From my beautiful friend, Krysten. When I get mucked up in theology, she answers. When I need an ear to complain to, she lends one. She might not live close to me, but she’s always just a text away…ready to listen and love – and correct. She helps me grow in grace. She also struggles with depression – to which she wrote this letter…
Of all the uninvited guests I can think of, you are the worst.
I mean, you steal from me. You insult me. You lie to me and get in the way of so many good things in life—love, friendship, health, joy.
Even a door-to-door salesman is less bothersome than that.
The worst part is, you make it so hard for me to talk about you. Your boss, my enemy, chose his target well. I’m supposed to be the encourager. I’m supposed to be the one with the positive outlook – the determination to do tough things. Those are the works that have been prepared in advance for me to do. And I love doing them.
So it makes sense that my enemy chose you to squat on my doorstep as often as you can because your visits often erode my willingness to carry out those purposes.
And to make it even harder, because of my love for Jesus, there are some people who say that I shouldn’t even struggle with you. Some of them even say that you don’t exist or that I must be doing something wrong if you stop by even once in a while. They say you are evidence in my life that I’m not loving Jesus enough.
I know these folks probably mean well, and I know the perspective they are coming from. But the world we live in isn’t perfect, and because of that we have imperfect, annoying things like you, Depression. You are a result of this terribly imperfect world.
But because of Jesus, I can put you into perspective.
I have become much better at spotting your grey cloud way off in the distance and recognizing that you’re heading my way. You used to be so crafty that I couldn’t see you ahead of time and couldn’t fight you off. You’d just envelope me before I knew what was happening. And all of a sudden, I would be in that “funk” that I didn’t know how to explain.
But now, I can see the cloud and brace myself. I know the times of year that you tend to rear your ugly head more than usual. I can rally my friends to help pray you away, and even if you stop by, your visits aren’t nearly as long and painful.
Because the One who made me reminds me that He has also remade me. I am a new creation, and the old things have gone away. I don’t have to hold on to the things in my past that typically fuel your accusations and insults.
And when you visit to berate me about how things are going now and try to show me that I am not really worth it or not really dedicated, I know how to speak truth right back at you to combat your lies.
You are losing your power over me. And I think that each day, you are starting to forget my address just a little.
Before long, you’ll see my resolve strengthened even more. You will hear my laughter and become sullen because you’ll see how much more difficult your job is going to be. You will see the group of friends around me that now know about your visits and how they refuse to allow you to come near me. You’ll be headed my way and you will hear so many prayers on by behalf from off in the distance, you won’t even be able to continue your journey in my direction. I’m looking forward to that day.
Until then, Depression, you may stop by a few times. I know this. I can sense it. But because I have listened to my Creator and have told the people I love how often you really visit, I have a community helping to defend me now. They are all keeping watch for me, looking for you to creep in, and calling you out before you even reach the edge of town.
I look forward to the day that even if you somehow make it to my doorstep and ring my doorbell, I can look through the peephole and just refuse to answer because I know who I am and Whose I am, and I can simply say that you are not welcome here.
There’s too much life to be lived.
from Krysten to me…
This was hard for me to write. Even though I have never been diagnosed with clinical depression, it is something I have struggled with much of my life. Like the letter says, I have become better at fighting it off, but only because I have opened up much more about it in recent years. If I had continued to shrug it off as a weird “funk” that comes around sometimes, I would still be trying to ward it off myself.
Being a follower of Jesus, I’ve been surprised at some folks’ reactions to opening up about my struggle with depression. I’ve been made to feel like I was the cause of it, because surely a “real” Christian wouldn’t struggle with such a thing. But I know that’s not true, and even though I don’t know exactly why this happens or exactly how to keep it at bay, I know that God says to call to Him and He will answer and show us great and mighty things which we cannot know on our own (Jeremiah 33:3). So that’s what I do. I call to Him, He helps me understand the underlying things that cause this and what I can do about them.
The number one thing I would suggest to someone struggling with depression is to open up about it. Talk to trusted people who are already part of your story, and tell them that this thing is in your life. Then it’s not just one person fighting; it’s a team of people praying and watching to help fend this off.
Community is the key to surviving depression (and most other things, in my opinion!). I still get surprised looks from folks when I tell them that I deal with bouts of depression. They tend to cite my bubbly personality and my typically cheerful demeanor as the cause of their surprise. I get that.
But it just reminds me of that quote: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. We see what is on the outside, but God sees the heart. We need to ask Him to help us see each other the way He sees us, so we can see those hard battles and help each other fight them.
Friends struggling with depression – don’t suffer in silence – alone. Reach out.
Jesus followers – try to understand the symptoms and consequences of depression so you can love others well. The one suffering might tell you she’s fine – or to go away. She might reject invitations to dinner or events. She might ignore your texts or show up smiling, acting as if life is perfect. Please, show up at her doorstep – be persistent – don’t take no for an answer. Invest. Help her seek help.
Praying for those today who suffer from mild and clinical depression. Regardless of where you are on the severity spectrum, you are loved by Him. You’re worth it.