The Boston marathon terror act is far too fresh in my mind. It is devastating, death-giving and just plain depressing. Depression is something all of us have shared at one time or another. Depression may be situational or other, but it honestly asks and demands to be taken care of no matter how debilitating it is to us personally, our family and those around us.
Depression is nothing new to scripture, yet you might think it never occurs according to some preachers. And if it does happen, it is because you aren’t “right with the Lord.” Job suffered the fools in first three friends, then a fourth, who all knew the cause of his depression, or so they thought. They took what I call “the surface thinking” way out. They just told Job he was wicked, a liar and not worthy of God’s care. It gets so bad that Job’s wife yells out, “Curse God and die.” WhatSt. Augustinetook as a further condemnation of all women (I have NO defense of him) was actually a cry of anguish and pity. She couldn’t stand to watch Job suffer.
An occasional bad day is one thing, but as Linus Mundy writes, “When we’re down and out, our fellow human beings are there to help us, more than we ever know. Beyond that, our faith tells us squarely that we can ask for-and expect- divine help too.”
I have a great deal of admiration for those who know when to seek physical and soul help. As I told the children in a sermon on April 14th, the three best words you may ever speak are, “Please help me.” (See Psalm 30) I long for the day when we can discuss our deeper hurts openly without fear of someone retaliating later on when we are most vulnerable.
Here are some thoughts from “Elf-Help for Overcoming Depression.”
1. Feeling down is a natural reaction to life’s hurts, stresses, changes and disappointments. The road to taking action and feeling well again begins with self-awareness: understanding depression and realizing just where you are.
2. Information is your best weapon against depression. Learn all you can about its causes, types and treatment.
3. We come to know ourselves well only after we’ve brushed up against a lot of adversity. Rather than being threatened by depression, see it as a springboard to personal growth and self-understanding.
4. Depression is an illness of the body, mind and spirit. To treat it, you must pay attention to all of you. Where are you hurting? Ask yourself how you can bring healing to that part of your life.
5. Because depression frequently has physical causes and effects, to really “cheer up” or “snap out of it” often requires medical assistance. Turn to the experts who can help you treat it and defeat it.
I so greatly admire people who have learned to ask for what I call “inner help.” Sometimes I think our society has come a long way from 1972 when Thomas Eagleton had to step down from the McGovern presidential ticket since he had received mental health therapy. Other times I still see the shame some have, and the shame that is laid on those who are courageous enough to seek help.
I see therapy as being part of God’s indelible light. The beginning of the gospel of John says that the light came into the world and darkness could not put it out. Not our darkness, or the shadows others cast on us. ”This little light of mine” still shines, no matter how dim, and through help can once again glow and warm others.
Peace and hope,