I wanted to spend this morning talking about a verse I came across that has meant a great deal to me, but at the same time it has also caused me to think a lot.
For me the verse deals with living with challenges to life of health and other mental health issues in our life.
The verses come from 1 John 3:24 and it says,
“As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit, he gave us. “
This translation is from The Message which is an easier to read and understand translation of the Bible.
When you’re struggling with pain and depression challenges you about what you thought was your norm, because you can’t do what you thought you could do at this time. Then it is normal to find times like these to make you sad. When we go back in our minds as opposed to looking forward, it is then without a doubt, we will experience disappointment, despair and even depression.
Last week for no real reason other than I guess I too was thinking about some things I wanted to do; excuse me I wish I could do; but can’t. It took me to a place that I haven’t been for some time. Serious, debilitating depression.
My Clinical, deep depression was totally debilitating, so much so that by Friday I got up, had coffee, and frankly went back to bed and laid down all day. I spent too much time thinking about what I can’t do and allowed it to bring me down. I knew I should not look back, but I did, then as one would say “I wallowed in my deep depression”.
I certainly feel it’s important that I mention that I don’t let depression rule my life, in fact I take two antidepressants to help me not have it rule my life. But, faced with mounting changes that all of us can face, because of health, of other limitations, such as mental or physical or both. We can find ourselves in a position of really struggling, even when we want to be positive.
In the earlier chapters, I talked about the steps that you must go through as you initially find out you have a problem. One of those steps is depression. Depression is a natural and a needed process that takes you down to the bottom, it can help you strip away those things which you were holding onto. When you reach very bottom and let go is when change can happen. The truth is you can find yourself back there at any time.
It is at that point; at the depth of your despair that if you allow it God can enter your life to pull you up. This is also the moment that his spirit can live in you.
With God, you can find and experience a deep abiding presence in you, through the Spirit. That doesn’t mean that that feeling never goes away. You will always feel it to some degree.
As humans, we look to the future and we seem certain that it will be the way, we want it to be. We build our hopes and expectations on it. We work and focus our desire and so many other emotions on it.
What the verse means to me is that if you allow God, to be your focus, for your strength, then you will find actual strength. The things you can’t do; at their best are a weak substitute, especially when you have a choice of a much better foundation to avoid depression.
Focus on the Spirit
Focusing on the Spirit as your strength is exactly where my strength comes from. I put my trust in God and I trust him to help me work through these issues to turn what is a negative to a positive.
I then can go back to find the new things that bring me joy. I can use coping mechanisms to deal with daily challenges that can help make my life full and rich, and not full of regret.
I find deep solace in understanding his love and endurance for me and quite frankly; yes; I do feel it. It is not something that I can easily describe it is a sense of presence that I feel in my life.
I sense it most when I am outside. I specially feel God’s spirit when I’m in nature. I know that his spirit dwells in all things, but mostly it gives power to those who believe.
But challenges still come and come, and this is exactly when depression hits.
My experience is to some degree; you cannot avoid it. It can overwhelm you, it can in fact be devastating, it can be something that really takes you down, in the middle of a good day, for no good reason.
You need to develop an ability to step back; to think about it; and then start taking stock of the things which do bring you joy.
For me it was getting up in the morning, enjoying the sunshine, getting out in the fresh air. It is focusing on things that I enjoy doing and the things I can do.
For example, on Sunday; after church; (we still watch on-line) I/we decided we needed to get some fresh air. So, Sunday after church, we went out and enjoyed God’s creation.
We went over to Wellfield Gardens in Elkhart and walked through beautiful spring nature. I enjoyed taking photographs, I also enjoyed the walk although physically it challenged me. It is about half a mile around with side trips to gardens, so I probably walked about a mile by the end of the visit that afternoon.
Monday I was feeling sore from walking that far, so it wasn’t without challenge. I could have focused on that, but I thought about the beauty that I saw and the pictures that I took.
I printed a couple of landscape photos off and used them to paint watercolors. I’ll post the watercolor I painted on the website so I can share it and hopefully you can enjoy it too.
That watercolor is a fruit. The opposite of depression. One of things I listed in my article about finding positive things you can do even with your disability. These are the things I listed which were on my ‘Positive Side” of the leger. The things that I want to do with my life, even though I had new physical limitations.
Enjoying nature and watercolor painting was on the list. I have a good friend Dr. Becky who has a deep understanding of psychological and mental issues. She, first subtly, and then not so subtly, informed me I was using far too much of the right side of my brain. I need to go back and used some a left side of my brain. I will tell you; she was right (again). It felt good; it helped release some of those endorphins that help me feel whole and it excited me to do more.
So, I’m not sure what your list is composed of, but there are things which you can do that matter, no matter what your physical limitation or mental limitation is.
The key is finding them and getting back to them, and like Dr. Becky told me; we should use both sides of our brain. We should use those things which are creative to offset those things which are structured.
So, I’ll leave you with this thought. Depression is something that we can deal with it, but I hope that like me, you will find that you are trusting God and the Spirit to find your way out of it. I hope you too experience his deep and abiding presence.
I leave you with that thought of love…