Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Depression's Rx in Two Classic Hymns

This post addresses Christian coping techniques for the reactive depression of dealing with a sad or traumatic life event. It does not address major (clinical) depression.

 Depression is a lurking stumbling block for people who care for loved ones with terminal illnesses.  When a devastating diagnosis is handed down, most of us run like champions out of the gate. The first leg of a caregiving journey has a temporary feel; at first we have no trouble pushing our own  hopes and conveniences aside for the sake of our dear ones who need us.

But after awhile, when the shock has passed and the daily burdens seem heavy, we may become a little bit like Smee. Does anyone remember the character of Smee, Captain Hook's second in command in the film Hook (starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman)?  There is a scene in which Smee, who has endured an entire career of enforced service to Hook, has an opportunity to grab some gold and make a run for it. He gives into his darker nature and pays for his treachery, but I'll always remember his Waterloo moment as he said, "What about Smee?  What about ME?" 

I confess that these past few months I've struggled with intermittent episodes of depression punctuated by plaintive cries of "What about MEEE??"

I won't detail my lengthy and self pitying prayers as I outlined for the Lord my sorrow over the loss of the good but thwarted hopes and dreams I'd harbored for these past few years of my life, the years I've spent taking care of Mom instead. But do let me share with you the sweetness of the understanding He provided:

When we pray the salvation prayer, asking forgiveness for the humiliating sins we have been unable to conquer in our own strength, the transaction is completed when we give our lives to Him. The simple prayer that brings the cleansing purchased for us by the Blood of Christ also guarantees the incomprehensibly great gift of eternal life. From that moment, our Lord begins to gently remove the scales from our eyes so that we understand the truth of our situation here on Planet Earth: our lives here are heartbreakingly short. No matter how wealthy or powerful we are, we can't avoid suffering and death. Our only hope lies in throwing in our lot with the God who loved us enough to die for us so that we can live forever with Him. We are not our own, we belong to Him, we were bought with a price, and how He chooses for us to spend our time here is up to Him and not us.

Sometimes we don't even get a vote. This isn't unfair, what would be really unfair is for the Almighty God to go through what He endured for us, and then have us stomp our little feet and say, "I want MY way according to what my pea-sized brain can perceive right NOW. "  If we think about it even for a moment we quickly realize we do not want to dismiss the knowledge and wisdom of the plans of the God who loves us perfectly in favor of our own limited understanding.

It isn't as though He ignores our needs and desires; but when we are in grief over the death of our own dreams, we are blinded to the blessings He's provided. I found a blessed lifting of the sadness that has weighted me the past few months when I finally prayed the prayer that author Jan Karon calls, "The prayer that never fails."  If you are familiar with Karon's Mitford series, you know that prayer is "Thy will be done."   

As my depression began to lift it occurred to me that my secret to feeling better has been a sincere willingness to say, Have Thine Own Way, Lord along with the resultant ability to Count Your Blessings; wisdom epitomized in the two classic hymns of the same titles (if you have time, spend a little while praising the Lord as you read the lyrics to these precious songs--just click on the titles to navigate to The CyberHymnal).

Here are a few of the things I praised God for this morning, along with my prayer that your eyes are opened to your own blessings today.  Hugs and prayers, Linda

The view from my front porch. Locusts singing, birds calling, the air flower-scented; I ask you, how was I able to sink into self-focused sorrow with this outside my door?

Loyalty, love, and goofiness all in one pretty boy. 

The rosebush my kids gave me for Mother's Day 3 years ago. It's now over 6 feet tall and even wider than that. The name of the rose is "Dick Clark;" it was issued in his honor the year he died. That's one of its blossoms in the blog header above. Love it...and those precious grown up children of mine who gifted it to me.


  1. Well now, Dick Clark has never looked better. Over six feet? Our rosebushes take forever to become that large. I have rosebushes that are nearing five years of age that are only a foot and a half about stunted!

    You certainly do have a pleasant view and a cute canine companion.

    "Thy Will be Done" is a safe prayer. Glad that it is helping with perspective. Must employ it here.

    1. Perhaps this rose bush's growth is a fluke--both my daughter-in-law and one of my good friends planted one based on this one's beauty, and neither of those have grown so well. And don't think it is good care that's done it--I did water it during the drought but other than that the poor thing's been on its own! Thanks for your comments, Vee, I appreciate you.

  2. Linda, Your faith and your gift to your mother are inspiring. Thanks for sharing and may God bless you and your family.

    1. Beth, thank you so much for taking time to bless me with these encouraging words. God bless you, too!