I’ve heard the movie Inside Out what feels like a billion times. My kids watch it in the car ALL the time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. Kind of weird. The main characters in the movie are emotions/feelings inside some little girl’s head. Two specific feelings are always at odds with one another; Joy and Sadness. Joy is the main character. She takes control of most situations. However, Sadness begins to take the lead as this young girl experiences something we all experience; conflict.
Your life is not a cartoon movie, but can you relate to this? Can you relate to a battle between joy and sadness? Can you relate to having every reason for joy yet feeling sadness?
"I don’t know if this is depression. I don’t know if this is oppression."
I don’t know if this is depression. I don’t know if this is oppression. I’m not a doctor. I’ve not done a scientific study on either of these subjects. But here is what I can say; mental health is a real battle.
Like many in society, I struggled to take this seriously. I was often judgmental. I lacked empathy. If we want to call an ace an ace, those feelings were unjustified and sinful. God has taught me a valuable lesson over the last two years. On this journey, I’ve experienced a panic attack, brought on by anxiety the morning I signed the lease to move Wellspring Church into our new building. I use to judge people who spoke like this with a flippant Christian cliche phrase, “Get over yourself. Let go and let God.” Sure. True, but at the moment, my mind did not go there. Then there are the 24hrs after every sermon I preach. Know what happens? I get the Sunday woes or Sunday blues. I struggle with depression every single Sunday/Monday after preaching. God has brought me to a place of empathy in these areas while teaching me how to wade through anxiety and depression.
"I struggle with depression every single Sunday/Monday after preaching."
This past Sunday and Monday were the worst it’s ever been. After preaching the first sermon, I wanted to run away. I was mentally struggling. I was crying out to God in prayer and just simply felt heavy. God met me in that place and I felt like the next two experiences went better. But then Sunday afternoon and Monday came. All I felt was sadness. I felt no joy.
I had a reason for joy. I got to baptize my son Monday night. We had a lady say yes to Jesus on Sunday and get baptized on Monday. We experienced about 8% growth numerically from one Sunday to the next. I’m madly in love with my wife. All sorts of things to take joy from but all I felt was sadness. I don’t know what to label it. Depression? Oppression? Perhaps just reality?
So yesterday, I asked for help through prayer. This opened up a conversation. I spoke with my wife and while praying she reminded me of something; Satan is a thief. This. This right here has been my battle for the last two years.
God has given me EVERYTHING for which to be joyous. Yet, the thief comes to kill and destroy (John 10:10) but God grants life. Nehemiah mentions how joy is our strength. God has come to fill us with inexpressible joy in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 1:8-9). My hope in Christ is my joy (Romans 15:13). Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). Yet, sadness is the enemy to joy. It has a way of blocking our joy. It’s a tool of our enemy to steal our God-provided joy.
So, it’s a battle I’m facing. Perhaps it’s a battle you’re facing.
Here are five things I’m learning through this battle, my prayer is that it is an encouragement to you.
I must be open with God about this battle. If I trust that God will meet me in a place of struggle, weakness, and confusion, I must pray. I have a hard time seeing things clearly when emotions dominate my thoughts. Emotions lie. Jesus clarifies. Go to Him in prayer.
Have Others Pray
Monday I had to identify this was worse than normal. I had to be honest that no one would know but me. How could they? On the outside, everything seemed fine. Inside it wasn’t. So, I sent a text to four trusted friends. Four people I knew would pray for me. Four people I know wouldn't think less of me. Four people who wouldn’t gossip or see this as a pity party. Four people who wouldn’t see this as an inconvenience. They prayed. God moved. Proverbs talks about the prayer of the saints, I value this. If you feel alone and don’t even know who you would text, download the Wellspring app, look for the prayer tab and hit us up with a request for prayer. It can be anonymous, but with it comes a team of people that would instantly start praying for you.
Have a Healthy Routine
I am a man of deep routine. This proves to be helpful. I didn’t feel like doing anything here that I am encouraging. I went to prayer because I have a morning routine where I walk my dog and pray. I asked others to pray because I was on a treadmill to clear my head but found I couldn’t so I asked others for prayer. I started thinking about my enemy because I read God’s word every day so that truth always speaks louder than emotions. Healthy routine keeps us from turning a bad day into a season.
Don’t take the “man up” approach. That is pride. That is sin. That is destructive. Perhaps you don’t think people care about you simply because you’re not letting people. Don’t try to bury the feelings and emotions. Be honest about them. Talk about them. This will help you process. More people struggle with this than you may realize. Each person I asked to pray for me, helped me think through this in a healthy way. To you four, thank you.
Know Your Enemy
You must be in the word. The father of all lies is our enemy. The God of truth is our God. To know both truth and lie we must be grounded in God’s word. There is a battle for your heart, mind, soul, emotions, YOU. To see something as an attack one must understand the enemy. My enemy is a killjoy. My enemy loves sadness. My God doesn’t. Knowing God and knowing my enemy helps you think through a situation with clarity.
"Knowing God and knowing my enemy helps you think through a situation with clarity."
This is not exhaustive. This is not written by an expert. I am not a doctor. Just a fellow journeyman in the area of mental health. My prayer is that this is an encouragement.
Keep praying for one!
Written by Jason Coache,
Lead Pastor of Wellspring Church