recovery in Christ when life is broken

Showing items filed under “December 2016”

Can a Christian be Depressed?

Depression is defined as a persistent sad mood or loss of pleasure in normal activities. Normal ups and downs are a common part of life. For some, however, feelings of sadness and hopelessness can become crippling or prolonged, making normal day-to-day functioning a struggle. 

Early on after becoming a believer, I experienced a season of depression. In hindsight, experiencing this depression was a tipping point God used to wake me up, inviting me into a recovery process which has transformed my relationship with Him and others.

Though this time of depression, I often felt hopeless and sad, withdrew, had consistent thoughts of guilt and shame, and had trouble functioning. I also had a distorted belief that “Jesus + my visible success + approval of certain others = I’m okay”. Trying to live with this formula was not God’s design and weighed me down. I also had not worked through my past, both hurt and harms I had done. I had not forgiven significant people in my life but glossed over the pain. I also was prideful as to own my part and ask for forgiveness from other.

Over time, this approach to life did not work, and it affected me emotionally and spiritually and I experienced depression. I also kept thinking there might be a “magic bullet” to not feel this way. Was I reading and memorizing enough Scripture? Sharing gospel enough? Serving enough? Was there some area of sin? Was I headed in the wrong direction in life? More exercise? Did I need to see a doctor?

I struggled with admitting I had depression, feeling it was something a believer would never struggle with if they were doing things “the right way.” Thankfully, God brought me to a place of admitting this with a community of friends and beginning a journey of healing.

Depression didn’t enter my life overnight and it wasn’t healed overnight. God has used a variety of means of grace over time including:

  • Friends who allowed me to be real and admit without judgment or trying to fix me
  • Renewing my mind from the lies about a distorted image of God, believing I needed to add to what Christ has done through my performance, and looking for my greatest joys apart from Christ
  • Healing from the past through forgiveness and amends
  • Taking care of health and sleep, and getting medical input

Now, I can thank God for this depression, as it has led me to greater intimacy with Him, and a greater freedom to live authentically and to love others.

If you are experiencing depression, know that God loves you and there is hope. He wants you to bring your heartache to him and to give you his peace. Below are some steps to start with:

  • Be courageous to be honest with a friend about your struggle. Honestly admitting your need begins the journey of healing.
  • Meditate on God’s word to renew your mind and remind yourself of what is true. Romans 8:31-39; Psalm 103:2-4; Lamentations 3:20-26; Zephaniah 3:17.
  • Consider areas that might be contributing to your struggle: circumstances, emotional or relational pain, health issues, or spiritual illness (such as sin in our life, believing lies, idolatry, etc.). What are some steps you can take?
  • If you are having suicidal thoughts and have a plan to take your life, please seek medical help immediately by calling 911. Your life is precious.

For additional resources, check out the Depression Issue Sheet and listen to some stories of hope from Andrew P., Ginni, and Noah.

-Liz B.

I Hate My Body

Have you ever looked in the mirror and hate what you see? I have.

Our culture, if you look like you got it together, you must have it together. Everywhere you turn, there’s an advertisement for a “good body”. I wanted to look like the guy on the cover of the men’s fitness magazine, but that is not what I saw in the mirror.

My obsession with my appearance started when I was in the military. I transformed from an “average Joe” of 180 pounds to a 215-220-pound man. Not only did I see the change in my body, but others noticed too. My new body drew attention, attention from women, men, friends, coworkers, family. So every day I focused on trying to look better. I was careful about the clothes I chose and the supplements I took to help me look leaner, better, bigger, and stronger. I was careful with food intake. If I ate a cupcake, would tell myself, “I have to work out tomorrow or I’m going to gain weight”. I constantly examined my stomach, my waist, my chest, etc. My appearance defined my purpose. My body image became my idol.

When I looked at myself, I was never satisfied with my body, myself, or my life. This unhappiness drove me to constantly try to look better so that I could somehow find happiness and confidence in my appearance. Regardless of how I looked, happiness never came. For ten years, I was trapped in this dangerous, harmful cycle, spending thousands of hours in the gym and thousands of dollars on supplements to try to make me feel different. The lie that my looks would make me loved, successful, joyful, happy, and confident, only led to pain, destruction, and disappointment. I looked like I had it together on the outside, but I was broken inside. 

At the time, I didn’t understand I was made in the image of someone else - my Creator. I didn’t know that He made me for a far greater purpose than looking good. God made me to reflect His image, not to exalt my own. My body image could never make me significant.

In 2012, I learned that I was significant enough to God that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. When I accepted Christ’s sacrifice for my sin, God began to change me from the inside out. He showed me that I had been using my body for my own benefit, selfish gain, and personal significance. My body had been my god. My body was my biggest priority because I wanted people to worship and desire me. I didn’t understand my intrinsic value to God, which is my true worth. To God, I was worth the life of His Son. He paid the highest price possible to ransom me from sin.

Culture tells us that if we aren’t beautiful according to its definition of beauty, then we are not valuable. God showed me I am valuable because I am His child, created uniquely by Him for a purpose. Isaiah 43:7, God says, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” God showed me, and continues to remind me, that my body and my life is not for me, but for Him.

Today my identity and satisfaction rest in knowing that I am God’s child, bought with a price for a purpose. I am significant in the eyes of the all-powerful God of the universe. I am precious to the One whose opinion matters most. My physical attributes do not define who I am, or who I am going to be. God determines my value and purpose. My life and body belong to Him.

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)

By God’s grace alone, I have turned away from my idol of body-image to find satisfaction in my relationship with Christ. He alone is the One who holds my soul and fills my heart. He alone is the One who is able to hold your soul and fill your heart, too.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

-James R.

 

For more information, check out Body Image and Eating Disorders in the Struggles section of our website.

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recovery in Christ when life is broken.