Mind the Gap – Depression Doesn’t Need Distance

I’ll start this off as I have my previous blogs on the subject: My name is David. And I’m a pastor who deals with bouts of depression.

I don’t specialized in the medical or psychological field, but as one who fights a personal battle while refusing to let others stand alone in theirs. My depression is considerably lower than others and happens, perhaps, less frequent as yours. I will not compare my pain to yours but would implore you from the beginning of this post:

You are not alone.
You have hope.
You can get help.

Back in 2005, my wife and I found ourselves in England with 25 students working in a local church Peterborough. Of all of the experiences of the trip, one phrase we heard there always comes to mind when I think of England: please mind the gap. If you take the London metro, you’ll hear it over and over. It’s the warning to pay attention to the space between the platform and the train. The announcement isn’t about falling into a hole (gap) as much as it’s trying to keep you from tripping into (or out of) the metro because of a few inches of a “gap.”

Luke 4 has, perhaps, one of my favorite stories about Jesus. He is in a crowd of people (which wasn’t out of the norm). Unless he purposefully pulled away from the crowds, they were always around him pressing against him.

And it was here that a woman who’d been isolated in her physical, mental, and emotional struggles pushed through the crowd to reach him and perhaps be healed. What is out of the “norm” was Jesus response. Why? It seems so odd based off his surroundings.

Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me. Luke 8:45-46

Most people who approach me to ask questions about my depression are those who don’t battle with it. Honestly, it’s encouraging. And the most asked question is this, “What does it feel like?” Before you think I’m going to talk specifically about the woman the story, you may need to step back and see something else in this very familiar biblical story.

Luke 8:45-46 gives you that glimpse into that world of deep despair. And it’s not necessarily what the woman was going through but what Jesus experienced.

I’m not advocating that Jesus was or battled with depression. But it’s the situation that paints a graphic picture of what those of us experience when the “funk” comes our way. Luke 8, tells us that his question of “who touched me” confused his disciples. In the midst of a crowd that was “pressing up against” him, how could he NOT notice them? How did he miss all the people around him?

Depression is the experience of complete loneliness while being surrounded by a mass of people. We can be in a stadium of people and yet, not detect any connection for which anything of relational or emotional substance is “transferred.” I’ve heard it said to me, “how can you feel that way, you are surrounded by people all the time.” But again, there’s a difference between proximity and intimacy. Being around someone (proximity) doesn’t equal meaningful contact (intimacy) with them.

So then the next question comes up, “How can I help someone in depression?” The answer comes from the same portion of scripture. “Someone deliberately touched me.

I recognize the word “touch” in our culture is a very sensitive word. Unfortunately, “touch” has been abused and taken to massive extremes. Research tells us we need 8-10 meaningful touches a day to be healthy.  It proves that the presence of a crowd doesn’t equate to meaningful connection.

We need to “deliberately” reach out. A hand on the shoulder. A hug. A handshake. Don’t even write off the awkward “hi-five.” Intentional touches are intimate interactions.

Yet don’t assume “touch” is limited to the physical (which is critically necessary). There are simple and effective “touches” that should be done that may not touch the skin but touch the soul.

A timely phone call.
Sitting down for a cup of good coffee.
A note sent via snail mail.
A thoughtful gift.

These are the simple things to cross the “gap” that depression creates in the mind. That gap that we think separates us from everyone else and feeling deep loneliness.

The friend or loved one you know who’s battling with this terrible condition doesn’t need you to “mind the gap;” he/she needs you to deliberately reach out and be a bridge over it. I know how those of us act and/or come off when we are in this mode. It would seem we want to push people away or we just “need to be alone.” But there’s a difference between “needing some space” and isolating ourselves. Help us know you’re there. Be available to us. Be patient with us.

What is powerful is amidst all of the people around Jesus in Luke 8, one deliberate touch caused something powerful to be transferred. Like I said, Jesus wasn’t battling with depression, but I’m willing to bet the woman did. To study this passage, you know the condition of isolation she lived in physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Yet a touch transferred healing, hope, mercy, peace, and love.

If you are dealing with depression, if you are in a place of inner turmoil, don’t stop reaching out. I know you’re tired. You are not alone. You have hope. You can get help. And deliberately reaching out puts you in position for healing.

If know you know someone, who is dealing with this, please don’t mind the gap. Depression doesn’t need distance. Reach out and transfer faith, hope, and love into them. Be the community they cannot detect.

If you find yourself in a place where you need someone to talk to, reach out. Don’t do this on your own. Whether it’s to your pastor, a counselor, a trusted friend, or to Anthem of Hope , know that you are not alone in this. If anything, let this blog be the first hand to reach out to you.

I love you. I’m praying for you today. There are those around you that can help.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Light into the Darkness: Journaling Through a Depressed Heart

Sitting early this morning in the coffee shop, I had just finished reading John 15:26-27. I sat in stillness at the word Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit jumped off the page.

The Advocate, or Comforter.

In scripture, the Psalmist calls this “selah” (stop, pause, think). And in the midst of meditating on the words of my Savior, the lyrics in my ear buds caught my attention. In Cory Asbury‘s new album “Reckless Love,” his song, “Water and Dust” spoke these words,

And when everything is falling apart, don’t lose heart.

Between what I just read and the words being sung in my ear, I set my pen to my journal to articulate what this moment was speaking to me. The words Advocate or Comforter have always been the reminder of Who has been my rescue and redemption during my bouts of depression. When I cannot see where help will come from, I look for someone to be my Advocate. When I cannot sense hope, I long for someone to be a Comforter.

I don’t know where I’d be without the Lord. Knowing that He is with me, even when I can’t detect Him with my senses, has been a huge comfort to me.

Journaling has been a place to process and express for me. It’s a safe place to work through what I’m pondering inside. I find it’s much healthier than throwing out a Facebook status empowering others to speak into my unprocessed thought while exposing my vulnerability to some that may not be equipped to help. So with ink and paper, a started scratching out a few thoughts.

From there, I began to thumb through my journal. It took me back to October when I shared with out congregation some of my journal thoughts combined with the song, “Let there be light.” Why that song? Because during a dark moment, it was my ongoing prayer to God,

Lord, would you speak “let there be light” in me.”

So today, I thought I’d share those journal thoughts from that dark moment when the Comforter was not just pulling me through a tough season but was working someone deeper in me.

Lord, would you speak “let there be light” in me.”

It’s the prayer of everyone who’s been hurt by disappointment
When life hits and gave us way more than expected
It’s the cry of the overwhelmed heart; the scream of a tired soul
The aching of desperation; fallen deeper into a bottomless hole
But you understand my darkness, you get the struggle of my inside
So I lift up my eyes asking you to hear my cry
You hover over my chaos ready to create with just one word
Speak Holy Spirit; I need hope in my hurt

Lord would you speak…

It’s the prayer of everyone who feels forgotten
When the devil has convinced them that they’re no longer wanted
When he’s blinded their eyes from seeing the hope of light
When their strength is drained and unable to get in the fight
I‘ve had victory on the mountain, but the valley is nothing but distress.
Lord it’s you I need. I need some hope in my darkness
I call out the only One who can reach into an unreachable place
I know I can find peace if I could just find your face

Lord I need you to speak…

To every person who thought that nobody cares
To every tired soul, bearing weights to heavy to bear
To those longing to knock but cannot find the door
To those who seek a way out and cannot take any more
Lift up your face, look beyond the valley
The sun may have set behind you but it’s not your finale
There’s a God who creates out of the depths of your chaos
Lift up your head, the Son rises to call us

“Let there be light…”

He is Immanuel; God with us. Not God “gonna be with me” or “was with me.” He is God with you. Right now. Right where you are at. And darkness cannot hide you from Him.

To those who find themselves in darkness. Proclaim what you know to be true!

You are not alone. Darkness cannot hide you from God.
You have hope. Darkness cannot stop His hand.
You can get help. Darkness cannot keep you from His rescue. There are people who are reaching out even when you cannot see or sense it.

If you find yourself in a place where you need someone to talk to, reach out. Don’t do this on your own. Whether it’s to your pastor, a counselor, a trusted friend, or to Anthem of Hope , know that you are not alone in this AND the darkness CANNOT hide you from the presence of God and His outstretched hand.

I love you. I’m praying for you today. There are those around you that can help.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Reflections from a Depressed Pastor: 2 Thoughts about Depression

I’ll start this off as I have my previous blogs on the subject: My name is David. And I’m a pastor who deals with bouts of depression.

I don’t write as one who is specialized in the medical or psychological field, but as one who fights a personal battle while refusing to let others stand alone in theirs. My depression is considerably lower than others, and happens perhaps, less frequent as yours. I will not compare my pain to yours but would implore you from the beginning of this post:

You are not alone.
You have hope.
You can get help.

(Click below for previous blogs on depression)


Sorting through the tangled mess of my emotions, I’m trying to make sense of the news of another lost life due to suicide.  If you know me, I’ve never had a “flippant” attitude toward the issue. But today’s news has impacts me in a different way as it hits a bit closer to home. The man who took his life was a pastor. Today is another reminder that depression doesn’t discriminate based upon gender, economical background, nationality, nor title.

I am shaken to my core. My heart is broken for his family. I’m sure there are those in his community who’ll say things like, “How can that happen to a pastor?” or “Why didn’t he ask for help?” They are the same questions people ask of anyone who has taken their life.

I get it. As a human being who deals with these dark seasons, what I have learned, in the face of the shadow cast over my soul is to lean upon something more stable than my emotions. When my feels are blowing like a dust storm, and I cannot see where to go, the Word of God is where I turn. And today I look to Psalm 139.

“…but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.” Psalm 139:12

These words have become both an explanation and proclamation today.

The Explanation
The Psalmist doesn’t ignore the darkness. In fact, he is willing to recognize it’s there. And that, in and of itself, is a huge deal.

“…but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.” Psalm 139:12

There may be no greater description of what it feels like to go through depression.

Darkness. Simple darkness.

Those who have never been through depression cannot understand the “feeling” of darkness. I’ve described it to people this way: Have you seen a dark room with one light shining on one chair? Now imagine a room where the entire room is lit, but in the middle of the room, one chair is shrouded in darkness. That’s what it feels like. To sit in a dark place while knowing other people are in the light but you can’t see or sense it. Internally, you’re asking yourself, “Why can’t I see (the light, the hope) what other people see? Why can’t I feel (the light, the hope) what other people feel?”

My blogs are not to highlight or glorify the darkness; they are there to expose it. Why?  Ignoring the darkness does nothing but root even deeper in our lives. Speaking about it, recognizing it, and/or being real about it doesn’t give power to it but reveals it so it can be dealt with. The only way to deal with darkness is not to avoid it but to expose it with the light. 

If that is you, you are not alone. As we say so often here at Kfirst, “It’s okay to not be okay. But it’s not okay to stay that way.” You can’t reject depression but you can reject its authority over your life. I get what you face and what you’re going through. But darkness doesn’t go away on its own. It is quenched by light. Which leads me to…

The Proclamation
The context of the entirety of Psalm 139 is to highlight the omnipresence of God (God is everywhere at all times).  And what I love about this psalm is how it connects the presence of God to “dark” moments and/or seasons. 

“…but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.” Psalm 139:12

Did you pick that up? I may “feel” hidden, but darkness cannot hide me from God.

What does that speak to me as a human (and as a pastor) who fights depression? God doesn’t wait for us to come out of our darkness; He draws near to us in the midst of it. We are not despised by God because of our condition; His presence finds us and meets us in it.

When your feelings are in turmoil, turn to the truth. Why? Truth trumps feelings. What is the truth? Look at the next two verses of this psalm,

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14

When you find your emotions telling you one story, get the real story. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Proclaim what the darkness is trying to hide. God is with you. God wouldn’t have “fearfully and wonderfully made” you if He didn’t have a destiny in store for you. Bring the truth of that into every moment of despair. Remember this: God’s nearness is not predicated on your 5 senses. You may not feel him, but that doesn’t dictate His location.

He is Immanuel; God with us. Not God “gonna be with me” or “was with me.” He is God with you. Right now. Right where you are at. And darkness cannot hide you from Him.

To those who find themselves in darkness. Proclaim what you know to be true!

You are not alone. Darkness cannot hide you from God.
You have hope. Darkness cannot stop His hand.
You can get help. Darkness cannot keep you from His rescue. There are people who are reaching out even when you cannot see or sense it.

I love the ministry of Anthem of Hope. It’s an amazing non-profit organization dedicated to illuminating hope for those battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide and addiction. Click on the link and get access to hope NOW.

If you find yourself in a place where you need someone to talk to, reach out. Don’t do this on your own. Whether it’s to your pastor, a counselor, a trusted friend, or to Anthem of Hope , know that you are not alone in this AND the darkness CANNOT hide you from the presence of God and His outstretched hand.

I love you. I’m praying for you today. There are those around you that can help.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “In the Shadow of the Mountain”

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday we continued our series on Elijah entitled, “Whirlwind.” In week 5, we looked at the next part of Elijah’s story as we see him finding himself fighting massive discouragement. It’s something we are all susceptible to.

The we cannot help what comes our way, we can make sure that we are not positioning ourselves for discouragement. Elijah made himself vulnerable by

  1. Fatigue.
    • Between traveling from Mount Carmel to running from Jezebel, Elijah was spent physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
  2. Forsaking community.
    • Scripture notes that he “left his servant behind.” Isolation makes you vulnerable.
  3. Fixating on the negative.
    • Negative thoughts will put your future on hold.
  4. Forgetting God. 
    • He completely disconnected what God had been doing by getting so tunnel-visioned on the present.

How does God respond? By…

  1. God gives the gift of sabbath.
    • Sabbath was meant to develop trust and margin (rest, relationship, and recreation) in our lives.
  2. God replaces lies with His truth.
    • He helps confront the lies we believe with His truth.
  3. God speaks in the still, small voice.
    • If we’ll quiet ourselves, we’ll realize He is always speaking.
  4. God gives us something to do.
    • Go back and do what God called you to do, and watch as He brings life back out of you.

This week, not only monitor the things that make you vulnerable to discouragement, but look at those around you. Perhaps, not only can you find a time of “refreshing,” but perhaps God will use you to bring it to someone else.

Here’s the words from my journal reading yesterday with the link at the end for the song we did:

It’s the prayer of everyone who’s been hurt by disappointment
When life hits and gave us way more than expected
It’s the cry of the overwhelmed heart; the scream of a tired soul
The aching of desperation; fallen deeper into a bottomless hole
But you understand our darkness, you get the struggle of our inside
So we lift up our eyes asking you to hear our cry
You hover over our chaos ready to create with just one word
Speak Holy Spirit; I need hope in my hurt
It’s the prayer of everyone who feels forgotten
When the devil has convinced them that they’re no longer wanted
When he’s blinded their eyes from seeing the hope of light
When their strength is drained and unable to get in the fight
We‘ve had victory on the mountain, but the valley is nothing but distress.
Lord it’s you we need. We need some hope in our darkness
I call out the only One who can reach into an unreachable place
I know I can find peace if I could just find your face
To every person who thought that nobody cares
To every tired soul, bearing weights to heavy to bear
To those longing to knock but cannot find the door
To those who seek a way out and cannot take any more
Lift up your face, look beyond the valley
The sun may have set behind you but it’s not your finale
There’s a God who creates out of the depths of your chaos
Lift up your head, the Son rises to call us

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: #Empowered week 3 “The Holy Spirit and Your Emotions”

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

We continued our current series in our Kfirst community that focuses on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. And our focus turned to our emotions. (Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

Yesterday we hosted John Opalewski of Converge Coaching. John shared his testimony of his own challenges with depression and how the Holy Spirit worked in his life. It was here where he directed us to how the Holy Spirit impacts our emotions. He does it in four ways:

  1. Partnership
    • The Holy Spirit wants to partner with us to help us “guard ourselves.” (Acts 20:28)
  2. People
    • As we say all the time at Kfirst, the enemy works in isolation, God works in community. The Holy Spirit moves through others as well as moving in and through you into people (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
  3. Prayer
    • The Holy Spirit works through us as we pray. One of the ways is, when we pray, He brings to our minds the areas we need to deal with and/or focus upon (Romans 8:26-27).
  4. Practice
    • In the words of Paul, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard…or seen in me—put it into practice.” When we hear from the Holy Spirit, we live out and make active in our lives (Philippians 4:8-9).

This week, would you purpose to take time each day to posture yourself in the presence and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through your emotions. If you’re finding yourself struggling, reach out to someone and allow the Holy Spirit to minister through them to you.

Love you all. We’ll see you this Sunday as we continue our series.

BTW: Here’s the song for your prayer playlist.

Thoughts of a Depressed Pastor: 4 Steps to Escaping Depression

My name is David. And I’m a pastor who deals with bouts of depression.

I don’t write as one who is specialized in the medical or psychological field, but as one who fights a personal battle while refusing to let others stand alone in theirs. My depression is considerably lower than others, and happens perhaps, less frequent as yours. I will not compare my pain to yours but would implore you from the beginning of this post:

You are not alone.
You have hope.
You can get help.

Out of all of my blogs, my last blog on depression from August 11, 2014 is, by far, the most read and shared article I’ve ever written. It tells me that there are thousands out there that have experienced this “darkness” and/or know someone who does. And lately, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to write another blog on the “funk” that shows up periodically in my life.

My two goals in writing this: First, to help bring a bit of clarity to those who absolutely do not understand those of us who deal with this. If I can remove some ignorance to create compassion, then I see blog as a “win.” Second, to give a clear message of hope. I want to confront the feelings of hopelessness that you have with the truth of who Christ is. And the rule I live by: Truth always trumps feelings. My emotions and feelings will rise and fall, but truth remains solid. And the truth I remind myself is this:

Regardless of my emotions, I must purpose to fix my eyes on God (Psalm 42:5).
I have victory in Christ (Romans 8:37)  and nothing can separate me from His unconditional love (Romans 8:38-39).
Christ is with me regardless of whether my senses can detect Him (Isaiah 43:2Matthew 28:20).
Jesus is my light in the midst of my darkness (2 Samuel 22:29).

Often, when reading scripture, I come across scenarios that make me leap up and say, “That’s exactly how I feel.” And when I think about how to describe to people what I deal with, I think about a man named Bartimaeus.

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside.  Mark 10:46

Two strong words jump out at me: “blind beggar.” Why? Because feeling “blind” and “begging for help” is what I personally experience physically, mentally, and emotionally. My senses are numbed and and cannot detect any direction to take.  I get this “feeling” of being immobilized and unable to move forward. Things that should make sense don’t. I feel like stationary while the rest of the world is passing by.

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. – Mark 10:47

There are two crowds in this story. The obvious crowd tried to shut him up. Perhaps they’ve gotten so used to seeing him in his condition, that they had become calloused. I like to think they responded out of ignorance of not knowing what to say to Bartimaeus (I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt). But perhaps they were so busy about their day and/or they were so preoccupied with what THEY might receive from Jesus, they didn’t want Barimaeus to interrupt their experience.

Can I implore you of things to NOT say to someone dealing with depression? Things like:

  • “Cheer up.”
  • “Just don’t think about it.”
  • “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
  • “There are a lot of people worse off than you?”
  • “Have you been praying/reading the Bible?”
  • “You’re just looking for attention.”
  • For an extensive list click here.

But there’s another crowd in this story. It is the people who let him know that Jesus was near. How do I know THAT crowd was there? Bartimaeus didn’t see Jesus passing by. He didn’t hear Jesus. Nothing about Bartimaeus’ senses detected Jesus himself. He leaned upon what others were telling him.

So many people think, because they’ve never dealt with this condition that someone is experiencing, there is nothing you can say or do. But note: not a single person in the crowd was blind. But their presence and their words helps Bartimaeus know how near Jesus was. This may be the most pivotal role that you can play in someone’s life who’s fighting this darkness. Your presence (personal interaction) and your words can help people to know that Jesus is near.

What can you say?

  • “I’m here. What can I do?”
  • “I don’t fully understand, but I’m not going anywhere.”
  • “You are loved.”
  • “Can I pray for you right now?”
  • “Can I call you later to check in on you?”
  • For an extensive list, click here.

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” – Mark 10:47 

Don’t give up. Regardless of whatever voices in your head or in your life that keep telling you to give up, refuse to stop reaching out and crying out. Refuse to give up hope even when you cannot see it. Bartimaeus couldn’t sense how close or far Jesus was. His feelings didn’t dictate Jesus’ presence. Jesus was there. I’m reminded of the name the prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus. He is “Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” It doesn’t say “God used to be with us” or “God was with us.”

He is God with us now. He is God with us always.

And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. – Mark 10:49-52

I love those three words. “And Jesus stopped.” You may feel like Jesus has passed you by. He hasn’t. You emotions will make you feel like you are forgotten. You are not. You may struggle with feeling loved (love by others or loved by yourself). Know that you are loved with an everlasting love. And there are four thoughts I want to give you.

1 – Find a trusted soul to be your eyes. It says in verse 49, “Take heart. Get up; He’s calling you.” Jesus didn’t pass him by. And again, Bartimaeus couldn’t detect that Jesus had stopped to help him. But those around him encouraged him with seven simple words. You need to find trusted people in you life that love you where you are at and love you enough to speak the truth in love to you. This person (or these people) needs to be someone who knows the hope in Christ and can direct your mind’s eye to that hope. The enemy works in isolation; God works in community. Get one person; get a couple of people. Allow those who love Jesus, and love you, help you know Jesus is near.

2 – Reject what the darkness is telling you. Darkness cannot compete with the light. So the only way to keep you in darkness is to contain you in it. Verse 50 says, “And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.” There is that cognitive decision (a personal decision) to reject what the darkness has been telling you. I love that he didn’t have to see his miracle before he decided to “throw it off.” Darkness will lie to you. Darkness will try to distort your senses. But the more you reject what it tells you and the more you remind yourself of the truth, the greater strength you will have to “spring up” and come to Jesus.

3 – Tell Jesus what you need. I don’t think Jesus was ignorant to Bartimaeus. But verse 51 is such a powerful transition. It says, “…I want to recover.” He confronted his “condition” that claimed his identity. He was ready to move forward from it.  Even with those in the crowd willing to help him, he still needed to make that personal decision to confront his darkness and bring it to Jesus.

4 – Keep following Jesus. Verse 52 says that he “recovered” and “followed him (Jesus) on the way.” Following Christ doesn’t mean I don’t have struggles. Even David remarked “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” It’s not a question of “if” but “when.” We all face tough times. But what I learn from following Jesus consistently helps me in the times of struggle. I lean in the darkness what I learned in the light.  And the more I walk with Christ, the greater foundation I have and the deeper the well I have to draw from.

I don’t know who you are or where you find yourself. But I remind you of what I said earlier:

You are not alone.
You have hope.
You can get help.

I love you. I’m praying for you today. There are those around you that can help.

And most importantly, regardless of your senses, Jesus is here. And he’s with you.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: This is the song on repeat during the ENTIRE time I’ve written this blog

 

Emotional Monarchy: 3 Steps to Prevent Emotions From Ruling Your Life

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (MSG)

If you are familiar with me, you know I do deal with bouts of depression.  I don’t wear it as a badge to brag.  But I look at it as the opportunity for the strength of Christ to shine.  For his “power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I won’t remain silent about the hope and the healing I’ve discovered in Christ.  

It was a little more than a year ago, I shared my struggle in the post, “From the Heart of a Depressed Pastor.” To date, no other blog post has exceeded the thousands of hits and countless shares that article brought. It told me two things:

I am not alone in my struggle.  And neither are you.

After responding to a Facebook message about emotions last week, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts in a blog with an idea that, in some way, it may breathe hope.

Personally, I’m a uber emotional guy.  In other news, water is wet. 

I don’t mind it.  God created us as emotional beings. It seems that God as “blessed” certain people with more emotions than others.  But I don’t think there are those with more or less as if we all walk with varied levels of emotions (there’s some phd writing me an email right now about levels of emotion in humans) as if some have greater amounts than others.  I just think people steward them differently.  It’s all about how you handle them. Just in my non-phd opinion, bottling them up isn’t necessarily being a good steward of emotions just as much as letting them roam free and rule your life.  As I stated in a previous blog, we are to “honor God with (our) bodies.” We are stewards of what God gives us.  That includes our emotions.  

I understand feelings. Yet I cannot just write a “blank check” to them and let them have free reign. I have to see myself as a steward with the charge of managing who I am from the inside out.  Feelings/emotions are great but they cannot run our lives.  They must be brought into check.

We live in a society where feelings have become the foundation of truth in our culture.  It’s to the point where it seems like the worst think you can do to someone is “hurt their feelings.” In American culture, we think “truth is what I feel to be right.”  To some, this sounds like emotional salvation.  But really, it creates chaos.  If everyone, everywhere, acted upon EXACTLY what they were feeling all at the same time, it would be pandemonium. Disaster. Worse than a zombie apocalypse. 

I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had with people who are living in the misery of regret because, out of a “feeling”, they decided to do something and it produced consequences they never predicted.  In the moment, it “felt” right. But they quickly discovered that what felt correct wasn’t necessarily correct. 

How do you remedy this? How do you bring emotions into check?

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (MSG)

3 Thoughts: 

FIRST, question your feelings. Psalm 42:5a, “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?”

We should remember to, in a healthy way, to question emotions/feelings. If we are hateful at someone, we should step back to question those bitter feelings and challenge them. If we are envious toward someone, call those feelings into question. Personally, I’ve learned to question what I’m feeling and the thoughts that come in my head. I can’t imagine acting out of EVERYTHING that floats through my mind. I love that the writer of Psalms 42-43 questions what he’s feeling FIVE times. He knows himself.  He recognizes his emotion and where they want to take him. 

SECOND, wrestle with your feelings. Psalm 42:5b, “Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.”

Pray over your feelings, push through them, research what they’re desiring. Don’t just accept what they hand you. Talking it through with a pastor, mentor, or counselor is a great way to help “wrestle” though feelings. The reason why I love the Psalms, is the writer (usually David) wrestles between what he wants to do and what is the heart of God. “Fixing my eyes” isn’t easy when there’s a load of thought and emotions trying to drown you.  Wrestling is good. Workouts are good. They burn away what is unhealthy and build up what’s healthy. Keep pressing through despite what you “feel.”

THIRD, speak truth to your feelings. Psalm 42:5c, “Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.”

This is so healthy because it’s bringing in something solid and foundational into the shifting sands of our mind and feelings. It’s healthy to confront our feelings with truth.  A simple example: If you want to take something that doesn’t belong to you, regardless of how you feel you deserve it, stealing is wrong. Confront it with truth. 

Think about this, Jesus on the night of his betrayal that led to the cross, out of his feelings, didn’t want to endure the crucifixion. But in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, he recognized that his feelings were not going to lead his life in the best and most blessed direction. He embraced truth. He embraced the plan of God despite the difficulty. I thank God he did.

Life isn’t easy and emotions don’t always help.  I love them, but they should not and cannot rule my life. The beauty of having a relationship with Christ, we don’t have to be alone.  He’s there in the valleys.  He’s there on the mountain. Just don’t let the worry and anxiety of what you don’t know about your situation replace what you do know about Jesus. Let his authority and grace help you steward your emotions. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

What I see on my right arm every day!
What I see on my right arm every day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (MSG)