Did the title of this post catch your attention?
Perhaps it sparked something inside of you.
A righteous anger? An adamant "But they can be depressed!"
If so, I commend your heart.
First and foremost, to clarify any misconceptions, “depression” is not simply a feeling of sadness. It is described as a prolonged, ongoing state of hopelessness or disinterest. It is not an emotion, it is a mental illness.
I address this clarification because society cannot seem to wrap its head around the fact that a human being can be living a perfectly normal life, achieving great things, and heading towards a bright future, yet still want to kill him/herself at the end of the day.
It is real. It is misunderstood. It’s more prominent than one might think.
Now, let’s think about this topic in the realm of the Church.
Negative feelings seem to be a taboo in much of the Christian community.
No, let me rephrase that. Negative feelings beyond the “norm” seem to be a taboo in the Christian community.
For example, when a person breaks down during prayer time, he/she is almost expected to jump for joy towards the end of the worship session. Why? Because the gospel brings joy, yes.
But what about the person who is still crying, even after everything is over?
I’ve been battling depression for a long time now.
Since around middle school, I’ve had ongoing thoughts of self-harm, complete isolation from loved ones, and suicide.
In April of 2013, I was a jerk of the wrist away from killing myself.
To this day, I have random moments of breakdown and nights in which I would like to disappear and be alone.
Keep in mind, I have been the President of the Christian Club in high school, the main leader in my youth group for years, and a source of mentorship for others. And yet, I still battle with this.
There are millions like me.
And the Church did nothing for me. Rather, God did.
And for months, I had become jaded and bitter towards the place into which I invested my service and heart.
Does anyone else see a problem with that?
And so what if we shifted the culture?
What if we turned it upside down?
What if we stopped making the church a place of obligatory service and mechanical motion, and made it a place of rest, genuine love, compassion, and ultimately worship?
The church doesn’t have to always be a happy place.
We don’t have to plaster on fake smiles, sharing surface leveled struggles, and then achieving a short-term remedy.
The church should be a place where we can come with our real battles:
"The other day, I didn’t talk to anybody. I feel so empty."
"Today, I lied in bed for 2 hours just thinking about not living anymore."
"I don’t feel safe with anybody, I’m so alone."
And it should be a place where there is such a lack of judgement and such a surplus of empathy, that there would be no need to hide or sugarcoat the things going on in our minds and hearts.
Throwing a few bible verses at someone and expecting the problem to be overcome is something that the Christian community has picked up, and it frustrates me to no end.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not effacing the power of Scripture. But I am saying that the human mind is complex.
Sometimes a person doesn’t want to be told “to be strong” or to “pray about it”, as our Church culture has taught us.
Sometimes a person needs to know that there are people out there who will listen. Or that there are people who may not understand nor will they try to understand, but will simply be there.
Church, let’s learn to love like Jesus loved.