Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Battle with Depression

The following is a message I had to prepare for my pre-college course to go into College next year.  More of this journey will be revealed in time, but I just feel the need to share this message right now.....

So you may think 'wow shella up there preaching' - partly I am here because I have to be (going to college) but another reason is to show that God can use anyone who is willing - this you may not completely understand or agree with but I'm hoping by the end of my message you will agree with me with more confidence and be prepared to allow God to use you even when it is far out of your comfort zone. How often in a day would you hear the greeting ‘Hi, how are you going?’  And how many times would you use it? It just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it but do we really care when we ask? Or has it just become another way of saying ‘hello’.

A few years ago I worked at Cotton On, and it was compulsory that each person that walked through the door, we were to greet.  During this time of working here, I really became aware of ‘hi, how are you going?’ being used as a greeting and not actually a question.  The amount of people that walked through the doors each day that I asked the question, if each where to tell me ‘how they were going’ I would of definitely gotten into trouble for talking too much to one customer, and not greeting others who entered in that time. In my time of preparing for this message I felt God was guiding me in what message He wanted me to bring, I had conversations that echoed my heart and passion and I was made aware of different things around me including a facebook event called “R U OK Day?”

It’s a national day of action which aims to prevent suicide by encouraging Australians to connect with someone they care about and help stop little problems turning into big ones.  On that day we want everyone across the country, from all backgrounds and walks of life, to ask family, friends and colleagues: "Are you OK?".
Staying connected with others is crucial to our general health and wellbeing. Feeling isolated or hopeless can contribute to depression and other mental illnesses, which can ultimately result in suicide. Regular, meaningful conversations can protect those we know and love.  It's so simple. In the time it takes to have a coffee, you can start a conversation that could change a life.

How often do we really know what is going on in a person’s life? Are we quick to judge on what we see on the outside and never take the time to stop and see what’s going on in the inside?! I’d like to suggest that we all do this to some extent. Right now we are all sitting beside someone – how well do you know them? Do you know their struggles? Are they really ok? Or when you greeted them tonight with “Hi, how you going?’ did they just reply with ‘good thanks, u?” and you reply with “yer good thanks”.  Each one of us is on our own journey in life, but on that journey we need people to journey with us, people to stop and ask us occasionally “Are you OK?”  The world around us tells us to ‘don’t worry be happy’ and sadly for many, including myself it is easier to put a happy face on and pretend that everything is ok, rather than let people into our little world which at times seems like it is falling apart.

One of my favourite artists is Aaron Gillespie.  His song “I will worship you” is one that truly speaks to my heart. This song, like many of the Psalms, shows feelings of being lost, broken and of being ashamed. It then turns to hope, healing and freedom. I think we can all relate to this motion of feelings, but how many of us choose to show people our true feelings and to show what’s really going on in life. About 5 months ago I began some counseling due to admitting that I was battling Depression and Anxiety. At the time I was not prepared to admit that this was something that had secretly been pulling me down for some time, but with added issues to life, I felt like I was sinking and it was time to ask for help.  I felt like I had hit rock bottom.  I felt at times so lonely and that I was just plodding along in life, lost for a purpose to be living. Although I was pregnant with the beautiful Emery, I have a loving and supportive husband and family, I just had this mindset that seemed much stronger and was pulling me down.  To the average onlooker, my life seemed great, I put on my mask when I left the house and everything was fine. But deep down I was fragile, I had lost a family member who I was extremely close to, I had major changes with my work situation, I was fighting with God because he was guiding me in
a direction I was scared to head in and I was just generally really struggling with the pace of life and what it was throwing at me. So many of us are afraid to talk about our true feelings, and some of us are even more afraid to ask someone about their true feelings because it could be too difficult to handle We are quick to judge a person because of something they do, or say, but if only we would be so quick to listen to what’s really going on in their life.

I love Jesus as an example, he was someone not afraid of things being too difficult, or messy, he was the person that hung out with those that others had no time for, or that society had wiped off as unlovable. Jesus loved the unlovable, he was prepared to get in the mess with people and befriend them. I’ve always had this fear of seeing a counselor, because I know they are there to get you talking about your feelings, but after my first session with my counselor, I felt instantly at ease.  This lady (although I was paying her) was there ready and willing to listen to what my struggles were, she was not sitting there telling me to ‘be happy’ but yet she was prepared to unpack my messiness and to work through it with me. Through this time in my life I had good days and I had bad, I had times when life was so hard and I felt so ashamed to admit what was really going on in my life. And then I had great days where I was hopeful for the future and what life had to bring. All through these times I had one thing that remained true and remained the same. I had my faith and I had Jesus. I love the lyrics in Aaron’s song where he speaks of Jesus being our Anchor :

You are the anchor to my soul
Draw me to You and don’t let go
Only Your love can make me whole.

When I sing these lyrics I get a picture of a massive anchor, that is rustic in colour and is sitting deep in the bottom of the ocean, there is no way that this thing is moving. One of the definitions that I came across for an anchor which I think sums it up the best was this:
a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security;

To me this is how I see Jesus in my life, He is this huge part of my life and he is something that is the base of all I do, and even though at times I may wander and put distance between us, He stays strong and is always there. He is my support and stability. Heading to training college next year is something that scares me so much, the anxious thoughts start to set in: what if I’m not good enough? What if I can’t cope with the study load? All the what if’s and excuses, the doubt and fear. But then I am reminded that my God, my anchor is always there and He is the one that has called me to this. Despite the last few months, I believe I am at a good place in life, I am at a place in life where I am content with the way life is headed, I no longer have the itchy feet as some may say ‘ waiting for the next best thing to come along, but I am content in journeying
through my life, allowing God to speak in all areas of life and to surrender my life over to Him and His will. One verse that has really stood out to me recently and is one that I am often reminded of is Romans 12: 1 -3 – I love the heading of it in the Message version – 
“place your life before God”

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

I love the first part of this verse particularly as it says take your everyday, ordinary life, 
take  everything that you do…its not saying that we need to change what we do in life, but that God can use us right where we are, doing what are already doing, if only we allow Him to. This afternoon I came across on facebook an event called  “TWLOHA Depression Awareness Day 2011”, I had alittle chuckle to myself when I read the date of this ‘event’ as it was dated today’s date. I was sitting on the couch, it was 4pm and the nerves were kicking in because I was soon to get ready to head here, but God just kept on confirming to me that this message I have prepared was one He had placed on my heart and my story He could use. I’m sure you have seen the shirts around but for those of you who don’t know TWLOHA is a movement dedicated to helping the fight against depression, addiction, self-harm and suicide. They are a non-profit, non-commercial and non-religious organisation. TWLOHA is people helping people, nothing more and nothing less.

On this page I read their vision:
The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.
The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.
The vision is hope, and hope is real.
You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.
Remember; Love is the Movement.

Although they are not a religious organization I believe that their vision is one that we as Christians should take and apply to our lives.

In 1 Corinthians 13 we read:
1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

This organization have it pretty right when they say ‘Love is the movement’.

So the challenges:

Take the Romans verses and apply it to life. What does this mean ? Take your everyday, ordinary life— your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, going to school, your facebook, your sports, your talents, everything about your life, and fix your attention on God, rather than on what the world is telling you to do. Its pretty clear really – recognise what he wants from you, allow Him to bring out the best in you and your life.

Interact with those around you with intention of caring. I’m not saying that you have to know the in’s and out’s of everyone’s lives, but what about the people you call your ‘best friends’.  Help them through their struggles in life and to work through things.  I know for certain I wouldn’t be standing here today the person I am without a few key people in my life, most of those people are here tonight, they have journeyed with me through life, through the up’s and downs, they have mourned with me and they have celebrated with me. I want to encourage those who may feel that life is just sinking all around you and are too afraid to ask for help
I want to encourage you to take charge of your life and ask that close friend for help, be honest with them when they ask you ‘are you ok?’    

Our mission here at Morley Salvation Army (the Church I belong to) is ‘to bring Christ’s new life to people”, my challenge is that we do this with intention, the people we interact with daily, lets be like Jesus and love them, not judge them. Let’s love them unconditionally without our own agenda. Let’s journey with them so that they may come to know Jesus as their anchor in life and let them see that

Love is the movement.

1 comment:

ell.turtle said...

Love it. Thankyou :) it was what I needed to read today