Help for the Depressed Times
By Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Do you ever feel weighted down under the pressure of life? Or perhaps get so down that you think things will never change, never get better?
I’ve felt that way. At the time I didn’t think anything could feel worse.
When we experience depression, it can feel like no one understands our pain. To a large extent, this may be true. It’s hard to relate to someone going through depression, or divorce, or cancer when we haven’t gone through it ourselves.
In my darkest days, I felt alone, misunderstood, and distraught. Comments like “Just get over it” or “It could be worse” or “Think positively” just didn’t help. Fundamentally, we all desire to know we are loved, we are accepted, and we are worthy. But depression can make us feel the exact opposite: unloved, unaccepted, and unworthy.
While I do not believe that Jesus ever went through depression, the Bible tells us, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3). In fact, John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible and simply says “Jesus wept.” So I hope you will take comfort in the fact that Jesus does understand.
What do you do when you feel this way?
Being vulnerable, can I tell you, for many years I didn’t deal with it well. I allowed my pain to repeatedly plunge me into despair and self-pity. I didn’t take my pain to God, because I believed the lie that He would only love me if I was perfect, while I knew that I was anything but.
Have you ever heard the cliché, “God helps those who help themselves?” I bought that lie: I believed that I should’ve been able to handle it by myself. That fit very well with my driven personality. Or perhaps, more honestly, I allowed my personality to be shaped by the lies I had come to believe.
In my darkest days, unable to get out of bed, work, or care for my family, I realized I let my identity as an achiever, a do-er, a perfectionist, to obscure my true identity as a child of God. I felt alone, broken and very much like a failure–unable to do and control as I always had. I didn’t like who I saw reflected in the mirror, and I was certain God didn’t either.
In my weakness, my heart became tender to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Unable to muster the energy to try to hide my imperfection and pain, I turned to God and offered the brokenness of my heart.
God implores us throughout scripture to come to Him and give our concerns to Him, rather than trying to manage our pain on our own. He says:
- Psalm 55:22 “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.”
- 1 Peter 5:7 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
- Matthew 11:28 “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
As I turned toward God, gave Him my burdens, worries, and brokenness, the responsibility for the outcome became His rather than mine. I didn’t experience an immediate transformation, but rather, a slow gradual improvement as I took hold of my identity as His child, knowing that just as I want for my children, He wants only good for me.
God desires us to be in health and prosper, just as our soul prospers (3 John 1:2). Yet I came to realize, sometimes God is more concerned about healing our hearts and our souls than He is concerned about our feelings. Only after my heart and soul began to change, did my mind and emotions follow suit.
BIO: Author, speaker and board certified clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson is also a wife, mother and friend. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Michelle Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She blogs regularly on her own site: https://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
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