2. FIND YOUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)
Part of the reason I was down was that I built my identity on the wrong foundation.
My identity was in being a successful pastor, working in a large church and being the poster boy for Christian life with my perfect little family.
When a child’s medical problems, difficulty at work and eventually my depression blindsided me, I couldn’t handle it.
I didn’t know who I was anymore because my identity was in things other than Christ. It took a lot of soul-searching for me to realize this and ultimately find peace in knowing that I am more than just a pastor, husband and father. I’m a child of God.
If (God forbid) I lost my ministry, my family and everything else I had worked so hard for, I would still be a member of God’s family.
Who would you be if you lost everything? If you don’t have an answer, you have an identity problem.
The last thing I wanted to do when I was depressed was a workout. But research has proven that regular exercise helps fight depression.
Your body releases neurochemicals that help you feel good after you exercise.
It wasn’t easy to get started. I started going for walks with my kids to a neighborhood park and doing a few pushups and sit-ups in my living room.
It wasn’t much, but doing just a little bit every day helped until I had the energy to do more. I felt better on the days that I exercised than on the days I didn’t.
4. EAT HEALTHY
Eating is my favorite sport. Can I get a witness?
When I was depressed, I self-medicated with food.
I sought comfort in comfort food, and it only made things worse. I gained weight and felt worse.
After I had admitted my depression, I cleaned up my diet at the same time I started to exercise. It helped a ton.
The greasy foods and sugary drinks hurt more than they helped.
Studies have proven that if you battle depression, you can help win the war with your diet.
5. STAY IN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24-25)
My first instinct when I got depressed was to withdraw. I didn’t want to be around anyone. I just wanted to do what I had to do, go home and be left alone.
I cringed when my phone rang, or a friend texted. I didn’t even want to go to church anymore. It was bad.
But withdrawing from the world and everyone who loved me didn’t help. One of the things that helped me get out of the pit was staying involved in Christian community, even when I didn’t feel like it.
Don’t run away from church. God’s desire is for all of us to live in community. Even when you don’t feel like it, you need to get out of bed and go to your church or small group.
One of the best things you can do is stop focusing so much on yourself and your problems. Live to love and serve others.
6. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
You may be depressed, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t blessed.
I was so focused on all that was wrong with my life that I missed all that was right.
When I realized this, I made a conscious effort to thank God every day for the good things, no matter how small.
Whether I was thanking him for the laughter of my children, sunshine, coffee or another day to live, praising God for the blessings made life less depressing.
Don’t build a house in the land of negativity. Focus on all the good things God has given you.