Tag Archives: depression

Changing “I can’t” to “I can”

19 Nov

The title to this blog post might sound like some self-help mumbo jumbo but let me assure you it’s not. I rejoice that this is a real spiritual truth. The statement might be the same in either case but the basis behind the idea is completely different. With self-help, you chant this mantra to yourself, trying to change the way you approach life without any solid reason to expect life to be any different. Nothing guarantees things will change once you start to “look on the bright side of things.” (Optimism only gets you so far.)

But with God, this is a profound life-changing realization.

Let me explain:

This past Wednesday, I had my job interview at our church (I’m applying to work in the office). I learned that they are going to announce the open positions at the church meeting this Sunday to see if anyone else is interested and are hoping to make a decision in time for the new person to start at the beginning of the year. Which means I am going to have to keep working my current job for potentially the next month and a half.

My first reaction upon learning this was no different than my reaction when I first heard that YCS was willing to keep me on until the end of December: “I can’t handle another 2 months of this job! I need out NOW!”

In the past few weeks, I have noticed that I think this kind of thing a lot. When presented with a task that I’d rather not do, whether it be cleaning the house or making dinner, I think, “I just can’t do that right now. I don’t have the energy for it. I’m so tired.” When confronted with my own sin, and feeling like a failure yet again, I think, “I can’t be a good Christian. I can’t be loving and selfless. I’m never going to be the kind of person I want to be.”

This defeatist mentality is sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I feel like a failure, the more I fail – because I don’t believe that I have the power to change. I am just a victim of myself. And if God doesn’t magically change me, I’m doomed to being this way the rest of my life.

But that was not the way the Apostle Paul approached things. He had the same frustration with his flesh – “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18). Paul was frustrated at his inability to do what he wanted to do, but he recognized that there was a separation between his true self and his flesh. His true self delighted in the law of God but his flesh was waging war against his spirit and making him captive to the law of sin.

I have been trapped there. The sins and failures of my flesh have been making me a captive, robbing me of my understanding of God and the gospel. I have fallen prey to the lie that it is not just my flesh committing those sins – it’s me. I am the bad person, the failure, the hopeless sinner. There is nothing good in me, period. These lies pull me down into a dark pit, the light of God’s glory and love growing continually dimmer and smaller. “Who will rescue me, liberate me, free me from this body of death?”

The glorious answer is, Christ! Christ rescues me, liberates me, frees me from myself. From my sins, my failures, and my mistakes. Moreover, He not only forgives me and wipes my slate clean, He also gives me a new spirit and a new heart, enabling me to conquer my sin and live a victorious life. Now, in Christ, I can say that I am not a constant failure. I don’t have to question my every motive and intention – because I am redeemed, I have good desires. I love God. I delight in the law of God. I am a godly woman. I am a loving person. I am selfless and sacrificing. I, the chosen and beloved, am being conformed to the image of Christ.

I learned recently that because these things are all God’s will for me, I can pray for them with authority – meaning, I can ask in prayer and believe that I have received them (James 1:5). God will not withhold His love, His patience, His wisdom from me. “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).

It has helped me immensely to see the power available to me through the Spirit because of Christ’s resurrection. His death provided salvation – His resurrection now provides the power for sanctification. Instead of being riddled with thoughts about how “I can’t” be the person I want to be, I now live in the power that I CAN change, I CAN be the person God has called me to be, I CAN live for His glory and make Him proud. I have the same power living in me that raised Christ from the dead!!

While I still believe that God doesn’t want us to feel good about ourselves apart from Christ (because we would be deceiving ourselves into thinking we don’t need a Savior), I do believe that as redeemed children of God, we are called to feel positive, hopeful and encouraged about who we are in Christ. After all, it doesn’t seem right that we should constantly loathe and despise the temple of the Holy Spirit. If God loves us as He sees us in Christ, we should love ourselves in Christ.

Christ Himself uses victory as motivation for perseverance: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Just like Christ’s triumph over evil should give us hope despite evil in the world, our new natures in Christ should give us hope despite our sinful flesh. Because we are guaranteed progress in the Christian life if we so desire it, because we have the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit aiding our efforts, we should be all the more motivated to strive after godliness and holiness.

“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord'” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Seeing through the lies

5 Nov

This week started off rough. I was still struggling with not liking my job and feeling too disinterested and exhausted to do anything besides eke out some work and then read or watch TV. Naturally, I felt guilty at this lack of productivity – “just one more way I suck,” I thought.

After women’s group on Wednesday, I drove home crying. I just couldn’t understand why I felt so tired and lethargic. Why I couldn’t even muster up the strength to hope in God or have faith that things would get better. I had hit rock bottom and couldn’t do anything but stay there, calling out to God for Him to rescue me.

Well, no surprise, He did. Yesterday morning, I read Philippians 3:12-14 where Paul talks about not being perfect but pressing on, forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead. I realized that I have been drowning in discouragement and despair because I have been focusing on my failures, resulting in either feelings of defeat or self-pity.

I have been believing lies in pretty much every area of my life:

When I see something I haven’t done, Satan takes that failure and says “See? You’ll never change. You just suck too much.”

He uses my stress to say “See? You can’t handle this. It’d be easier to just give up and watch TV all day instead.”

Satan takes my desire for rest and relaxation, turns it into feelings of laziness and says  “See? This is all you’re good at. Look at how much other people accomplish – you’re pathetic.”

Satan takes my spirit’s desire for Christ-likeness and says “Don’t even try. It’ll never happen. You’re incapable of living that way.”

Satan takes any glimmer of hope or joy and snuffs it out saying “That doesn’t make any difference – look at all the other areas in your life right now that suck. You have absolutely no reason to be happy or hopeful.”

And even after recognizing this yesterday morning, and feeling hopeful that I can finally combat these negative emotions because I know the root and cause of them, Satan says “You can’t fight this. You’re too weak, too tired, too pathetic. You disgust me.”

These lies are so subtle because they’re based in truth. I am incapable of changing and being like Christ in and of myself. I have failed to live the life I feel God has called me to. But I can’t stay there and focus on that. I have to move on, to focus on what I can now be in Christ, what He makes me capable of.

These are some of the truths I am using to combat these lies:

1. I am not hopeless or without hope – GOD is my hope.

2. I am indeed powerless to change myself but GOD IS NOT – He is for me and is working in me according to His perfect will.

3. My past failures have nothing to say about my present worth or future potential – only the CROSS of Christ does.

4. I am free to enjoy life and find joy in God and His blessings because I am freed from my sin and failures. “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

These truths have helped me see that when I snap at Travis, instead of beating myself up and lamenting that I’ll never be a good wife, I need to turn to God in prayer, acknowledge that I sinned and ask Him to give me grace to be a better wife.  I need to have faith in God to make me be who He says I can be in His Son, and not dwell on all the ways I don’t measure up. I can find motivation and energy to fight against sin and for joy in the victory that Christ has already won against sin and death. I am fighting a winning battle. There is guaranteed victory, and even guaranteed progress.

I am still working through the implications of these truths and I’m sure I won’t be completely free from the temptation to believe the lies for a while. They had pervaded practically every facet of my life. But Christ dwells in my heart through faith so I have confidence that He will give me the grace to believe His truths and to fight for joy.

At the foot of the Cross

12 Oct

The past few days have been hard. I’ve been frustrated with/depressed about my job again and let it throw a gloomy cloud over everything. It becomes all I can think about and I just dwell in that place, wondering why I struggle so much with things other people seem to be fine with and how God and the gospel just don’t seem to be revelant in my situation.

Praise the Lord that He never lets me stay in that place! I re-read We Would See Jesus last night and this morning – took me about 6 hours. What an amazing book – definitely one of the best books ever written! It was exactly what I needed to hear and be reminded of. When I had felt stressed out about my job, and in turn life in general, I knew I wasn’t trusting God. I knew that my distrust was sin. But instead of just confessing it at the Cross and resting there in Jesus’ perfect atonement, I skipped ahead to trying to trust God and His plan for my life. The Hessions say it perfectly:

“A mere attempt to trust Him more completely and to rest in Him, without an acknowledgment of the sin there is, never brings victory, His victory. He is only the Vine to me as I repent of trying to be the vine myself. It is only as I repent of my unlove that I have His love; only as I confess my worry and lack of peace that I have His peace; only as I confess my impatience that I have His long-suffering; only as I confess my resentment that I have His meekness, and so on.”

Earlier, they wrote, “So it is that victory ever comes by repentance — coupled with a simple trusting Him to be to us what He promises.”

Repentance. That’s what I have been missing. I have known that I was a sinner, void of anything good in myself, and incapable of living the Christian life on my own. But I never came to the foot of the Cross and said that. Instead, that acknowledgment turned me to striving. When I felt anxious, I knew that I was sinning by not trusting in God but instead of confessing my sin, I just tried to trust God. I even prayed about it, a lot! But I constantly felt defeated. And no wonder why – I was trying to be the vine, to produce trust in God by myself.

“This, then, is the reason for our failure, too. It is simply that we have been trying to be the vine; we have been trying to find a holiness and a love for others in ourselves and from ourselves which Scripture never encourages us to expect to find there… God no longer expects us to be the vine. We need not even try. The responsibility for producing fruit is no longer ours. God has His own true Vine, the risen Lord Jesus, who is well able to produce all the fruit that God requires for others, and to fulfill all the purposes of His grace for men… We do not produce the fruit, but simply bear what He produces, as we permit Him to live in us.”

It is amazing to know that in response to my sin, all I have to do is bring it to the foot of the Cross, where Christ has paid for it once for all, and to rest there – in full acknowledgment of my failure, need, and insufficiency. And I don’t have to leave the foot of the Cross. I don’t have to go out and try better. I don’t have to draw strength from Christ to set out on my own until I fail again. I can stay there. I can rest there, knowing the reality of my condition but trusting the completion of Christ’s work on the cross. What’s more, that’s exactly where Christ works in me to produce all the things I lack.

I had been feeling hopeless and depressed. I had believed the lie that life would never get better, I would always feel this way, and I was beyond help, even God’s. But coming to the foot of the Cross, I find hope again and all the lies I had believed are destroyed – and while I still am the wretched, pathetic soul I ever was, I don’t have to grieve that fact eternally.

Because I have a Savior.

Wrestling with Life

8 Sep

I’ve been having a hard time with my job lately. I haven’t posted in a while because my job has hijacked my emotions and cast a dark, gloomy cloud over everything.

Or so it feels.

I got to talk to my good friend Holly last night (which was great!) and she said that she’s been learning that life is just one big paradox. That is exactly how I feel. So often I have conflicting, polar-opposite emotions and I feel slightly like a crazy lady who just needs to go out and find a shopping cart and cat already. I’m sure Travis’ mind reels at times when I spew emotional babble, going around in circles, talking about voices in my head and how I wish I could just shut my brain off.

I have to admit that I feel pretty alone in my struggle. It seems like I’m the only Christian I know who struggles with their job this much. Heck, who struggles with life this much. I keep analyzing, judging, questioning, wondering. I had finally gotten to a point after reading Just Do Something where I felt like I could just live and not hyper-analyze every little decision, like why I go grocery shopping at Safeway instead of King Soopers.

But then the bottom of my life fell out.

And now I’m back to feeling unsettled and disturbed every day. I wonder what’s the point of taking a shower and wearing nice clothes. I wonder how people have the motivation to eat healthy and care about their appearance. I wonder why God has made me this way – why can’t I just accept things at face value and move on like everyone else? I am angry that life is so freakin’ hard. I wonder why I can’t live in the joy and peace that Jesus talks about. I can’t even bring myself to believe in God’s promises right now. They seem so irrelevant and trite. If God is my strength to get through the day, then why do I still wake up wishing I had a different life?

The easy solution is to think that I just need a different job. And that may be so. But I’ve felt like this at pretty much every job I’ve had. And I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of trying to survive a life I don’t enjoy. I’m sick of working hard to find joy in things that really are void of joy. Doesn’t anyone else feel this way? How do people go through the daily grind of life and never want anything more? I want to know their secret because I am SICK of wrestling with my life.

I know that Christ is the answer – He always is. But my heart is floundering in the midst of my unbelief and I can’t make it back to shore.

I obviously have had this struggle before – I feel like every one of my blog posts is a repeat of the one before it. And back on November 9, 2005, I wrote this:

“My child, you don’t need to try. I see your life frequently overwhelm you and my heart breaks when I see your sin grieving your spirit so. But if it’s even possible, I love you infinitely more at these times when you are helplessly broken and down on yourself. Take heart, beloved, for all things are possible with Me and you are not without hope. I am your hope. I am your strength. I fight for you when you cannot fight for yourself. I uphold your soul when you let go of it. I gaze tenderly upon your defeated body, which is endearing to Me, and desire more than anything to control your life, to cleanse your heart, to satisfy your deepest longings, to take away your anguish, and give you nothing but quietness of soul. You don’t want to try so don’t. Let me do it. Please don’t run away, I beg you; rest in Me and you will find peace for your soul. My little sheep, cling to me and I promise that I will forever delight in calling you mine.”

I want to believe that this is God’s love for me. I want to believe that I can rest in Him, find peace and that He is the strength that enables me to get through each day. I want to believe.

Lord, help my unbelief.