Panic sets in. Heart racing, your eyes dart around frantically. You gasp desperately for breath, and your entirety trembles. There is no escape. The darkness has imprisoned you, and from within there is no way out.
Depression is the seemingly inescapable, wall-less prison that confines and cripples teens today. The cycle of fears feeding fears leaves teens feeling hopeless, worn out, and defeated. This is when the Devil tries his hardest to lead us into despair. Those lacking a consistent and strong connection to the truths of the Bible will ultimately fail to stand on their own strength. Yet, at times, it seems impossible to discard the mindset of despair. Thankfully, by God’s grace, there are three factors to combating this mindset.. This isn’t a “3 steps to leave depression” guidebook. It’s not the same for everyone. But in my personal experience, I’ve found that these three things are often key to my thoughts and doubts. I hope they help you as much as they did me.
The underlying root of these factors is determination. In some manner you need to be determined to do hard things and stick with this mindset until the end.Yet, to be fair, this journey is not an easy one. Best compared to the Christian journey in general, it is not an easy route out of depression. Leaving the mindset of despair and self depreciation takes solid, hard work. In fact, depression contributes greatly to the monster of laziness. It aims to defeat the drive to do anything. Building up the drive to conquer laziness, thus strengthening determination, provides a daunting challenge. But doing so is one small step that leads to victory.
Don’t keep your doubts and fears to yourself.
Whether it be through journaling, talking to your best friend, your parents, or the Lord, writing and talking about your feelings loosens the hold this cycle has on you. Rather than hiding and focusing on the depression and/or self deprecation itself, these two things help you to look at life a little differently. Additionally, keeping it within can end up physically harming you, due to the very nature of depression. We were created with a need for people, for relationships, and God uses the people around you to heal and grow you. While I recognize the sinful nature of humanity, leading our friends and family to hurt us more than often, people are also the means with which God brings healing and comfort.
“For it is not good for man to be alone…” He also can and most likely will use your trials to strengthen and encourage others. Don’t flippantly dismiss those around you, or say “they don’t matter”- they do, not just because God uses them, but also because all of you matters to your Creator. He wants your whole heart, given to Him without reservation, and the people around us are included in this because of their involvement in our growth.
In our sinfulness we tend to hold back, clinging to the idea that God will break us if we give him everything, or to the lie that we can handle things alone. When we, as humans, often offer our hearts to those closest to us, only to be deeply hurt in the process, we assume the same will come from God. Sometimes, we may even believe that He is the one who hurt us.
Yet God is always patient with us. As we discover more of His character, and as we continue to grow and mature, He works in us and deepens our trust in Him. It isn’t an overnight process, but one that will take a lifetime. Stick with Him and see what He does. When we ask “God, make a way”, we don’t get to define that way. We don’t get to define how He works to give us trust in Him. He does. And that way will frequently include lots of waiting.
“When we ask “God, make a way”, we don’t get to define that way. We don’t get to define how He works to give us trust in Him. He does. And that way will frequently include lots of waiting.”Tweet
While in Egypt, the Israelites begged for freedom. Those years were some of the most difficult in their entire history. But when they were delivered, God used their suffering as the foundation for a faith-building miracle. In Isaiah 54, the prophet delivers a message of freedom, but the people of God had to wait about 70 years for the promised release from slavery. Yet again, God tested his people’s patience and used the waiting time to completely display His power. Centuries later, in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, it took the most painful death through crucifixion and a seemingly endless Silent Saturday to reach the victorious miracle of the Resurrection. The ultimate waiting period, followed by the ultimate sacrifice.
These examples show that seeing God’s goodness, grace, and sovereignty require the suffering that resulted from the Fall and the waiting for us to see truly with grateful hearts. Consider this: how could we ever experience (on this earth) the fullness of the Lord’s deliverance if all we knew was an easy and pleasant life?
Retrain your focus
Remove the focus from your fear, hurt, sin, and pain, and instead focus on the One who fulfills you.
Depression feeds depression. When the beginning thoughts of “I’m not good enough” or “I’m such an idiot.. I should have handled that better” begin to grow, thinking about them grows them further and plants seeds of doubt into your heart, until eventually your pain becomes so large that it begins to dominate your thoughts.
When you begin thinking about yourself in such a way, recognize it and turn your focus back on God. Don’t allow the fears and beliefs and lies to permeate your brain and corrupt your thoughts. Bottom line: we ALL mess up. We all sin. It’s unavoidable. It is our response in the face of sin, death, and Satan, that is the most important. Do we “let the sun go down on our anger” and harden our hearts against repentance and forgiveness? Or do we acknowledge the wrong, ask for forgiveness, and, if offered, accept the same?
When we harden our hearts towards those that betrayed us, we add to the original hurt. Even though we hate our depression, we remain comfortable within it and refuse change. We may go as far as asking for forgiveness and repenting, but when the other person does the same, we still beat ourselves up, thinking “I was so wrong, how could I have done this, I’m a horrible person and friend, why am I like this…”
As a wise friend of mine once told me, whenever you continue beating yourself up for something in the past, even after receiving forgiveness, you hold the people who have forgiven you hostage to your own insecurity, and you diminish the forgiveness, sacrifice, love, and mercy of the Lord.
“When you beat yourself up for something in the past, even after receiving forgiveness, you hold those that forgave you hostage to your own insecurity, and you diminish the forgiveness, sacrifice, love, and mercy of the Lord.”Tweet
Let that sink in for a second. When you continue to think so badly of yourself after being forgiven, you’re lessening the impact of the cruel death and glorious resurrection of Christ.
So what will you do?
Someone can tell you to stop the self deprecation. Someone can say, “you need to realize that we all sin and mess up but ultimately we are forgiven by Christ.”
And you can agree.
But, until it takes root in your heart, as planted by God, you will not grow. You must remain patient with yourself and God, for He is the only person that can mature you past the pain and hurt you suffer through.
Christ is the complete and absolute answer.
He’s the only one who can do anything at all. He will tell you who you are. He will name what you are believing as a lie.
You say you’re worthless, He says you’re priceless. You say you’re not loved, He says you’re loved beyond measure. You say you’re unforgiven, He says you’re forgiven. You say you can’t forgive, He brings the greatest forgiveness.
Allow what He says to take root in your heart. Honestly, in moments like these, the Bible will most likely seem fake. But to really read the Word, you’ll need God. You have to ask Him to help you read. Yet reading isn’t all that you can do. Pray. Cry your eyes out. Sing. Eat chocolate. Moving away from your past will take persistence, but the beauty and restoration of truth in your mind and heart is worth more than you can imagine.
Reconnect with the Lord
Following the need to retrain your focus, you have to make sure you’re putting it in the right place- Christ. Your faith may be strong already, but you can always make it stronger. Make your faith a priority.
When you’re looking for comfort, where do you turn? If you don’t already, try turning to a physical copy of Scripture. Allow Him to pour into you when you have little to nothing left. Rest in Him. Let Him hold you and guide you.
If you don’t know a good place to start, here are some verses that talk about your identity in Christ. I deeply hope these are an encouragement to you.
1 Samuel 16:7: “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.””
2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
John 1:12: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Ephesians 1:3-8: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”
Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” -Romans 8:1Tweet
If you want a daily reminder, find some sticky notes or a small piece of paper, and write down what you read. Put it on your mirror, or a place you’ll see it ever morning, and come back to it. Combat lies with truth and hurt with beauty.
This isn’t a “3 Easy Steps to Get Rid of Depression” manual. To begin with, 3 barely scratch the surface, and, furthermore, they aren’t easy. It isn’t a complete or immediate abolishment of depression either. Depression (and the devil) is persistent, but using these tools can aid in breaking this cycle. May the Lord bless you and keep you, make his face shine upon you, and give you peace.
Note: This is a guest post written by Katelyn Vergakis. She will be actively watching the comment section, so feel free to write anything on your mind, and she will likely respond.
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