View Post

3 CONVERSATIONS WITH MYSELF

Talking to Myself–and Talking Back to Myself!–When Depressed   What follows are snatches of verbal give-and-take I have had with myself in recent years, depicting the inner reality when despondency skews my thoughts and perspectives on life and daily experiences. Often these conversations with myself, representative of many others, are only in my mind, not voiced. Occasionally, when I’m alone, they’re audible. You may read this and conclude that I’m throwing a colossal pity party. Or that I should be straitjacketed and led away to the funny farm. Or that I need multiple psychotherapy sessions weekly for the rest of my life. Especially since I’m in vocational Christian ministry, you may be offended to see that despair occasionally spawns coarse language when no one else is around (though such words are camouflaged in this post).  Admittedly, I’m a mess. Yet I’ll risk your condescension for the sake of giving a bird’s-eye view of what goes on inside some depressed people. Rest assured:  I’m not alone as a Christian, or even as a Christian leader, who says these kind of things to himself. I ask you to extend grace to me, and to focus more on the rebuttals I give, which show how faith and …

View Post

WARNING: Depressive Episode Ahead!

Two More Potential Dangers of Depression   After decades of experiencing chronic depression, I’m intimately acquainted with the potential pitfalls.  In my previous post, I identified two: *Depression Spawns Self-Centeredness *Depression Engenders Doubts About Beliefs In today’s post I share two additional warnings. These are more sobering than the first two.   1.  Depression Increases Vulnerability To Temptation Conditions that often accompany depression include adrenalin depletion, fatigue, apathy, hopelessness, self-condemnation, and sometimes, emotional numbness, or an incapacity to feel or experience pleasure. A person who’s negative about the possibility of spiritual growth or achievements in life will more likely succumb to sins he has formerly resisted. A “What’s the use!?” attitude may envelop him.  It’s easier to rationalize sin because it seems as if past obedience hasn’t improved his lot, or it’s harder to trust the Holy Spirit for continued resistance while in a state of mental or emotional frailty. When someone experiences a robotic incapacity to feel pleasure in things or people that normally evoke joy, the lure of sin that promises a quick fix–a titillation of the senses– becomes increasingly attractive. This is one explanation for sins in the sexual sphere.  For example, yielding to masturbation or pornography …

View Post

WHEN THE BRANCHES ARE BARE

Truths to Encourage Us When We’re Despondent over Lack of Fruit in Ministry   *This is a longer-than-usual post.  But it’s an important one!  Whether you are a serious volunteer (lay Bible teacher, personal witnessing, etc.) or a vocational Christian leader, the following truths can massage a heart that’s discouraged about ministry, particularly if the issue is lack of apparent fruitfulness.   Tears streamed down Jerry’s red cheeks.  His chin quivered, making talk difficult.  “I feel like a failure,” he stammered.  “Did I waste those years in seminary?  I’m wondering if God called me into the ministry, after all.  Things just aren’t working out the way I’d planned.” What spawns Jerry’s perplexity is the inability to land a ministry position since he graduated two years ago.  He interviewed with three churches and two parachurch organizations, but wasn’t hired.  He languishes in a low-level administrative job, frustrated because his potential remains untapped, his gifts dormant.  The rejections are siphoning off his confidence.  “I just want someone to want me,” he laments. Discouragement over a period of barrenness in ministry affects laypersons as well as vocational workers.  In John 15, Jesus identified His followers as branches who are expected to bear fruit.  Yet it’s …

View Post

3 REASONS I AM GRATEFUL FOR DEPRESSION

Don’t hoist the wrong conclusion from this post. I detest depression.  I loathe the inertia, the sad countenance, and negative thinking that accompanies most episodes of despondency.  And through spiritual disciplines, counseling, medications–or a combination of these weapons–I’ll fight for my joy until I take my last breath. But since God has not yet removed this nemesis, I’ve identified a few benefits of it, or reasons why He hasn’t yanked out this thorn in my flesh. Though God knows I yearn for the demise of it, nonetheless I thanked Him recently for these benefits of chronic depression.    Depression Enhances God’s Glory and Reputation in My Life and Ministry. Psalm 50:15 suggests that a need or problem in my life provides a rich opportunity for God to receive more honor:  “Call on Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”   In this verse, there’s a direct grammatical link between honoring God, and the desperation that causes me to cry out to Him. When trouble spawns dependence on Him, I give God an opportunity to do what only He can do:  remove the cause of trouble, or more often, strengthen me on the inside so I …