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Saturday, December 22, 2007

For Those Who Struggle Through the Holidays

Dear Reader: The following is a column I wrote for our local newspaper. This column probably means the most to me of all that I've written because I can relate first-hand to depression, and I received more feedback about this column than any other. You may not be struggling in the grip of depression, but you probably know someone who is. God is sovereign--let God be praised, for He pulls us out of pits such as depression and promises that nothing can ever separate us from His love!

Words of Hope for the Discouraged

Lauren sits at the Christmas dinner table with her head gratefully bowed, realizing she's holding the hands of the dearest blessings in her life: family. But Lauren's Christmas prayer is an exercise in faith and maturity because she doesn't feel much emotional warmth or connection. She is numb. Lauren is fighting depression that intensifies during the holidays, when the pressure is on to be happy.

Can believers, claiming to know the source of peace and wholeness, be depressed? From David, who poured out his intense angst in the Psalms, to you and me, it happens. Whether by circumstance or biology, people of faith struggle with this paradox.

Others simplistically advise, "Read your Bible more," or "Quit navel-gazing and go work in a soup kitchen," or "Depression is a part of life. Get over it." The depressed person knows that compared to those in Darfur or those facing catastrophic illness and loss, she has nothing to moan about, so the admonishment only contributes to her implosion -- guilt and shame are heavyweights. Some people are born seeing their proverbial gravy boats half full instead of half empty, and they will never understand persistent depression.

Many in the heat of the battle faithfully follow directives for coping, including counseling, medication, serving others, exercising, keeping a gratitude journal, etc. They are committed to slogging through the wet cement of depression. Still, they are wondering, "Will this ever end?"

It will.

The key is not to ask, "How long, O Lord?" but to continually affirm, "His grace (strength) is sufficient for me," whether enduring the holidays or 3 a.m. insomnia. Just because you don't feel spiritual doesn't mean God has left you; relationship is more than feelings. The verse 2 Timothy 2:13 says, "If we are faithless, he will remain faithful."

Sometimes we travel through dark tunnels we never saw coming. We look around, and others don't seem to be affected. We look ahead and can't see any light. We pray and hear an echo. Pretty soon we just sit quietly, confused and anxious.

Keep praying -- your prayers are heard.

The shortest distance between two points, the beginning and end of your tunnel, is a straight line. Don't be so impatient to stop the pain that you lurch out sideways; you'll feel the wall you throw yourself into. Listen for the voice that says, "This is the way, walk in it; do not turn to the right or to the left."

You are going to come out on the other side of depression like waking from a coma. Your spiritual eyes will open, and you'll see how God was with you, teaching you, comforting you. You won't be so tired anymore. Your relationships will be meaningful again. The glass wall between you and others will shatter. You'll be glad you hung in there for one more day ... then one more day.

Your purpose and destiny are not nullified because of this struggle. In fact, you'll be able to help others better because you'll be spiritually richer, more compassionate, more humble, more usable, and more in love with God.

So stay the course. The darkness is almost over. Hold on one more day ... and then one more.

2nd Cup of Coffee

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Blogger Barbie said...

Thank you

December 22, 2007 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

Bless you sweetie.

December 22, 2007 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger Darnelle said...

Only someone who has walked through the darkness and come out on the other side could have written this. I've only experienced a brief depression as a result of a difficult circumstance. But I've been very close to two people who have struggled with severe depression - your words are true, and inspired, and I believe will minister hope. I don't think it could be said any better. Thank you for sharing.

December 22, 2007 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Great post! My mom was a depressed person and she really struggled during the holidays. She died in Dec. just before Christmas, and I am saddened during that time a little, but with God's grace am able to go on and know that the sun is shinning brightly and all is well.

December 23, 2007 at 2:53 AM  
Blogger Cre8Tiva said...

this year many seem to be struggling...this is where i willo send them...blessings of the season to you and your family, rebecca

December 23, 2007 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

Wow, Linda. What a timely word for the other side of what people feel during this season. I often get a touch of it myself because I get so disillusioned with what this season has become. I love the idea of Christmas but not the western reality..does that make any sense?

Thank you for sharing how God comforted you with us...


December 24, 2007 at 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Yvonne said...

Thank you Linda for your encouraging words. I myself am struggling with severe depression and do so from time to time. I feel exactly like you said. I pray and feel like I am not being heard, I wonder if this illness will ever stop tormenting me and yes, it can drain you where you cannot do anything because you think no one understands. Honestly some don't. Others see the outside of me so don't have a clue what I am dealing with because according to them I look great. I always say to myself if they only knew that I am dying inside. Like if a truck has parked itself on my chest and doesn't want to move. What keeps me holding on? That I have been through this before and God has seen me through, and though I may feel faithless right now, he is faithful. God bless, Yvonne

August 16, 2008 at 1:00 PM  

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It is good to hear from you... thank you so very much for leaving a note on the table. That makes us smile!

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