I usually experience some emotional down days in January. I am not sure whether it is the weather, post-holiday blues, or simply a bout of slight depression. It is probably a combination of all three. Yet, I can’t explain it. It simply occurs. These moments usually last for two to three days. And no, I am not self-prophesying by believing it will happen therefore it does happen. On these days, I am lethargic, lacking motivation, and feeling like life is blasé. I’ll want to stay in bed or escape to a television program.
In the past, I have tried to shake these moments in various ways. Sometimes I overanalyze it by engaging in some deep reflection as to why I might be discouraged. Is the depression a result of sin that God wants to bring to light? Am I not celebrating God’s blessing in my life? Am I exhausted? In other cases, I try to fix it by praying, exercising, or sleeping. When it is particularly intense, I even engage in self-talk by telling myself to “choose joy today.” Granted, each of these considerations is good. I think we should think about rest and prayer when we feel depressed. However, I also think that there are times in our life where we simply get depressed. There is no explanation for it. It just happens. We wake up in a funk. Sometimes we can shake it; sometimes we cannot. It is the result of life lived in a broken world with hearts and minds that are not yet fully renewed.
The problem when we encounter these episodes is that we overreact to it (or at least I do). I don’t like to feel depressed therefore I passionately try to resolve it. If it persists, I then get more depressed because my attempts to resolve it did not work. This is what happens when a type-A personality meets depression.
What I really need to do is give myself grace. Don’t over think it. Don’t react to it. Simply let it be. Go about my day in the midst of the funk realizing that life is sometimes bland. However, this blandness is a passing mood not something that has to define me or cause concern. I need to simply keep living life. Working. Praying. Eating. I need to realize that in a day or two it will pass. I will wake up joyous. I will see God’s blessings with vividness. And the depression will be a passing thought. Yes, this is what I need to do – give an allowance for funks in life.
See, the problem for me is that I truly want life to be full of joy, happiness, and peace. So, I disdain down days. Yet, this is an unrealistic hope. Life is not always going to be “I’m on top of the mountain with such joy I just want to shout”; it involves the mundane and ordinary. Christ is with me when I am up and when I am down. I need to remember that lack of joy on a given day does not mean that Christ is any less present with me. It simply means I am having a down day. If anything I need to look forward to the true hope: in glory there will never be a depressing moment. In fact, maybe these “days” are a means for God to remind us that we are not there yet – that we haven’t arrived.