Getting Out: Everyone Needs a Hand to Hold On To
As you may have guessed, getting out of the deep depression hole was not an issue of pulling myself up by my bootstraps. (BTW, as a kid I spent years trying to figure out if I could ever be strong enough to pull myself up by my bootstraps. According to the laws of physics, it is impossible.) To start healing, I needed two things: a wise counselor and the humility to listen. God took care of both.
Humility was easy, it was really just a matter of being scared. I knew healthy people did not walk around explaining to themselves why they should never commit suicide. Once I realized that I was doing that very thing, I got scared and was willing to do anything to be better.
God graciously led me to the perfect counselor. I had signed up for a year of professional coaching and had been paired with an older minister who had planted churches, lead churches, counseled many pastors, and had experienced deep depression after the death of his first wife. He was perfect.
He was perfect because he was older. I think everyone needs someone older, someone you look up to, someone who has enough gravity to his voice that when you hear him you believe him. Every generation has needed older mentors, but in a world where fully half of us have grown up without a father in the house, the need for older men directing us has become acute. If you lacked a father, I encourage you to search for someone you can trust. Specifically, look for someone who, when he looks at you and says, “I’m proud of you,” you believe him. I believe you were created to hear those words, and you need them.
He was perfect because he had been there. He knew the hopeless, dead feeling of waking up unable to get out of bed. He knew all the feelings, and most importantly, he knew they would not last forever. He had been in this valley, and he knew the pathway out.
Finally, he was perfect because he knew the gospel and knew how to apply it to my life. I want to emphasize this: He did not tell me anything new. Whenever I shared his comments with friends, they replied “That is what you tell us every Sunday.” There is something mystical about the good news of how much we are loved in Christ. “It is louder in the ear than in the mouth” (D. Bonhoffer). Reading the Bible is important, and positive self-talk is vital, but you need others in your life to remind you of the truth. You have to hear it from someone else and hear it over and over again before you believe it. You have to let your guard down and not simply dismiss the words. You have to let the words sit on your heart and slowly sink in like seeds into the soil during a soft rain. Sometimes you have to make the decision, “Today, I am not going to blow this good news off, I am going to believe it.”
I am going to believe who I am in Christ. I am going to believe God is proud of me. God delights in me. God wants to be with me. Christ wants to present me to the Father with exceeding great joy, great joy in me. Today I am going to believe that. I hope you will too.