She shouldn’t have said it, but she did. The words cut deep. Words that I would expect an enemy to say, not one of my closest friends. I spiraled. For weeks after, waves of depression crashed over me. Relentless waves of self-hatred and despair. Her words continued to ring in my ears, and I became fixated on them. I had a young family to care for, but I found it difficult to function. Every chore felt like a mountain. I felt helpless. Powerless to get up. Powerless to find joy again.
Life events can knock us on our backsides sometimes, leaving us feeling like we’ve had the breath knocked out of us. If you’re like me, I truly didn’t know how to get back up. I thought depression was just something that either happened to me or it didn’t. I felt like it’s prisoner. Whether it looks true or not, here is a powerful truth:
We are not powerless victims of depression.
As believers, we have been given what we need to resist it. Learning how to do that can be a process. For me, it was one that took years. The first step is to ask God to teach us how to stand. He loves to answer this prayer!
Let’s take a look at some practical ways that we can overcome depression:
Resist depression BEFORE the problem surrounding it is resolved. When we feel depressed, it’s natural to attach it to a problem we’re facing. “I’m feeling depressed because ____________happened to me. A death, a betrayal of trust, a diagnosis, a job loss. The list is endless. We might have a thousand things going right in our lives, but depression tempts us to fixate on that THING. That trauma, that lack, that betrayal. A Pastor once told me that we empower what we focus on. I’ve found that to be Soooo true.
The writer of Habakkuk was facing a crisis, big time. He wrote,
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
Habakkuk chose to praise God BEFORE the crisis was over. In the New Testament, we see the Apostle Paul did the same thing. He praised God in a prison cell right after he’d been flogged. (a vicious beating that often ended in death) Fixing our gaze on God rather than on our problem is a powerful tool in overcoming depression.
Another practical way to overcome depression is by facing the pain. The crisis happened. We can’t change that. What we can change is the way we respond to that pain. One reason the cutting words from my close pain caused such on-going pain was because I ignored them. I stuffed the pain down deep. I didn’t process them in a healthy way. Venting to others is NOT processing the pain in a healthy way. Venting just feeds our pain and anger.
So, how do we process in a healthy way? First, Identify your emotions. Sit down with a pen and paper and identify every negative emotion you felt during the crisis. Then go into your prayer closet and tell God about every one of those emotions, “God, when she said that, it made me feel shame. It made me feel criticized and rejected,…” Then make the choice to forgive. Forgiveness a gateway to emotional healing.
Choose to worship God BEFORE you feel like it. Do you want heaviness (depression) to lift off of you TODAY? Then worship until it lifts. And it will lift. Don’t back down on this. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I’m not trying to over-simplify breaking free from depression. For some, it means learning to stand through repeated bouts of depression. This is how it was for me. There were times in the beginning when I had to resist depression many times in a single day. But it does get better if you persist. In time it begins to fade and you may only have to resist it once in a week. Stand firm and you will see results.
One practical way that I incorporate worship into my daily life is by having a worship playlist. On days when I discern heaviness operating I turn on that playlist. It turns my gaze onto the Lord. It also helps me to bring my agreement to the Lord being the One Who restores my soul. Some of the songs on my playlist are:
- Yes I will by Vertical Worship
- Beauty for Ashes by Crystal Lewis
- Do it again by Elevation Worship
- My Revival by Lauren Daigle
- Joy of the Lord by Bethel Music and Jenn Johnson
May the Lord bless and keep you and make His face shine upon you,