Prodigal Magazine

We Are All Sons and Daughters

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.

Spiritual Depression

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.

Identity

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]

About The Author

Tyler Braun is a pastor from Portland, Oregon whose first book, Why Holiness Matters, just released. You can find Tyler on Twitter or his blog, manofdepravity.com.

  • http://twitter.com/haguejason Jason Hague

    Amen and amen! This is a lesson I’ve been learning as well. Genesis 1 comes before Genesis 3. Our sonship is the truest thing about us. Wonderful post, Tyler.

    • http://manofdepravity.com/ Tyler Braun

      Absolutely. Good connection to the creation account with the fall. I heard someone recently say we think about faith by starting one chapter too late in Genesis and ending one chapter too early in Revelation. Lots of truth is missed out on by doing that.

    • http://manofdepravity.com/ Tyler Braun

      I heard someone say that a lot of Christians live life as if the first part of Genesis and the last part of Revelation didn’t exist. Thankfully they do. There is hope.

  • kingfisher

    Thank you for this honest and vulnerable post. Some of us who live isolated from a caring and supportive local body of Christ can get the idea that this is OUR not-good-enough problem. We can suppose others seem to have it all together, that they are content in Him or else content to “do their own thing.” Yes, God loves us dearly, and unconditionally. But we “should” be mature enough, in Him, to turn to him without our fear of his disapproval. When exactly the reverse is really the truth — that because there’s no way a single one of us can measure up, is why we need a Savior. It’s why we need to be dependent on him utterly.

    One of the blessings of being on the internet has been to learn how many Christians struggle with not-good-enough, and yet are willing to lay bare the bones of their hearts. This helps me know it’s not just “me” who has a need that I should come to him for healing, as if I were some especially hard case, but to understand that most everyone has those deep needs hidden down inside. I can stop being so hard on myself, and have empathy and deep tenderness and concern — and speak lots of prayers on their behalf — toward all those others who suffer so much. Oh, that our eyes may all be opened. Oh, that we might keep bringing our Lord our hopes and prayers and love for all who are afraid, confused, and hurting.

    • http://manofdepravity.com/ Tyler Braun

      It is so easy to put on the mask of “I’m doing fine” in so many places. I’m glad the online world allows people to “lay bare the bones” as you said, but I also hope that we can engage how we really are more with each other face to face. In many ways it’s more damaging to fake it in front of people. Good thoughts.

    • http://manofdepravity.com/ Tyler Braun

      It’s so easy to remain in the comfortable confines of hiding. And while I also appreciate that online sites have allowed others to bare their bones, as you said, I hope we can continually be challenged to do the same with others face to face. Great thoughts.

  • melinda

    Wow! So true. Very wise!

  • http://www.spiritualglasses.me/ Jennifer Upton

    Beautiful post with many takeaways. I have pondered a lot lately how to describe who I am and not just what I do. Thankfully I have not struggled with depression, but I have struggled with identity and still do at times. I was grateful to come across a sermon my Matt Chandler last night that brought much light to my window so to speak on this very subject entitled “A Holy People” http://www.thevillagechurch.net/resources/sermons/

    • http://manofdepravity.com/ Tyler Braun

      I’ve been listening to that sermon series on my runs the last couple weeks and have really enjoyed Matt’s take on an affection-driven holiness. Glad you can see the connection between what I shared here and some of what he hit on in that message.

  • http://twitter.com/shalom08 Shalom

    “Don’t let your struggle become your source of identity.”

    I simply love this statement! It’s very insightful.

    • http://robertburke.me/ Robert Johnson

      Agreed. My favorite statement too.