Entry #4 - Spiritual depression
When am I the most spiritually vulnerable? When being distressed by various trials. The more difficult the trial, the more distressed I am. The more distressed I am, the more vulnerable. 1 Peter 1:7 confirms and reminds me that the distress from trials tests my faith. Do I really believe what I say I believe? Do I and can I greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory because of my faith - no matter what is happening to me? Does the fact that I am...
- Born again to a living hope
- Have an inheritance waiting for me in heaven
- Protected by God's power
- Saved and my soul secure...
hold me, motivate me, give me courage, strength and the ability to endure?
This walking by faith is challenging.
I've spent the last year and a half discussing with the Lord the impact hurt and great disappointments (trials) have had on me and how they have impacted me spiritually. I've watched in my own life and in the lives of others how the result of hurt and disappointment can lead to discouragement.
In the place of discouragement, I start retreating, withdrawing and attempting to protect myself. I start to take control. So desperate for the pain and distress of the trial to end I try to make it end. Or, I stop doing things that caused the pain or could cause additional pain. I run ahead. I try to make the hurting stop. I fret so I do. This is a place where hurting people often hurt people. Right here is where I have so often failed my test of faith. Fortunately, I am forgiven and given multiple "do overs." But, after a year of processing all this with the Lord, I realize how often hurt and disappointment has led to discouragement and when I get discouraged, I stop.
How many times I have heard others say or have said myself "hurt the baby" or "burn the baby." At a very young age, we are trained to avoid doing or things that will bring us pain. Don't get me wrong, this is a good thing. We need and want to avoid the kind of pain that can come from things we can and should avoid. But there is pain in life that cannot be avoided. What do you do when you get hurt or burned? When my mind is distressed, and the emotions of hurt, pain, fear, doubts, etc. are stronger than my faith, I want to medicate, find relief, make it go away, be over it. I don't like to feel hurt and disappointment because it's emotionally painful. In this place, my spiritual vulnerability is at a very high danger level.
If I don't get a spiritual grip here and allow the truth I know to fill and change my mind, I move to despair. Despair is a place where I have no hope that things will ever get better or change or ... In the place of despair, I don't even recognize myself because giving up hope means I stop believing in and standing on the promises of God found in His word. Oh, I might believe them for others, but despair tells me that I need to shut up, go away and that God has given up on me. So, I retreat and withdraw even more. I find ways to cope with the hurt and disappointment so I can function. In some ways, I declare life is just too hard, and it hurts too much, and I stop putting myself out there.
Again and at the time, I don't always recognize this is happening, and it can be oh so subtle. In the place of hurt and disappointment that I cannot figure out, make sense of, make go away, or come to terms with, I shut down, shut off. It stops me dead in my spiritual tracks. While I may still be in the word, sharing the word and believing God's word is the truth, I am personally not growing spiritually. My relationship with the Lord is not thriving. I'm stuck. This is where despair turns into spiritual depression.
After spending months and months talking to the Lord about all this, I realized the bottom line was that I was really disappointed in God. The hurt and disappointment from the trial were things He could have stopped, fixed, make never to happen and He didn't. You can do all the right things for the right reasons and still get hurt. You can even be called by God to do something and be obedient to that call and still get hurt. So dazed and dizzy from the pain, I start to believe God isn't coming through for me.
Oh, I would have never verbalized these things in the middle of the trial, but in hindsight - it happened. Losing hope and trust in God led me into a spiritual depression. I stopped growing because I was too busy questioning what God was doing to trust that He was doing exactly what was needed to produce His desired outcome. I could still storm heaven in prayer for others. I could still stand on the promises of God's word for others totally believing them to be true for them. The visual that comes to mind is the game "pin the tail on the donkey." While I considered myself highly functional in my spiritual depression, in my spirit, the distress of the trial spins me around and around. Eventually, the spinning stops, but I am so distressed - dizzy and in such a fog - I can't pin the truth for myself. Oh, thank God for the people God has put in my life to help me.
I stopped growing spiritually because I put up walls in my relationship with God. Trusting God is risky. I can, and frankly will, get hurt. The lack of trust harms my intimacy with my Lord. I stepped back from Him. After all, He let me get hurt and burned. As I retreat and withdraw from God, my confidence and passion in Him fade. Now, that's downright depressing.
It takes time to rebuild trust. In a state of spiritual depression, I found I had to make myself talk to God about what I was feeling. That was hard because I wasn't really sure what I was feeling. I could no longer study God's Word, so I had to find a way back to His word so it could reach my mind and heart. I listened to it. I searched the Psalms (filled with emotional questions for God while declaring He is God). I listened to scriptures put to music. I prayerfully found ways to approach God via His word. But, I had to make myself do it and recovering from spiritual depression took time. I knew eating God's word (so to speak) was the pill I needed for my depression, but it was a hard pill to swallow, and I had to get a lot of it in my system before I started to see a change.
So what does any of this have to do with my journible of 1 Peter 1:13-19. As I wrote out these verses, I know they tell me how to be distressed well by various trials and grow in my faith as a result of the distress.
"Therefore, prepare your mind for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your eyes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelations of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance but like the Holy One who called you, be hoy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, you shall be holy for I am holy. If you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each ones work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth' knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."
The odd thing is that before the hurt and disappointment came, I knew to prepare my mind for action. I thought I was prepared. But the trial proved I was not. I focused on the distress rather than my faith and what my faith and salvation secured for me. Rather than fixing my eyes on Jesus, I fixed my eyes on my distress. I reverted back to some old ways of thinking. I was conformed. Something I never thought I would do. My thinking and attitudes and sometimes even my behavior was not holy. Yes, hurting people think and say and do unholy stuff.
Hurt and disappointment to discouragement to despair to spiritual depression. Knowing that I was not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from my futile way of life but with the precious blood as of a lamb, unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Peter1:18-19) changes everything. I thought I knew this. I thought I had prepared my mind for action with this most beautiful truth. But, I didn't stay sober in my spirit nor did I fix my eyes completely on Jesus and what my relationship with Him secured for me. In the fog of emotions, I lost my way to these truths. Hurt and disappointment are powerful and when I am the most spiritually vulnerable. So Sally...
- Prepare your mind for action (trials are going to test my faith)
- Keep sober in spirit
- Fix your eyes on Jesus
- Be holy (act right - don't be conformed)
- Remember you've been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ and all that secures for you
PS. If you are reading this post and know me, please don't try to figure out how I was hurt or disappointed or read into anything other than what I am sharing with you. What I have shared with you is actually what has happened during every hurt and disappointment I've experienced. I'm only now just figuring it out.