When I began the process of writing my devotional, I asked myself, “What did I want to hear when I was experiencing bouts of depression?” You will notice I used the past tense. That’s because I’ve been there a number of times but haven’t been there for many years now. And I can tell you what I didn’t like hearing:
“You need to pray more.”
“You need to read the Bible more.”
“You need to trust more, believe more,….”
“Is there sin in your life?”
“You should quit drinking coffee.” (Are you kidding me? It was the only thing that got me out of bed some days.)
“You should eat less this and more of that.”
“You should talk to a counselor”.
Yada, yada, yada.
What you say to a person who is depressed and can’t get out of bed is different than what you say to them on on the road to recovery. Unless you’ve been diagnosed with a true clinical depression yourself, don’t assume anything.Tweet
Don’t misunderstand. There is nothing wrong with the above suggestions. Some of them are spot one and in my book I suggest some of them. But it’s all in the timing.
Do I need to remind anyone of Job and his friends?
And as it turns out, his friends weren’t really all that wrong. A lot of it was their condemning attitude and words. They weren’t spoken from a place of love. When God says almost the same thing to Job, it’s received much better because it is spoken from love.
While a depressed person should never be coddled to the point of giving them an excuse to stay where they are, there are wrong and right ways of helping. There are good words to use and there are not-so-good words to use.
Good words are words like “hope”, “grace”, “mercy”, “forgiveness”, etc.
Not-so-good words are “always”, “should”, “never”, along with certain sentences like the ones mentioned earlier.
And if you’re the one someone else has come to for help, all you have to do is ask yourself, “What works when I’m feeling down? What words would I want to hear? How would I want to be approached?
Is there a time when a harder line might be needed?
Anytime a person wallows in their depression and makes no changes in their life that will enable them to get better, that’s the time harder words might be necessary. Generally speaking this happens with a person has become so used to their depression, it’s almost a security blanket. That person will probably require professional help.
I was fortunate that the person who helped me the most, my husband, got it right. He had such a way of encouraging me. He never made me think of was less of a Christian or a person because I was depressed. As a Christian, I was already ridden with guilt. I hated myself for being depressed. I kept trying to be better, to do better. I fit the Apostle Paul’s description to a tee.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do….”
I share in my three-month devotional (almost done!) what worked for me, what others say worked for them, what the medical and psychiatric professionals say works, and all of it under God’s umbrella, His word.
Why three months?
Because three months of consistently using the ideas in the book will give most people a sense of relief, a feeling of hopefulness. They will sense that much of their depression is under their control and they can be the ones calling the shots, not their depression.
The first few weeks are designed to give hope and encouragement. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Anti-depressants don’t work that fast anyway so even if you are going that route, this book will still prove beneficial.
When we have that sense of hope that almost always leads us to take the next step. Each step we take makes us feel more hopeful and thus we are empowered to keep taking those steps. Pretty soon we notice our depression is waning. And it is when that happens, that we can really work on the tough stuff, which is the last half of the book.
Depression is NOT a death warrant. You are NOT your depression. It doesn’t have to be your identity and you don’t have to be ashamed. It’s an illness, a mental one that you need to work through.
And you can.
If I didn’t believe that, If I hadn’t experienced it myself, I would not be writing this devotional.
God bless you on this journey to wellness.
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