No More Masks

Psalm_34_18
I didn’t plan on getting depressed, but I did.

Such an oxymoron: Someone whose nickname is “Sunshine,” is now more of a “Little Black Raincloud.”

I’m no longer wearing a mask for anyone these days. “How are you doing today, Tiff?”

“Crappy. You?”

Apparently, there is something shocking about that. (Who knew?) People don’t quite know what to do with me these days, unless they are depressed too. Those people are coming out of the woodwork, saying, “I’m depressed too. But I can’t tell anyone, because, as a Christian, aren’t I supposed to exude the joy of the Lord?!”

Sigh…

Call me crazy, but aren’t we taught as Christians that Joy is separate from our emotions? And isn’t depression something that affects our brain chemistry (a.k.a. “our emotions”)? If Joy is not an emotion (as any pastor in any pulpit will teach their congregation), and depression is an emotional health issue, then why can they not coincide?

Guess what I have learned firsthand? It’s true. Joy doesn’t look like happiness at all. I can be depressed, and in possession of Joy. Weird, right?

So, if it doesn’t look like happiness, then why does the Church demand that I be happy all the time as evidence of Joy?! Prove I’m joyful by pasting a big, fat, fake smile on my face and answer the “How are you?” question with a rousing “God is good, all’s right with the world!”

No matter the turmoil I may be enduring. Don’t let anyone see me struggling, because that means my faith, and perhaps my very salvation, is in question.

“Hey! My life is totally falling apart, and I’m struggling, but I can’t let that show, because I have to look joyful, or I’m not a real Christian!” So we smile on, shaking hands, and never reaching out for the help we need, in order to preserve the lie that Christians are happy all the time.

My friends, that is not Joy. That is a prison.

I have heard it said, “Show me a depressed Christian, and I’ll show you someone who is not reading their Bible, not praying, not fellowshipping, and not participating in praise and worship.”

I beg to differ.

That may be the case sometimes, but it’s not the case in my situation, or in the situations of many of the women who have opened their hearts to me recently. Nor was it the case in the lives of many Biblical characters who struggled–Elijah, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Naomi, Solomon. I could go on.

Time after time, we see evidence of their nearness to God in their valleys and dark times. Never in my life have I clung more closely to the hem of Christ’s robe. Never in my life have I felt his presence more deeply than in this dark valley called depression. Ever.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ~Psalms 34:18 (NIV)

This theme of God being close to the broken-hearted runs deep through the Scriptures. He is not farther away from me because I am depressed. It’s not as though God is all disgusted with me, shocked that I (as a human) can experience a very human problem. He is close to me in my depression.

That is Joy, my friends.

Yes, there is rejoicing, dancing, singing, and celebration in the Christian walk, but not always. Sometimes, there is weeping and mourning and struggling and depression. Sometimes, our physical brain chemistry doesn’t line up with spiritual truth.

That doesn’t make us less Christian. It makes us human, susceptible to changes in our bodies that affect our emotional health, because we live in a fallen, imperfect world, and we don’t have our glorious, post-resurrection bodies yet.

That’s it.

Depression is a fact about me, right now, like the color of my hair. It doesn’t define me. I am not in sin because I’m depressed. I am not less of a Christian because of my depression. I am not depressed because of anything I have done or not done. I (and many just like me) am depressed in spite of “doing all the right things.”

I didn’t plan on being depressed. I have a nickname to live up to, after all.

However, I am depressed. The question is, what am I doing about it? I’m fighting it. With supplements, counseling, the accountability of close friends, and all the while leaning whole-heartedly on the Joy of my Salvation. Trusting in Christ to bring me through one more trial he has called me to.

No more masks. No more prisons.

Just Jesus.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “No More Masks

  1. Thank you for saying this! Wow, what freedom there is in that. And such an amazing concept that I’d never thought of, but is so true. I keep thinking of Elijah after defeating the prophets of baal, and how he was so depressed, but instead of God telling him to be more joyful or to just trust in Him more or whatever, God gave him rest and food before gently getting him to his next task. He takes care of our needs. 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness, I can’t thank you enough for sharing this! Everything you have said is so true. And it is freeing! This truth sets us free from being judged or condemned. Actually, some folks will still judge but that just tells me that they are just not educated on the subject both in the Christian realm and about depression itself. Depression is a necessary element of healthy grieving such as when you lose a loved one. It’s a normal/natural response that’s part of the healing process. It also accompanies chronic pain, stress or disabilities both emotionally & physically. Physical pain drains me of the “happy” hormones so I take an antidepressant to try & elevate the serotonin back up. And situational depression is real in my life also. I think it’s normal to be sad (very sad) if you can’t see or talk to your adult son anymore. What mother’s heart would not ache through this even though I know God will use it for good. Ecceslesiates 3 shares there is time for everything including weeping & mourning. Oh, I’m so thankful to have a safe place to come & share. It’s OK to be depressed! There! I feel better. Tired of wearing the happy mask! Thank you so much!

Comments are closed.