depression

Lie #1: Everyone Berates Themselves in Their Thoughts

As long as I can remember I’ve had critical, shame-filled thoughts about myself. I thought everyone did.

It went beyond correcting myself when I did something wrong. 

An example of a correcting thought might be, “I knocked off the cup. I need to be more careful next time.”

An example of a shameful, berating thought might be, “I always knock off things off. I’m so clumsy and awkward. I have no coordination and I take up too much room. Other people aren’t like this. What is wrong with me? I’m the worst.”

After a retreat leader brought up my negative self-talk at a ministry retreat we attended last fall, I asked my husband about his thoughts toward himself.

“Don’t you have these types of thoughts?”

The retreat leader had me list out all the negative thoughts I had about myself. I was on my third page, and I wasn’t done yet.

“No,” he said emphatically. “I don’t think that way about myself at all. It worries me that you do.”

I tore myself down in my thinking, and I was shocked to find out that everyone didn’t do the same.

I’ll be sharing some of those negative things I thought about myself this month because all of the things I allowed my brain to repeat to myself in my head were lies. I reinforced those lies by repeating them and believing them in that invisible space no one can see and hear.

The effect of berating myself and believing those lies was not invisible though. It spilled out into my life in so many ways. It affected the speed in which I could slip into anxiety or depression. It affected my ability to be objective about my relationships with friends and family. It pushed me into perfectionism. It enabled my people-pleasing to continue because I if I could get approval from others then maybe I could prove the voices in my head wrong. It made me wear shame-colored glasses that changed how I viewed everything in my life. I was constantly on the warpath of striving to prove my worth.

For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
— Proverbs 23:7a NASB

It was daunting to think about changing the way I thought. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t think that way about myself.

Realizing that not everyone had pages and pages of negative self-talk gave me hope.

Not everyone rakes themselves over the coals in their thinking, and I didn’t have to either. 

If you need to hear this because you believed this lie too: Not everyone lives with negative self-talk. You don’t have to think that way. You can change the way you think. You can stop berating yourself in your head.



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Here’s a song for you today. John Ortberg says that the soul is needy like Bob from What about Bob. That’s accurate.

Ministry's Companions

We are in the thick of summer ministry.  Being in the neighborhood four days a week brings the struggles of poverty into glaring light.  The heartaches that are faced in our neighborhoods are in my face, impossible to ignore, rehab recoveries, working poor struggling to provide groceries, frugal landlords that neglect their properties in unsafe ways, young men who’s lives have ended with gun shots in our city parks, parks that should be sanctuaries for children to play are places of business for drug dealers and gang members, seeing disfunction be the norm for families, hardened hearts and hungry stomachs.

There is a sadness that comes in intense times of ministry.  I wrote about it last summer and this winter.  It is a natural part of any type of incarnate ministry, when you meet people where they live.  When you get street-level, eye-level, to a person who is suffering, how do you not feel compassion well up in your spirit?

I found out this spring that I had a vitamin D deficiency.  I have attacked the problem with full force, supplements, salmon, eggs, and I haven’t been this tan since I was a kid that spent weeks at the lake.

Low vitamin D can contribute to depression, and some days I feel like that cartoon character that has the little cloud following him around.

I’m told that I look tired quite often.

I’m conscious of it, I’m resisting, but there’s no mistaking it, I’m sad.  Sad for the problems I can’t fix and sad because my brain needs some vitamin D.

I know I’m in trouble when I start taking offense meaningless crossed arms.  Or feel hurt by not words said, but unsaid words.  Or when I want to take up residence inside a Tres Leches cake.

These are all signs that my hormones or brain chemistry are letting me down.

I try to tell my brain to just hold on and feel better, but it doesn’t want to listen to me.

My husband tells me that I’m making it worse by reading sad books.  He might be right, but I would tell you to pick up The Kitchen House or Just Mercy in a heartbeat.  We can’t fix a problem that we don’t know about.  I think coming to a place of grief over our country’s problems is the first step in working towards better race relations.

This isn’t a blog post where I have ah-ha moments for you or some neatly wrapped lesson for you to take away.

What is the solution to sadness?

Joy?

Joy is right there beside the sadness, but it isn’t so much a solution.  It is a companion to sadness.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls, 
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
— Habakkuk 3:17-18 ESV

My joy is just as present this summer.  It is always with me.

Maybe you are getting ready for a mission trip or an intense season of ministry.  I feel responsible to warn you that sadness will come, but you can weather that storm.

Hold onto joy and celebrate hope.

Maybe your pastor or a missionary friend looks tired.  If they are doing their job right, there’s some sadness and joy in their eyes.  They might need some extra love, maybe a hug or a slice of Tres Leches (as long as they are not lactose intolerant.)

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
— 1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV

 

 

When you're feeling sad, you know Glen won't let you down.  His music will keep you company, and the horns will cheer you up.

It’s not personal or business, it’s emotional

The tears might be coming easy today because I had strep throat last week, and I’ve read those scary studies that say that the virus can affect your brain chemistry.  Or it may be because my throat feels like tiny paper cuts as the bright red tissue of my throat tries to heal from it’s attack.  Or it may be because I haven’t eaten for a week or drank coffee.  I refuse to consider soup a real meal.  Coffee hasn’t tasted right this week.  My taste buds are jumbled.  I need to give them a break.  I’ve drowned them in cough drops, peppermints, and Gatorades.

Earlier today I cried at a touching FaceBook post, so, clearly the tear ducts have been compromised.  I don’t know if it was the strep, lack of food, my lack of pain threshold, lack of caffeine, or some combination.

There’s one other culprit I should mention that may have my emotions out of wack (and wack is the appropriate word.)  I watched the full Godfather series this week.  All nine hours of it.  Straight in a row.  For the first time.  (Don’t judge me.  Be jealous that my husband has that little control of our television.  That we’ve been married for almost 18 years now, and my husband, with a career in video editing, has not made me watch anything.  It’s all been on my terms, baby.  I call the shots.  Why am I talking like a gangster?  Oh yeah, The Godfather.)

On a whim, I recorded The Godfather about two years ago.  There it sat on my DVR.  At some point I put a little circle-K by it with the remote, telling my DVR not to record over it.  It could hold out hope that some day, this little lady might look it’s way.

On another whim, Tuesday night, I said, “Let’s just see how this goes.”  Click.  N-I-N-E   h o u r s   l a t e r.  Did I mention that it was 3 hours long, and there were three of them?  And kids, 3 x 3 is NINE!

Confession.  I didn’t record all three of them.  Just the one.  As soon as it ended.  I immediately shelled out $3 to rent Part II from Vudu.  I had to know what happened.  It was late at night.  I did it.  Three hours later, I did it again.  I paid $3 more dollars to remain in that world for a few more hours.

Funny thing number one, my husband didn’t even watch it with me.  He was sitting on the bed making dj mixtapes for the youth group.  And he did this thing called “going to sleep.”  I really should look into that.  I’ve heard it’s good for you.

I was completely drawn into the world those opening scenes of the movie created.  They are so vivid and engulfing.  I wanted to dance at that wedding, and eat that lasagna, and sway when the crooner sang into that big, beautiful 50’s microphone.  It was all so fascinating.  Like Vito Corleone had created this island.  It wasn’t Sicily.  It wasn’t America, because clearly he didn’t follow those laws.  It was the family.

Funny thing number two.  I was almost immediately angry.  Why haven’t I seen this movie?  Why didn’t somebody tell me that this much fun was sitting on my DVR?

I think I’ve heard too many guy’s talk about The Godfather.  It’s all about respect, right?  They puff out their cheeks, cuff their hand, and talk about kissing the ring.  Respect is such a guy thing.  Not just A guy thing, but THE guy thing.  Most girls don’t get respect, and know it’s pretty easy to live without.  It’s definitely not worth gunning down the 5 family heads over.

The other thing we hear is guys talk about is the guns.  There are guns involved, obviously.  But it is less violent than any crime-drama on network television right now.  The violence was surprisingly not part of what I thought were them major themes of the movie.

It’s about family.  Not just in mafia terms.  Actual relationships between sons and fathers, wives and husbands, mothers and children, brothers and sisters, and fathers and daughters.

It’s also about the hardening of a man’s heart and the consequences of sin.  The transformation of Michael Corleone from a hopeful, sweet young man into a lonely, heartbroken old man.

If you’re a girl, who’s thought, “The Godfather is not for me.”  Give it a shot.  Take that whim to Corleone land.

I hope you will let me off the hook when I tell you that it doesn’t have a happy ending.  Everyone has to know that, right?

After my 9 hour “whim” watch of The Godfather series, I was a little emotional.  I was overly sentimental and completely exhausted.

All of these Godfather sized feelings have invected me like the virus I was trying to find distraction from.

When my mom called me this morning to tell me about a sweet letter she got from the new pastor at her church, of coarse I was crying.  How sweet was that pastor!?!  Boy do I wish I could hug him.

She hasn’t even met the new pastor yet, and he wrote her a letter to let her know how much she meant to many members of the church.  He wanted her to know that the prayer meeting group had spent half their prayer time going around the room sharing how my mother was instrumental in their salvation testimony.  I know it is true, and I am proud of my mom.

The reason she hasn't met the new paster is because mother struggles with depression.  Going to church is hard for her.  Going anywhere is hard for her.  Depression is hard to understand, and it makes it hard for others to know how to deal.  That equals messy.  And in church, messy usually gets ignored.

I’ve struggled to avoid being bitter about church that doesn’t have a game plan for dealing with mental illness.  Just that sentence brings tears to my eyes.  I told you, it's a problem today.  Thanks, Godfather.

Can we all give this guy props for doing something?  A letter.  That simple act, was huge.  It is the biggest outreach of kindness from the church to my mother yet.  A pen, a piece of paper, and a few kind words.

Gosh.  It doesn’t have to be a “flow chart needed, break out the binders” plan.

Reach out to people.  Remind people that they matter.  Spend a few minutes on the phone.  Drop of a food product (it doesn’t need to be a meal.)  Send a card.

In your local church, there are multiple families dealing with mental illness.  I know it’s true.  There are statistics that make it impossible not to be true.

People don’t talk about it because they don’t feel safe talking about it.  I once complemented a friend’s church on their SOS ministry in a group setting.  When I told them that SOS stood for Survivors of Suicide, you would have thought I had dropped a grenade.

I don’t know how to change that uncomfortableness.  Taking away stigma isn’t done in a few steps.  I don’t know how to make people feel safe to talk about mental illness among Christians.

Just be aware that the stigma exists.  There are families struggling.

The more uncomfortable you are about the mental illness issues a family might be facing, the more they need you to reach out to them.  They are putting out that messy vibe that is scaring others away.

That little outreach of kindness, that letter, has inspired my mom.  It has reminded her that she matters.

Please reach out.  Not because it is church business.  Not because there is something personal to gain.  Do it because they need to know you are emotionally invested, that you care.  Do it because they are family.