There has been a lot of talk within Christian circles and the blogosphere recently about depression and the many issues surrounding it. This morning I found a blog post I made in regards to Depression and the Fruit of the Spirit in July 2010 had a number of hits on it, so I thought I would re-post it here.
A few years ago it seemed that my life was going great. Then it suddenly imploded. I was struck down with sudden illness which required hospitalisation for 52 days and resulted in loss of mobility and memory. I required ongoing rehabilitation and care, and recovery was slow. I was also faced with an increasingly hostile and abusive family situation which ended with separation and divorce.
My sense of identity was shattered. My sense of manhood, worth as a human and my salvation was questioned. My church black banned me and I became deeply isolated, finding myself in a situation where I trusted few people, even myself.
I remember praying a prayer. “God, I have no Joy, can you restore my joy” And for a long time afterwards I lived a life of numbness. I was told by a few well intentioned souls that all I needed was faith and I would snap out of it. A few more offered other platitudes which offered no hope what so ever.
I found reading my Bible hard, and when I did I felt condemned, filled with guilt and shame for having failed as a husband, father, individual and Christian. Yet One day I found myself sitting on a chair near my bros garage. The sun was shining and I read about the fruit of the Spirit. I had a revelation that the fruit of the Spirit is Gods nature towards us and towards me. God is love to me. He is patient towards me. He is kind, gentle, joyful, merciful, peaceful, towards me, because He is those things.
The prayer I prayed was.
God, I receive your love, so that I can love myself.
God I receive your joy so that I can be joyful with myself.
God i receive your kindness so that I can be kind to myself
God I receive your gentleness so that I can be gentle with myself.
God I receive your mercy so that I can be merciful towards myself.
God I receive your patience so that I can be patient with myself …. I also added to the end of each sentence, that I could also be that with others.
What I learnt through this was to be kind to myself. To be merciful to myself. To be patient with myself. I learnt that it was ok for me to be who I was, where I was, at that moment in time. Through this process and the professional help of others I was able to move through this debilitative depressive stage.
Life has now moved on. I have married again. I am still suffering a disability to some extent. There are times when I still get depressed, though those times are fewer and the episodes are shorter.
But this I know, God loves me as I am, no matter what I’m going through or feeling. So I can love myself and others also. I also want to say to you the reader if you are going through a depressive time… that its ok. That you are ok. That its ok to be kind to yourself. To be patient with yourself. To be joyful with yourself. To be gentle and merciful to yourself. ….you get the drift and you can draw on the source of these gifts from our God who is the source of all comfort.