Tag Archives: Depression

If You’re Hurting, This Message is For You

A couple days ago I was at the Dr’s office with my daughter and sitting in the crowded waiting room, waiting for the doctor to see her. She’s had a rough time getting over what we first thought was just a cold– and it morphed into a 4 week round of sickness that really had her beat down. There was a lot of coughing and sniffling and phones ringing going on in that waiting room.

And then my phone rang.

A young woman asked for me by my name, saying she was looking for some counseling. I had a hard time hearing her, and I couldn’t quite get her name nor the name of the person who she said referred her to me. I told her I would love to talk with her further but that I was at the doctor’s office and could she text me her name and phone number so I could call her back later, after the appointment?

She said she would do that. But I never received a text from her that day.

When I looked into my call history to see if I could find her number and call her, I found it was a private, unlisted number. There was no way for me to contact her now. There was no way for me to call the person who had referred her because due to the noisy room and the poor reception, I couldn’t quite get the name of who she said had referred her to me.

So a woman reached out to me for help. And I cannot reach her. And that thought breaks my heart. But more importantly, I wonder how broken her heart is and if she is okay?

My husband and I have a ministry where we do a type of crisis counseling for marriages at the breaking point. Many times the couples have already tried formal counseling with a trained marriage therapist, or they sought counseling at their church, and they’re still at the end of their rope. They’re at a crossroads and need help at that very point –or their marriage might not make it.

I’ve also met with women on a one-to-one basis to encourage and coach them through any troubling life issue that they’re having trouble dealing with. Together we dig into the truth of God’s Word, the principles of healthy living and having a sound mind, and we prayerfully unite to make a breakthrough of sorts; or at least to initiate the beginning of a breakthrough– so that she at least walks out of our time together without that foreboding sense of I Can’t make it through this! hanging over her.

But I couldn’t do this with that woman. I couldn’t even offer an encouraging word in that busy noisy setting I was in, other than “I will call you right back!”

I don’t know what exactly this woman was calling me about. But I do know that she tried to ask for help. And that tells me that she’s possibly already on track– because she initiated a call; she reached out.

I want to tell her and every one of you who is hurting– Don’t stop! Don’t stop seeking the compassionate help that everyone deserves when their situation is critical, when their load in life is unbearably heavy. Don’t stop asking for someone to meet with you. Look for a capable, kind person with the resources and background experience that you need for the situation you’re in. Don’t be afraid to say what you’re feeling! Please call someone for help. And if you can’t reach them, call again.

One of the hardest things about going through a crisis or facing a troubling situation where you feel you’re not equipped, is the accompanying loneliness or isolation that you might be experiencing. You have a major problem, when you’ve got a major problem–but add to that a sense of being alone in the journey, or cut off from fellowship, or if you mistakenly felt rejected by God, and you now have an unbearable burden.

We weren’t meant to face challenges and fight battles as a Super Solo Survivor.  We are capable people but we are human– we need to grieve, mourn our losses,  and be real about the pain we feel. Hiding our trauma or our anxiety keeps us bound up in that. It’s time to get real about what we face, what we cannot deal with on our own. It doesn’t mean we are weak or an inferior Christian– it means we feel, we ache, we hurt, and we heal.

This has been a rough year for me, emotionally, with complex problems in some surprising relationships that have worn me out, worn me down a little. But I’ve also had certain precious relationships grow in richness and love and comfort. There’s been hugs and prayerful support and sometimes that compassionate listening ear that lets you just pour it all out. We need to pour it out. Don’t let the pain build up inside, my friend.

Most of all, keep asking God to show up in your messy distressing scene– He is  able to make Himself at home in the midst of your crisis, and permeate that whole yucky scene with His fragrant aroma of peace. Powerful peace in the midst of it all, peace in spite of it all. Ask Him to surprise you with His miraculous comfort, His surprising connections that lead to friendship and true fellowship, His unlimited resources for all of your needs.

To the girl who called for help, I’m praying for you.

And to the girl who hasn’t yet made that call, this might just be that nudge that you need, that sign that you asked for, to let you know– you don’t have to journey alone.

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Get Free!! INTIMIDATION Part 2

Health scares and medical crises are intimidating. Sometimes we get a great doctor and a miraculous breakthrough in our prognosis. But sometimes things are very dark and the prognosis is grim.

Add to that the imposing authority figure of a medical professional who tells you there’s no chance, there’s no hope for full recovery, or that you’ll always need to take this medication, and you can feel not only overwhelmed, but sickened with intimidation. Who are you to question this medical expert?

The rules for Intimidation to invade and take hold are as follows: you stay quiet, you back down, and don’t you dare speak up.

Or you could break the rules, break the pattern that Intimidation thrives on.

I once had the audacity to do this.

Our son had struggled with asthma for years, needing frequent scary trips to the emergency room when he was having trouble breathing, even with the inhalers and all the medicine he was on. He then endured painful allergy shots for several years, and bravely handled the treatment because he was hoping he’d become tolerant of dog dander and finally be able to have a pet. He started to stabilize at around age 12, and we grew hopeful  that now at last he could have a dog. At a follow up appointment with his allergy specialist, we brought up this question.

Dr. F absolutely refused to even discuss it.

“But you had previously said that perhaps with allergy shots, over the course of several years, that he might grow immune to some of these things. Couldn’t we re-test him and see if he would now be able to tolerate dog dander so he can get a dog?” I asked.

Dr. F was not happy with me. I was questioning and asking him to re-evaluate this situation. He wasn’t used to being questioned , and he let me have it. Alex sat on the examining table, watching me carefully petition his doctor.

Dr. F turned to me and said very sternly, “Mrs. Caldwell, he cannot have a dog. I don’t think you get it–this is a serious matter. Children die from asthma!!”

Oh, I got it alright. I was furious at him for scaring my child with those words and using those intimidating words to couch his refusal for re-examining our son. We left the office that day and I told my son not to worry about what the doctor said, that he was getting stronger and healthier every day, and that I would find a way to get him tested again. I wanted my son to know its okay to question, its ok to investigate, and to look for answers.

At the root of intimidating circumstances and encounters with people we feel intimidated by, there is that element of fear. Fear that we’ll cross that line that they’ve put down for us. Afraid that they’re right and we are really wrong. That we have no right to insert our thoughts or opinion. If we cooperate with Intimidation, we’ll lose not only our voice, but our right to speak up or speak out.

But if we decide that we are tired of becoming smaller, quieter, and powerless, then it’s time for healthy anger…and action.

Often people who are overwhelmed and intimidated have unknowingly given away their right to be angry. Whether you’ve over spiritualized this (as in, nice Christians don’t get angry) or you’ve suppressed your range of emotions and just settled in the land of panic or fear, it’s important that you realize anger is not only an important, healthy emotion and correct response to situations where abuse or injustice is occurring, but it’s also a signpost.

It points up– as in: look up, square your shoulders, take a deep cleansing breath of self worth and dignity, and speak. Speak up. Speak out.

But beyond anger, there’s something more that’s needed. You know the saying, “Don’t get mad, get even!”

Well I say, don’t just get mad– get free.

And that’s what I did. I freed us from this intimidating, egotistical doctor.  I searched for a better one. This is how I found him.

Several times when Alex had had an asthma attack late at night and we’d be on the verge of taking him to an emergency room, I would call the allergy specialist on call and once in a while I’d get Dr. K.

Dr. K would always first say, “Well Mrs. Caldwell, what do you see? What does he sound like? You’re the mother. You know him better than me.” He would consult me and dialogue with me about Alex’s condition, and he’d incorporate my mother’s instinct into the equation and make his determination based on my instinct and knowledge of my son and his medical expertise.

In other words, he respected me. He didn’t look down on me from his grandiose sense of all-knowing medical power.  He listened to me. I was heard for my insight and contribution to the picture. This was a Dr. I could respect, because he also respected me.

So we switched to Dr. K.  He didn’t see any problem with my request to have Alex re-evaluated with a skin test to see if he was still allergic to dogs.  He wasn’t very optimistic but he was willing to consider it as a possibility. So we had the test done.

When the results came back, we sat in his office waiting. Alex was quietly hopeful. Dr K walked in. He had the test results in his hands.

“Mrs. Caldwell,  this hardly ever happens. I’m not sure if it’s the allergy shots over the years or what. But your son is no longer allergic to dogs.” He smiled at us. “Alex, you can go out and get a dog.”

harry

So we did. For almost 14 years this sweet flop of a dog, Harry, was a reminder to us that we can’t just wish and hope things would be different. We can’t continue to take timid steps backward everytime someone powerful in demeanor rises before us.

We can’t let Intimidation snuff out our dreams and silence our voices.

So speak up, today. For yourself. For someone you love.

And set yourself free.

More Than Chills and Signs: How To Experience God’s Presence

Here’s the good news for those of you who have gotten frustrated in your walk with God because you don’t feel you are disciplined enough: growing in your faith is not just about discipline.

I’ve spent over 40 years pursuing a relationship with God that certainly involved what some call the main “spiritual disciplines” of prayer, Bible study, accountability and fellowship. There’s no doubt that these are crucial for a healthy walk with the Lord. But as I look back on some key turning points in my spiritual walk, there were definitely times when I was just spiritually needy and emotionally desperate – and I experienced God’s life-changing powerful presence.

More than giving us chills and supernatural signs, God wants to meet our deepest emotional needs in an encounter with Him. While you can’t build your faith on feelings alone, they nonetheless are part of experiencing God’s presence. Emotional hunger and honest expression of your feelings can ignite a wave of spiritual renewal.

Be Hungry For God

Be open to God “showing up” in times when you desperately need Him.

I remember one pivotal moment in my life when this occurred. I was coming home from my junior year of study abroad in Spain. It had been a long year, exciting but also lonely, and I had battled anxiety and anorexia. I was feeling very vulnerable as I sat in the airport in Madrid, hungrily reading a devotional my mother had sent me.

The airport speakers were broadcasting all these songs in Spanish and I was reading my devotional in English when all of a sudden something amazing occurred: just as I was reading the words about how God is like a bridge over troubled waters, the American song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” breaks through the loudspeakers.

I raised my eyes to the speakers, incredulous that God was speaking to me in literally my own language! I heard the message loud and clear that God was saying: “Lauren, I am with you, everywhere, and always.” Tears streamed down, and joy and hope welled up in me. I can remember and actually “feel” that experience, even to this day.

….

(Continue reading this article at Christian Mingle Believe)

Depression: How To Let the Light Into Your Darkness

Many Christians have battled depression, but few feel comfortable talking about this all too common problem. It’s often too deep for words, the darkness and sadness we feel. It can be caused by a clinical disorder that requires medical intervention. For many of us, though, depression is a complicated experience often having to do with our delayed response to a season of stress, grief or an earlier trauma in our lives that we never dealt with.

These dark places in our past leave memories we often don’t want to deal with or speak of, and that’s understandable. Unexpressed grief and sorrow, though, will only resurface in one way or another, often ushering in waves of depression. But there’s much healing and freedom when we bring these past painful experiences to the light.

Turn the Light On

Scripture tells us that in bringing our sorrows and grief to Christ, we can be comforted in knowing He understands our pain as he was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3). There’s no judgment when we come to God in prayer about our weakness or pain. God has a way to bring light into our dark situation, and it begins with a simple but powerful word—Confession.

Confession isn’t just about the admission of sin or mistakes we’ve made. It’s also about an admission of our own need, our own pain, and the truth of our painful experiences.

Confession is part of the labor of love that is necessary for proper self love or self care. It’s also part of the work we must do of grappling with grief—not ignoring it, not stuffing it, not denying it. It’s got to be done. And when you do, you turn the lights on inside you, and find that there is nothing hidden there that God can’t heal.

Here are 3 aspects of confession that we can incorporate into our lives that will help us when we are experiencing a season of depression…

(Read the rest of this post at  Believe)