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We are not alone
Some of us living with depression slip into believing the lies we are alone, no one cares, and the world would better if we died. Some of you heard this favorite lie, “It’s a sin to be depressed.” The truth is we are not alone, we are loved, and our lives have purpose. It is not a sin to have an illness. Remember George in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life? He believed the lies and the angel showed him how worse life would be for those he loved if he died. Our lives have purpose for good. We are unique works of art crafted by the greatest of all creators, God.
Depression leading cause of disability
I scanned several recent health documents on the subject of depression and I learned some amazing facts. According to the World Health Organization there is an estimated 350 million individuals with some form of depression and it is the leading cause of disability worldwide.1 Nope. Not alone. Recognize any of these names: Beyoncé, Terry Bradshaw, Drew Carey, Harrison Ford, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, Brad Pitt, Mike Tyson, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon? Yep. They all live or lived with depression. They reached out for help. They lead successful lives with their unique talents and personalities.2
Depression is a treatable illness.
Find a doctor you trust. The majority of us living with depression will enter into remission with proper treatment. Medications help the body heal and cope. Diabetics depend on medication. Those with crippling arthritis live functional lives on medication. There is a medication or a combination of medications if necessary to bring balance to the chemicals in our brains to assist us to live our lives to our fullest potential. There are almost more medicines for treating depression than we can count.
Take the first step
There are counselors who will help you learn life skills to deal with the issues that cause you pain. Go to your doctor, your pastor, your most trusted friend, the county mental health department where you live or family member. If the first attempt at reaching out is brushed aside, go tell someone else. But take the first step. Seek help. You are more valuable than all the precious metals or jewels in the world. You are the only one of you there is and you are loved.
Last fall I heard on the news of a college sophomore who died after he jumped off a building because he had lost all hope. He felt his life too painful to live. He felt there was no one he could tell. I wept for him as if he had been my child. I wept for his parents who loved him. I wept for his friends who didn’t see his pain. I wept for me because maybe my story may have helped him. In my next column I will start at the beginning of my story of my living with depression.
1 WHO, October, 2015, Depression Fact Sheet
2 Wikipedia contributors, “List of people with major depressive disorder,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_people_with_major_depressive_disorder&oldid=708650078 (Revised March 6, 2016).
Have you found yourself snickering at a toddler’s mispronunciation of a word or phrase? Rather than tell me she had an ear infection my granddaughter said, “Mimi, I got a ear confection.” My grandson gave the scripture reference on obedience to parents as “E-cheese-uns 6:1.” Then he chanted, “Chew-ren, obay yo pare-wents in da Lawd fa dis is wite. Dis is da fust commanant wif uh pro mus, so it will be gud fa yo.”
This started me thinking about my relationship with Christ. When I gave my life to God and asked Christ to live in my heart and reign as Lord, I became His child. “Child” and “children” are mentioned approximately 2000 times in the Bible. When I read that statistic I felt a nudge to examine my obedience and define what that entailed. The apostle Paul recorded this over 2000 years ago for us.
Romans 8:14-17 (VOICE)
14 If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children. 15 You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy. 16 Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. 17 If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory.
When asked what commandments were the greatest Jesus focused on love. God is love.
Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT)
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
I experienced a sense of wonder. I share an inheritance with Christ as his sibling. Love encompasses all the commandments for a child obeying the Father. He said he loved God first with all he was and he loved others more than he loved himself. He spoke it and he demonstrated it. Even though equal to God he chose obedience to God, even to dying on a cross.
Philippians 2:8 (NASB)
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Embracing the truth God is the Father of Christ and me, I reflected on the commandments Christ gave. As a child of God I obey by loving my Heavenly Father first and loving others as he loves me.
Ephesians 6:1-3 (NLT)
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do… This is the first commandment with a promise: 3 If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you….”
(Insert your name), obey God. Love God. Love others. This is right. Loving is good for me.
The Voice (VOICE)
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
New Living Translation (NLT). Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Sharing Treasures and Spreading His Love
After giving my life to Christ an entire library opened for me. Lauraine Snelling, Traci Peterson, Francine Rivers, Robin Lee Hatcher, Chuck Swindoll, Rick Warren, James Dobson, Susan May Warren, Karen Kingsbury, Barbara Johnson, Carol Mayhall, Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Max Lucado, John MacArthur and others represent one percent or less of men and women whose faithfulness to God changed my life. Christ took their teachings, stories and encouragement to point me to look to him and seek to become more like him.
But in the last year the Lord brought hundreds more godly men and women into my life who obeyed his call to write and speak. Eva Marie Everson, James Watkins, Cindy Sproles, Andy Lee, Edie Melson, Lori Hatcher, Bob Hostetler, Torry Martin, Andrea Merrill, Vonda Skelton, Elizabeth Brickman, Elaine Potts, Debbie Webb McDaniel, Darla Bell, Katy Kauffman, Erin Elizabeth Austin, and each one from BRMCWC, CCC and Boot Camp.
My humble thanks to each of you. Critiquing and editing this I realize my lists ramble, but sometimes you have to break the rules. I wanted to continue them, but practiced restraint, not much, but some.
Name your imaginary friends from your childhood. I spent most of my time with Jan. My shadow and I spent countless hours climbing trees and riding bikes. On rainy days we created bunny families and towns with paper and scissors. We explored for hidden treasures at low tide off Bay Street near the bridge over the inter-coastal waterway. We managed to sneak away to my friend’s house only to have her mom meet us at the door and tell us Momma called and return home.
But some of my best friends met me on the pages of books. When the librarian tells you not to bring back books the same day you checked them out and wait until the next day, you devise creative ways to immerse yourself in literature. Living next to the library as a child, I hopped the fence, entered the quiet sanctuary, found a book, curled up in a corner and read until closing. That worked well many days unless Momma called and the librarian sent me home. The characters in books breathed. I wanted to be Polly Pepper and live in a house with a dirt floor and be loved by the entire town. I wanted to be Jo in Little Women and not have to act like a prissy girl. I wanted to be Florence Nightingale, Louisa May Alcott, Marie Curie, Anne Frank, and hundreds of others.
Ask me and the details of my school libraries will carry you there. You will see the rows of blue covered biographies of which I read every one. You may feel the sand against your legs as you sit on the floor, ankles crossed and the pressing of the edges of the shelves against your spine. You may feel the need to squirm from sitting in the hard oak chair, elbows propped on the table and your chin resting on the palms of your hands. You may hear the quiet. Read with me and become a character in the book with me. Sweet, treasuered memories.
Read Friday’s post and find where these friendships carried me.
Pre-surgery for broken arm
Vera before the Princess and Daddy Ball
Ashley and Tabitha circa 1982
Butterfly hitching a bicycle ride
Record of spending time with my friend, Sam B. Colt.
Even 1565 tastes better when shared with Jesus
Sweet reminders of grands: Butterfly stickers on the granite counter top
Tell the truth. At twenty-four I admitted the truth. Born to a minister and godly mother I spent those previous years talking like a Christian, looking like a good little Christian girl, knowing about Christ, but I did not know Christ.
Married eighteen months, my relationship with Dan felt like our lives were intersecting lines and not two connected as one. Would divorce be my fate? What separated this wonderful man and me? What shot our paths to cross and not intertwine together?
A scripture shared with me three years earlier in college floated across my thoughts. Jesus came that I could have life, not some ordinary life, but an abundant life. My life teetered on mediocrity at best. I hungered for that rich life. I knelt by my bed and sobbed for God to explain to me what I needed to do to live life in abundance.
Each night for a week I sought the answer from God. Dan climbed into the shower and I hit the floor seeking an answer to my question. Saturday night I again knelt and with tears streaming from the corners of my closed eyes I lay my head against the bed and waited in silence. I sensed a presence behind me. Lifting my head to peek over my left shoulder I catch a glimpse of someone. Dan stood in the doorway into our bedroom, with his towel wrapped around his waist, staring in silence at me on the floor. He wore a puzzled look on his face. Turning he returned to the rest room to dress and brush his teeth.
We said a blessing at meal times but kneeling in prayer fell outside the pattern of our lives. We rose early, ate breakfast, dressed, left for work, came home, ate dinner, dressed for bed, read, and slept. The following day repeated the previous day.
The next evening as Dan showered, I knelt, sat back on my feet and lifted my face upward and asked God to share with me what was missing in my life. “Jesus rests on a shelf in your life life like something nice to look at. You know about him but you don’t know him. Without him in your heart your life is empty of hope, love, forgiveness, and peace. No one comes to the Father except through Christ. In Jesus alone is everlasting life with him.”
I did not know what words to say but I begged him to come live in me and fill the gaping hole in my life. Peace rose within my heart and I knew Christ held me in his loving embrace.
That night reading in bed I turned to Dan and asked him if he love God more than he did me. Without hesitation he told me he did. Later he told me that he knew at that moment he lied. He described feeling like ice water struck him awakening him to the truth of his relationship with Christ.
Two weeks later Dan asked the Lord to live in his heart and also be the first love of his life. He explained the change in my life convinced him that I underwent a major transformation. But it was not I he saw, but he saw Christ alive in me.
What best describes your relationship with Christ? Does your life seem incomplete, unfulfilled or empty? Do you love Christ over all others? Are you confident you will spend eternity with the Lord of unconditional love? He says it best in Luke 11:9-10.
So listen: Keep on asking, and you will receive. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened for you. 10 All who keep asking will receive, all who keep seeking will find, and doors will open to those who keep knocking.
The Voice (VOICE)
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.
Storms rage around us in many forms, but God never leaves us. He is in the boat of life with us. Over my lifetime situations arose in which others attacked me with with a barrage of verbal hailstones. My heart felt ripped in half, so painful I thought I heard it like the sound of fabric torn apart. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Untrue.
Hammer a nail into an heirloom table, then pull the nail out. The hole remains. Fill it with putty. Sand it Stain it. The table continues to bear the evidence of damage.
Careless, angry, demeaning words wound the hearts of those targeted. The invisible daggers and arrows leave injuries of excruciating pain and after healing ugly scars remain. As an amputee will not grow a new limb, the damage caused to an injured heart will not disappear.
But God heals. One of his names is Yahweh Rophe. The Lord Who Heals. God heals the broken-hearted. He’s able. Praise him and thank him for his great love for us. Praise him for his healing and renewing our strength.
Isaiah 40:31 (VOICE)
But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.
They will walk—never tired, never faint.
He lifts us up from the ashes of a burned out life. He wipes the tears from our faces. He heals the wounds. He replaces the hurtful lies with truth. He affirms his love for us. He shapes us closer into a perfect reflection of his image. He fills our hearts with joy.
Psalms 30:5b (VOICE)
The deepest pains may linger through the night,
but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning.
The Voice (VOICE) The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.