One of the great things about a blog is that sometimes you can share your own personal deep, dark secrets with your readers. I don’t have any deep and dark secrets to share today, but I do have a struggle. Those who know me know that when I was 17 years old, I was filled with suicidal thoughts and experienced long drawn-out seasons of deep, dark depression and loneliness. At that point in my life, I wanted nothing to with God or people and spent most of my time secluded in my room and in my head, sulking only in my entitlement and self-loathing. At the time, I had nothing to bring me out of it. It was hopeless.
Now, some 16 years later, I find myself in a short and brief season of intense frustration, depression, and anger. I feel as if my heart sometimes will explode. However, this time around, I have a grid to deal with such emotions, and I’m currently working through it so it doesn’t succeed in controlling me.
What I’ve learned in managing depression may help you…
I’ve come to believe that our emotions follow our thoughts! What we believe to be true in our thoughts will ultimately make its way out of our emotions. As a believer in Christ, I know that the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. What’s curious to me is how much of the fruit is so tied to the emotions. What God is saying is that when we’re tied into and rooted in worshipping, honoring, and glorifying HIM, our emotions and fruit will follow suit with the above list. However, if our worship is tied into our entitlement, selfishness, fear, doubt, worry, and broken self-worth, then the output of our life is much different. Our Fruit becomes fleshly: hate, depression, unrest, short-tempered, mean, greedy, harsh, flighty, and indulgent.
It may sound trite, but what I know now in dealing with my depression that I didn’t know when I was 17, is that my emotions are tied to what I worship. Therefore, I ask myself: “What am I worshipping (esteeming, desiring, honoring, or giving weight to) other than God?” Really, my emotions become a barometer for what I’m seeking as the ultimate thing. If my ultimate thing is not God, then it is something else.
When we make anything ultimate other than God, the Bible calls this idolatry. The trouble with idols is we not only make them in our image, but then we start to look like them: mind, body, emotions, socially, and in spirit. The Bible’s only remedy for idolatry is not depression meds or Prozac, but it’s repentance. Romans 12:1-2 says:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Notice that the Bible’s meaning for repentance is a “change of mind.” When we conform our mind and shape our thinking around the mold that the world gives us—embracing its hopelessness—our fruit follows suit out, in, and through our emotional torture. However, when we sacrifice ourselves, our desires, our selfish wants, etc., on an altar before the Lord and get up and turn our backs on it, we look at a new prize. We gaze on our Creator. In doing this, our thinking becomes transformed. God does not give us a mold to conform to, He becomes the container that we pour our hurts into. He swallows them up, consumes them, and allows us to see Him clearly. God’s perfection is able to move our thinking off of us and onto Him, and when our thinking is rooted in Him, our fruit follows.
Creativity and Wrapping it Up:
So what this has to do with you and your creative life is simple! Our emotions follow our beliefs. We, in other words, become like what we worship (lex orandi lex credendi—to cite the Latin). Our character will follow our worship and so will our craft. As creative people, we all need to think deeply about life. Depression is one way to think deeply about our depravity, but we must not miss the hope that lifts us up.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
The question underlying your character flaw, creative flaw, and/or emotional trouble is really this: “What do you worship?” If you answer this question, you’ll start to understand why you look and act the way you do!