About three months ago, I was talking with my dad, and he said something that stopped me in my tracks. He told me that I wasn’t acting like myself.
A few days later, I told him something that I hadn’t even really allowed myself to think. I told him I thought I might have post-partum depression.
I knew that I always wanted to be a mom. My husband and I tried for several years to get pregnant before we had our first daughter, and I promised myself that in those hard times, I would never take any sleepless nights or poopy diapers for granted.
Last summer, I gave birth to my second daughter. She is the perfect addition to our family, and I cannot imagine life without her silly little personality.
One of the first thoughts I had after I left my doctor’s appointment confirming that I had PPD was, “Why did this happen to me?”
- I am a good person.
- I am a pastor at my church.
- I have done all the right things in life.
But, depression doesn’t discriminate.
I was worried, what will the people in my church say when they find out?
- Will they think I am unqualified?
- Will they judge me?
- What does this say about my relationship with Jesus?
- Does having depression make me less of a Christian?
One thing that I had to realize is that this “thing” that I have does not in any way define me or who I am.
What defines me is my relationship with God. And no depression will ever affect that.
1 Corinthians 6:17 – “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”
I also dealt with a fear of leaving my home. The anxiety was worse on Sunday mornings.
So every Sunday morning, I had a decision to make. I could lay in my bed all day, or I could get up. I could get my girls dressed for the day. And I could make a difference in one person’s day.
HOW I DEALT WITH DEPRESSION
For me, I could not focus on the huge picture, or I would get overwhelmed. I had to focus one day at a time. I needed to focus on one person who needed me to be at church that day.
- Focus on one toddler—who needed me to help him transition into the new class.
- Focus on one grade schooler—who I was training on how to run sound.
- Focus on one volunteer—who was going through a hard time.
Once I got up, was at church and doing my thing, I felt so much better.
Focusing on someone other than myself made me forget about the depression I was feeling.
Sometimes, when volunteers go through a hard time in their life, their first instinct is to pull away. To stop doing all of the extra things.
But I am here today to challenge that thought process.
If you are going through a hard time—depression, sickness or loneliness—DO NOT PULL AWAY! Draw closer to your church family. Trust them to not judge you, and to not condemn you.
Here are some things that you can stop doing if you are feeling overwhelmed:
- Stop trying to be perfect.
- Stop comparing yourself to everyone else.
- Stop complaining about how hard you have it.
“You will get all you want out of life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I BEGAN TO OPEN UP
I was surprised when I slowly started to tell people what I was dealing with. Instead of being met with judgment, I was met with encouragement.
People are drawn to people who are real. When I started to tell people, it deepened my relationships. People started to relate to me better.
(Please note, I have only told adults; the kids in your ministry don’t need to know what you are dealing with, and might not understand.)
HOW DID THIS MAKE ME A BETTER PERSON?
It has taught me compassion and empathy.
I have grown up in the church, my parents were in ministry my whole life, I went to a Christian high school and a Christian college. When my husband and I got married, he had just graduated from Bible College. I have been a part of the church my whole life! #pkprobs
So, it has been hard for me to empathize with people. Sure, I had empathy for the orphans over in Africa who don’t have clean water.
- But I did not have empathy for the parents who rush into church late.
- I didn’t have empathy for the family who only comes to church every other week.
Grace was always a thing that I didn’t know that I needed and I didn’t quite understand.
(I am about to get real, people.)
I had a huge problem with judging people. Realizing that I was dealing with depression has opened up my eyes, showing me that I have no idea what another person is going through.
So, every Sunday morning, I wake up and I set out to show the love of God to just one person.
I want to encourage you today. If you think you might be depressed, please talk to someone! Talk to your spouse, your doctor, a co-worker. You might be surprised how understanding and how helpful others can be.
If you know someone who might be dealing with depression, be bold and ask questions and give them your ear.
ONE MORE THOUGHT
If you are feeling down or depressed, please keep running your race. There is a kid in your ministry that needs you to show up and show them the Love of God. There is a volunteer who needs you to encourage them today.
Talk to someone, let someone that you trust know what is going on.
You got this! You can get through this!
This article originally appeared here.