Dysthymia

monroeAccording to Bing, Dysthymia is defined as persistent, mild depression. Synonyms include melancholy, sorrow, dispirited, heavy-heartedness, pessimism, desolation, discouragement, despair, and hopelessness.

According to my experience, dysthymia feels like hope is draining out of me drop by drop. It means feeling too tired to engage in life because even the smallest task requires more energy than I have. I am merely going through the motions of living, too tired to care, without interests or creativity.

Although it is a beautiful spring day and the sun is shining, I can’t grasp the loveliness of it all. I read God’s word to fill my mind with truth and maintain a journal reminding myself of the many things for which I am grateful, but every day is still hard.

At first, I refused to consider it an option. I wanted God to heal me without medication. As I waited, I wondered if this was one of those trials God was using to build my faith. I prayed and asked for God to remove this cloud that hovered, descending darker upon me each day.

Then I was reluctant.  After struggling for over 5 years just to get through each day, I asked my doctor if I she would write a prescription for an anti-depressant. Only after my husband and then a near-stranger suggested I needed help, did I dare broach the subject. And the doctor acquiesced.

After that, I felt guilt. Within a week of beginning the medication, things were better. My sleep patterns improved, and my thinking became clearer. However, I started to second guess my decision, wondering if this was the easy way, the way of someone who is weak in her faith.

Sometimes I feel judged. We live in an age when medication is available to relieve pain. Is it unspiritual to receive Novocain before I get a filling, to request an epidural while in labor, to take an Advil for a headache or Prilosec for heartburn? Why is treating low serotonin levels questioned, yet treating low thyroid function considered perfectly acceptable?

Lately I feel grateful that medicine does help. I trust God that for the time being this is His solution and believe He can make it clear to me if He wants to re-direct my path in any way.

In times like this, I grasp onto the words of my Lord from Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.” His tender-heart to hurting people is a great comfort to me. In the meantime, I will wait for the Lord to renew my strength while longing for the day when I will mount up with wings like an eagle and will run (this race of daily living) and not grow weary.

 

Driving A Hooptie

Over the years, I have prayed, “Lord, show me any areas of pride and teach me humility.” There have been many occasions for the Lord to teach me. This time it resulted from feelings of entitlement.

When we were stationed in Germany, we were permitted to ship one vehicle. In order to solve this problem of living in villages miles away from a post, many couples bought an older car that had been sold over and over to incoming soldiers as others moved back stateside. These cars, “Hoopties,” provided basic transportation, but nothing else.

A few months ago, when my daughter’s car went kaput, I had to give up my 2006 Chrysler Town and Country van with 188,000 miles to drive the hooptie. The reason I refer to it as a hooptie is because it is temperamental. One tire must be pumped up every week because of a slow leak, and sometimes it stalls at long red lights.

Instead of being grateful for a mostly working car, I was resentful and irritable that I had to be inconvenienced. I felt I deserved/ was entitled to something better. Sadly, this was only the tip of the iceberg in realizing how pervasively this American mentality had invaded my thinking. Relinquish and sacrifice are barely part of our vocabulary as we grab everything we can for ourselves and pursue what we want until we have it.

I was glad to have my van back, but I don’t want my old sinful attitude of entitlement back. I want to be as Christ who humbled himself, not grasping to his rights only clinging to the Father.

People Are Watching

For the most part, I prefer to go through life unnoticed and invisible, but whether I like it or not, people are watching. The week before we moved away, a woman at church, who had been sitting in front of me for 3 years, told me how much she would miss me. In my mind, I was thinking will she even notice? If anything, I thought she would be glad my noisy, bickering, fidgeting children would no longer distract her.  For all this time, we have barely spoken more than pleasantries, but she said she appreciated how I brought the children week after week the year my husband was stationed in Korea. She called me strong.

I am not strong, but unbeknownst to me, she could see Jesus’ strength in me and it strengthened her.

Maybe my quiet perseverance causes someone to persevere.

Maybe not grumbling allows someone to see my faith.

Maybe my patience is the grace someone needed.

Maybe someone can believe God loves them because I demonstrated His love.

lighthouseDoes anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket? …Let you light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify God who is in heaven. Matthew 5: 15-16 

Assembling Together

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25

Why are we commanded to assemble together? This pattern was established in the very earliest days of the church as the disciples met together and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. However, today we find many who have discarded this instruction. Is it still important to meet with other believers even though we can listen to great biblical podcasts, share prayer requests by text or Facebook and have access to Bible studies on line? At home, I can find a sermon which is more relevant to my current struggles and choose worship songs which minister to my spirit.

What advantages does participating in church offer? Can I maintain a close walk with the Lord without the complications? Why should I carve time out of my week to come corporately before the Lord with other people who may be difficult or view Christian life principles differently than I do?

STAINED GLASS

I noticed as I was re-reading what I had written, the words “I” and “ME” appeared many times. When I am not in fellowship within a church, what I want and what I think I need gets prioritized over God’s glory revealed in community. In contrast to all those questions above, I recognize it is crucial to be a part of a local church. Since the church is referred to as the body of Christ, and He is the head, can one part (whether a hand or kidney), be detached from the body and fulfill its purpose?

Hebrews 10 describes a few reasons why we assemble together.

* God desires for us to partake of His goodness together (koinonia)– even if we cannot see the immediate benefit, we can affirm the words of Jesus, “not my will, but yours.”
* It enables us to hold fast to our confession, not wavering in unbelief. As the world bombards us with lies and compromise, we affirm what is true.
*Sharing testimonies allows us to remember God’s faithfulness and recognize His provision both in our lives and in the lives of others.
*It provides opportunities to encourage others to love and good deeds. We may not realize the effect just one word of encouragement or act of love conveys to the person who is struggling to keep faithful.
*It strengthens us to endure as “the day” draws near. As evil becomes more pervasive and followers of Jesus are mocked, we want to stand firm in Him, awaiting His glorious return.

Fishers of Men

GALILEESome of the first recorded words of Jesus are found in Mark 1:17, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” In Matthew 28:20, we read our Lord’s final instructions to those who had chosen to follow Him, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

We know that God bestows upon the body believers a variety of spiritual gifts, and He gives each of us gifts according to His wisdom. Recognizing God’s sovereignty, I still experience a dilemma.  Since I have not been given the gift of evangelism, how do I fit in with God’s great purposes of redemption? I was encouraged as I read further in the gospel of Mark.

He saw Simon and Andrew casting a net in the sea for they were fishermen……Going a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Mark 1:16,19

 When I read that two of the disciples were mending nets, I felt my heart leap. Tending broken things is part of my calling since one gift God has given me is encouraging those hurting to have courage in Christ. We gain strength and endurance as light of the truth found in God’s word penetrates the darkness in our own thinking. I desire for everyone to fall deeply in love with God by reading His word and spending time treasuring Him.

Although the church frequently focuses primarily on Matthew 28:20, Jesus’ words continue in verse 29 …teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

 Perhaps the gift of evangelism – sharing the gospel and seeing others first trust Jesus as their Savior – could be compared to labor and delivery. However, while a believer’s new life begins with salvation and baptism, many others (parents, teachers, coaches) come alongside to nurture this baby to maturity. Mending nets could mean serving quietly in a boring, thankless task or it could be interceding to those who are too broken to pray. If mending nets is the role the Lord has given you, take heart because you, too, are a fisher of men!

GAL BOATS