My goal was to already have blogged once or twice this week. Like I said in the previous post, I want to start utilizing this blog on a more personal level–writing on diverse topics, contingent upon whatever is on my heart at the time I sit down to do it. But my writing time has been taken up this week with working on my book, which I am actually so excited to be able to say since I have made almost no headway on it since May. Writer’s block has been ever before me and my thought processes concerning the topic(s) of my book have been paralyzed— its’ been so frustrating. I was so sure that the Lord led me to write this book, and connected me with people to help me along the journey, but the past few months I’ve been doubting that He even wants me to embark on such a task—due to my apparent lack of ability to do so.
But this week He showed me what was wrong with me. Depression.
Like many of you, I’m sure, I have a natural tendency to swing low. I get down pretty easily, most times for no apparent reason—and I’m usually unaware of the drop in mood while it’s happening. It’s hard to explain, but if you experience depression, you understand. I think that the depression started to creep in early this year and intensified over time as I continued to retract myself from community and looked to the things most quickly available to me (porn, cigarettes, food) for comfort. After indulging in these things, I would feel so guilty—especially with the porn, as I’ve written on before—only intensifying the depression that I was mostly unaware of.
I was physically ill for almost the entire months of June and July with something the Doc’s couldn’t really diagnose. Unpredictable fever, body aches, loss of appetite. I now believe that my body was starting to react to the lowness I was feeling in my soul. I didn’t see this at the time, but looking back it makes a lot of sense—I remember being really stressed out the week before I got sick. My physical symptoms now only brought my mood even lower, and my indulgence in sinful vices intensified.
Since June, I haven’t had motivation to do anything and felt like if I even attempted to do anything, I wouldn’t be able to do it well. So I just laid around. Personal training is slow during the summer, so I’ve only been working a few hours a day and have had the majority of my days free to do anything I want. People would kill for the schedule I have right now! But I just haven’t been able to muster up any kind of passion to do anything useful with that time—such as work on my book or other resources for the people I want to reach with the gospel. I’ve just been wasting my life—which I’ve been aware of—-which made me even more depressed. This week, the Lord intervened.
I was emailing my Lit agent, expressing my frustrations and feelings of inadequacy in this book writing endeavor— and she told me to give her a call. Jessica is a Christian (yes, a real one, lol)—and she has struggled with depression in the past and in the first couple minute of our phone call she told me something profound… something that will always stick with me. She said, “Matt, I don’t think that you’re depressed because you’ve been giving into temptation and falling into sin. I think that temptation look so big to you and you’ve been falling so much and feeling this way because you’re depressed.” This might seem to be quite evident to you, but it was completely new to me. Usually those in the midst of depression don’t have enough clarity to see things as they are.
When the problem was identified, the solution immediately popped into my mind:
- “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”- Psalm 37:14
- “The Lord is my strength”- Psalm 28:7
- “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”- Nehemiah 8:10
The joy of the Lord is not something that I’ve been experiencing… not continually anyway. I’ve had glimpses of it here and there, but not continual enjoyment of God and His promises. By default, my mindset is one of those “I don’t have to feel it for it to be there”… which is true, to a degree, but I think that way of thinking has kept me back from seeking to feel and walk in the immediate joy of the Lord. I need that joy. Every Christian needs that joy. I believe that setting the mind on the Spirit is not only thinking of spiritual things, but delighting ourself in the truths of who God is, what He’s done—delighting in God Himself. I firmly believe that this our greatest tool in putting to death the deeds of the body. Joy in God.
I decided to slow down in my Scripture reading, and really meditate on the verses that I’m reading… particularly in the Psalms. I’ve been stopping whatever I’m doing throughout the day, at random times, just to stop and remember whose world I am living in… and how great that Owner is. How merciful He is. How intimate He is. How loving He is—and how He directs all those things at me.
Things are getting better. I feel motivated, and able, to actually do the things that the Lord has set before me. But I’m not going to be fooled into thinking that this is a fight I will have to engage just for awhile before depression flees from me forever. Finding joy in God is a fight that I will engage in for the rest of my life. Day by day, I know that I have to look into my heart and rearrange my priorities—remove anything that would rise up and sit on the throne that He created to be His. I fall into depression by letting my eyes wander from Him and onto other things—usually myself. And myself is not a very healthy place for my focus to be placed. I fall short, in almost every way imaginable. But Jesus— He is perfect in every way imaginable—and God says my identity is found in Him. I want to keep my eyes on Him and find an eternity’s worth of delight in Him every day.