DEPRESSION for me is to lack purpose, but it could equally be that relationships cause you depression. Years ago I grew comfortable that I’m a person whose purpose is to have a purpose — it’s part of my NF (intuitive-feeling) personality. My personality type is rooted more in becoming than being, and when purpose grinds to a halt, I’m not too far from plummeting.
This is not an identity-in-Christ thing; I accept God has made me a certain way — to serve. I usually find that those who will readily say you shouldn’t have your identity in things other than Christ are usually those who are already serving into their purpose. Take their purpose away and they will probably feel emptied of identity. This is something the helping professions simply have to be honest about. We all need purpose to some degree; some of us more than others.
The trouble is we were saved to serve. It doesn’t deny the fact that Christ is all-in-all, but Christ has saved us to contribute in the building of his Kingdom. And with a work ethic to match the gifting he gives us, we are ready and willing to serve. We are most content when our lives have sufficient content to serve purposefully.
Now, about depression.
For me it’s a severe sense of doubting that springs from the first waking moment; a sense of dread fills the mind, purging into the heart, as soon as I fix onto the day ahead.
When I have that sort of dreadful cognition my typically winsome work ethic goes out the window and I lay there pondering the enormity of the day ahead.
Energy is sapped. My heart is junked.
I’m a real people person, but depression sends me into isolation; not because of fear, but because I crave authenticity and I don’t want to be false around people. I want to give them me. When I’m depressed I cannot be me and get away with it. People get to deserve a pastor. Very often, however, I can operate as a pastor if I can assume the presence of the wounded healer. Not pretending I have it all together, I have more warmth, genuineness and empathy to spare people, not less.
Being depressed is not sadness all the time. It’s not debilitating energy levels all the time. It’s not even feeling useless all the time. But it is a weakness to be embodied in the strength of Christ, remembering Jesus chose to be weak.
Being depressed is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s nothing about being inferior. And it’s nothing about not being able to control our emotions. It is what it is. When people become depressed for the first time they suddenly have to acknowledge that they have no control. What they don’t want becomes them. Suddenly empathy for sufferers is all theirs! And that’s a great learning.
Being depressed is like fighting an unwinnable fight. The truth is, in our depression, we’re incredibly brave; yet, we can’t see our own bravery. Jesus wants us to know he is there and able to save.
When life’s a fight, you’re brave,
All the more call on Jesus to save.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.