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…

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…

 

2 Minute Marriage Devo – Day 18

Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos. This month we are in our Annual Marriage Series at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God and we’re going through devotions for couples. Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

2 Minute Devo Series: Book of Matthew Day 11

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Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos.  This month we’re going through the Book of Matthew.  Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Matthew 10

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Twelve Apostles

10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;[a] Simon the Zealot,[b] and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers,[c] cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics[d] or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Persecution Will Come

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents andinnocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant[e] above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign[f] those of his household.

Have No Fear

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[g] 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?[h] And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Not Peace, but a Sword

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Rewards

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

2 Minute Devo #31Days – “He’s not far”

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We started a new series this month called “#31Days.” What “#31Days” means is we are encouraging everyone to take the challenge of encouraging someone via social network for 31 days.  Make sure you use the hashtag!

Today’s scripture: Jeremiah 46:27 “But fear not, O Jacob my servant, nor be dismayed, O Israel,
for behold, I will save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid.