I come from a loving, Christian family. I have an optimistic, the-sun-is-always-there-even-if-it's-hidden-by-clouds personality. I'm one of those "the cup is half full...of juice!" people. But even I have Those Days.
Recently...on Election Day coincidentally, I was feeling depressed. After going to bed having a pretty good guess at who our next president was going to be, I just lay there wondering how God could let our country get this bad. I mean, He couldn't WANT this to happen, right? Why would He? What sort of twisted plan would involve such a mess like our nation is today?
Well, thankfully for me (and the rest of the world), God knows what the end looks like. And He actually DOES know what he's doing. And no matter how the future turns out, He is still in control. We all need to accept that. No matter how hard it is to do that.
But back to the main subject. Enough of the political rant for today or I'm going to end up using my own advice sooner rather than later. ;)
I'm writing this post in order to encourage myself and hopefully you as well. So let's do this.
Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, everybody struggles with depression at some point in their lives. Self-doubt, self-pity, lack of self-confidence, and other variations of those things. For some reason, teens are hit the hardest when it comes to struggling with depression. Often times this is because of broken homes, bad friends, or unwise choices. Not knowing that there's a God who loves them also plays a part in that too I'm sure, which is why on a scale of one to ten Christian teens don't get as depressed as non-Christian teens. (Don't get me wrong though, Christians get depressed sometimes.)
As a Christian teenager, and one that comes from a loving, Christian family, I have an advantage over a lot of the teens who struggle with depression. (My cheerful, happy-go-lucky personality helps too...just saying. ;) But even so, there are lots of times when I feel like I'm not understood by my parents, or I feel picked on by the world in general. There are even days when I feel God is far away and somehow unreachable.
Because of this, I'd like to give you a few steps I take in order to climb out of that pit of selfishness we create whenever we throw a self-pity party. Hopefully it will help you like it has helped me in the past. :)
1: Stop focusing on the wrong things. You might have been treated unfairly. The world might be falling apart around your ears. That breakup might have torn a hole in your heart that you think is unmendable. Your parents might be acting unreasonable (although, for the record, I've found parents are usually right...just keep that in mind). But you shouldn't dwell on that. Dwelling on everything people have done to you will only make your depression worse.
2: Logically, if you're not supposed to focus of wrong things, the next step would be to focus on the right things. So step number two is just that: Start focusing on the right things. Phillipians 4:8 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible for a very good reason. When your mind starts to dwell on everything that's gone wrong in your life, STOP. Turn your mind instead to the the many blessings you have. Once you start looking for blessings in your life, it's hard to stop. And the list seems endless. Nothing is more amazing and awe inspiring than looking back on your many, many thousands of blessings and realizing that your life really isn't that bad. After all, have you ever considered every breath you take is a gift from your Creator? If all else fails, you can thank Him for THAT.
3: Realize that there ARE people in your life who love you. A lot of times when kids (or even adults) are feeling depressed, its because they're having a "I'm worthless, no one cares about me or loves me" day. This is only a lie. A lie you tell yourself so you have an excuse to wallow in self-pity. EVERYONE, I repeat everyone has people in their lives that love them. Whether it's your parents, a favorite sibling, spiritual leaders, or friends. And even if you are a homeless beggar with no family (but apparently some sort of electronic device if you're reading this...) and no friends, God loves you. And He will always be there for you. No matter what. You can always count on Him...He will NEVER fail you. Keep that in mind.
4: Stop degrading yourself. You're not worthless. You're not unloved. You're not "trash" or "useless" or any other name people think up. You are precious in the sight of God. If your heart belongs to Him, nothing can take it away. He will help you overcome every trial that trips you up on the path of life. Sure, you might feel useless at times, but that's only an illusion. God knows exactly what He's doing with your life, and He'll make sure it happens. Read your Bible, keep your mind open to the guiding of the Holy Spirit, and pray often. If you do those things, God will use you to accomplish great things. Trust me on that one.
5: Seek out godly people in your life and talk with them about what you're going through. This might be your parents, your pastor (or you might luck out and have a pastor AS a parent...but I digress ;), or a person from your church. I am blessed to have all three types of people in my life. My parents have always been there for me, which I know is a rare commodity nowadays, and having my dad as a pastor has helped me even more.
He is one of those thinking types...a guy who will read a whole book about something just so he can casually drop a golden nugget in the laps of those who pay attention to what he's saying at any given moment. Yeah, my dad is a personified treasure chest of information. And if he doesn't know something, he'll look it up. Right there. So he'll know next time someone asks him about it.
My mom is less of an informant, but if you want a shoulder to cry on, she's the better choice. She is always willing to hold me, to comfort me, to let me know that she's there for me no matter what I've done or how rotten I'm feeling at the moment.
If you're like me, one of ten kids, competition for one-on-one time with parents is high...and usually the little kids are the ones who end up being the main focus because they have more training that needs to happen. In my case, the stats are even less in my favor because Dad has a whole congregation to lead as well as his family, even though we are his first priority.
However, I figured out a way to fix this. I found a couple godly women in my church who I look up too and admire for their love of Christ and their love for their families. One of these women in particular is our assistant pastor's wife, Mrs. Miller. She has been a huge encouragement to me and we have had a close friendship ever since they first started coming to our church. Whenever I'm struggling with something I know I can confide in her and ask her for her prayers as I go through whatever it is I'm going through.
I would highly recommend you to do the same. Find someone you respect in your church and talk to them. Peer pressure isn't the best way to figure things out. Ask an older person's opinion. They'll have better advice than the friends around your age. Probably. There's always an exception, but as a general rule, older people have learned more from life, and therefore will give you better advice. Just something to think about.
6: Read your Bible. Maybe you don't have one. Well, if you can read this blog post, you can read the Bible. Just Google it. But, most of you have a Bible. (Probably a couple different versions.) Nothing helps me get out of a self-pity party than reading a chapter or two of the Bible. Psalms is a good place to start. It helps you realize things could be a lot worse, our God is in control, and that with Him, you can conquer all things...even depression.
7: Pray. Talk to God. He is always there to listen. He will never let you down. And once you've taken out all your frustration and poured out all your woes on His loving ears...
8: Have a good cry. Sometimes, you just need to cry. Not to sound too sappy and sentimental, but everyone should have a good cry every once in awhile. It's scientific people. Tears have a way of draining bad things from your body (not sure what, but they do). Sure, our tears might make us feel a little silly about ourselves, or perhaps more frustrated because you did not want to cry in front of so-and-so, but they do help. I'm not an avid crier. I tend to bottle up my sadness or depression inside and cover it with a mask of "everything is fine" until the bad feelings dissipate. Which really isn't the best way to deal with it. Burying feelings never helps. Don't do it. Deal with them. Even if it makes you cry.
Well, I hope those steps helped you as much as they have helped me in the past. I know most of you don't deal with serious depression, but these things will help you even when you're just having a bad day (which I know you all deal with. Don't even try to deny it! ;P).
Have a great day, and don't forget: YOU ARE LOVED.