 77:2-6 (MSG) I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;  my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal. When friends said, “Everything will turn out all right,” I didn’t believe a word they said. I remember God—and shake my head. I bow my head—then wring my hands.

I’m awake all night—not a wink of sleep; I can’t even say what’s bothering me.
I go over the days one by one, I ponder the years gone by.
I strum my lute all through the night, wondering how to get my life together.

The words of Asaph rung out to me.  I wasn’t alone.  Even great men of God dealt with depression.  Listen to what he says: 

v. 11-15 Once again I’ll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.

O God! Your way is holy! No god is great like God!
You’re the God who makes things happen; you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble, rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.

What has constantly pulled me out of my darkest days is what pulled Asaph out.  He rehearsed everything he knew of the Lord.  He reminded himself of who God is and who he is in the Lord.  The more I put my focus and the actions of my life upon who He is and who I am in Him, the more healing poured into my life. I understood that everything I do and think needs to be wrapped in the identity I found in Christ.   It’s amazing that from a simple chapter in Psalms that the Holy Spirit has helped illuminate my heart and my mind.  To this day, He continues to bring me hope and peace. 

Am I completely through it? Not yet.  I’d love to say “yes” but that’d be a lie.  I still face it but not as frequently.

For you dealing with this darkness: don’t give up hope.  Don’t let the memories and regrets be greater than the dreams that God has in store for you.  My peace has only come thought the saving presence of Christ who scripture calls, the Prince of Peace.  

For those who don’t deal with it: I praise God for men and women who have the “guts” to step up, see what I’m going though, and refuse to simply pass by.   Don’t turn a blind eye.  Reach out.  You don’t even need to say anything wise or pithy.  Offer to sit.  Offer to pray.  Your very presence as a representation of Christ’s presence, many times, is enough.  

The more we bring depression into the light, the less people will feel they have to live in darkness.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12

I know it’s just a blog, but if it helps just one…

…if it give hope to just one…

…if it motivates just one to reach out…

…if it saves just one…

…it’s worth it.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

41 comments

  • Thanks Dave, Iv’e had my share too. I keep looking up, changed some things, and have not struggled recently, but I know it’s sometimes right there if I don’t stay self-aware.

  • You are brave, you bless me with your willingness to be vulnerable and honest. You look back and remember God’s faithfulness when it’s too hard to look ahead. Thank you for your testimony. God will bless that. He already is, has, and will continue.

  • Very insightful Pastor Dave. It’s amazing how many people struggle with depression on a daily basis and it’s very sad the tragedy that Robin Williams and his family has suffered as a result of his ongoing battle with it. Hopefully others will learn from his death and seek help when they have feelings of desperation and hopelessness. Society needs to figure out what more needs to be done in order to prevent these tragedies from continuing to happen.

  • Dave,

    I hear you; and have been down the dark road of depression too. I am so grateful that in the darkest hour of my life Christ stepped in and rescued me from the wiles of the enemy. I tell people that I am grateful for the experience knowing that what the enemy meant for evil, the Lord has used for good. Your testimony is a prime example of the awesome power the Lord truly has over Satan, and the wonderful ways that he uses an individual’s “ugly” life experiences to be a beautiful blessing to his children. Thanks for sharing your heart!

  • Thank you for sharing this! I truly believe that we need to lift those who deal with depression up in prayer and not ignore it.

  • I went thru a very deep depression just after high school. The psalms were my life line. Thanks for sharing.

  • Depression is definitely a real struggle. It is for me. You’re such an awesome pastor and person. I love that you’re so real and willing to share things to help others. I always read your blog and it’s really helpful. Coming from a rough childhood, and having never been to church before, I’m so thankful God brought me to Kfirst. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you so much for writing. I lost a son who took his life and I have depression now. Thanks to God I am still here and enjoying my life most of the time. God Bless you.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. It must’ve been a heartbreaking experience not just lose him but to also deal with depression. I struggled for years asking for help. Please don’t repeat my mistake.

  • Thanks David! I will be sharing this blog post. I myself have had times of Great Depression. I thank The Lord for His help and for loved ones who have helped in those times.

  • Dave, thanks for being transparent and calling the Body to action. May God continue to do a great work through you and your ministry.

  • Thanks for your courage in speaking out. People sometimes need to be reminded that “the rain falls on the sinner and saints alike”. We are not exempt. But we do have Someone who walks beside us.

    • Totally agree. People (Christians) don’t like to admit it but we deal with so much more than we’re willing to let on.

  • Thank you for sharing your struggle with depression. I too am in the darkness of depression. Some days I can shake it and other days I cannot. You have encouraged me, as several others have, to seek the prince of peace in my darkest days.

  • You should write a book about this….you could help so many people for years down the road. We need more people to stand up and be a light in the darkness for those how have lost their way. You have an honest and clear way of writing that will make a difference in so many lives….

  • The only way we can be totally free from depression is by getting filled with spirit of God on a daily basis. The days that I don’t walk in the leading of the Spirit, I can feel the attack of the devil more and thus depression. We need to learn to walk in the Spirit to fight this evil disease.

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