Mental Health and Spiritual Health

In an effort to nuance some of my thoughts on suicide that I posted at The Gospel Coalition, I want to write a few more posts here to answer some responses and excellent questions I have received in light of that post. Hopefully these will be helpful as you think through your own depression or those around you.

One of the first things I want to respond to relates to those who claim that if you just have enough faith you will not suffer depression. My question to that person is faith in what or in who? If you answer “God” or that you ought to have faith in “God’s love for you,” then I would say that the Bible does not teach us that category of faith equaling the lack of depression or sadness. To say so would make 3/4 of the Bible irrelevant to our experience this side of the Fall.

Just a couple days ago, I was reading Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I take counsel in my soul

and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;

light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”

lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the Lord,

because he has dealt bountifully with me.

We see here that David lived in reality. For someone to say that depression doesn’t happen to those who are full of faith obviously doesn’t live in the same world of betrayal and frustration and fear and pain that David lived in. . .that I live in. Therefore, such a counselor has no place in my counsel. They are out of touch with the reality that all Creation groans in the pains of childbirth awaiting the consummation of all things. We likewise groan. Longing for full, unbridled adoption. An adoption that has not bit in its mouth reminding it that life hems it in.

Such were Job’s friends. Miserable counselors for sure. As I have said, those who struggle with depression may actually be the most honest among us. Being struck by the reality of pain and suffering and that things are not the way they are supposed to be. May all who give poison under the guise of balm for our pained hearts be done with their sermonizing and lies.

The Epiphany

Giotto - The EpiphanyYesterday was what the church has celebrated as The Epiphany. Did you know that? Neither did I.

I have found that in an effort for genuine piety, us evangelicals have famished ourselves from the richness of years of tradition. I am starting to re-discover some of the old ways as a means to grow in my personal devotion.

Yesterday was the day the church has celebrated when the Magi visited the Christ in Bethlehem. It is also referred to as The Theophany (“The Appearance of God”). Why is it significant? This is the day we can celebrate that God revealed himself in humble glory to Gentiles. For generations us Gentiles were on the outside looking in. But on this day, we can celebrate the opening of Glory to our occult eyes.

This is the magnificent truth that Paul understood as he relished the opening of the door to the Gentiles in the book of Acts. But it is from the outset of Christ’s Advent that we can celebrate the global purposes of God in choosing not just to reveal himself to Israel, but also to the Gentiles.

What is more, The Epiphany is a foretaste of the Day when kings from all four corners of the earth will lay their socio-political powers at the feet of the bloodied Lamb of God. We hasten that Day and know that gold, frankincense, and myrrh are a deposit to the future glory when all treasures of the earth will be placed at the Servant King’s footstool.

Here’s a great place to start your understanding. . .even if you’re a day late!

Resetting Life

Okay, this will be my last post on this topic (at least for a while, until I figure out more of the implications of the reset). But some of you may be thinking you want to hit the reset button on your life but you don’t know where to start. Here are three steps that I walked to start my reset, and maybe they’ll be helpful for you.

1. Blank Piece of Paper

Get one and have a pen in your hand. Not a pencil. Write this question at the top of your paper: If all my bills were paid, what would I do? Sure you can dream. That’s the point!

Sure. Write down, “Travel to Italy.”

The point is to write it down. . .in ink. No erasing. Write down your dreams.

This is where my journey started one early morning with a cup of coffee. I began by asking God what it was that I was truly passionate about. What is it that people affirmed in my life as something they enjoyed when I was doing it.

Flip your blank piece of paper over and reminisce. What were you doing when you were most happy? List them. Vocational. Relational. Recreational.

This helps you get a gauge on how you have been wired. Is there a common thread running through any of these things? For me it was teaching and leading. Take those threads, flip your blank sheet over, and write them in the bottom right corner of the dream side of your paper.

Have this piece of paper with you at all times as you gradually push the reset button. It may take a day or a month (like me).

2. Cleanse
I know this is the latest trend, but I’m not talking about your gastro-intestinal functions. . .necessarily. Your cleanse could very well include juicing. Time to buy that Ninja!

No, I started by taking a very long walk/run with the purpose of clearing my mind primarily (exercise was secondary at this point).

I then rented a carpet steamer and got a mop and cleaned the house. Much to my wife’s contentment.

I then took a long, hot shower.

Why cleanse? This symbolically and physically sets a marker in your life for when you reset your life. Consider a rite of passage into your new chapter. It symbolically washes away the assumptions and fears and way you used to do things, making a clean slate for a revised story.

3. Read & Write
I read these two things that helped me step forward:

“Don’t Quit Your Job. Fire Your Boss”  @AaronDMcHugh has challenged and helped and scared me with this essay. Exceptional. One that you would do well to read slowly (a little each night before you go to bed, rather than in one sitting). Have your blank piece of paper next to you.

“How to be Productive in 2014″ @MattPerman has done a great service for us in making resolutions that work. I followed his directions and have a clearer plan for 2014, in bite-sized chunks that are attainable. Exciting stuff.

Your Turn:

What have you found helpful in resetting your priorities? What’s holding you back?

Page 1 of 20012345»102030...Last »