Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gratitude, a Cure for Depression

OK, this was just a really tough week.

My cousin passed away of cancer. I did not expect her to. It was a time to walk through what I knew was true: that it's right to grieve, but grief won't help. That I can't stay in a place of mourning, because my cousin is not dead. I know she didn't want to die, to leave her two children here, but I also know that now, she is more alive than she was here. She just arrived at the destination before we did.
Our words and our thoughts are so closely tied to what we feel, and this week it was hard to come up with words and thoughts that didn't make tears spring up, or that made me just want to lay down on the floor and not get up.
OK now, you came here to be encouraged and I'm telling you depressing stuff! But my point is, that circumstances can be bad (and you know this first hand) but you can still maintain inside your spirit a place that is at peace. You can keep inside of you a place where you are confident that no matter how bad it is, God loves you, and is working for your benefit. It doesn't always change the look of the circumstances, but it will lift you above them.
Today it may seem like you have no power over what your husband said to you this morning, or how many times the baby woke you up last night, or what your family's expectations on you are, or even how you felt when you woke up this morning! But you do have power to choose what you will think, what you will say, how you will feel.
When you think a thought, it ignites a series of synapses in your brain, and activates hormones, which are largely responsible for what we feel. If you scrunched up your eyebrows real mean-like, and said something nasty right now, as compared to forcing a HUGE grin, and saying "This is a great day!" I guarantee each activity would give you a different feeling. Sometimes people have to practice being happy. To some people, happiness comes naturally, and almost seems to be effortless. That's great! But in my case, I had to practice. I still do. Sometimes when I'm driving, I put on a big grin, and laugh outloud, because of how good it is for me. Remember, you are a salmon swimming up stream, in an outflow of misery. If you don't put on a happy face, and swim, you will end up getting washed out by the current.

Now it's not by our own power that we can be exuberant. The bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength, and with good reason! God knew that sometimes we would run clean out of joy, and He gave us His. He knew that in this less than perfect world, we would need supernatural joy. Even if you are one of those people who are naturally happy, there will be times that it feels good to know that our God is a God of exuberant joy!

Father, today, in these circumstances, I rejoice in You. I thank You that:
61. I can pour out the contents of my heart like water before you, and know that You never get tired of listening- You never tune me out.
62. that Heaven is real, that my friends and family are not gone, not "passed away", but ALIVE, really alive.
63. my mother is a good grandmother, and loves her grandchildren. Thanks, Mom.
64. I can't really fail at doing laundry, because it is always giving me another chance. : ) Laundry is faithful.
65. there is the sound of guitar floating in from the kitchen (a self-taught, twelve year old homeschooler), and it gets better each year.
66. we have a shelf full of fresh farm eggs from my dad in the fridge. Thanks, Dad!
67. Jed has work to do today. (I think I ought to do a post on work!) : )
68. I don't have to go grocery shopping! Not that I mind food, I am thankful, but sometimes I get weary of the constant consumption of the North American lifestyle, and it feels good not to spend.
70. that my children have a church to go to, and friends to see. A new youth pastor at the church.
I'm grateful today, that I have something to give thanks for, and Someone to give thanks to.

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