January 8, 2018
The Year of Praise
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, NASB).
Friend to Friend
According to the American Institute of Stress, more than 110 million Americans take medication for stress-related causes each week. During the holiday season, another one million people battle what experts refer to as the "holiday blues.” I am very familiar with depression and the pain it holds and must constantly battle to stay out of that pit.
Depression is an emotional, mental, physical and spiritual disorder. Something is out of balance. We have buried some pain instead of confronting it or we have misplaced our trust and sought help from impotent sources. In order to deal with depression, we must first come to a place of total and complete surrender to God and His plan of healing, even if we cannot see or do not understand that plan. The bottom line of God’s heart toward His children is always restoration and healing.
While I am not a big fan of television, I do enjoy watching a few select home improvement shows. On a recent program, an interior decorator and homeowner were discussing a list of changes that needed to be made in order to update the home. “First, we have to do something about those windows,” the decorator announced. I was surprised that she had listed this task first – until I saw the house. The existing glass was not only an ugly shade of gold, but it was thick and chunky as well. The windows let in no light and made it virtually impossible to see in or out. The result was a dark, isolated home. The distressed homeowner protested, “But I like my privacy. And if I thought anyone could see in, I would feel totally exposed.” When it comes to dealing with depression, many people feel the same way.
We construct walls over which no one can climb because the cost of friendship is too high. We fill the windows of our soul with emotional excuses in order to avoid dealing with pain. The result is darkness, loneliness, and missed opportunities for restoration. We don’t want to understand depression or find the treasures of that darkness; we simply want to be rid of it.
Many people try to understand and deal with depression on a surface level – refusing to face painful experiences, difficult relationships and the broken places where darkness lives. We look for the nearest exit, hoping to bypass transparency because the price is just too much to pay.
Emotional integrity is an essential step to recognizing, understanding, and dealing with depression. We must be real before we can be right. Until we are willing to risk being transparent, we can neither understand nor effectively deal with depression during the holidays or any other time of the year.
The holidays seem to tug at the masks we carefully hold in place or push the emotional buttons we desperately try to hide. The arrival of certain family members can resurrect painful issues that have never really been resolved. Financial pressure opens up like a sinkhole, waiting to steal our joy and destroy our peace. Schedules demand every ounce of energy, and false expectations leave us empty and hollow. The dark, slimy pit waits for us to fall in. It is not supposed to be that way!
Here’s a great resolution for the New Year. Make this year a time of praise. Choose to focus on the victories and joys you experience during the year, and then find ways to share that victory and joy with others. We need to focus on a tiny baby born in a manger, come to save us and give us true life. The darkness can be destroyed if we choose to face and deal with whatever it holds.
Right now, choose an attitude of joy by focusing your mind on the things of heaven – not earth, and by fixing your heart on Jesus Christ.
Father, I want a life filled with light instead of darkness. Please help me discard my emotional masks and be real before You as well as my family and friends. Give me the courage to be obedient to You. Give me eyes to see those You bring into my life that need my encouragement because they are on the same journey.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Write a letter of commitment to Jesus, asking Him to empower the choices you have made. Make a plan or a list of “dos” and “don’ts” that will help you experience the life God created you to live. Include your family in making this plan and make the commitment to hold each other accountable.
More from the Girlfriends
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Originally published Tuesday, 08 January 2019.