Dealing With Depression

I’m always reminded about the biggest problem I see in churches when we are signing up couples for one of our marriage seminars – people are fearful of revealing their faults and struggles when they step through the church doors.  Inevitably, I will hear at least one person say to me, “We don’t really need this seminar,” as they are writing their name on our sign-up sheet. 

There are some acceptable problems we feel comfortable sharing in the church environment, but most of those are caused by an external matter such as the loss of money or a job, illness, your spouse has left you, etc.  Rarely though, will people share their self-rooted issues, such as a troubled marriage, for fear of being judged as a not-so-righteous Christian.  

I believe some church goers tend to be judgmental with each other because it makes their own deep, dark secrets seem not as bad. Not all church goers are judgmental, but it only takes a few to bring discord.  Often times, I hear Christian’s voice judgmental opinions that are not those reflected by the pastor, so we can’t blame it all on what’s being preached from the pulpit. 

Why can’t we all come together and feel free to share our spiritual and personal struggles at church and allow it to be the hospital for sinners it’s meant to be?  This judgmental attitude is what keeps many from attending church.  They don’t like the hypocrisy that appears in those that judge and then assume all Christians are hypocrites.
We all sin and fall short of perfection and need to show compassion towards our hurting church friends.  Even more, we have to realize that church can be a fertile ground for the devil to live, and he does some of his finest work there.  It’s a spiritual battle we forget to fight.

People are so afraid to admit they have marriage problems at church because they fear judgment.  What kind of Christian are they if they can’t succeed in their own marriage?  The church is doing little to ease this fear because they aren’t talking enough about the difficulties of marriage and how to deal with them.  I’m amazed at how few marriage ministries exist in churches, yet they all seem to offer divorce care.
Okay, I hadn’t planned to get on the band wagon about the inability to talk about marriage problems at church, although it is a large roadblock that interferes with my ministry.  I want to look at another area which may be even more difficult for people to talk about at church and that’s depression.  Women statistically struggle more than men with depression.  It’s no wonder we do - with the craziness that hormones bring to our bodies and minds. 

Depression affects about one in every ten people.  I believe that church goers struggling with depression suffer in silence for fear of being thought of as a “not-so-good Christian”.  This may only magnify the depression and prolong any healing.

I have dealt, off and on for many years, with bouts of depression. Of course I never shared my struggles with my church friends; my own judgment concerning my condition was harsh enough. I became even more depressed as I questioned my inability to overcome this emotional prison.  

What kind of Christian was I that I couldn’t “snap out of it”?  My relationship with God must certainly be lacking somewhere.  This is the attitude religion silently teaches us.  No wonder we don’t want to share it with other church goers.  It’s a difficult enough burden to carry alone; we don’t need anyone to remind us of our shortcomings.  It’s much the same with marriage problems.  We don’t dare share them with our church friends for fear they may tell us that something must be wrong with our relationship with God.

*More to come about depression!


Unknown said…
Thanks for writing on this silent topic
Anonymous said…
These 3 venues discussing depression are very helpful.....thank you Sandy.....would love to know your advice for dealing with anxiety issues as well.......thank you
Unknown said…
Hi Sandee, Love your column on depression. It is a very hard subject to understand. It comes and goes in ones life after various events and then add to that the hormones that women deal with at the middle age time of life. It can bring a lot of turmoil and depression that all the prayer and trust in God can't just "shake it free" from us. After working my entire life and then becoming disabled at 48 years old, I mourned my job and life as a productive person. Your entire world changes. But having a very God centered life and wonderful loving husband got me through it all. My faith has only gotten stronger and today, even with occasional bouts of depression still lingering, I TRUST GOD to lead me through it and to a better day tomorrow. I write a gratitude journal and just found your blog. As a classmate of yours from back in '75 I am proud to say I know you and will continue to follow you and your husband's visions! Good luck! Donna Simmers Brunson

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