Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Depressed Christian

Can a Christian be depressed?
This is probably one of the only times I'm going to get up on my soapbox. This is one of those topics that's close to my heart, as I work with adults with mental illness.  Too often I hear from my clients (and sometimes friends and church family) that they have been told that if a Christian is depressed it is because of a lack of faith.  I have a problem with this philosphy, and I will tell you why.
First, though, I want to explore depression a little deeper. NAMI, The National Alliance on Mental Illness published a brief overview of Major Depressive Disorder that I'm going to use. I also looked over my DSM (Diagnositc and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) briefly.

What is its cause?
There is no single cause. Psychological, biological, and environmental factors may all contribute to its development. Whatever the specific causes of depression, scientific research has firmly established that major depression is a biological, medical illness.

What are the symptoms?
I'm just going to go through a few: persistently sad or irritable mood , physical slowing or agitation, and feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness.

So, as Christians, how do we treat brothers and sisters who are depressed?
Here's two statements that I have heard often

1.You need to have more faith
2. Don't let Satan steal your joy.
Now, when I say that those are statements that I have heard, I should also emphasize that these are things I have said. It has just been the past couple of years that I have come to a better understanding of depression.

So, regarding number one:
    Hebrews 11:1- "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Depression is a medical illness. We don't tell people with cancer that they need to have more faith! If one of the symptoms of depression is hopelessness, how much faith does it take to hold on if your emotions are screaming at you that there is no hope?  Great faith.  Feelings of guilt are another symptom of depression.  The DSM states: "The sense of worthlessness or guilt may be of delusional proportions."  These people already feel guilty, let's not add to it by telling them their faith isn't good enough.

Regarding number two:
    1 Thessalonians 5:16- "Be joyful always."
Are joy and happiness the same? I think that sometimes we take the idea of what Paul means about joy and twist it a little bit.  Paul isn't saying, "be bouncing-off-the-walls-freaking-out-with-joy always."  We can be joyful even when we are unhappy.
I just want to wrap this up by saying that yes, depression can be a result of sin, but it is not always a result of sin. And who are we to make that judgment anyway?
      James 1:12: "Blessed is the man who perservers under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."
      Galatians 6:2: Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
I don't beleive that our friends and family should have to wear a mask when they are depressed.  I've always thought that we should be able to be open and honest about our struggles. 
So what are your thoughts on depression and faith?


Monday, October 19, 2009

Love is a Choice

I frequently hear about people "falling out of love." Can that REALLY be true? Because from my understanding, love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). I think what our real problem is we don't understand what love is.  And how can we possibly understand what love is if we don't know Love?

1 John 4:8
"Whoever does not know love does not know God, because God is love."

So this could be our first problem.  We don't know God.  We have no understanding of what love is like, because we don't know Love (AKA: God). Until I knew God, no one had any kind of chance to be loved by me.  I loved them in the capacity that I had, but it was very small compared to the abundance of love in Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8:
"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil be rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

If you want to know what God's love is like, just take the word "love" and subsitute it for "God."

As believers, we have the power of God inside of us.  I truly believe that we can best showcase God's power when we do things out of love. Our love should look like God's love.  Look at Jesus' life. He lived a life of love on Earth and still lives it in Heaven today!

How is your love? The best way for me to examine where I'm at is by taking my name and substituting it for love in that verse.  Is my love patient and kind?  Not always.  Sometimes I act like I've never read this verse in the first place.  But love isn't always a feeling, sometimes it is a choice. We may choose to act in love, or to allow our emotions take over.  I don't know about you, but it's usually a disaster when I allow that to happen.

So tell me, how is your love?

Friday, October 16, 2009

No Strings Attached

Are you ever cursed with a song that just won't get out of your head? Well, that was me the other day with N'Sync's "No Strings Attached."
Baby, you’re not the only one
You don’t have to be afraid to fall in love 
And I know that you’ve been hurt in the past 
But if you want it, here’s my heart 
No strings attached

I'm not ashamed. And if you don't mind me going off on a tangent for a moment, I went to an N'Sync concert when I was in the 7th grade with my middle school BFF. Her dad was able to get front row seats and I totally touched their hands. I think I scared Justin because I came fairly close to yanking him off stage. I remember to this day that Lance had baby-soft hands. I should have been suspicious then...

Anyway, with this song in my head, I started thinking about God's love. I remember before I became a Christian, the main thing that held me back was the fact that I didn't want to change my lifestyle. I didn't want to be required to live a certain way, speak a certain way, and I sure as heck didn't want to give up the things I had at the time.

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Wait... Freedom? And that's what I have found out about what God's love truly is, a no-strings-attached love. God loves us just the way we are, just where we are, and just who we are. I am now free from this world and the struggles the held me down. I am free of the overwhelming sense of nothing-ness that I tried to fill with other things that damaged me when I didn't know Him.

And that's how I was changed. I wasn't forced...it was my choice. When you encounter love so extreme, so unconditional, and that you are so completely undeserving of, I don't think you can ever be the same.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hello....la, la, la.

Hello, world.I've had this recurring idea to start a blog for a while now. I questioned whether or not it was actually God calling me to do it or just an idea that I've had. I've put it off for so long because of thoughts like "I'm not the blogging type" (if there is such a thing), or "I have nothing interesting to say." Then I saw that Google (which I'm obsessed with) had a blogging site! So here I am, Missy the non-blogging boring girl!

I plan on posting things that God is teaching me and questions that I would love to discuss with believers and non-believers. So in celebration of my first blog EVER, I want to share my favorite verse with you:
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6b
The reason I love this verse so much is because I have learned a lot about what love really looks and feels like coming from someone when they are loving you like Jesus does. I want people to know what God's love feels like, and I want them to experience that love through me. If I have faith in Christ, then my love should show it.

Any feedback on the first post ever?