“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” – King David, Psalm 42:5
In this passage of Scripture, King David is depressed and anxious and he doesn’t know why. Can you relate? I definitely can. Sometimes we don’t know why we feel depressed or anxious. It just hits and we can’t seem to put a finger on the reason why, and I’ve learned that that’s okay. It’s all part of living in a fallen world with fallen people in fallen bodies with fallen minds with fallen angels who are constantly doing all they can to discourage and destroy us as we strive to live the manly life that God’s calling us to live.
I’m also learning that we must STOP expecting life here on earth to be pain and problem free. We have to STOP expecting to “feel” great all of the time. That’s not realistic. If you do that, you’ll set yourself up for major disappointment and frustration, and it’s only going to fuel and prolong your depression and/or anxiety when it hits. Sometimes life here on earth is going to SUCK. That’s reality, and we need to train ourselves to EMBRACE THE SUCK (not just the good times). We must intentionally change our mindset from “Why me?” to “So what!” Yes, that mental shift is easier said than done, but it’s absolutely critical to overcoming hard times.
When unexpected depression and/or anxiety feelings hit me (like they did this past week as I went through various medical tests for my latest health issues), here’s a little secret that helps me through it …
JUST ALLOW THE UNPLEASANT FEELINGS TO COME!
EMBRACE THE SUCK!
I’m serious. I’ve learned that the best thing I can do to get through it is to accept it. Embrace the unpleasant feelings. If I fear them or try to fight, escape, or overanalyze them … I only make myself feel worse and it actually prolongs the unpleasant feelings. I now just allow them to come and try to relax into it. I know that’s the complete opposite of what you naturally feel like doing, but it helps it not get worse. The only way out is through!
Sometimes I also talk to my depression and/or anxiety when it hits …
“Oh you want to pay me a visit today? No problem. Welcome back! By the way, is this all you got? … Nausea? Heart palpitations? Headache? Dizziness? Tingly sensations? Sweats? Come on now, you can do better than that! You’ve hit me with all this stuff before and you know I’ve always made it through. You need to seriously up your game! Haven’t I already told you … ‘God is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? God is the stronghold of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?’ So go ahead, do your worst. Bring it! Let’s see what you’ve got!”
As I’m going through that that kind of empowering mental dialogue, I’ve learned to just move on with my day and bring the unpleasant feelings with me … as I take my daughter to school … as I clean up the kitchen … as I go inside the MRI machine … as I stain a customer’s deck … as I take the stage and teach the Word … whatever. Yes, it feels uncomfortable and awkward, but so what! I’m not going to die. By moving on with my day and allowing the unpleasant feelings to come with me, it conditions my brain to know that I’m totally fine and I can still function through all of it. Each time I do this, it lessens the impact that the unpleasant feelings have upon me the next time they decide to pay me a visit.
If the depression or anxiety feelings keep messing with me for more than a day, I end up talking to a good friend about it. Talk therapy is scientifically proven to bring amazing relief to those who deal with things like anxiety and/or depression, but it’s not some new revolutionary thing. It’s actually just old school biblical advice to overcome adversity … “Bear one another’s burdens” – Galatians 6:2
Think about it … we can’t “bear one another’s burdens” if we don’t ever share what’s actually burdening us. Duh! So when those unexpected depression and/or anxiety feelings keep messing with you, don’t bottle it up. That’s NOT what tough guys do. That’s what idiots do. There are definitely times when you need to talk out your thoughts and feelings with a good friend. That’s absolutely manly because that’s absolutely biblical. Dude, no joke … there have been hundreds of times when I’ve talked to a good friend about my troublesome thoughts and feelings that keep messing with me, and it’s ended up bringing better relief than any anti-anxiety med.
So, the big takeaway that I want you to get is this … when you respond to your unexpected depression and/or anxiety feelings by accepting and embracing … and talking it out with a good friend … those unpleasant feelings don’t intensify and overtake you. But on the other hand, if you fear them or try to fight, escape, or overanalyze them … they will intensify and they’ll stick around a lot longer. I know that, because I’ve done it a thousand times.
YOU HAVE TO EMBRACE THE SUCK BECAUSE THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH!
You have to embrace the suck because the only way out is through. Then you have to go engage in life and allow the unpleasant feelings to come with you if they want to. Your goal is to actually feel the unpleasant feelings and function with them, proving to your brain that you’re completely fine. No, it’s not easy. It takes practice. You have to work at it, but you can do it.
Heavenly Father, it’s so easy to talk or write about this, but it’s not so easy when those unforeseen feelings of depression and/or anxiety hit hard. In those moments, grant us the grace, strength, and faith we need to embrace the suck and move through it. Thank You for always being there no matter what unpleasant things we face, feel, or think. In Jesus name, Amen.
You can email me at Jason@Narrowtrail.com