Tag Archives: depression

Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part II – What Anxiety Does to the Heart

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. I promised her that I would do it about two months ago. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.

Note: I encourage you to read the earlier posts associated with this series to give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of this topic. For Part I, click here

What Anxiety Does to the Heart

As he thinks in his heart, so is he – Proverbs 23:7

There is a what we think in our mind, then there is what we think in our heart. What we think in our heart is deeper and has a long lasting effect. According to the bible, what we think in our heart is the determining factor on who we become, and by extension, I will add sets the course of our lives.

Point A: The thoughts of our heart holds the power to control the trajectory of our life.

There is no solving the depression issue without solving the heart issue. When anxiety enters the heart, it causes “dis-ease” or “lack of ease” in the heart such that the thoughts of our hearts (what we hold to be true in the depths of our being) begins to stoop (bow down, pay homage, or otherwise worships) to anything else other than the truth.

Point B: Depression is not a disease (dis-ease) of the mind, but it is a disease of the heart. Hence it is less about what you think is true in your mind, but more about what you believe to be the truth in your heart.

Please read the next sections very carefully and re-read as often as needed until you truly understand:

What is true is different than what is truth! A truth is a fact that NEVER  changes regardless of situation, circumstance, or how much time has elapsed. Something that is true on the hand is a fact, but that fact can change with time, circumstance, or situation. Another way of differentiating between true and truth is this: What is true is temporary but what is truth is permanent.

In our inner ideal world, truths become laws or principles that form the bedrock of our beliefs, shape our identity, and mold the way we see our world. Note that from a biblical point of view, since God holds all truth, only He should be able determine our truths.

Unfortunately, there are those times when our inner world becomes less than ideal. It is in these moment that anxiety can kick in and then things other than the truth begin to shape our belief, identity, and the way we see our / the world.

Point C: Anxiety in the heart turns an unpleasant temporary fact into our truth.

Once an unpleasant temporary fact turns into our truth in our hearts, our heart begins to interpret the present through the lens of the past unpleasant fact, thereby mortgaging our futures. Another way to say the same thing is this:  Anxiety in our heart causes us to get stuck in a moment / temporary experience, and then interprets all future possibilities through the lens of that past moment / temporary experience. This is why changing environment has little lasting impact on depression sufferers although it may offer temporary respite.

Note: In the above paragraph, there is a difference between the truth and our truth

Worse still, anxiety in our hearts keep us in an infinite loop where our unpleasant past experience causes us to have unpleasant present experiences, which we then remember in the future as unpleasant past experiences.

If you can relate to this, then it is very possible that there is some life experience, statement, situation, or condition that may or may not be true (factual) that you have taken to be truth (the truth for you being something you deeply believe that in your heart you truly think will never change).

Point D: We should not let what is true explain the truth, but we should let the truth explain what is true.Ask yourself these questions – What do I truly believe in my heart? When did I start to believe it? Is what I believe in my heart truly permanent or it is temporary? Are my believes in line with the truth?

It is possible that you anxiety exists where your truth is a lie and not the truth – when we believe a lie, we live a lie. And that lie can steal our joy. It is only the truth that will set us free.

Next Time We Will Discuss The Topic – The Root Cause of Anxiety

Leave a comment

Filed under Pain and Fear, Purposeful Living

Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part I – Root Cause Of Depression

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. I promised her that I would do it about two months ago. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.

Root Cause of Depression

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad

– Proverbs 12:25 (NKJV)

 The wisest man (outside of Jesus) that ever lived reveals to us that the root cause of depression is anxiety!

But before we go further into this topic, it is important to note a few things:

  • The original Hebrew text reads something like this ‘Heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop’.
  • The meaning of ‘heaviness’ is sorrow, anxiety, and fear.
  • The meaning of ‘stoop’ is to bow down, pay homage, or worship

Another thing we must note is this: The passage says ‘anxiety in the heart of man”. It does NOT say “anxiety in the soul of man”.

That is to say that to feel anxiety or sorrow in our soul is part of the human experience – there is nothing wrong with you if your soul experiences episodes of anxiety from time to time. This is normal, for there are situations and conditions that can bring on the onset of anxiety.

Point A: You are not abnormal or broken because you experiences episodes of anxiety

If you think you are abnormal or broken because you experience episodes of anxiety, consider that what you are saying is that you want to do better than the most perfect man that ever lived, Jesus, for even he experienced anxiety. Consider the following scriptures:

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch” – Mark 14:23

Do you see that? Even Jesus was sorrowful in his soul when he faced a very difficult situation. But this is not the only time that Jesus was troubled! The bible tells us that Jesus was also troubled and wept when others were sorrowful for the death of Lazarus (see John 11).

Point B: It is okay to tell others that you are suffering from anxiety and to ask for help

The scripture in Mark 14:23 tells us that Jesus told his disciples that he was exceedingly sorrowful. He did not hide when he was going through his deep bout of anxiety but told those whom he trusted in his inner circle. Then he further asked them to help. Specifically, he asked them to stay and pray for him.

With those two points behind us, it is important to say that the type of anxiety that causes depression is the anxiety that enters into our heart. Why is that important? It is because the heart is what ultimately drives our actions through our mind.

Point C: We do not always do what is in our mind, but we always do something when that something has alignment in both our heart and our mind. Hence, anxiety is deadly when it enters our heart for it ultimately controls our behavior.

Next Time We Will Discuss The Topic – What Anxiety Does To Your Heart!

 

2 Comments

Filed under Pain and Fear, Uncategorized

10 Surefire Ways to Get Yourself Depressed – Part III

Living in Disguise, having a sense of Entitlement, being Prideful and Rebellious, Envious, Selfish, Stubborn, Insolent, taking too much ownership, and Narcissism are character traits that spell D.E.P.R.E.S.S.I.O.N. These traits lead to depression because they destroy relationships and tend to rob us of our need to be loved and accepted.

(9) OWNERSHIP: Taking ownership is usually a positive trait as it usually means we are taking responsibility for our lives. Yet this positive trait can lead to unintended negative consequences when we take ownership for those things that we have no business owning. Taking ownership of something we cannot reverse such as past mistakes is a losing battle since we cannot go back in time to fix them. It only leads to frustration and the propensity not to forgive ourselves.

The craziest things about taking ownership of your past sins is this: You are taking ownership of that which no longer exists. In Christ, your past sins have not simply being covered, they have been remitted. Another word for remitted is dispatched.

See, one of the many wonderful things about having a relationship with Jesus is that he has taken ownership for our sins. Every sin you have every committed or could ever commit has been placed on him. So please, do not take ownership of something that you no longer own. And please don’t mistake the consequences of your sin with having ownership of it.

All of us have to take ownership of the worldly consequence of our sins but the sins is no longer something that the Lord imputes to us. All sin is imputed onto Jesus once we accept Him in our lives

 

(10) NARCISSISM: Are you hypersensitive to less than glowing feedback? Do you tend to blame everyone else for your failures? Are you always looking to take credit for everything good around you. Does it always have to be your way or the highway? Is it all about how you feel and how it affects you? Do you lack empathy for the plight of others? If you answered yes to these questions, then you have some of the character traits of a narcissist.

If you have the traits of a narcissist, then your key words  are ‘let go and let God’.

Submitting ALL of your pain, your past, your hurts to God is the only way the fears, insecurities and trauma that leads you to want to control everything will ever be eradicated. Instead of comparing yourself to other people, a simple comparison of yourself to the holiness of God will lead to surrender. If you do not know what is in your heart that you need to submit to God, just ask the one’s that know you the most. Ask for their brutal honesty and listen with an open mind and heart.

Remember that the wounds of a friend are faithful but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6). I don’t know about you but I would rather be wounded now and heal than be trapped in the cage of self-deceit.

Acknowledging (confessing) that there is a problem is the first step to solving it. When you confess your faults instead of trying to defend them (and so deceiving yourself), you leave room for God to do His best work in your life.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you – Hosea 10:12

It is time to break up the fallow ground of our hearts so we can enjoy the best God has for us.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Growth, Pain and Fear, Victorious Living

10 Surefire Ways to Get Yourself Depressed – Part II

Part I of this blog discusses how living in Disguise, having a sense of Entitlement, foolish Pride, Rebellion against the truth, and Envy promote depression in our lives. Another 3 character traits that tend to alienate us and promote depression are as follows.

(6) SELFISHNESS: Selfishness makes it “all about us”. It is trait that comes out us when we operate out of fear and greed. Society has done a great job hiding this trait under a rug of vernacular. Instead of saying we are only thinking of ourselves, we say that we are acting independently. Instead of admitting that we looking out only for our own self-interest, we say that we are looking our for our own security.

Good relationships require give and take. With selfishness, there is no giving…there is only taking. This is why selfishness never results in happiness.

Nothing breaks that cycle of selfishness more than engaging in giving and serving others – especially when the person does not deserve it. Just try it today, go over to someone who does not deserve something and make their day. Watch the smile on their face; watch joy fill their heart as you tell them there is no catch. In truth, when we engage in ‘catch-less’ giving, we receive more than we bargain for. There is something about selflessness that fills us up with joy and happiness. Thus while selfishness sucks the life out of us, selflessness rewards us with the gift of life. So ask yourself how you can make someone’s day today. Then be intentional to make it happen.

If you do not believe me, then believe the wisest man who ever lived. Jesus said: Give and it shall be given unto you. If you want love and happiness in your life, give love and happiness.

(7) STUBBORNNESS: The difference between determination and stubbornness is the state of the heart from which the action comes. While determination is born out of good heart, stubbornness is born out of an evil heart. While determination is positive, stubbornness is negative.  Stubbornness is what makes us dig our heels in – sticking for things we know are not right. Stubbornness is what causes us to never admit our wrongdoing or our wrong ways of thinking.

Setting a wall up against the will of God , moving against his spiritual laws, and not admitting when we are wrong are surefire ways to be depressed. Just ask Judas Iscariot. He stubbornly set himself against Jesus even after it was clear to him that Jesus knew he going to betray him. The result: His ensuing deep anxiety and remorse led him to hang himself. Other stubborn guys we know of are Pharaoh of Egypt, King Saul, and Jonah. They all suffered for it.

Lets not be like all  these guys who suffered deep anxiety.  Let us not hang our joy and happiness on a tree. Let us be determined to do what is right and let us be quick to turn towards what is good. We ought to accept being called a flip-flopper and do what is right than be known as a resolute people who steadfastly drove their lives off into the gorge of remorse and anxiety just because they were trying to save their image.

To win yourself off stubbornness, remind yourself that you do not have to be right all the time.

(8) INSOLENCE: Being loud, rude, and otherwise obnoxious wins us no favors in life. In fact, it tends to alienate us from peaceable people in the society. It causes unnecessary dissension and strife.

Since birds of a feather flock together, it is highly unusual to find insolent people walking around with peaceful people. At some point, insolent people will be rude to one another and take offense. Hence, the end result of insolence is that we miss out on the joy our relationships should bring us. That in itself can cause us a deep sense of anxiety as the people we love to get out of dodge for their own peace of mind.

In other words, it is difficult for people to love you for you if you are rude, crude, loud, and obnoxious. If they do, they would rather love you for you at a distance. Thus, it will be difficult for you to walk in fellowship with others when you are insolent. Once fellowship is removed, watch out. You are prime candidate for negative thoughts and the other tricks of Satan. Don’t I say “I don’t need anybody”. Everybody needs somebody.

Friend, lets us remember that we are to exhort and speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19). Only then will we have positive and meaningful fellowship with one another.

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Purposeful Living, Teaching

10 Surefire Ways to Get Yourself Depressed – Part I

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), roughly 18% of Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. The contributing factors that may promote depression are many. They include abuse, certain medications, conflict, death or loss, genetics, substance abuse, major events, and other personal problems. Additionally, factors such as our upbringing, our coping strategies, and our general view and outlook on life impact the possibility of us developing anxiety disorders.

Being a proponent of the “Prevention is Better than Cure” principle, I wonder how many cases of depression can be prevented if we learn the right copying strategies, have the right perspective on life, and perhaps avoid the character pitfalls that have the ability to drag is unto the dark pit of depression.

Just as an unhealthy lifestyle promotes many cases of obesity and cancer, there are some things that we should avoid if we want to reduce the likelihood of falling into depression. Here are 5 of 10 things we should avoid that promote D.E.P.R.E.S.S.I.O.N.

(1) DISGUISE: In masquerade parties, we wear masks and pretend to be people we are not. In real life, we tend to wear masks to hide who we truly are. Many times, it is because we are afraid of being a disappointment or are afraid of being rejected by people. Hence, fear is the main reason people where masks. For most of us, mask wearing is only meant for a particular audience – perhaps in our workplace or when around certain caliber of people. The problem comes when we are so deeply fearful that we no longer take off our mask – regardless of company, situation, or circumstance. We are in dangerous territory when no one around us really knows who we are. When this happens, we do not have real relationships but have developed illusions of relationships. We feel deep loneliness because no one know who we truly are though we may be surrounded by people. Many comedians wear masks and so suffer from depression.

A key to stop our mask wearing is to know that we have been accepted. Our acceptance does not come from who we are or what we do but from who God is and what He has done! So let us take off our mask and allow people to see the real us. We must leave the place that tells us we have to behave before we belong; we must go to the place where we first belong well before we behave. That place is at the feet of Jesus!

(2) ENTITLEMENT: When we feel entitled to something, we not only feel disappointed when we do not get it, we feel robbed and angered. We feel as if some grave injustice has been done against us. We feel the world is unfair and against us when we can do nothing about our perceived injustice. So we go around gloomy and sad with the weight of the world on our shoulders. A weight that we have placed there ourselves.

Perspective is what breaks the yoke of entitlement. From a biblical perspective, the only thing we are entitled to or deserve in this life is death! We know this because the bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; it says that the wages of sin is death! We must let go of whatever we feel entitled. We must learn to be glad for those things that we do have and are in the process of attaining. Only by living with a heart of gratitude will we see the little miracles that God places in our lives on a daily basis.

(3) PRIDE: I feel like cringing everything I hear someone say “My pride is all I have left“. I want to reply, “You pride is likely the reason you have nothing but pride left“. See, the bible says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Why is pride so bad? It is because pride does not seek help from others. Pride says we can go it alone and ostracize people. Pride never admits any wrong-doing. Pride refuses to pardon but drinks the poison of unforgiveness. Pride convinces us we are the stud-muffin but then fails to pick us up when we fall. Pride cannot stand failure and is hard on us. Pride never wants to change course even if the course is leading us straight to the pit. Pride is the friend the betrays us in the end. Pride causes conflicts in our world and leads us to live the stressed life instead of the blessed life.

When we make it about pride, we make it about is. When we make it about humility, we make it about the greater good.

(4) REBELLION: We will never find the tree rebelling against the sun. No tree has ever decided not to bends itself towards the sun. Similarly, you will never find the fish rebelling against the water. Likewise, we should not rebel against the truth. A truth is something that remains unchanged regardless of time and circumstance. A truth about human beings is that we are relational beings – we were made to be in relationship with one another in love. The moment we lock ourselves away from all people in our hearts is the moment we begin to rebel against our need for companionship.

Just as it is hazardous for us to rebel against the law of gravity, we must not rebel against the spiritual laws governing faith, hope, and love. Rebelling against these spiritual law’s will lead to spiritual starvation and depravity and deep state of anxiety.

(5) ENVY: Nothing saps satisfaction faster than envy. We not only become dissatisfied with what we have, we become dissatisfied with God. Envy causes us to question how much God loves us. This is turn causes us to cheapen every blessing God has bestowed on us. Envy causes us to take our eyes off God and place is on other people; it is what causes us to keep up with the “Jones”. It leads to unhealthy competition with people who are not competing against us. In other words, it causes us to put undue pressure on ourselves to perform.

Instead of being envious, we must make a conscious decision to be happy with where we are and what we have. Even if our current situation is not the best, it does not have to stay that way. Remember that Joseph was not always in the pit but made it to the palace. Remember that David was not always running away from Saul but became a king. Instead of being envious, we must embrace our season of character development while awaiting our promotion in life. Moreover, we must make it a point to be happy for others. We must remember that God is no respecter of person’s. If he has done it for our neighbor, He can do it for us as well as we trust and follow Him.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Pain and Fear, Victorious Living

Relationship Rant – How is Your Mindset affecting Your Relationship?

A society that is too reality-focused always settles for the flavor of the day. This society allows itself to be carried away by the ebbs and flows of life in fatalistic surrender. It seldom strives to make tangible improvements. The people of that society are likely to say ‘well, there is nothing I can do about this’.

Now, while the positive aspect of being reality-focused is that it allows for peace of mind and unnecessary wrangling, the problem is that putting too much emphasis on reality allows for much needed improvements to fall in between the cracks. Moreover, people who are in overly reality-focused societies many times fail to live the best life for they are okay with just about anything.

Conversely, a society that is too ideal minded is never satisfied with the status quo.  The people of these societies cannot stand it when things are not as they should be and are always looking for improvements. The people of these societies are likely to say ‘there must be something I can do about this’. Standing still and doing nothing is usually not an option for the ideal-focused society. Innovation is the name of the game!

Now, while the positive part of being ideal minded is that it always allows for continuous improvements, the snag is that people in these societies are never satisfied with where they are and so never truly get to be fully happy with life as it is.

Our ability to balance the ideal and the real determines our ability to cope with life and our ability to find happiness in life

If we attempt to divide the world into these two camps (ideal-minded versus reality-minded), we find that Africa is on one end of the spectrum with it being highly reality-minded while North America (especially the US) is on the other end with being highly ideal-minded. While this is great for the US with regards to living standards, it has a deleterious effect when it comes to the sphere of relationships. Let me explain.

Most people I know are looking for the man or woman of their dreams. For the ideal-minded believer, nobody but Jesus will do for only He is ideal or perfect! In fact, most people consider going for someone who does not look like Jesus as ‘settling’. Here is the problem: no one truly looks like Jesus yet because we are all being conformed to His image of daily (Romans 8:29). That means we are not ideal but simply heading towards it.

Unfortunately, most people out of fear of being single (because of not being ideal enough) set themselves up as being closer to being ideal than what they really are. In essence, they fool their partner into thinking they are something they are not. When finally the relationship happens, they both stop pretending and stop the charade overtime and then the partner sees the reality of who they are. Once past the initial shock, each partner starts to access whether they can live with the reality they now know. If they cannot, and the other person does not move any closer to a level of idealism that person can stand within a particular time horizon, the relationship suffers and is usually severed.

Why severed? It is because highly uncompromisingly ideal minded people set up for themselves unrealistic expectations that make them susceptible to being disappointed and hurt – even by the most menial offense. Once hurt, the ideal-minded person starts to look for ways to fix the problem because waiting it out is not an option. If Innovation (counseling, change, fearful control) does not work, then the ‘there must be something I can do about this’ query only leaves two options. Cheat by finding someone that seem closer to being ideal or sever the relationship! Seems a familiar problem doesn’t it?

See, the end of looking for perfection in people is unhappiness, loneliness, and depression.

In truth, we look for people who are perfect because we are afraid of getting hurt – so it comes from fear. Furthermore, it comes from a sense of entitlement or greed in that we are looking for something we are not ourselves. Unfortunately, when we do get something that seems perfect, we become afraid of losing it and then try to control the other person’s life. As a result, that person falls or starts to become imperfect.

If we find someone that is perfect, we should stay away from them because our own imperfection will only sully whatever is making that person seem perfect.

Today, instead of trying to find someone who is ideal (perfect), look for someone who is chasing after the ideal – someone who desires to be conformed to the image of Christ. Befriend the person and make the person comfortable so they feel free to show you who they truly are. If you can cope with the reality of this person and this person is chasing after the ideal, then you have hit the jackpot in that things are only get better as the person continues to be conformed to the image of Christ.

Food for Thought:  Is my unrealistic expectation of perfection the root of my unhappiness? Is it driving people away and encouraging them to be phony around me?

1 Comment

Filed under Rants, Relationships

5 Steps Towards Greatness (Part I) – The Call

The pyramid of Khephren (Khafre)The scripture tells us that many people are called BUT that few are chosen (see Matthew 22:14). What a shame! It is truly a tragedy that too few of us ever achieve the greatness to which God has called every single person that walks on this earth. Here is the truth! The same God who calls us and says ‘You can be great’ desires to choose us to be great; He longs to say to each one of us ‘You will be great’. Unfortunately, too many of us are either ignorant of the steps required for greatness or we are unwilling to follow in the footsteps of Jesus in doing the work that is required to be chosen.

Now, God in His love did not make us fully responsibility for being great but made it a shared responsibility – our part being the easy part. Even so, just as Jesus had a part to play in being chosen after being called by God, we also have a part to play in being chosen. So then, what part do we play and what part does God play? This will hopefully become clear as we peek at the 5 steps towards greatness.

The Call which is the first step towards greatness and is God’s responsibility. While in heaven, God called Jesus and said something akin to: ‘Son, it is your time. I have now called you to partake of flesh and blood (become human) for the sole purpose of reconciling and restoring mankind to us. This is what I am calling you to do. Ready to go?’. See, Jesus who is Spirit became a human with a living soul for the sole purpose of doing that specific will of God. Likewise, just like Jesus, we are all spirit beings who have been called and temporarily placed on this earth to do a work and to achieve a purpose.

“For we are his workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus unto good works (purpose), which God has before (prior to being born) ordained that we should walk in them” – Ephesians 2:10

Lightbulb MomentThe first step towards greatness is to know the specific purpose to which God has called us.

If you do not know your purpose, do not despair. Just keep your heart and ears open and God will reveal His specific purpose to you in due time. Prophet Jeremiah did not know his purpose until God said to Him: ‘Hey Jeremiah, I am now calling you to be my mouthpiece (prophet) to the people of Judah. I created you specifically for this purpose and I am now letting you know that this is the purpose for which I created you’.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations” – Jeremiah 1:5

Note that what is important is God’s call on our lives and not our call on our lives. It is only God’s purpose for our lives that streamlines our life’s energy into a single laser beam focus that is able to cut through distractions and foolishness while bringing true and sustained fulfillment into our lives. . It is only by following the will or purpose of God for our lives that we walk worthy of Him, fully please Him, and are fruitful in everything we do – for His power follows His purpose (see Colossians 1:9:10).

Conversely, our lives fall into the learned behavior of idleness without His purpose (see 1 Timothy 5:13). Now, idleness does not simply mean that we are doing nothing. Busyness that comes from following our own purpose is empty in the end and so is still idleness! Why? It is because idleness is defined as doing anything that is unimportant, insignificant, or holds no real worth. An example of this is idle banter where we are busy talking but our banter adds zero value. Since anything without God (love) is valueless and we know that God is great, we see that is it impossible to attain true greatness with God’s purpose (love) being involved.

So how do we recognize idleness? The symptoms of idleness (or lack of God-giving purpose) includes being easily offended, gossip-mongering, being a busy-body, depression, never being satisfied, being a workaholic, dilly-dallying, lack of commitment etc. Just think of how these lead to broken relationships!  So in reality, the root cause of many of the problems we encounter in this life is simply the lack of purpose or the shunning of God’s purpose. So we now see why Satan does not want us to walk in purpose (our responsibility). He knows if he can get us away from our purpose, he has a foothold in our lives and cause us problems. If you don’t believe me, just ask Prophet Jonah how Satan tried to kill him and tortured his life simply because he ran away from the purpose to which God called Him.

So today, instead of continuing in idleness, ask God to show you what He has called you to do! If you want to be great, you must know what He has called you to do at this point in your life

Food for Thought: It is impossible to be great without following the great One

5 Comments

Filed under Success