Can we have an honest chat?

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Have you ever had a “down” day?  Have you ever felt “blue”?  I have and I’m sure you have too.  There are times when the challenges of life feel like they are crushing in on us, there are times when situations catch us so off guard that it sends us into a sad tailspin for days or even for a short season.  The ebb and flow of life can bring both sadness and joy.  Even King David had some “blue” days where he cried out to God “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak” (Ps. 31:9-10).

However, what if you found it impossible to move past those “blue” feelings?  What if you’ve tried everything you know to be happy and positive but the heaviness you feel remains?   What if anxiety and depression have become and unwelcome guest on your life journey? Shouldn’t you be able to fix it with enough faith in God?  What’s wrong with you?

Peter Kramer in his article; It Can’t Be Depression, I’m a Christian tells us:

“Christians feel guilty about being depressed. They feel they should “know better.”  This leads to denial, which only makes matters worse. Well-meaning friends, and even pastors, who don’t understand what is going on, encourage them to “snap out of it,” and offer advice on “getting their Christian act back together.”

But clinical depression and anxiety isn’t something a person can “snap out of.”

What if your depression and anxiety required some form of wisely administered medication to assist you in regaining that needed chemical balance? This is where we get religion and physical health mixed up?  With every other physical challenge, thyroid issues, asthma, cancer, heart disease, etc, we find it completely acceptable to require medications to bring greater health and healing, yet historically  the church can get really uncomfortable when medications are required for greater mental health.

Carlos E. Whittaker, a pastor, in a recent article says;

Common myths in the church as it relates to mental illness are:
1. A person struggling with mental illness needs to have more faith.
My faith and my serotonin levels have nothing to do with each other.
2. A person struggling with mental illness should forgo medicine and pray harder.
You wouldn’t tell an asthmatic to pray harder during an asthma attack. You would tell them to suck on that inhaler.

If you are a person who struggles with regular anxiety and depression then you are probably nodding your head in agreement.

Years ago, as a very positive type of person,  I was shocked to find myself in the midst of postpartum depression! I loved my baby.  Why couldn’t I shake off these feelings? Didn’t I have enough faith?  I was ashamed to tell anyone about how I felt and I didn’t know how to make it stop!  Finally, I got some much-needed help and over time I re-gained my emotional balance.

God understands our dark feelings, our doubt, our discouragement, and yes, even our depression; and his desire is to help us. Sometimes, the help we need might include professional counseling and some form of medication. After all, God created the minds that created these medications, and it is not a sin to take them if you truly need them. Sometimes simply making better choices for food, rest, and relaxation rhythms can be all that’s required to move us to a healthier place. Sometimes we need greater intervention.

You may agree with me or disagree with me, and that’s okay. However, as a Pastor’s wife and a Coach for many years,  I have heard the shame in the voices of those who struggle with the depression and anxiety; this breaks my heart.   Add their need for medication  and the shame triples! I don’t believe they should feel any shame; I don’t believe they are faithless people.  I believe God cares deeply and wants His church to express His heart to hurting people in the midst of a very difficult struggle.  I know you do too.

If you struggle daily with depression or anxiety; please get the help you need. Find someone to talk to, get some medical support, and refuse to let shame or embarrassment keep you from living a life full of purpose, peace, and joy.

Romans 12:15  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

Being Mindful on Valentine’s Day~

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For so many, Valentine’s Day can be sweet, romantic, and full of warm remembrances of years of marriage or a meaningful relationship!!  Valentine’s Day can be a celebration of a marriage or a relationship that has weathered obstacles and stood the test of time.  These things are certainly “celebration worthy!”

However, there are those who walk into a very romantic holiday alone either by singleness, divorce, sickness, or loss!  I can only imagine the loneliness that is experienced by those facing these particular situations.  Valentine’s Day can, frankly, be a sad and lonely day! 😦

I am sensitive to the seasons of life that others may be in. I don’t have all the answers….solutions…or wise words. BUT I do know that in the midst of sadness or loss during a very Hallmark Holiday: I would wish all those feeling lonely or sad the HUGE knowledge that they have a Saviour who loves and adores them!! That they are fearfully and wonderfully made; they matter!!  This is my heart today.

imagesAppreciate and be thankful for what you have; be mindful and sensitive to those who are challeged~~reach out, include, invite! 🙂

Surrounded by people~ Completely alone.

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I live just down the street from an Elementary School; often driving by when the kids are out to recess.  For the past 3 day I have driven by; my heart saddened by seeing the same little boy standing along the fence alone while all of his classmates swirl, dance, play, chat, and run all around him. Everyone seemingly having people who want to know them.  He stands back, surrounded by people, but yet, seems to be very alone.  As a mother, my heart ached for this little  guy.

I grew up in a large family; 5 sisters and both parents.  I experienced many emotions growing up but I NEVER felt lonely.  I always felt like I belonged, that I mattered.

When I was 21 I transferred from a college in Northern California to another University in Southern California.  A tradition of this university was to  take ALL the students to a large camp for the first weekend for the school year to reunite with past students and to help new students connect with other students; to kick the year off well!! Such a great idea, right?  I went and for 3 days I was completely alone.  I roomed with students who only wanted to connect with those they already knew, I dined with students who only wanted to eat with those they already knew, I listened to great teaching alongside students to whom I was completely invisible.  Literally, no one cared that I was there!

To be surrounded by over 400 students and to realize that I was invisible was devastating–the loneliest kind of lonely ever.  I snuck outside the camping cabins and wept. So painful.

There’s no more painful loneliness that to be surrounded by people and to realize you are all alone…….

My husband and I served as church pastors for many years; it was always easy to come into a church and make friends. People made a special effort to know us because…we were pastors.   However, breaking into a new church over the years as just simply “church attenders” has been much more challenging, it’s takes so much longer.

I write about this because, especially in the church, we have many gatherings and events.  There are many who “brave” walking through our church doors alone under the hope that someone will want to know them; will go out of their way to include them, make them feel wanted.  But, unfortunately I have heard all to often that it is painfully difficult to “break into” a church culture……..

Hmmmmm……could we do better?  Could we make an effort at our many gatherings to be watchful for the person who is alone; standing in the back hoping so desperately that someone will acknowledge them and invite them to be a part of their group?  Let’s not leave anyone “standing along the fence alone”! 🙂

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