This isn’t at all one of my usual blog posts since it has nothing to do with writing. I don’t usually share things like this, but it really started weighing on me this morning. I take that as a prompting from God. In the last couple of days, my Facebook feed has been flooded with all the sadness surrounding Robin Williams’ death. Along with that have come a barrage of depression awareness posts. Almost all of these contain encouragement to those suffering depression that they are not alone. Now, this has nothing to do with God. I know I am never alone because I always have Him. But that’s not the point of this post. This has to do with people, since all these depression awareness posts on FB seem to be encouraging sufferers that there are people out there for them. This is all well and good except for one thing—in my personal experience, most people do not back up these words.
I have suffered with depression. Actually, I am currently struggling with it. I’ve never been suicidal, but I know what it’s like to want things to just end. I’m extremely thankful I have an understanding family and a couple close friends to help me when things get tough because I haven’t found much help or understanding from others.
There are two major problems I’ve come across when dealing with depression. Unfortunately, one of these problems comes specifically from fellow Christians. Many Christians seem to believe there is no such thing as depression—that if you’re being the faithful Christian you should be, God’s grace and love should be more than enough to make you happy and if you aren’t, you’re not trusting Him enough or focusing on the right things. All right, in ways, that’s true. As Christians we could be thrown into the deepest, darkest dungeon and still rejoice because of what Jesus has done for us. I completely believe that. But here’s where things go wrong. People seem to forget that, yes, we’re Christians, but we’re also human. We still struggle. Life. Is. Hard.
Even faithful Christians fall. When trials add up, it weighs you down. Things get bleak. It can be hard to see any light. Trust me, you can feel alone even when you know with all your heart God is still there. As a sufferer of depression, I can tell you this doesn’t mean we’ve given up or we’re just wallowing in our pain. I fight. I fight hard to battle my depression. But that doesn’t mean I’m instantly victorious. It can take a long time to reach the other side of the fight.
It is a real fight. And I can’t tell you how much it hurts and tears you down when other Christians act like it’s not or that you’re sinful or just not trusting enough or not focusing on what you should be. I’ve sat in on a very real conversation and listened to this kind of talk between Christians. Looking back, I can only shake my head. No wonder some people feel so alone. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be the most compassionate, uplifting, and encouraging when we see each other struggle. And because of this, we can also be the quickest to tear each other down because it hurts more not to receive help from those you’d most expect it from. Just because someone might struggle in a way different from your struggles, doesn’t mean their struggle is any less real or their faith any weaker.
Then there are the people who look at you from the outside and have the reaction of, “What could you possibly have to be depressed about?” Talk about a knife right to the heart. I’m the kind of person who will wear a big smile on the outside and be falling apart inside. My life looks pretty good. I love my family, my parents welcome me still living at home, which is awesome because we have a great house in the country, I’m pursuing my passion in writing. And it truly is a great life. I love it all. But whose life is ever perfect? No one’s. We life in a fallen world, after all. Everyone has struggles. I have deep, aching things inside of me. I have dreams that haven’t been fulfilled. I’ve had to watch my family go through some very painful trials. Many of these I’m still waiting for God to show me an answer to. Just because a life looks perfect on the outside, doesn’t mean that inside the heart and mind of that person, things are going well.
So please, consider what a person may be going through privately before passing judgment or jumping to conclusions. It is these sorts of attitudes and reactions from others that can make people who are struggling feel alone and without hope. I can’t put into words how thankful I am for my faith. It will always be the number one thing that gets me through my hard times. But there are people out there who do not know God and do not have His power in their lives. In that case, it is up to us to shine His light. How can we do that if our first response is to judge or dismiss the struggles of others?