Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 3: Community

My first post in the Hope for Depressed Hearts series told the story of how I got stuck in depression and promised to show you a way out of your own. The second post, Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 2: Prayer details the first major mistake that sucked me into depression. In this post, we will focus on the second mistake that trapped me there and how you can avoid it.

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A friend sat quietly watching me as I recounted fragments of the struggle pulling me into depression.“Do you have anyone to share these burdens?” she asked.

“Um…” I blinked, momentarily aware of the crowded restaurant and my omnipresent trickle of tears. “Sort of…” I had shared several chunks of pain with my pastors and a slice of it with a few friends, but none perceived the tsunami of circumstances dragging me out to sea. Even as I sat there, with the undertow of the deep swirling around my legs and the sand caving beneath my feetI was reluctant to share the depth of my struggle.

What is it that silences us in our times of greatest need? For me, it was fear. Looking back I can see four fears that pinned me in a pit of depression.

4 Fears That Keep Us in The Pit

Donna the Drama Queen

  • The fear of overreacting. The fear of being overly dramatic or a whiner keeps us quiet. In the throes of struggle, we can question ourselves and our perception of our situation. We may think: Have I blown this way out of proportion? Am I just a wimp? Is it just me?

We don’t want to be Donna the Drama Queen — the one who triggers that inner eye roll in others who  think, “Here we go again…”

 

Betty the Bummer

  • The fear of imposing on others. Asking others to share our burden can feel like a huge risk to our relationships. Friends and family lead busy lives. Many of them already have plenty on their plate. We may think: No one has time for this. Who wants to listen to problems that go on and on without a comfortable ending? Or maybe: How can they add my “stuff” to their struggle? How can they help me process my problems when they are drowning in their own?

We don’t want to be Betty the Bummer — the one who bogs others down and makes them think, “Oh no! I don’t have the energy for more bad news.”

 

Wendy the Weeper

  • The fear of losing control. For me, the threat of a massive meltdown was very real. I wondered what would happen if I gave in to the rising tide of pain. If I released my grip on self-control, would I tip overboard and plunge into the rolling depths below? I was afraid if I relaxed my grip I would be unable to swim back to the top — or worse, wouldn’t want to.

We don’t want to be Wendy the Weeper — the one our friends avoid because “It’s too uncomfortable and I don’t know what to say or how to help.”

 

Sally the Sulker

  • The fear of “loving” lectures for our “lack of faith.” I’m not sure I can adequately communicate the power of this one to silence a sufferer. In our Fakebook world, weeping with those who weep” is a lost art. While some tears are considered “transparent,” true weeping is often perceived as a lack of faith. (If you think I’m being harsh, you haven’t been on this side of the fence long enough.) The damage inflicted by the “encouragement” of well-meaning Christians trying to point out the “positives,” or correct our “negative” thinking, or “call out” our “lack of faith” comes from the hand of the enemy, not from the heart of the Man of Sorrows, who was well acquainted with grief and pain and struggle.

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Isaiah 53:3

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. Isaiah 42:3

No one wants to get saddled with the added burden of having to explain and justify their pain. They simply don’t have enough fuel in their tank for it.

The Wrong Prescription for Pain

Although I immersed myself in Scripture and prayer and processed my struggle while tucked under God’s wing, I still harbored these fears — even while I faced each crisis head-on and released it to the sovereign Lord who alone could carry it. As God faithfully sustained me through those big, hard hits (as He will you when you seek shelter under His mighty wings), what was my strength became a weakness.

Because it all happened in isolation.

Friends, fear will lead us to withdraw, isolate, and stay silent in our pain. Even when we are doing all the right things, fear can rob us of God’s faithful provision of love through His people. Fear will pin us in a pit of depression. Processing my struggle alone with God was the prescription fear prescribed for my pain. It sounded good, even holy, but it didn’t present a complete picture of God’s heart for His people.

God’s prescription for pain

God’s prescription looks very similar except for one key difference: community.

 

Hope for Depressed hearts, Part 3: Community

 

  1. The power of God through His indwelling Spirit: His presence
  2. The power of God through His Gospel Truth: His Word
  3. The power of God through His living Body: His church.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:16

If one part [of the body of Christ] suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. I Corinthians 12:26-27

So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:5

 

What God reveals about His heart

God did not create anyone to be alone. Click To TweetHe created us for fellowship with Him and with those in the body of Christ. I sometimes wonder if God allows — and perhaps sends? —  burdens beyond our ability to cope, specifically to drive us to the heart-forged oneness of His will for all within the community of Christ. A oneness that reflects the multifaceted image of God Himself as the Father, Son, and Spirit.

Wasn’t that Jesus’s prayer for us?

“I pray . . . that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:21-23

It is what He wanted His disciples to remember and practice after He was gone. Our bond as Believers remains the signpost He uses to show the world who He is and what He offers. Click To TweetAnd He offers a life far beyond depression.

Friends, we need each other! It’s time to admit it. To live it out. To embrace it and allow God to use it to showcase His Gospel truth.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Next Steps

Are you willing to ask your friends to stand with you and pray with you? The support God has built into the Body of Christ as we care for one another provides potent medicine for the soul and a powerful antidote to depression. It’s a lot harder to succumb to depression when encircled by the love and support of friends and family.

That means we must trust our friend’s love for us. They care more than we think! Their hearts would be broken to think we believed they don’t have time for us, that they don’t care. Reach out! Gather support. Just as many hands lighten heavy loads, so many souls lighten heavy hearts. 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 

What will you do today to share the burden that is pressing you into a depressed place? Write down the name of at least one person you will call this week and then make that call! It is a big step on the road to healing!

 

 

Extra Resources for Help:

Association of Certified Biblical Counselors – ACBC is the oldest and largest biblical counseling organization in the world and is recognized worldwide in 30 countries. All counselors are certified and counseling is usually offered at NO COST as a discipleship ministry of local churches. To find a Biblical Counselor in your area click this link: Find A Certified Counselor 

 

“How To Trust God in An Age of Fear and Anxiety?” Trevin Wax

 

Depression: What Do We Do If We Have It? Pastor Zack Eswine, 2017

 

Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 1

Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 2: Prayer

Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 3: Community

Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 4: Deeper with God

 

Featured photo courtesy of Photo by rawpixel.

DisclaimerI am not a doctor, I am just a fellow traveler on the road of faith. That means that no post on my website is ever intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any kind. Always seek the advice of a qualified doctor or practitioner with any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of anything you have read on my site.

 

 

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Comments 4

  1. Your words are spot on! Might I add another fear? Rhoda the Real.
    I think women are afraid to open up and be real because that makes us vulnerable in other people’s eyes. We prefer to present a polished glass to our friends rather than admit we’re Imperfect. Cracked vessels. But for the grace of God! So we wear the mask and pretend all is right with our world. No judgement or raised brows when we keep silent about our pain.

    1. Post
      Author

      I think true transparency is a rare gem, despite all the buzz about “authenticity.” We are such fragile beings. But cultivaring the courage to share deep struggle is both sweet to the spirit and worthwhile when we see how God can use it to strengthen others.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks, Harriet! I pray it blessed and encouraged your faith as you navigate all your struggles.

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