Not long into my marriage with Rose, she began to struggle with depression. Many years ago she was diagnosed by a physician with depression, but now and then the medication doesn’t quite cut it and she struggles to navigate life. At times she can feel completely empty inside—hallowed out.
I can distinctly remember coming home from work to her sitting on the couch with tears streaming down her face. Everything about that moment is vivid in my memory.
Her puffy eyes. The sunshine streaming in through the windows. The pile of used tissues sitting next to Rose.
But more than any mental picture, I felt as if I were the worst husband in the world because I knew I couldn’t fix the problem.
Some days the pain she felt inside was so strong that she would call in sick to work. Most days she figured out a way to fake her way through the day to day of life so no one noticed how much she was struggling.
While I’ve never dealt with medical or seasonal depression, I have gone through a season I can best describe as spiritual depression. It was a season brought on completely by my own sin and subsequent shame.
Not long ago my life was crumbling around me. The relationship I had with my girlfriend at the time was unhealthy and barely hanging on. I had very few friendships left—the aftermath of trying to give all my attention and devotion to her. And worse yet, I had no trust in myself to turn things around, or trust in God to come through, like he had in the past.
I thought of myself as a failure, a loser, and a sinner incapable of receiving grace from a perfect and holy God.
What began as a heartfelt desire to figure out life on my own had ultimately led to a comfort with sin that I could not move beyond.
Once sin gets a hold of our lives it can quickly become the desire of our hearts. Click here to tweet this (and a chance to win a copy of Tyler’s Book).
One of the hardest pieces of depression is how it makes us feel incapable of doing anything.
With so much of our lives wrapped in what we can or cannot do, depression slowly speaks words of death to us and we believe the lies. We’re worthless, invaluable failures.
Studies show that around 25% of the US population has struggled with depression for a significant period of time. Depression can stem from relationships, situations, medical issues, chemical imbalances, and plenty of other issues. If you’ve struggled with medical, seasonal, or even spiritual depression you know the grip it can take on your life, where even functioning becomes the most difficult chore of all.
Depression begins to teach us that we are defined by what we do and since we are unable to do much of anything, we are failures.
In light of this, I have no doubt many of us have walked through seasons of spiritual depression. Spiritual depression kicks in when we realize that all our effort to become perfect people didn’t result in greater happiness or closeness with God.
The defining point of our lives is best described as identity. Identity is what we use to inform ourselves about who we are and what we should do with our lives.
Don’t let your struggle become your source of identity.
When our identities are defined by depression, sin, or our inability to keep up, we teach ourselves that God is out to spite us for not being godly or perfect enough. All of the Bible study teachings on God’s love can’t overcome the grip of poor identity.
This shame we have leads us to doubt God’s love and his ability to care for us. Shame forces us to hide from people. When we have an identity in anything other than how God sees us, we try to prove ourselves or we try to hide from him.
So what does it take to move beyond our shame-filled identities?
I wish I had an easy answer to help you start to develop a healthy identity surrounded in Christ’s love and sacrifice for you, but I can share my own daily practice.
Every morning I get up to read, meditate, and pray before the sun meets my window. And every morning I end my prayer with the following statement/prayer:
“You are not defined by what you do. You are defined by who you are. You are a son of the King.”
May this prayer be a declarative statement of truth that shines through the shattered pieces of your life and allows you to enter into the loving embrace of a Savior who sees beauty and potential in you, while lavishing His affection on you.
We are all sons and daughters.
—This post is adapted from the book Why Holiness Matters. Learn more about an exclusive offer for purchasing the book— For a chance to win a copy of Why Holiness Matters tweet this article (click here).
[To win a copy of Why Holiness Matters you must click the link to tweet. We will randomly select three winners on Friday August 3, 2012 at 9pm EDT.] [photo: A Jordan Pryor]