A Christian Counselor’s Perspective
As Christians, we are very likely to think of various things when we hear the word “depression.” Christian counselors or other professionals may think of Zoloft, Prozac, serotonin, and other more psychiatric words. Some of you may think of clinical depression, major depressive episodes, and mental illness. For yet others, the word depression conjures up thoughts of despair, pain, and the dark night of the soul. All of these associations have their place, but I would like to add an additional word to the mix.
The word I would have you consider when you contemplate the concept of depression is “beatable.” You can win. You can beat this thing. When I say that depression is beatable, I am saying that there is reason to hope. But if we are going to defeat an enemy, first we need to understand it. I want to lay the groundwork in this article and identify where depression comes from.
Where Does Depression Come From?
The short answer to the question of where depression comes from is that it comes from sin. Now, let me be clear, experiencing depression is not in and of itself a sin. After all, labor pain comes from sin but experiencing labor pain is not a sin. But depression is essentially tied to bad things that occur one way or another, and these bad things are a result of sin. All pain is a result of some sin – sometime, somewhere. From this, we can refine the origins of depression into three broad sources of sin, or, as I will be referring to it, rebellion. There is depression that comes from our rebellion, depression that comes from others’ rebellion, and depression that comes from creation’s rebellion.
We Are Like Sheep
Let us consider our own rebellion. From the day you were born and the day I was born, we were born as rebels – and I do not mean this in the cool, edgy, or good sense. No, we were all born with a stubbornly implacable drive to rebel against God and His righteousness, to do what we think is best or what we want, instead of what God tells us is best and what He wants. As Isaiah 53:6 says: “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way.” If you are familiar with sheep, then you will know that this is not a flattering comparison. It is not as though God is saying that we are like wild buck, or wild horses, or mustangs that are unable to be tamed. We are not impressive lone wolves or lions, stalking individual paths of conquest. No, apparently we are sheep – and sheep are really, really dumb. According to one of my former professors who grew up on a farm, sheep are so incredibly stupid that they will actually get themselves stuck in a predicament, such as shoving their heads through fence slats and getting caught, only to immediately do the exact same thing once they have been freed from their own snare. The stupid things actually go right back and stick their heads through the fence and get immediately stuck again. They are that dumb, and that pretty much nails me.
Changing Your Rebellious Choices
When we make these poor choices over and over again, there are invariably unpleasant negative consequences, not the least of which is the guilt and discouragement we experience over own crooked behavior patterns. This is one way in which we can get depressed, namely, by destroying our own lives or the lives of our loved ones through our rebellious choices. I don’t think that I am letting the cat out of the bag too much when I say that the remedy to this particular source of depression is both simple and available – stop sinning. Obviously no one but Jesus is perfect and you are not going to be able to stop sinning completely. But just because you are not Jesus does not mean that you cannot dramatically reduce the amount of destruction you pile on top of yourself, and then feel a lot better for it.
Christian Counseling to Overcome Depression
Talking to a professional Christian counselor can be very helpful here. Suffice it to say for now that, for many of us, cleaning up our act will reduce a great bulk of the discouragement in our lives. And this is where Christian counseling can help. If it was really so easy to change, to eliminate bad habits, or get past mental blocks, you would probably already have done so. Perhaps you are depressed as a result of an addiction. Perhaps you are depressed about your past mistakes. Or perhaps you are depressed about the person you think you are, or the person you act like. Rest assured, a Christian counselor can come alongside you and address all of these things. We can help with addiction, habits, mental blocks, and behavior change. Christian counseling can support you as you strive to work out the reality of who you are in Christ, instead of the old sinful identity that can be so difficult to leave behind.
“Amanda_family-014,” courtesy of Seth Lemmons, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Beyond Yourself,” courtesy of tony Di Messi, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “The Sky and Butterlies,” courtesy of Larisa Koshkina, publicdomainpictures.net