Thoughts on Depression, Anxiety, and Condemnation
For most of my adult life I have struggled with anxiety, depression, and the constant, nagging feeling of condemnation. This is not uncommon for Christians—both at the lay level and in leadership. In fact, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon (not to mention a whole host of others) all struggled with severe bouts of depression and spiritual attack.
Here are some random musings I wanted to share with you if you struggle the way I do:
1. Don’t try to get out of your anxiety/depression; that’s not your job. Your job is to worship Jesus; it’s his job to sustain you through the difficulty.
2. Remember that the goal is worship, not making the bad feelings go away.
3. Don’t trust your feelings because your feelings will lie to you.
4. Lies are still lies no matter how loud the enemy (or your flesh) yells them.
5. Don’t answer the recurring questions that pop into your head (“Are you sure you’re even saved…” etc.) by either affirming OR denying them. Just don’t acknowledge them at all.
6. Listen to worship music all the time.
7. Force yourself to be around people, even when you don’t want to.
8. Talk to God more than you just think about him. Prayer is more effective then just replaying your condemning thoughts in your mind.
9. Realize that you don’t have to have perfect faith. Faith is not certainty.
10. The opposite of faith is not doubt but disobedience.
11. Serve others.
12. Eat healthy (your physical and spiritual health are linked).
13. Do strenuous workouts (your physical and spiritual health are linked).
14. Get enough sleep (your physical and spiritual health are linked).
15. Talk to a doctor about whether or not medication or other interventions might be helpful (your physical and spiritual health are linked); I would only recommend going only to a Christian doctor on this issue.
16. Keep going to church.
17. Keep praying, reading your Bible, taking communion, and confessing your sin.
18. Get counseling from a pastor at your church.
19. Say this phrase out loud at least once a day: “Jesus loves me no matter how bad I’m doing.”
20. Resolve to do the right actions while you wait for your heart to catch up. That is not “faking it.” That is being faithful.
21. Go for walks and enjoy the beauty of creation.
22. Know that you’re not crazy and that you won’t lose control because it is the Spirit, not you, who is in control of your life.
23. Listen to the advice from other Christians in this area since you won’t be able to trust yourself.
24. Remember that God is not the bad guy. He is light and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).
25. God is not asking you to try harder or to prove yourself to him. Faith is resting, not striving.
26. Biblical truth is still true, whether you believe it or not.
27. Invest in gospel-centered community and allow other people to walk with you through your difficulty.
28. Enjoy the good gifts that God has made and fight against false guilt and condemnation for doing things you enjoy that aren't actually sinful.
29. Don’t worry about tomorrow today. You have been given just enough grace to get through today. You don’t have enough grace to get through tomorrow. You will have that grace tomorrow.
30. Remember the fact that you had difficult days in the past—but God got you through them. He will get you through this one as well.