If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. From face-to-face to messages sent to me.
“Stop giving your depression power by admitting you have it. The more you talk about it, the more power it has over you.”
As a pastor of a larger congregation, I recognize the gravity of my influence. With my title, my church, and my social media following, whether I like it or not, people put “weight” to my opinions. Weekly (or even daily), I am armed with an open mic and a platform to speak from. I do not take what I have been given lightly nor will I take it for granted. It’s within this mindset that I find myself heading the words of Paul who said, “…you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 NLT)
And it’s my platform that people seem the most concerned about. Am I glamorizing depression? Do I seem to be holding the issue at high esteem?
But I find it fascinating that those that combat me on vocalizing my emotional challenges have zero issue me use my “clout” to call out sin (or sinners), side toward a political agenda (as long as its theirs), or champion a cause that is close to their heart. But to be so open with something like emotional and mental challenges? No.
Honestly, it astounds me.
People can be more comfortable having me rail on a person or a group of people than give hope to those who can’t sense it. Politically charged blogs and statements are more welcomed than giving a moment of hope to someone who feels like they are alone and abandoned by everyone (including God). Inflicting painful attacks are more welcomed than uplifting someone’s soul.
Why don’t these comments deter me from speaking to the subject? Because for every 1 ignorant statement, there are 10 (no exaggeration) messages from those thankful someone is willing to talk openly about their dark journey. Every bold and corrective opinion to discourage me is countered by a crowd of sincere, unpretentious people desiring hope.
Why do I talk about it? It’s the simple difference between the spotlight and the Light.
When I share, it’s never for a spotlight but to bring the issue into the Light (and yes, the “L” is capitalized for a reason). To give it a spotlight is to make it center stage and the star of the story. But Jesus is the Light. And to bring something into the Light is to take it out of darkness, expose it, and bring it under His authority.
I share from the shadows to invite His Light in the places of my despair (Psalm 42).
I speak Light into the darkness to call forth order out of my chaos (Genesis 1).
I meditate upon the Light when my thoughts can only ponder upon the gloom Psalm 119).
I call upon the Light went I feel lost in obscurity (Psalm 138).
You see, there’s a difference between bringing something into the Light (of Christ) and giving it the “spotlight” in my life. I can highlight a struggle without it becoming my identity. I can bring awareness to the battle without relinquishing my victory. I can identify what I face without allowing it to be the star of my show.
Your depression may have a voice, but it doesn’t call the shots. The valley of your despair may be as cyclical as the seasons but you don’t have to sit back as a hopeless casualty. Keep the spotlight of your faith upon Jesus and refuse to surrender its focus. And when your feelings and emotions are in turmoil, allow His heart for you and the hope He gives be a beacon of hope on the shores of your faith faith. When you can’t see because of the shadows, I remember what you learned in the Light.
Hope has a name. And His name is Jesus.
And in the face of inner darkness, I say, “let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).