Check In

As Rachel on the Bachelorette would say, I’m going to “keep it 100” with y’all and let you in on the struggle I’ve had the past couple of months.

An ongoing weakness of mine that runs in my family is depression. I know depression sounds miserable (and it is), but it’s also oddly comforting. I am familiar with curling up on the couch to take a nap and escape the world, driving to work in a numbness of surrender to unhappiness, maintaining a safe fog of distance at work from reality, and shoving down the little thoughts that pop up telling me to process my situation. It feels horribly good to be a victim.

But ultimately, being depressed is mainly just horrible.

I’ve allowed depression to manipulate my life decisions in the past. I’ve quit jobs because I was miserable, ended relationships, and not completed creative projects that could’ve really benefited people. Depression, for me, is basically a long, numb venture of pure laziness. When I’m in the midst, a proverb always enters my mind:

How long, you sluggard, will you lie there?
When will you rise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to relax,
and your poverty will come like a robber,
and your need like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:9-11)

It’s a cycle I am familiar with, yet, can’t seem to shake when I’m in it. I was in this depression when it came time for a counseling session, and I am so glad I entrusted to my counselor how I was feeling. It can be hard, even with counselors, to be honest with how you’re doing. I’ve been seeing mine for quite some time and I was concerned she’d be disappointed with my seeming regression in recovery.

Of course she wasn’t. She shared with me an exercise to do through the phase and I want to share it with you, because it helped me sooo much.

CHECKING IN:

Set a reminder to check in with God every two hours.

  1. Write down how you’re feeling in that moment
  2. Ask God to show you what He’s teaching you in the process
  3. Ask God to remove any negative feelings
  4. If you have to, go into the bathroom or somewhere else private and literally shake the depression (or other negative feeling) off of you
  5. Thank God for what He’s going to do in your life
  6. If God has placed any phrases in your mind or led you to a specific scripture, place it somewhere you can see throughout the day

Try it out! I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.

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A Mini Break

Hello, friends!

I’ve been MIA for the past month, but it’s been for a good reason. God blessed me with a contract job to write a 5 week devotional for families traveling together. That, along with work, my book proposal, and another side job have kept me pretty busy. But! I have finished the devotionals and would like to share one of the days with you.

When I write for churches, I don’t use blatant codependency terms. It’s not a popular concept within most church congregations yet. However, I try and describe as best I can what connecting with God through recovery truly feels like. I want people to know that they can live in freedom and joy in Christ.

Below is day three entitled, “Grace Perspective”. Enjoy!

Romans 5:1-11

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Read devotional as a family:

Even though many say they are Christians, it’s hard to come by individuals actually living the Christian lifestyle. When I say “living it out”, I’m not talking about their actions. I’m talking about their perspective. How many Christians do you know that are still living, frankly, a miserable life?

Reading Romans 5:1-11 and seeing the gains from a life under faith in Christ, it’s hard to imagine a Christian emanating darkness instead of light. It happens all too often, however. God opens someone’s blinded eyes to the light, they accept His truth, and revert back to their dark chaos. This is not to say their lives have no transformation and their salvation wasn’t real. It’s to say that the choice is frequently made to live a life of complacent, sepia-toned Christianity and not step into the daily adventure that God has created for those who love Him. It’s a choice to push away that breezy-blue-sky-Saturday-with-people-you-love, hot pizza when you’re starving, packed out dance party, confident like a boss; “so young and in love” type life.

When a Christian attempts to operate out of their human capabilities, obligation creeps in and life is not lived as an overflow of joy and gratitude for the gift of eternal life in Christ.

Before we could see the truth of God we were in darkness. It is when we come to see the truth of our depravity, the salvation Christ offers, and the justification we receive through faith that we can live a life of peace and joy with God. Peace. Isn’t that what everyone is looking for? Peace, contentment, satisfaction… lack of worry. And we have it!

That’s not all we gain from receiving Jesus as our savior. We receive access to the presence of God because of the grace we have been shown. It is this access to God’s presence that allows us to obtain such peace. We also gain hope in the glory of God. The word hope in this context is ἐλπίς in Greek. It means expectation. We are given not only peace in the present, but expectation for things to come. Namely, the glory of God. We are expectant to see the reveal of God on earth.

After being given peace with God, access to His presence, and hope, we get the gift of the ability to rejoice in our sufferings. Why? Because no longer are sufferings pointless inconveniences and disappointments in a one-shot-at-life mentality, but they are a process of sanctification getting us ready for the glorious kingdom ahead. Sufferings lead back to hope because we have been given the Holy Spirit as our guide and counsel through those times of suffering. We overflow with love no matter what circumstance because of the power of the gospel.

God’s peace gives us the freedom to put away obsessive thinking and surrender our anxieties. The hope of the glory of God provides an eternal perspective that fills this appetizer of a life with purpose. The Holy Spirit clears our mind of chaos and replaces it with clarity, confidence, and direction. God guides us every day and provides all our needs in their right time.

We have all of this, not because we deserve it, but because God loved us in the midst of our weakness. He wanted us to be in His presence so He gave the ultimate sacrifice of parting with His Son for a time so that we can all be with Him. Jesus died for us at the time we were the complete package of a depraved Romans 1. And it is His sacrifice that covers our messed up selves in the presence of God.

It is through Jesus’ blood that we are justified to God and saved from His wrath. We died with Christ to now live. The understanding of who we were, where we were headed, who Jesus is and what He did, what we gained from His life, death, and resurrection, and who we are now because of who He is leads us to a life of freedom, gratitude, and joy. What could we possibly need that God hasn’t already provided? If He went to such great lengths so that we could be with Him, why would He not come through in other matters?

Live in the freedom of a life with God through Jesus Christ here and in the eternal future.

Discussion:

  • What are potential consequences of living for ourselves and not for God’s glory?
  • Do you feel that you are living in the peace of God every day? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe that God will come through for you? Why or why not?