Many of us have those magical childhood memories of simpler and sweeter Christmases past. When you are facing the holidays while going through depression those memories can seem like an elusive, untouchable dream rather than the foundation for a happy and healthy holiday season.
This year someone I care about a lot is going through a pretty deep depression and crisis of faith. The stress of the “Season” is only making it worse. I have been there and I know many others who have or are going through the same struggles right now.
It seems like all the standard answers either ring hollow or are even cruel. Telling someone struggling with their faith that they need to trust more, pray more, have more faith, or just believe is not only callus, it can be downright mean. Most people struggling with depression already feel guilty enough.
I am trying to be positive. By the way, I often fail at this. When I am on top of my game I turn conversations towards the hopeful and encouraging seizing as many opportunities for humor and laughter as possible with out being callus myself. I am trying to model my faith with unconditional love, reserving judgment, being patient and acknowledging rather than discounting the sufferer’s pain, struggle and confusion. I am trying to practice praise both privately and gently in front of the person. There is a tough balance between acknowledging the struggle and not dwelling upon it.
Of course I pray for the person as often as possible. I try to trust and believe for them when they can’t. I gently and carefully encourage them to keep praying, reading scripture, and practicing devotional life without making them feel like it is the problem is due to their spiritual shortcomings. If spiritual shortcomings were the major source of depression I would be depressed all the time. Many Great Christians like John Wesley, G.K. Chesterton, Charles Spurgeon and others struggled with depression and doubt.
I am not trying to provide all the answers but just sharing as someone on the journey. Help me out. Your thoughts would be appreciated.