I am a Christian with Depression

I have struggled with depression for years. At times, I have taken medication or seen a therapist to help cope with the crippling feeling of hopelessness. I know what it feels like to go to bed hoping you do not wake up. Depression is suffocating, but not permanent. As I pursue the life God has called me to, I am learning how to worship Him in all seasons. The other day I was talking with my best friend on the phone, and she made the comment about how she did not understand why she felt so depressed when just weeks ago she felt so strong in her faith. I think there is this misconception that a Christian should not feel depressed. And if they do feel depressed, then clearly they are struggling in their faith. I disagree. I think that being a believer only requires that we pursue God in all seasons…it has nothing to do with feeling joyful at all times. We can worship through our laughter and we can worship through our tears.

In Psalms 38:6-8, Kind David prayed:

“I am bowed down, I am crushed; I mourn all day long. I am burning with fever and I am near to death. I am worn out and utterly crushed; my heart is troubled, and I groan with pain.”

David was battling a defeated soul and body. But his prayer continues:

“But I trust in you, O Lord; and you, O Lord my God, will answer me (Psalms 38:15)

Despite the season of depression, David continued to trust in the promise God had for him. One of the best things I can do when I feel depressed is to trust God. I have to assure myself that this season is not permanent, even when it feels endless.

“May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in Him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

God does not want his children to feel depressed, but we live in a world where the enemy is active. The enemy loves to poison the spirits of God’s children so that we cannot change the world and spread the Gospel. When I read this verse in Romans, I am reminded that God wants to give me a spirit of hope and peace. The best weapons against depression are prayer and the Word.

Last week my depression began to creep back into my life. I was feeling overwhelmed with future thinking as I began to get into the swing of college. I love school, my work, my church, and my life was going great overall; yet, I was feeling depressed. Instead of allowing my hopeless thoughts to consume me, I turned toward God. I would pray in the car ride to school for God to give me a spirit of hope, peace, and contentment. I read through Proverbs and surrounded myself with encouraging friends. By the end of the week, I began to feel more optimistic.

Sometimes depression lasts for days, weeks or even months; but, it is never permanent. It is important to remember the promises of joy and an abundant life from our Father. Despite the enemies attempt to weaken our spirit, we walk in victory given to us through the blood of Jesus Christ. The biggest lesson I have learned is that escaping the grips of depression takes action. It takes prayer, reading the Bible, reaching out to friends, and sometimes seeking professional help. The enemy seeks to kill and destroy, so we have to fight back using God’s weapons. God defeated the enemy, so the enemy attempts to defeat us. We have the authority to walk in God’s victory.

How Much Does My Faith Cost?

The Apostle Paul was awesome. I am blown away and slightly intimidated by the life he lived. One of my favorite characteristics that Paul had was that he knew his identity. In the letters Paul wrote, he opens with “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” or some variation of that. If only we all lived like that, crediting God for the calling he placed in our life. What if we let God define us? “Abbey, a student/friend/daughter/etc of Christ Jesus by the will of God”. Knowing who we are allows us to pursue God with a fearless and confident passion. Paul was willing to sacrifice everything because he knew that God was with and for him. In his letter to the Ephesians he wrote,

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.”- Ephesians 3:12-13

Paul was in prison at the time for preaching the gospel to the Ephesians. He was willing to sacrifice comfort, time, freedom, and his own selfish desire to glorify God. He did not care how much it cost him, as long as God’s love and good news were being spread. How much am I willing to sacrifice to spread the gospel? How much does my faith cost?

If I were to answer these questions honestly, I would say that I’m willing to go as far as my comfort zone reaches. Right when I begin to feel uncomfortable or let fear creep in, I freeze. It’s not that I doubt God calling me to a situation, I just fear judgement or failure.

“‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.”-Matthew 4:19

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew to follow Him, he made their calling personal. He spoke to their hearts by using their passions to glorify Him. Jesus did not ask them to build a nation. They were not carpenters. He did not ask them to teach about God’s love. They were not teachers. He asked them to fish for people, because Peter and Andrew understood and loved fishing. At once, Peter and Andrew followed Jesus.

God’s calling for our life is personal. He plants passions in our heart, and asks that we use them to glorify His kingdom. We must be willing to break past our comfort zone knowing that God will walk with us. Our faith is nothing if we are not willing. Faith is not believing that God has a plan for our life…Faith is pursuing that plan.

So when I think about how much my faith costs, I realize how little faith I have had. I tend to live in my comfort zone. It’s safe. It ‘s easy; however, it is very limiting. I truly believe God has big plans for my life, but I lack faith. As I enter this new chapter in my life, I vow to give God control. I vow to allow him to direct me outside of my comfort zone and into His greatness. I vow to live a life that is not limited by my fear of judgment or failure. I vow to have faith.

10 Things I Wish I Would have Realized in High School

As college quickly approaches (3 more days ahhhhh), I cannot help but feel very reflective. Sometimes the best way to see God in my life, is for me to look back at all that occurred over the years. Let me tell you, I feel so blessed. My life may not have been perfect, but God has been perfect in my life. One of the biggest blessings in my life was high school. While it may be an unpopular opinion, I enjoyed high school. Even still, I am very excited to embark on this new journey called “College”. Cliche or not, I have come to learn that the saying, “You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone” is 1000% true. 10 things I wish I would have realized in high school are:

1. Enjoy not having freedom. In high school, not being able to drive, go to rated R movies, and having a curfew feels like such a buzz kill; however, with freedom comes responsibility. Enjoy not having to work so you can afford car payments or constantly having obligations to hang out with people. When you are young the excuse, “my mom said no” works as a perfect scapegoat for why you don’t want to change out of pajamas to socialize. Try and stay young and dependent for as long as you can because being independent, while rewarding, is very stressful.

2. 1 hour of homework is not that much. I am aware that studying and homework are not fun. In high school, appreciate how little homework you get, and how little you have to study. Sure, 30 minutes of reading a bland textbook can feel like an eternity but it really is not all that bad. In college, the work load will only increase. So stop cycling through your social media apps for the 10th time and just work on your homework. You will be finished with plenty of time to post the picture you took of your Starbucks drink next to your Calculus book with the hashtag “studyingfordayz”.

3. Popularity in high school is as important as a rain coat on a sunny day. Despite knowing that popularity does not matter, you will still worry what people think. You will still try and fit in with your peers. You will still hope that your revised Forever 21 wardrobe will be your ticket into the popular crowd. Remember that popularity is mainly just an idea created by Disney Channel Original movies that imprinted on our fragile minds as kids. Get involved in school, be a friendly person, and appreciate the friends you have. Popularity is pointless.

4. Don’t assume you won’t ever need THAT class. Like many other sophomores, I was forced to take Chemistry and assumed I would never need that class because I was definitely not going into a science field of study. My first class of my freshman year of college is General College Chemistry. Suddenly I regret cheating my way through that class in high school. I decided to pursue my interest in the medical field; however that interest did not really flourish until the end of my senior year. Fully invest yourself in all that you do, and always give your best effort. You will thank yourself in the future.

5. Learn to study. I have mastered the art of cramming. I have also mastered the art of the pre-test panic attack. Do yourself a favor, and study every night for about 10-15 minutes (more or less depending on how comfortable you feel with the material). Learning how YOU study is crucial as you enter college. Taking IB classes in high school was the best thing I ever did. I learned how to study for a test that required you to memorize two years of material. I feel confident going into college knowing that I am familiar with the skills it takes to study. Studying is a skill. Practice studying while in high school so you can avoid bombing your first college exam. It will make all the difference in your grades and self-confidence.

6. Don’t lose sleep over a grade. For students like me who stress over getting straight A’s, a C on a test can feel like a death sentence. I graduated in the top 5% of my class yet decided it was best too attend community college and use my A+ money to avoid student loans for as long as possible. I have a plan, and the C I got on that Pre-Calculus Quiz had zero impact on my future. I was accepted into all colleges that I applied for, I graduated high school, and every test/class grade I stressed about means nothing now. One bad grade will not determine your future. Do your best, and feel confident in your capabilities regardless of the outcome.

7. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin. High school is a catalyst for poor body image panic attacks and self critique. You only get one body. Love it. Cherish it. Treat it with kindness. Stop comparing…it’s a waste of time and energy. You are beautiful. The best thing you can do for yourself is to be confident in who you are. It will save you from a lot of pointless worry and stress in the future.

8. Appreciate your friends. The best thing about high school is that you get to see your friends 5 days a week, if not more. You all run on the same schedule, get the same school breaks, and have similar experiences. Utilize the time you have together. Appreciate weekend adventures driving around aimlessly. Don’t waste time on recreating the drama displayed in Degrassi. You do not need drama to be exciting. Laugh more than you fight, and be quick to forgive.

9. Appreciate your teachers. In high school, you have easy access to help from your teachers. They want to see you be successful. In fact, many of them want to help you and build a relationship with you. Some of my greatest high school memories involve escaping to my favorite teachers’ classrooms on a stressful day to decompress. Utilize your teachers not only to help you academically, but build relationships with them. School is easier when you have support. Go to them for advice and wisdom. Your math teacher knows more about life than just Algebra, and your English teacher knows more about drama than just Shakespeare. Many teachers teach high school because they have a heart for teens. Appreciate their support.

10. Appreciate your family. Your family understands you more than anyone else. Do not spend high school trying to get away from them…that’s what college is for, and by the time you go to college you will wish you had more time with them. Savor the holidays you spend as a family because soon traditions will change. Sacrifice a Saturday night to watch SNL as a family because it is the small moments that are good for the soul. While you will always be a family, you won’t all always live in the same house. Eat family dinners, put down your phone during family vacations, and never go to bed on bad terms with your siblings/parents. Family is the most important resource you have not only in high school, but in life. Appreciate your parents. Appreciate your siblings. Do not take a moment for granted, because things change practically over night the minute you leave for college.