Overcoming the Blues
“The one thing life cannot take from you is the way you think; that is always a choice leading to either happiness or despair. I understand that life often requires the absence of joy, but even then, the peace of happiness is running in the background.”
Christ, yes, the Lord, but more importantly our big brother and the firstborn of God’s family, said, “To whom much is given much is expected.” Two major keys to overcoming the blues are found in this first sentence. As Christians, we must make who we really are a concrete realization in our living; God is our literal Father, not our judge and condemner. Jesus completed His part in redeeming mankind and is therefore not “ashamed to call us brothers.”
We are family members of God and Christ and the reality of that is reflected to a great degree in earthly family members. Good parents want you to be blessed, happy, and don’t want to control you; they want to see a good and fruitful life that flows from your own heart. After all, you are their offspring. Your happiness is their happiness and their reward. Most churches that supposedly represent God are more like parental failures who try to control their children through condemnation.
I mention this because the subject of condemnation is not far removed from any discussion on the blues or depression. Condemnation has little place in the realm of wellbeing where truth about people is the order of the day and any valid reason for condemnation is in the process of being corrected. Staying in a place of rightful condemnation is a personal choice. But, being in a place where untruthful condemnation rules the day is also a choice indicative of religion in general and Protestantism specifically. Therefore the institutional church is making a killing on counseling services; it is creating its own supply and demand.
Amidst the expectation introduced in the first paragraph is confidence, thankfulness, and happiness. After all, “what can separate us from the love of God?” Be sure of this: the blues and depression are almost always the result of a temporary or overall errant perspective of reality.
May I share what I have learned about this the hard way? Your journey to overall happiness does not have to be long like mine was. Yes, you may be happy, but not taking the blues seriously can change that in a hurry. At work (I am a nurse’s aide), I was recently greeted this way by a resident: “How are you today?” I answered this way: “I am absolutely wonderful; in fact, there isn’t a resident in this facility who wouldn’t trade places with me.” The resident paused, and replied, “Well, well, that is a very healthy perceptive.” More than that—it happens to be the truth…with some qualifications.
Those who are happy wouldn’t want to be me; they are happy with being themselves, they would just prefer my present resources. Why? Because they earned their present self-esteem by being all they could be while they were able while those exploiting all their present resources to be all they can be have little time to be sad. Unnecessary idleness is not only the Devil’s workshop, it is the workshop of stinking thinking. What is stinking thinking? It is a focus on untruth; overemphasis on the negatives in your life is NOT the truth. For example, consider worry. How often does something you worry about come true in your life? Worry is most often not the truth. Worry robs you of joy. Dwell on truth, and use your abilities to make your life a truth that you can feel good about. We were created to be productive and to receive a reward for it.
Got the blues? Stop. Do an inventory of your present resources. Are you exploiting them per the Father’s expectations? He has made you able to earn a truthful evaluation of yourself. Being satisfied with yourself is a good medicine against the blues. By the way, the occasional blues are a forerunner to serious forms of depression; take the blues seriously and practice preventative medicine.
Also, bring balance to your perspective on present reality. Whenever I get the blues, feel dread, or experience signs of depression, I have learned to stop and say to myself, “Ok, what’s going on here?” Time to evaluate my present thinking, what I am dwelling on, and my present perspective on reality. Recently, I began focusing on unfortunate politics going on at work, the basic difficulty of the job, and a warfare of personal agendas. And of course, working while sick didn’t help any of this, but that did lead to a doctor’s visit which sparked some rethinking.
When the nurse took my blood pressure she was shocked; 112 over 62. My blood pressure has been nowhere near that good for ten years despite my doctor’s best efforts. Yes, my job is hard, but it also entails walking about 20 miles a day in a large facility. I have been dieting for six years with little results so that was in place resulting in significant weight loss and good blood pressure. High blood pressure will mess up your health A-Z, and being overweight as well. This new development is an additional tool in the toolbox used to be all that the Father expects me to be based on what I have been given. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that our Father is condemning if we don’t live up to what we have been given, the point is that we are most happy when we are doing just that. It is interesting to note that being happy is a biblical command; it is an imperative. And, believers who obey God are loving Him. So, is it fair to say that we love our Father by being happy? Absolutely if 2+2=4 and it does.
This blood pressure revelation led me to consider other areas to refocus on concerning my job and per the usual, my original joy regarding my career returned. This is simply how life works. Truthful thinking is foundational. The one thing life cannot take from you is the way you think; that is always a choice leading to either happiness or despair. I understand that life often requires the absence of joy, but even then, the peace of happiness is running in the background.
This brings us to hope. Happiness results in truthful evaluation of yourself leading to action and a truthful evaluation of reality. Hope is the stalwart against the trials and troubles of life. Hope denotes that the trial is only temporary, and that the Father has promised eternal happiness in the end. A happy life ebbs and flows between joy and peace amidst sorry; hope is the anchor for our souls. Your ship may be in a storm, but the Father’s anchor will hold.
Let me express an opinion about hope; I believe it is an acid test for truth. If something stated has no hope; it’s probably not the truth. Hence, predestination isn’t the truth. However, let’s not forget that religious predestination always states that faithfulness to the church means you are predestined for salvation. So, you can choose to be predestined for salvation by going to church, and yes, therefore, there is damn good money in religion. People will pay any price for hope.
But hope is free from our loving Father. Is it any wonder that Christ came preaching the good news of the kingdom which began with nine paragraphs on happiness? Also, be sure of this as well: those who are indifferent to being God’s children can be mentally healthy by practicing truthful thinking. Psychology rightfully defines good mental health as “an ability to cope with life.” But this has no insurance against everything that life can bring; only God can supply that hope.
Got the blues? Time to take inventory…a truthful one. Move the bigger packages on the shelf to make sure there is nothing you forgot about. If you have the blues, more than likely, a lot of your life is not being counted, and future shipments are not being considered. Furthermore, continue to educate yourself regarding hope and truth in general. Excessive sadness is the kissing cousin of ignorance.
In one of the few instances that made my stint in the institutional church worth it, I had a visitor in the 6th grade Sunday school class that I taught. The subject of the lesson was the biblical truth that trials are only temporary. Few things are more devastating to a female adolescent than divorce, especially when it is the mother who walks out on the marriage. The father came and shared with me what transpired after church. His daughter hurriedly approached him in an excitable fashion asking, “Daddy! Is it true? Trials are only temporary?” He, of course, affirmed that for God’s children trials are always temporary. He informed me of the resulting joy that he had not seen in his daughter for weeks. Why? The divorce was not ended. Answer: hope.
Right thinking, right remembering, a right course of action, and claiming the hope of our Father will overcome the blues. Happiness is not optional…
…this is how we love our Father.