I recently was reminded of this during a lunchtime conversation.
The “nugget” I learned that day was: “It’s hard when you have some pain people can’t see. There’s no cast, brace or a bandaid.” In that moment I was reminded that you never know what someone else is going through. Not all wounds are visible.
So, what is the takeaway from that?
I’ve battled with some things that many of you probably never could imagine. A few of you that I’ve “let in” know. For me the battle the last few years has been in my mind. Sure, I almost always have a smile. I try to bring encouragement and enthusiasm whenever I walk into the room, but sometimes I don’t feel like the chipper and jolly person that most of you think I am, but I keep pushing forward.
What have I battled with? Depression. Anxiety. Crazy thoughts.
While I’ve never been clinically diagnosed with depression or anxiety, I was told that’s most likely what I was dealing with. I learned that while seeking counseling. As a pastor and leader I knew I couldn’t just talk to anybody and everybody. So I sought professional help. It was well worth the time and money that I spent. I was really challenged and learned a few things that will forever shape the ministry God has called me to. I also learned that it’s OK to take time for Chris. I intentionally pulled back on the projects I was willing to take on. I’m still learning to do that.
Why am I sharing these things? I’m sharing to encourage someone else that might going through a “valley” at the moment. To remind them that it’s OK — you don’t have to have all the answers. Take time for YOU! Pray. Slow down. Talk with a trusted friend. Seek counseling.
While working through my struggles I’ve run across articles that have called my faith into question and have even said that the main problem is sin. While sin is a hinderance to spiritual growth, depression is real. Depression is something that devoted Christians struggle with. I whole heartedly believe this statement, “It’s what the church doesn’t talk about that its people struggle with the most.” Far too many people struggle with depression and are shunned because they are told they don’t have enough faith. That’s wrong. What we should be doing is coming alongside them to encourage and love them through their struggles.
I’m hoping that my rambling thoughts generate conversation. If this is something you struggle with, I pray that you’ll reach out to your Heavenly Father and pray your fears, anxiety and worries to him. He can take it. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 91:2, “I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'” If you’re someone who has a friend struggling with these things, love and encourage them. Here is a great article I read back in 2014, How to Help a Friend Fight Depression: 7 dos and don’ts for helping a friend who struggles with depression.
In closing, one of the phrases I learned during my counseling sessions was, “More curiosity, less judgement.” What would happen if we applied that to our daily lives? I wonder how many people you come in contact with each day are battling with something that you’ll never see or never be close enough for them to allow you in?
You can’t see all battles or wounds.
Be gracious and love well!