Honestly, it’s scary how prevalent depression is these days. And don’t kid yourself: like divorce, it’s probably just as commonplace in the church as out. I say “probably” because we don’t have the official numbers, since, to some, confessing depression is like admitting weakness. Based on my personal experience, though, having lived with depression for decades, and after knowing many Christians who also suffer from it, I can tell you it’s more common than many think.
Fessin’ up is not WEAKNESS, in my opinion; it’s STRENGTH. It takes guts to stand up and say, “I’m not ok!”
For those who don’t understand depression—like my dad, who freely admits he has no chronic physical or emotional pain issues whatsoever, even though he is surrounded by those of us who do—let me try and explain what it’s like.
Imagine being at the local park with your friends, kids or grandkids (whoever you hang out with). Everyone is enjoying a nice, picnic lunch, your favorite music is playing in the background, and good times and laughter abounds.
Suddenly, you notice a small cloud in the distance.
“Nothing to worry about,” you tell yourself, and carry on.
But a half hour later you see the cloud has gotten closer, greater and darker. Now you can’t forget about the cloud, yet you continue trying to ignore it. People notice you’re distracted, and you apologize, doing your best to keep your head in the game.
You can’t stop the storm from coming. You KNOW it’s coming, you can feel it in your very bones, but you can’t stop it.
Soon, the cloud is right on top of you, as you feel the first rain drop. You decide to seek shelter as the storm commences and the heavens begin to fall.
As you run to your car, though, you hear someone whisper, “What cloud? What’s he running from? Why’s he leaving so early?”
Then the truth comes out: only YOU can see the dark clouds. Only YOU feel the rain beating down on your skin. Only YOU feel the rush of cooling air as the noonday sun goes into hiding. Exactly why you’re alone in this tempest, nobody seems to know, and while it’s embarrassing, it’s still THERE, and impossible to ignore.
That’s when it becomes easier just to stay in next time someone invites you out.
Believe me, I GET IT: depression is a familiar beast. Millions of people scuffle with it every day, while others look at us like we’re crazy.
I was feeling it last night when I was talking to my wife. We’ve been together more than three decades, and she knew something was wrong, which is when I made the conscious decision to be honest.
This is one of the keys to weathering the storm: be truthful with those who love you.
Even if they can’t relate to what you’re feeling, if they REALLY love you, they’ll help you through it. My wife, Laura…God bless her. She’s so patient and loving. Her, my kids, my grandkids and my mom are my refuge in the shadows. They will love me through the depression, getting my favorite food, watching a movie or even acting like TOTAL GOOBERS, just to make me laugh.
If you have someone who tries to help you through the dark times, LET THEM. Please don’t push them away just because you think you’re not worthy of love.
That’s a lie from the devil! We’re all worthy.
Check out these verses on depression:
“Lord, come quickly and answer me, for my depression deepens and I’m about to give up.
Don’t leave me now or I’ll die!
“Let the dawning day bring me revelation of your tender, unfailing love.
Give me light for my path and teach me, for I trust in you. (Psalm 143:7-8 TPT)”
Notice the Psalmist didn’t stop after confessing the problem. No, he asked the Lord for help, and admitted he was fully trusting in God for an answer.
Last night I sent my mom a text that said, “I give up.” Yeah, that’s how bad it had gotten; the dude who tells others to “NEVER GIVE UP!” had given up. But she and my wife helped me through the pain, through the rain. God bless them.
“The sun’ll come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun
Just thinkin’ about tomorrow, clears the cobwebs and the sorrow, ’till there’s none
When I’m stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely
I just stick out my chin, and grin, and say,
‘The sun’ll come out tomorrow’ *“
There’s a lot of truth in there! And you thought it was just some goofy song from the musical, Annie.
The sun did indeed come out today. I’m still feeling the chilling breeze of my emotional storm this morning, but not quite as much.
The dark clouds are still there, but far in the distance I can see a diminutive crack of light.
The sun is trying to break through.
And that’s the best I can hope for.
To those who suffer from depression, whether in or out of church, please know that I love ya. To borrow a line from our former President, Slick Willy Clinton, “I feel your pain.”
I’m prayin’ for ya.
Don’t give up fighting. The sun will come out again soon, I promise!
Never give up, never give in, never surrender!
* Tomorrow © 1977 Charles Strouse & Martin Charnin