Some people seem to think Christians cannot suffer from depression. If they do, they must not be “real” Christians. I think I have battled depression to one degree or another for most of my life. I would love to be one of those sunny, bubbly, magnetic Christians who draw people to them like mosquitoes to suntan oil. But I’m not. That’s just not my personality. I’m a listener by nature, and some people seem to mistake that quietness for a judgmental attitude, which I honestly don’t believe I have. That’s not to say I can’t talk. I probably have less trouble with public speaking than most people. But I’m a stoic. Even writing a blog like this is extremely hard for me. Pouring my heart out doesn’t come at all naturally.
Even as a child, I suffered from depression. This verse from Psalms was one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I tended to think of my life as a Cinderella story, and Wade was my Prince Charming. Our “happily ever after” lasted for almost forty years.
But after only ten years, Prince Charming decided his name was actually Daniel Boone, and we moved way back into the woods, and up on top of a mountain. With only one car and three kids, life got a bit depressing again. So I started writing, mostly, to be honest, because there was little TV reception.
Then one day ten years later, Daniel Boone finally came home and said we were moving back into town. I was so elated! But a few days later, he came home again and said the deal had fallen through. I was so angry with God, I literally shook my fist at Him, and said if He didn’t give me my house, I would no longer serve Him. So He gave me my house. It was the worst mistake I ever made. Not that it wasn’t a wonderful house. It was. It was us who changed. My kids were influenced by their peers, and work became a focus for both Wade and me, I began to develop many physical symptoms from stress.
But it wasn’t until Wade and I split and Kara had her death sentence that I suffered the severest depression. I began to have thoughts of suicide. The only thing that kept me from it at first was knowing I had to take care of Kara. God used friends like Krystal Weeks, and music, and many other things to stay my hand..
One thing I’ve always done to combat depression is to surround myself with those same sunny, bubbly Christians I just mentioned. I do this because I know that I tend to reflect the mood of the people I’m with. For forty years I was married to a “super-optimist.” We had a joke that I kept his feet firmly planted on the ceiling and he kept me from slipping through the basement. My daughter Kristina said the other day that we had always brought out the best in each other. And she was right!
After he left, I had to find my own path to that inner joy that goes beyond personality to a peace with who I am in Christ. Krystal and I read a lot of Scripture, spent a lot of time out in nature, and I made other real friends too. I’ve learned though that I can’t let other people determine my mood. I’ve got to depend only on Him for my Joy. And I have to realize that joy doesn’t depend on circumstances. I can’t control those.
Joy is Jesus, there for me every day, holding my hand, walking me through the tough days, and giving me strength. I still do battle with depression, but battle it I will. He is my strength. He is my hiding place. He surrounds me with songs of deliverance. I’m determined to become all that I can be in Christ, not just despite my personality, but within it, because after all, it too was a gift from Him.
TABOO TUESDAY QUESTION OF THE DAY: When have you struggled with depression? What are some ways God has used to overcome it for you?