Friday, May 28, 2010

Breaking Free

The writer of Hebrews implores us to strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up (NLT), which implies that there are weights that slow us down that are not sins. For me one of those weights is depression. It was only last November that I began to admit to myself the extent depression effected my life. Now I realize that depression has held me back ever since college, and possibly even before that.

I admit this for two reasons. The first reason is because the last wave of depression that I experienced, which I am still coming out of, robbed me of my desire to write. I would set down to write a post because I didn’t want to neglect my blog, but I couldn’t generate anything. I was in a deep funk, and even contemplated deleting Paul’s Ponderings, but I realized that I actually had a pretty good thing going here and so I didn’t act on my impulse. Though that is why I decided to change look, I thought a new template would give Paul’s Ponderings a new feel.

The second reason, and the most important reason, is because I wanted to remind us that spiritual transformation is often messy work. Some times we think it would be nice if God would honor our faith by zapping us full of peace, joy, gentleness, self-control, love, etc., because change at that level is very difficult, and it is a slow process. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that we have to deal with issues like depression, addictions, anger, and fear for they are a reality in our lives. On the other had we should not just allow them to exist in our lives, and as the author of Hebrews said, we need to make the effort to strip ourselves of these things.

In my struggle with depression the book that has proved to invaluable to me is Dallas Willard’s Renovation of the Heart which emphasizes the healing of the whole person: heart, mind, body, and soul. I would recommend it to anyone who is really serious about spiritual transformation. Willard writes; “Spiritual formation in Christ is an orderly process. Although God can triumph in disorder, that is not his choice. And instead of focusing upon what God can do, we must humble ourselves to accept the ways he has chosen to work with us. These are clearly laid out in the Bible, and especially in the words and person of Jesus” (p.10). God can do many things in order to heal us and make us whole again, but it is through the process of sanctification laid out in the Bible that is truly able to change our lives.

Part of this process is prayer. I find it interesting that having been a Christian my whole life, it is just now (after 4 years of Bible College, a semester of Seminary, and 13 years of ministry) that I am discovering prayer. I guess this points to how hard headed (maybe hardhearted) I am. The big deal for me is not allow my feelings to get the best of me so I can be disciplined in my prayer time. When it comes to my time of prayer and I don’t feel like praying I start by reciting the Lord’s Prayer and that usually helps lead into a greater time of prayer, and what I have discovered is that I need those extended times of prayer to stay connected to God and hold the depression on bay.

There are other activities that I have found useful in breaking free from depression such as having a daily To Do list, daily Scripture reading, and taking advantage of the opportunities that God places before me. I won’t bore you with the details, but rather I want to leave you with this: Depression, addiction, or any other life problem doesn’t disqualify you from God’s Kingdom, but they do mean we have to be intentional in the way we live. That lesson gave me the motivation to face my depression and then turn to follow Jesus.

1 comment:

Joy in the Journey said...

The Baptist church down the road has a sign that reads, "Sometimes God gives us a setback to move us forward."

Keep peeling back the layers, Paul. You will get to the bottom of it all.

I was confronted with two paths--another path to an cycle of anger/depression that I was comfortable and familiar with and an unknown path. I took the unknown path, knowing that it was the only way to understand it all. I'm glad I did, but it has really sucked and changed some relationships forever.

The good part is that I'm finally being authentic and honest and REAL.

Your sister in Christ,

Lisa
James 1:22