‘Depression’ seems to be a word thrown around these days and has such bad connotations. It makes me think of someone trapped in their room unable to come out without poppin pills. Recently however I feel I have found a secret underground world of people who are struggling with depression. People I would never have expected to see there-and yet through being there myself, God has opened my eyes to a problem which actually affects so many.
I have been really saddened to find, the more I have looked into ‘Burnout’ or ‘Depression’, a lot of teaching I have found explains that the reason a Christian would experience such a thing is because there is a distance between them and God. They are not in full intimacy with Jesus. One Youtube clip I watched just this morning, was a Christian preacher explaining that if we ‘hit burn-out’ it is because we are not close to God because the bible says ‘Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need’. Taking this as somehow meaning we will never become tired.
If a person were to run and run and run, they would come to a place where they physically could not run any more. Their body would simply not allow them to go a step more. Everyone would understand and would support them in getting stronger again…and then they could start to run again.
This is how it can be with ‘Burn-Out’. A person has run, and run well and kept going, but they reach a place where their body says-NO. The body has run enough and physically cannot continue with the pressures and stress’ of life. In fact in my experience the body not only cannot handle big pressures, but it’s capacity becomes so small that even a minor problem (such as an email bouncing back) feels like your whole world is collapsing.
I think the teaching I have seen so far is untrue. To state that being burnt out is because a Christian is not close with God is a hurtful and ignorant stance to take, in my opinion! I can only speak from what I have experienced, and through my experiences I have not only known God to be very present in my confusion, even in my lowest moments-but in fact He has been leading me and guiding my steps through it.
I am in no way through it and I am sure I will have more to say when I am finally ‘back to normal’, whatever that it! I would just like to share my experience so far, the lessons Jesus has taught me and how I believe He is very much with me, I am not going through this because of something I have done wrong, nor because I am not praying enough! In fact I have never know the Lord’s Kindness so deeply as I have these past few weeks and months…
When I was sat in a normal setting, a place I usually loved, with friends around me who I normally feel safe with-yet feeling so low that I started to not be able to breathe and was very scared I knew I must be experiencing a panic attack. I knew it wasn’t right and the patches of feeling very low which I had on&off for a year were becoming more intense and more often.
Watching an advert on TV, a girl from The Saturdays had a panic attack and said ‘I don’t think I can do this any more, I can’t do my job’..a feeling I had felt myself..and the girls got around her and said ‘Yes, you were made for this-you just need Support’.
You just need support. Simple and from The Saturdays! Yet I felt deep in my chest that God was saying to me, You can do it-with support.
That night we went to my pastors house and explained what was going on. He was really understanding and said the next day he was meeting a Christian doctor who could help me (GODincidence). Later in the week I met him and just cried at Gods kindness in giving me someone who understood and explained so carefully what was happening. There are many little ways God spoke to me then, even through a pen I picked up to write out what was going on in my head during ‘bad patch’ which said ‘In Good Hands’ on the pen. The main way he helped me to understand it was when I read about Elijah one morning…
Elijah walked a whole day into the wilderness. He stopped and sat down in the shade of a tree and wished he would die. “It’s too much, Lord,” he prayed. “Take away my life; I might as well be dead!” He lay down under the tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said, “Wake up and eat.” He looked around and saw a loaf of bread and a jar of water near his head. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The Lord’s angel returned and woke him up a second time, saying, “Get up and eat, or the trip will be too much for you.” Elijah got up, ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to walk forty days to Sinai, the holy mountain.
(On this mountain God showed Elijah that He is almighty-yet he can speak in just a whisper)
Through this verse I found so much hope. Elijah was one of the most mighty men of God, everybody loves him! Yet even Elijah had a time of feeling very low-straight after doing amazing things in previous verses. He now has a threat from Jezebel and it sends him over the edge! He even begs God to let me die..its that’s not Burnout/depression then I don’t know what is!
What does God do? Does he say “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!”? No. Does he say “YOU HAVE FAILED ME”. No.
He sends an Angel to care for him, God lets Elijah rest-he wants him to sleep! He wants him to eat and recover. Not so that he gets more down or sorry for himself. But to help him have time and space to gain strength ready for what was coming next! Therefore I have been calling this time my ‘Elijah Rest’. If Elijah needed it then its ok for me to need it!
Looking at the bible so many people felt low, had burn-out. Was it that they were nowhere near God and had failed? No. God was so present in their pain and confusion.
*1Samuel1; Hannah cries bitterly TO God, not away from him and with distance between them. She was with God in her pain and ultimately she saw answers.
*Psalm 142; David says of himself that he is very low. Yet He knows the Lord is his refuge-he expresses his true feelings at this time and is with God not away.
There are so many examples but this post is very long already! Though I do not fully understand what my body is doing and my feelings. I am confident that God has been so kind to me, he has not forgotten me, and am not alone. He promised it;
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31.8
My God never lies. So I know that in my situation and anyone else struggling-We are more than conquerors. I am being shown how to travel through this time, guided by the one who created me. He is very present, not just faith without seeing-I am seeing it! I will let you know when I am running again, for now, huge thanks to my family and my gorgeous hubby…I am having my Elijah Rest.