When You’re a Christian Who Struggles With Depression

In 2008 I had just finished up my first senior semester with a 3.6 GPA. I had worked my butt off to get those grades. 6 classes. 4 senior level. 2 Theology classes. 4 English classes.

It literally took everything in me to finish strong . And by the end of the semester, with Christmas just days away, I found myself depressed beyond what words could even describe. It didn’t matter that I loved God or what I told myself…I could not get better.

I was living in daily abuse and lies. I simply could not cope.

Honestly, I knew that I had to make a choice: visit my doctor or die. I wouldn’t have made it through another two weeks…and the small pill she prescribed me changed everything.

I think of depression so differently now than ever before.

To Depress – to lower in force, vigor, or activity; to weaken; to make dull; to press down; to lower in amount or value.

Now, bear with me for a moment…when you take a verb and change it into a noun it is called “a nominalization”.

When you take the action of “depress” and apply it to a subject so repeatedly that the subject takes on the behavior of the action we say, “She has depression.” The verb becomes a noun. The action of the verb becomes a thing.

See it?

Now here’s the thing…depression is so multifaceted that there can be any number of causes. Those causes can be either SELF-inflicted or ENVIRONMENTAL.

An example of “self-inflicted” depression might be lack of proper nutrition, lack of exercise…etc. These are actions YOU have some control over.

But there are also ENVIRONMENTAL causes, actions or events you have zero control over.

This might be death, disease, a traumatic event, lack of proper care as a child…etc.

No one is surprised when a rape victim struggles with depression. No one is surprised when a solider struggles with PTSD. No one is surprised when an overwhelming life event causes anxiety or fear.

There is such a thing as being able to control your depression. But there is also such a thing as not being able to control your depression.

In a lot of ways, depression is a natural response to sin and brokenness.

We were never intended to live in a world with rape or slavery or brutality or childhood abuse or manipulation. God didn’t create the world that way…he created this world perfect and sin destroys perfection.

Is it any surprise that our bodies might have a physiological response to sin?

Is it?

Our bodies respond physiologically to sin every single day simply by the mere FACT that we AGE. Why are Christians so surprised when the very cells of our bodies respond and cry out against brokenness?

C. S. Lewis said, “You are not a body. You are a soul. You have a body.”

We are not mere mortals. We are souls designed to live in perfect community with our Heavenly Father. Sin breaks that communion in ways deeper than we usually care to reflect on.

Here me, and hear my heart. If you are a Christian who struggles with depression I GET IT. In a lot of ways, I have had to take hard inspection of myself to see the places in which my depression has been environmental or has been as a result of my own actions…or lack of action. I am not gonna lie…it’s hard to do this. But it is so worth it. It is also fully possible for depression to be lengthy and lifelong depending on its causes and roots, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still glorify God in and through it.

We are not victims even if we have been victimized. That is not our identity. Our worth is in the simple and beautiful fact that we are created. That’s it. Value of personhood is not earned or gained. It is thrust upon you by your creator. Value…is…intrinsic.

Ask yourself these three questions to test your motivation behind your actions.

1. Is this good for my soul?

2. Is this good for my relationship with Jesus Christ?

3. Is this good for my most intimate relationship?

It is OK if you struggle. It is OK if your body struggles to regain healthy function after trauma. There is no shame. God knows and he sees and he is not surprised by your body responding in a way that he designed. He’s not. Depression does not scare or intimidate God. He is a whole lot bigger than that. And he waits with wide open arms to receive you and receive your pain…

…and he has beautiful things ahead for you.

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