Friday, February 27, 2009

Defeating Depression

Last night after Jesse read my post from yesterday, he said, "You sure wear your heart on your sleeve on your blog." I can't and wouldn't argue with his point, he's right. I do tend to share quite a bit of personal stuff here, which is weird, because in "real" life I'm more than a bit shy. I have a hard time dealing with crowds of people unless I know all of them well. Even in small groups, I have to know the people well before I relax enough to really smile or laugh, and to get the kind of personal exposure I give here takes knowing me for years, maybe for life. There are people who have known me my entire life who probably don't know me as well as those who have never met me but read this blog, and that's my fault, not theirs. I have a hard time sharing what's really important to me, but typing on a keyboard instead of talking face to face seems to make it easier for me. I've made some wonderful connections through this blog. Yesterday after my post, I received a couple of emails from regular readers with messages of encouragement, and just receiving them was a huge boost to my spirits.

A big part of blogging feels like my ministry. I hope that by sharing my triumphs and tragedies in the bigger story of my faith can help others see what faith looks like. Not that I'm a model Christian by any stretch of the imagination. My faith waxes and wanes, I walk through valleys and on mountaintops, and I'm constantly learning. My biggest hope for this blog is that someone, maybe just one person, will be touched by my words and their faith will grow as well. Mia and I were watching Hermie the Caterpillar on DVD last night. It's a cute story by Max Lucado about a caterpillar who wants to be something more than he is, beautiful or strong or talented. He talks to God about it, and God tells him that He isn't finished with him yet. To which Hermie replies, "Umm, ok. When? When will you be finished?" At the end of the movie, Hermie has become a beautiful butterfly, and all of his caterpillar friends who teased him were now praying to God. Mia looked at me and said, "Look Mommy. His friends are all praying to God because they want what he's got." That's what we're supposed to do as Christians; live in a way that makes other people want what we've got. That's the lesson I'm hanging on to for today.

Defeating Depression by Leslie Vernick is subtitled Real Hope for Life-Changing Wholeness, and the book definitely lives up to it. The book addresses the myriad sources for depression and the ways to treat it, even including anti-depressant medication. I think that when Christians suffer from depression they bear a heavier burden than many others, because of the guilt and shame that goes along with it. Some Christians believe that faith in God should be enough and that depression is just a lack of faith, but Vernick destroys that myth through careful research and anecdotes. I haven't had long-term depression, but I do go through some minor bouts of it because of my rheumatoid arthritis, and the tools that Vernick recommends: anti-depressants, prayer, and counseling offer a great deal of help and hope. Vernick removes the shame associated with depression by pointing out that biblical figures like King David as well as well-known ministers like Charles Spurgeon have battled it. She included a Spurgeon quote: Any fool can sing in the day. When the cup is full, man draws inspiration from it; when wealth rolls in abundance around him any man can sing to the praise of a God who gives a plenteous harvest...It is not natural to sing in trouble...Songs in the night come only from God; they are not in the power of man. This book offers real hope and solutions for anyone suffering from depression.

The winners of this week's book contest were Debbie Van Beek and Judy Brockman. Congratulations to both of them! I'll be holding two contests next week, so make sure you come back on Monday!