My Blog Goals

It’s time to assess my blog, and it’s an assignment for my latest blogging course. I’ve had this blog since January and am close to 100 posts – now is a good time to evaluate. Is my blog doing what I want it to do? More importantly, am I doing what God wants me to do with my blog?

I want to share my story of depression, and God’s faithfulness through it. I want people to find comfort here – maybe they relate to my experiences or can try one of the tools that helped me.  When I’ve struggled with depression, it’s helped me to know that I’m not alone – maybe this blog is doing that for someone like others have done for me.

When I first started blogging, I had a long list of topics to “discuss,” things that I had talked about in support groups. I still have that list, but so far, I’ve specifically focused my writings here on my story, not research or others’ stories. But the information that I’ve gathered was helpful to me, so I suppose that makes it part of my story after all.

I’m setting some goals for my blog for the next couple of months.

    1. I will post 1 time per week through January.
    2. I will post another 1 time per week, sharing from my list of topics and research.
    3. Weekly, I will search for, read, and comment on other blogs written about or by Christians  with depression.

Please help me meet my new goals by answering the following.  Thanks for your help.

 

 

Hope

(Blogging University, Writing 101 assignment: One Word Prompt – HOPE)

Hope – a missing key ingredient for me when battling depression.

  • no hope that the pain will ever end / the pain will never end
  • no hope that I will ever feel better / I will never feel better
  • no hope that anyone will understand / no one will understand
  • no hope that anything will change / nothing will change

Notice how the first part of the bullet points use the words “ever” and “any.” Or the rephrase (after the / ) with ” never,” “no one,” and “nothing.” Extreme words. Leaving no wiggle room. Implying that there is no hope for a normal life.

When I first admitted to friends that I was suffering from depression, my best friend sent me a card with this verse in it: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13, NLT. A week or two later, another dear friend sent a note with this same verse written on it.  Shortly after that, I read this verse in a devotional. By now, I was saying “Ok, God, I’m listening. You want to tell me something about hope. What’s that verse again?”

It was a hard message to grasp, because the nature of the depression is hopelessness. And when my therapist first asked me what I wanted out of therapy, I told him that I wanted my joy back; I wasn’t even thinking about hope. But when he asked me if I felt hopeless, the answer was a resounding yes. Hopeless – without hope. Somehow, I didn’t make the connection for a long time that I was without hope. I instead knew I was without joy and life was hopeless. But I couldn’t see that I was experiencing hopelessness. I just knew I had no joy and was without hope of that ever changing.

Yet here is this Bible verse that addresses both hope and joy. And peace (which I would eventually need when anxiety joined the depression party). So what does the verse say?

God is the source of all hope. It comes from Him. And because I trust Him, he wants to fill me completely – to the brim – with joy and peace. And when that happens, through the Holy Spirit, I will have confident hope – so much hope that it spills over – it overflows.

Wow. A powerful promise to a hopelessly depressed woman.

And God kept that promise. Over time, as He restored my joy and peace, the hopelessness left. I began to be confident that the future wasn’t so bleak. I began to feel lighter, more hopeful. Eventually the day came that I could share my hope of healing with others who found themselves depressed, hopeless. It overflowed from me.

Now, if I find myself thinking about me or my life using those extreme words, I look more closely to see if I’m also feeling hopeless. That’s a huge indicator that depression is trying to enter my life and rob my joy again.  And while depression may try, I can remain hopeful. God is the source of all hope, I trust Him, and He loves me.

 

Praying for Healing

Some very thoughtful comments from a fellow blogger prompted this post…thanks, Jennifer!

And in responding to her, I recalled meetings I had several years ago with a pastor at our church. He had referred to his battles with depression in several sermons, and I felt very safe sharing my struggles and seeking his wisdom and prayers on many occasions. We talked about being Christians with mental illness. We discussed depression as a result of sin in the world, not necessarily due to a specific sin in one’s life. He reminded me that this battle against depression has a spiritual component, and that I should daily prepare myself with the armor of God (Ephesians 6).

I still remember my reaction when he told me to pray for healing. I was shocked! Not at his comment, but at myself. I realized that somewhere over the recent years, I had resigned myself to living with depression, and had stopped asking God to heal me. Instead, I had focused my prayers and energies that He would use my depression to share hope with others who struggle, especially with other Christians. But why had I stopped asking for healing?

Sitting in Pastor’s office, I realized that I had given up hope of being healed. Don’t get me wrong – I know that in heaven there will be no depression; I will eventually be healed. (“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17, NIV) But I had accepted that I will have depression for the rest of my lifetime on this earth, and so I had stopped asking God to take it away.

Maybe I was thinking of Paul’s “thorn” (2 Corinthians 12:7b-10) and that he had asked God to remove it – three times! – and God had responded with “My grace is sufficient for you.” In other words, “No. I will use this ‘weakness’ in your life to show My strength.” I don’t think Paul told us he asked three times as a magic number, and Scripture doesn’t say he asked, it says he pleaded. Implored. Begged. But still God said “No.” I thought, “Well, I’ve asked many times and it hasn’t happened, so I’ll just accept it and ask God to show His strength through my depression.”

But unlike Paul, I haven’t been told by God to stop asking. Instead, the Bible encourages me to be more like the woman who showed persistence in repeatedly asking the judge for justice (Luke 18:1-8). Keep asking. But keep working. Keep letting God use the depressions and remissions in my life to encourage others. “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4b, NIV. But keep asking for healing too.

I also remember the end of a meeting with my pastor. He laid his hands on me and prayed that God would take the depression away from my life. I prayed and cried silently, completely agreeing, with hope that God would answer “Yes,” and the depression would be gone. Pastor ended that prayer with Romans 15:13, NIV, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  the verse that keeps showing up over the years of my depressions. When he finished praying, I told him of the significance of that verse, and we agreed that it is my life verse, that I am to trust God, because the rest of the verse’s action comes from Him.

I’ve seen prayer heal depression. I’ve prayed with others for a woman whose depression went away that afternoon. I’ve had people pray the same for me, and I’ve felt the relief and comfort of my needs and concerns being given to God. My depression has not gone away. I still move in and out of depression and remission. But the verse remains the same. So I pray that I’ll trust God, be filled with His joy and peace, and overflow with hope. Certainly not of my own doing, but supernaturally, through God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

I don’t think that asking for personal healing and serving God from a place of brokenness are mutually exclusive. There can be – should be – both. I think this is what my pastor was trying to tell me.

Note of encouragement to a friend… and to me

I sent a version of this note to a Christian friend several months ago. This person was going through a very tough time with depression – it’s so hard to keep my head above water when I’m tired of treading the waters of depression, and this person was feeling overwhelmed too.

I wrote it before my own depressive episode hit. Funny, eh?  I did try to take my own advice, and perhaps that’s part of why this most recent episode didn’t go as deep or last as long as others have.  Some of this may be familiar to regular readers – these are my experiences of depression and using the truth of God’s Word to combat the depression lies.

I want to share it here now. It’s edited some, maybe so it can be a reminder to me or others, or both!

Dear friend:

Depression is a liar. It tells me that I am completely unloveable. I have nothing to offer to anyone. I am useless, can’t concentrate, don’t want to participate, I feel like curling up in a ball in the corner of a very dark room, where no one can see me and where I won’t be a bother or a burden or a nuisance to anyone.

That’s what depression did to me – it made me feel things that weren’t true. It made me doubt God’s Presence. Was God hearing my prayers, my cries out to Him for relief? Maybe my life was too miserable, maybe He didn’t want to hear from me. Maybe I was too much of a mess. Maybe He was busy. Maybe He was tired of me saying the same thing each time I prayed. Maybe He loved me – after all, He died for me! But maybe He didn’t like me much. Maybe He simply tolerated me. Depression made it easy to doubt His Word, and made it almost impossible to see or hear God.

That’s why it’s so important to separate the truth – what the Bible says, which includes how God loves me (and you!) unconditionally and how He will never leave me (those are just two Bible promises that I love). Because depression wants me to believe something else – to trust my feelings. Feelings can’t be trusted – only truth, and all truth comes from God.

Jesus says that He died for me so that I can be with Him forever. He says that nothing can separate me from His love. He says that He loves me so much, that even when I was sinning, He died for me. All because He is Love.

I want to encourage you, hurting friend, to pick a promise from the Bible that really speaks to you – almost like you can hear Jesus telling it to you, face to face. Memorize it. Read it every day, several times a day. Write it on a note card so you can always have it handy. And when depression brings doubt and darkness, you can pull out that verse and read it and know it is the truth. Not what you feel, but what you know.

In my devotional Jesus Calling, I read this: (it’s written as if Jesus is talking directly to me)

“I AM WITH YOU, watching over you constantly. I am Emmanuel (God with you); My Presence enfolds you in radiant Love. Nothing, including the brightest blessings and the darkest trials, can separate you from Me. Some of My children find Me more readily during dark times, when difficulties force them to depend on Me.”

I LOVE these promises:

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭35, 37-39‬ NLT 

One more of my favorites:

“Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:1

Dear friend, you are in Christ Jesus. He has called you, and you said Yes to Him being your Savior – and Friend – forever. And so there is nothing to blame you for. Christ died for all your sins and buried them in the depths of the ocean, moved them away as far as the East is from the West. So when depression tries to tell you that you are no good, or not loved, or should be afraid because you’re not certain of your eternity – that’s a lie! That is NOT what the Bible says. And there is no condemnation, which means that those accusing and negative thoughts are not from God, because He no longer condemns you. You are saved – forever – as a child of the King, with the promise of eternity in heaven with God.

I didn’t mean for this to turn into a lecture! I just want so badly for you to feel better. And I think one thing that can help will be for you to know, without a doubt, because He says so, that you are totally loved by God – because you believe in Jesus as your Savior, and all your sins are forgiven!

And then pick a verse and make it “God’s promise to Me.” He never breaks His promises.

Oh dear friend, I am praying for you! That depression will loosen its grip. That you will know the power of God’s love, and His promise that He is with you, He understands, and that He loves you no matter what!

In writing this post I keep singing a song from my growing up years in Sunday School: 🎶
The B-i-b-l-e.
Yes, that’s the book for me.
I stand alone
On the word of God;
The B-i-b-l-e.
[The word “alone” doesn’t mean “by myself,” it means “only.” With nothing added to it. I stand only on the word of God. Because it is the source of truth.]

About Me, part two

I started blogging in January 2015 as a way to put some of my journal thoughts and advice on paper, or rather, on a blog. I want to share my journey, what I’ve learned about being a Christian who struggles with depression. I want to learn to write for an audience.  I want to see if my words can make a difference for someone, if I can offer encouragement. Writing for someone else helps me get the thoughts from bouncing around in my brain, or scattered all over a journal entry, into a form that (hopefully!) makes sense to readers.

One of my favorite things about blogging on Wordpress is the classes they offer. I’ve taken several: to learn to blog better, to add photography, to try poetic forms, to develop a habit of writing daily, to learn about HTML and formatting this space.

As I continue blogging, I’m learning to find my voice, and to lighten up my writing style. I don’t want my entries to be heavy, or dark, or too long. While the topic of my blog is dark and lonely, I want to write about depression with hope. The hope that I have is in the knowledge that Jesus has never left me alone in the depression journey.

I’m also learning about what Blogging Community is – I have some favorite bloggers, but this process strongly encourages me to find new ones. That is one of my favorite parts of this whole blogging world – reading different perspectives, different topics, different writing styles, discovering others’ talents. So let the blogging begin (again)!

And thanks for reading and commenting.