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Delighting in my God, I desire to dwell in His pleasure and to help others experience true delight.

"Delight Yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your judgment as the noonday.  
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;..." Ps 37:4-7a

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ride Out Depression



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Dealing with depression is like being out in the sea without a boat and no sign of land.  It seems to be never ending all around you without hope of escape or rescue. 
If you wrestle it, it will overcome you and suck you under as you get tired and drained by the fight.  If you just give up hope and let it overtake you wallowing in the never ending quality of it, it will also overcome you and you may possibly drown in it as well.  



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However, if you learn to float atop of it, if you use the resources, the skills you have to ride it, you will reach land eventually. 
It seems like you will be stuck there, but rescue is available from the outside as well.  Look up and about.  Watch for the boat and rest atop of it, not sinking in the sea of depressive thinking, not wailing against it so that you tire of the fight, but floating atop by putting one step ahead of the next, thinking upon the promises of God, looking for, counting, and thinking about your blessings everyday, and choosing healthy eating, healthy exercise, and rest.

If you, like me, have struggled with depression before, you are closer to the shore than you think and you even have a surf board.  Going beyond the float, you can actually ride the wave.  Even if it feels like it will never end, you know it will not last forever.  You have already had experience with somethings that work.  You have a skill set.  Draw upon it to be a successful surfer.  Take to the sea and ride the wave.  Putting those things listed above, like exercise, healthy eating, and rest into practice may already be areas in which you have developed expertise.  
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You may have other things that help too - a selection of essential oils, melatonin or a natural sleep-aid blend to help you sleep, or something that helps for all to some degree --- chocolate .  Though the mood enhancing benefits of chocolate physiologically may be questionable, everyone agrees that the good taste for those who enjoy it does have an inherent benefit of joy.  I find 5-htp helpful.  Others use St. John's Wart or another herbal combination.  Using a diffuser to aromatically apply essential oils like elevation or citrus blends can help to lift your moods naturally as well.   .   

Yes, sometimes medication may be necessary while you develop the coping and natural skills to learn to float in the sea or ride the wave.  Sometimes imbalance may require long term medication.  However, as a society we are overly dependent on medication when so many other approaches can be used.  If we meditate on what God gives us for advice as in one of my favorite passages, Philippians 4, we get a prime example of what we can do to overcome some major factors of depression.  In these verses we are given a multiplicity of actions to take.

First and foremost are you standing in your place as a child of God?

Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
We often take for granted our standing in Christ and our relationship with God and don't apply His word to our emotions.  Sometimes we may even get caught up in the idea that to struggle with negative emotions like depression is unChristian and certainly ungodly.  Well, emotions are from God.  Yes they are corrupted by sin just like every other part of life, but feeling itself is not sin; it is what you do with it that can be sinful or grace-filled.  Stand firm in the Lord.  Remember that you are His and you can go to Him with what ails you.  He will not abandon you if you are seeking Him.  In fact, just the opposite.  Throughout Scripture we are told that if we seek Him sincerely, we will find Him.  If we abide in Him He will abide in Us.  We are encouraged to stand firm.  Don't let anything that comes along to deceive you or knock you down move you from where and who you are in Christ.  Know what you know and live it.  Follow that with rejoicing.
Philippians 4:4-5 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 

Give thanks; rejoice even if you are suffering and struggling.  The Psalms are replete with this sentiment.  The Psalmists again and again cry out in agony but then sing the praises of God.  They acknowledge their blessings amidst their suffering and declare their faithfulness in the light of God's faithfulness.  Some psychologists assign their patients who are suffering with depression to read 3 to 5 Psalms a day for 30 days.  Now that is definitely a salve for the woe-some heart.  Remember that Lord is near.  You may not see Him or feel Him, but He is here and He is near.  Behave like it.  Talk with Him and rejoice in His presence.

Next, Philippians directs us to go to the Lord in prayer; let Him know what is on your heart, but leave it there.  

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Don't  pick up your woes again and again and roll over in your mind what is troubling you and bringing you down.  No, leave that prayer conference with peace, God's peace that passes understanding to guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.  In Christ Jesus --- remember Him?  If you are a believer, He is the One through Whom you have been given a new life.  He is the One in Whom you are called to abide.  He is the One Who created heaven and earth, Who died and rose again for you, Who is One with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  That power is available to all who believe and that kind of power is something in which to dwell .  It can set us free from even our corrupt emotions like depression.

As we continue reading in Philippians, we are given a profound thought replacement plan. 

Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

What are the things in Scripture and in your life that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy?  These are the things on which God through Paul instructs us to dwell.  The Word of God is filled with loving promises that are more than just words.  They are power.  Do we believe them?  Then we need to meditate on them until they are a part of who we are.  We need to act on them.  Notice that again when we put into practice these directives, we are given the assurance that the God of peace will be with us.  Peace in the midst of whatever we face and the power that comes with that peace are real, right there waiting for us as we learn to float and surf. 

The emotions that pull us down are usually accompanied or followed by thoughts that will act like a whirlpool in that sea of depression.  Those thoughts are stripped of their power in the same way that we walk out of a current in the ocean.  Walk out horizontal to it and grab hold of the hand that can pull you free.
 
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 
2 Corinthians 10:5

Jesus Christ is every believer's best friend.  When we walk in obedience to the Word of God, when we live it out in every area of our lives, He is with us.  As we walk with Him through the good times and the bad, through the times of depression, we will be able to say with Paul:  I can do all this through Him Who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13.  

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Though none would ask for it, even my depression becomes a means of blessing.    I can experience the elation of God's presence while on the wave.   As I ride the wave to the shore, I am able to appreciate land so much more.  And I can teach others to float and ride the waves as well if they are open to it.  We were created for relationship, relationship with God and relationship with others.  The Lord tells us to: 

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
We do that in relationship.  We are told to:

“...encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
We do that in relationship.  We need to look out for others, but also reach out to others when we need a helping hand.

When struggling with depression, I don't really feel like being around others or asking for help personally, but you know what, even on a good day, I don't always feel like exercising, or eating right, or even getting out of bed.  In spite of that I do it.  I have to and I have to do what is necessary when I am struggling with depression as well whether I feel like it or not.  It is often the things we do when we have to rather than when we want to that provide us the most benefit.

I will be in that sea again, but I know it will not last forever,  I have skills to help me, and I am not alone.  May God renew your delight so that you too can experience the joy of the Lord which is my strength.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10


holy experience
Beholding Glory

4 comments:

  1. Depression is indeed a terrible thing to live with day in and day out, but there is relief and God wants us to be whole, without depression. I am a walking testimony of someone who has made it to the other side. I thank my creator and healer for keeping me out of the fog for 13 years now.
    Blessings and hope coming to you...........you expressed it so well.

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