Welcome to The Flourish Studio! I am so excited for this rebrand for my little business. At the end of 2019, I knew that God was leading me somewhere specific for 2020. It wasn’t like this big push or loud voice from Heaven, but more of a gentle nudging to dive in deeper.
I started this hand lettering business in March of 2019 under my own name as a way to share the projects I was working on and maybe make a few extra dollars for our family. As the year unfolded, it grew and changed and became something that I was really excited to be a part of! And I felt it was time to get a business name and actually do this thing!
I believe that no detail is too small to God. When choosing the name for my business, I prayed and asked Him to show me what He wanted this space to be. What purpose did He have in mind? And for the longest time I felt like He was silent. Well, more accurately, I felt Him there and knew He was speaking. But I couldn’t quite understand it or hear it. You know what I mean? I’m like, “God, if you could just send me a text message that would be grrrrreat.”
After a time, I felt led to the story of Habakkuk. It’s a short book in the Bible, and it’s a conversation between a prophet and God. He asks God why He is silent in the face of such evil, and he asks for an answer for the problems facing his people. He waits until God speaks, and God’s first words are in verse 2.
“And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Habakkuk 2:2
Now, the following vision and message is remarkable. Habakkuk’s response is convicting and beautiful. But it was that verse that stopped me in my tracks. I pulled up every study resource I could find to dive into what all it meant.
Write the vision. Record the vision. Describe, engrave, write what God has spoken.
Make it plain. Make it clear. Explain it and declare it. (Or in my case, make it covered in florals. Ha!)
That he may run that readeth it. Now this is the part that gets me. It’s not saying that once you read what God’s spoken you can now go do a 5K. Thank the Lord. Because the only time I run is toward cake. Nope, this is talking about the act of being a herald. A messenger. You know those old medieval movies where the king sends out a rider on his fastest horse to run ahead of him and deliver his message? It’s that guy. One who runs ahead of the army and declares, proclaims, and cries out the vision that the King entrusted to him. That’s what God is asking us all to do.
Find the good news in Him. Record the great things He has declared to His people. Make it clear so that everyone can comprehend the hopeful future He has laid out for us. Then run with glorious freedom, declaring that hope to the world.
Um, wow. Yes, I want to be a part of that mission! Don’t you?!
I felt like God was telling me to write and run. That was it! My direction. But, “Write and Run” isn’t a very great business name. And there’s also the pesky detail of my inability to physically run with any speed at all. It would just be confusing. Ha!
So, with alllll of that being said, here’s how I landed on The Flourish Studio and how it fits the mission that I am on in 2020.
Flourish has multiple meanings. One meaning of flourish is a calligraphy term. It’s the flowy, elegant little swirls and “extras” added to the letters. Flourishes are decorative details. Habakkuk may have written the vision on a tablet of stone, but I can’t help but add some florals and colors.
Flourish also means to thrive or to grow and prosper. When I think of that person reading the vision and then running, I see a woman who just dropped the weight of the world off her shoulders. I see a woman who has found her meaning in God and is now ready to run with beautiful abandon, not letting anything slow her down. I see a woman who is ready to thrive, not just survive.
I hope that every piece of art you may see from The Flourish Studio or every blog post or article you may read here directs you to the vision Giver. I pray that the painted Bibles, with all their details and colors, draw you in to spending more time in the Word. I pray that the hand-lettered signs and illustrations of your families remind you of God’s goodness and provision in your life. I pray that any words I share are for the sole purpose of helping us run in the mission. Helping us see the miracles in the mundane – the hope in the hurting – and how God is in the midst of all of it.
Thank you so much for letting me share a bit of my heart with you today. I am really excited to move forward in a clearer direction this year. And I’m so thankful that you are a part of it with me!
Is there another decade in American history more iconic than the Roaring Twenties? This decade marked new “freedoms” in the American culture. The economy boomed, there was a surge of new technologies that enabled more people to have cars, radios, washing machines – even sliced bread. Women were given the right to vote, entered the work force, got on birth control, and adopted a new culture and style. Flappers were the image of the Roaring Twenties, which “rejected many traditional moral standards.” (Dictionary.com) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The Roaring Twenties epitomizes a feeling of shedding moral constrictions, defying social norms, living lavishly, and worshipping culture. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It kind of feels like we’re back in the Roaring Twenties already, right?! Well, I propose we take back that title and make this decade the new Roaring Twenties. In this decade actually being a woman confident in her own skin and femininity and God-given identity is breaking a cultural norm. In this decade bringing back decency and modesty and personal convictions IS breaking a cultural norm. Abstaining from secular music and R-rated movies and media applauding immorality IS breaking a cultural norm. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We are a new generation ROARING, not about our personal freedoms and abilities to live recklessly, but ROARING about the God we serve, the freedom He gave us through His death, and the ability to live a life set apart to give Him the glory. We are ROARING to make His Name famous. We are ROARING that He created man and woman in His own image. We are ROARING that we choose to shed the trappings of this world in favor of choosing Him and only Him. We are ROARING that you’re not truly free until you take on His yoke. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We are the new Roaring Twenties, and we will not be silent.
I feel like there should be a name for that indescribable feeling at Christmas. That bittersweet mix of jubilation and unrest. The hope of promises fulfilled and the unfulfilled yearning for more. We sing of peace on earth, but often feel our deepest pains more acutely.
Sometimes you face Christmas holding hope and joy in one hand and grief and sorrow in the other. Grief takes on a new form during holidays. Loss seems greater. Pain seems louder. But joy takes on a new form, too. Surrounded by the glittery lights and wrapped packages, our hearts are often turned to what we are really thankful for. The excess somehow points its way back to the roots.
I think that first Christmas was the epitome of that indescribable feeling. Such deep sorrow, such deep joy. If you are struggling this year holding space for both extremes, you are in good company. If your grief seems to overshadow your joy, or your celebrations dim in light of your loss, maybe you’re even closer to the whole point of this celebration anyway.
We sing “all is calm, all is bright,” but those aren’t words I would necessarily assign to that first Christmas. I don’t think that first Christmas was perfect. It wasn’t magical and glittery and full of cheer. I don’t think Michael Buble was sitting outside the stable doors crooning “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I don’t think Mary sipped on a decaf white peppermint mocha out of a red cup between pain-free contractions. I kind of doubt Joseph had the perfect gift for Mary wrapped in elegant wrapping paper and tied with a bow just sitting next to the horse trough. I don’t think all was calm. Or bright.
Jesus, perfection Himself, didn’t come to the world wrapped in perfection. He didn’t just appear, glowing and bright and saturating everyone in peace.
No, He came to the world in a surge of pain. Mary, screaming and pushing. Joseph, sweating and praying. Jesus, wet and crying. When man fell and sin was introduced, God wrapped child-bearing in pain and sorrow. Did He look forward into time and see how great a sorrow Mary would experience when bringing forth His son? Why did He choose such a vulnerable way to bring salvation to the world? Why did He choose pain? Surely He could have chosen a safer way. One without risks. Without stretching and ripping and pushing and agony.
Mary and Joseph were all alone in that stable. No one had room for them. No one included them. No one cared that she was in labor, that she held the key to their salvation.
Where were their family members? Everyone was traveling to Bethlehem with them. Wasn’t there anyone to reach out or give up their bed? Wasn’t there anyone to bring them a casserole or cut the cord or sweep out the stable?
No doctor. No epidural. No ice chips. No monitors checking the baby’s heart rate. No nurse instructing how to push. No family members pacing the halls. No bed. No crib. No comfort.
All wasn’t calm, and all wasn’t bright.
Mary had carried that glorious secret for nine months. She had suffered gossip and rumors and misunderstandings. She was kept at arm’s length by a new husband. She had to make a difficult trip carrying a full-term baby. She started contractions on a donkey. Labored in a stable. Birthed on straw and dirt.
If I were her, I would have imagined that the Savior’s birth would have immediately and visibly changed everything. I would have believed that the world would take notice. That all wounds would have been instantly mended. That life would become new.
And it did. But not in the way that changed their situation. Life was made new. The life-giver was wrapped in rags and laying in a manger probably still sticky from the horse feed. How do you reconcile that? How do you reconcile your greatest hopes and prayers – an entire nation’s greatest hopes and prayers for hundreds of years – arriving in the most helpless, vulnerable way? All alone?
Surely Joseph and Mary felt it. Surely the presence of God ushered into that room with the final push in a way that no one had yet experienced Him. Surely all their doubting was replaced with certainty. Surely they looked into the face of the Messiah and felt a peace indescribable.
But that overwhelming joy, that promise fulfilled, didn’t change their situation. The innkeeper didn’t suddenly come rushing out and make space for the newborn King. Mary still had to finish the birthing process. Her pain and bleeding and recovery didn’t stop. Their lowly surroundings and discomfort and danger on their lives weren’t immediately eased and comforted.
The nursery Mary had prepared at home lay empty while she struggled to find something to wrap her baby in not covered in hay. The moment all creation had been yearning for had passed, and who had noticed?
That first Christmas wasn’t “perfect.
It was lonely and dark. Cold and smelly. Loud and painful. Maybe disappointing. Probably confusing.
But the Promise was made flesh. They could now hold on to their hope with both hands.
Maybe your Christmas season isn’t perfect this year. Maybe you have worked to string the lights and bake the cookies and sing the songs, but your heart is carrying a hidden pain. Maybe someone is missing from the table this year. Maybe it doesn’t look like what you had hoped it would by now. Maybe you feel less than, ill-equipped, unworthy, broken, or doubtful. Maybe you are trying to reconcile the joy Christ brings and the sorrow brought by this world.
I can think of no better way to honor the King of Kings than to bring our broken pieces to Him.
This yearning that can’t be described? C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity wrote “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This year, instead of allowing our hurts and wounds and doubt to drag us further from Him, let’s give it to Him. He’s not afraid of pain or of questions. He’s not afraid of doubts or loneliness. That’s how He chose to came to the world. He chose to come in pain and leave in pain. So why would we think He can’t handle ours?
Whatever it is you’re holding in your hands this season – grief, joy, sorrow, hopes, disappointments – the good news is that you don’t have to hold it alone. We yearn for Heaven while experiencing Heaven on earth. We can rejoice for the peace He brought while still fighting for that peace on earth. We can sing “Joy to the World” in a world filled with doubt and pain because both are true.
All may not be calm. But the beauty is that it doesn’t have to be.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35
If you think this is a post about Kanye, you may be a little disappointed. It’s not. Well, maybe a bit. Maybe 5% Kanye, 95% me. Moving on.
I normally think pretty hard about what I post on social media. Unless it’s a picture of my girls – then I have no discrimination whatsoever. But if it is a thought or belief, I try to be mindful. What I post is a reflection of not only me, but my family, my church, and my God. I have quite a few extremely liberal friends on social media, people from all walks of life, and to be honest, I think about them every time I post. Is what I am saying repelling them or drawing them? It’s not that I believe I will “convert” someone through my posts. I mean, seriously. Who has ever been converted through a Facebook post? When has one Facebook argument made someone change their mind? Jesus didn’t say that we will be known by how well we can argue with those who don’t believe the same things we do. Jesus didn’t say that condemnation and bashing and yelling will draw us to repentance. No. It’s the “goodness of God [that] leadeth thee to repentance.” Romans 2:4. He says that it is “…with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3
Wow, what a burden has been lifted off our shoulders. It is not our job, our calling, our responsibility to look at everyone we disagree with and say “you’re wrong!” In John 13, Jesus was preparing His disciples for His soon departure. He was telling them that soon He would be going where they couldn’t follow. “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:33-35
It seems to me that this is our commandment as long as we are on this earth. To love one another. Not only that, but to love one another as Christ loved us. That is not some casual, flowers only on Valentines, kinda love. That is some serious laying-down-your-life, drinking from the cup kinda love.
Am I living that way? Am I loving that way?
Is my love so flagrant and outrageous and so VERY MUCH that people look at me and say, “she’s different”? Am I known for my love? Can someone take a scroll through what I’ve posted and see love overshadowing it all? Or is it dripping with self-righteousness? Is it saturated in personal opinion?
I do not claim to be a Bible scholar, but I can’t think of an example where Jesus looked at someone who didn’t know Him, who didn’t claim to worship God, who wasn’t a Christian at all, and just blasted them. Sure, I can think of a time He flipped tables. Of a time He completely rebuked people. But the table flipping was in the temple. It was in His church. It was toward people of God who weren’t properly respecting His house. I can think of a time (multiple!) that He rebuked Pharisees. The religious scholars of the day. The people claiming to have a grasp and knowledge on all religion. He got mad at them.
But did He get mad at the woman who was caught in adultery and then brought to Him? Did He quote the law to her? Did He bash her? No, He said, “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:7
Did He take a second to examine the diseased man at the pool of Bethesda? Did He say, I’ll save you, but first you need to dress this way, look this way, act this way? Nope. He just asked Him if he wanted to be made whole, if the sick man wanted Him, and then He said “rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” John 5:8. And the man was made whole.
But God’s love and mercy and goodness doesn’t mean we can take advantage of Him. All of these people that He drew with His lovingkindness? He made sure to tell them to turn from their ways. Once their eyes were opened to their sin and their depths of needing a Savior, He told them to stop sinning.
The adulterous woman? “… go, and sin no more.” John 8:11
The diseased man? “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” John 5:14
He offered them hope, unconditional love, freedom, and salvation. THEN after they were changed, He told them to get their act together and stop sinning.
My pastor, Tim Gill, said “Truth and love seems to be how Jesus handled sinners. A whip and a shout seems to be how He handled those who abused His house.”
Are we sharing our thoughts in love? Or with a shout? When we think about our friends on our Facebook feeds who do not recognize Christ, it should make us want to post differently. It should make us want to write in truth and love. If the only way we know how to talk about these topics is with a whip and a shout, maybe we need to take a little break. Maybe we need to stop talking. Sure, get angry at the devil. Get furious that hundreds of thousands of babies aren’t given the gift of life a year. Talk with your fellow saints, those already in full knowledge of God’s Word, about how broken and mad that makes you feel. But let’s not share that fury with the girl who doesn’t know Jesus and is contemplating abortion. Maybe we should take a cue from Jesus. Maybe we should reach out in love, not condemnation. Maybe we should offer some hope, not hate. Maybe we should offer some resources. Maybe we should share the truth of how God views us and loves us and is enough to cover us.
We will be known by our love. So let’s act like it.
I am joining up with some awesome people today on Instagram spreading awareness and hope for mental health problems in the church. You can click on #thereishoperightnow to see the campaign, or get more information on my account @whitneygothra. My pastor’s wife recently spoke on this topic, and I asked her if I could share her notes with you all today.
Faythe Gill is an amazing, authentic, powerful woman of God, and I would know because she is my mom! She has been in the ministry all of her life and is the pastor’s wife at Medora Pentecostal Church. She has prayed countless hours over the content you are about to read, and I know it will be a blessing to you!
Anxiety and Depression
After many years of people suffering in silence, it has become trendy to talk about mental health. Some universities now have safe spaces for those who need to process their feelings. Many workplaces now offer mental health days. Social media is full of memes about mental health. But while all of these things address mental health, none of them offer an answer. Going to a special room, taking a day off work, reading a meme – while these things may feel safe or be enjoyable or entertaining for the moment, none of them give a person the tools needed to deal with true anxiety or depression.
Anxiety and depression are very real. Men and women of all ages deal with these issues. Even Christians.
It’s not about how spiritual you are. Anxiety and depression begin in the brain. The brain is an organ of the body just like the heart or the gallbladder. One isn’t less spiritual for having an issue with depression or anxiety caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, just as one isn’t less spiritual for having an issue with their heart or gallbladder.
Identify the Battle
When dealing with these issues, I believe it is imperative that we first identify the battle. Is this natural or spiritual in nature? Because those are two very different battles. And we use very different weapons to fight them.
We are living in a wicked generation. Sometimes what we call stress is a spiritual battle. The nature of the battle determines the nature of the strategy. We must know what weapons to use.
Depression and anxiety are signals, not identities. It is a signal that something is not right and needs to be addressed. They are signals that a person needs help. And that help can come in many forms.
For many years there has been a stigma attached to anxiety and depression. We need to take the stigma and fear away by talking about it. I’m concerned that we have too many precious people who suffer in silence because of the stigma associated with these issues.
How do we remove the stigma? By talking about it! People say that the generations before us didn’t deal with these issues; however, Solomon said, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” The generations who came before us dealt with anxiety and depression. There are examples in the Bible of people who dealt with these issues as well, so it’s nothing new. It may surprise us to learn of people around us who have dealt with anxiety or depression.
I encourage anyone who has conquered one of these issues or who is successfully fighting to speak up. Tell your story! Share your testimony! There is strength in unity. You will be a blessing and encouragement to someone else who is struggling and you will receive strength when others know your story.
Occasional anxiety is an expected part of life. You might feel anxious when you have a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Those are temporary feelings – when the issue is resolved, the anxiety dissipates. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time.
This type of anxiety causes the person to have feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reaches a peak quickly. In fact, serious anxiety can lead to a panic attack that often mirrors a heart attack.
This type of anxiety can interfere with daily activities, is difficult to control, is out of proportion to the actual danger, and can last a long time.
Again, this is not “I’m nervous about my driving test.” This is a serious problem with anxiety that does not resolve itself.
Steps to Deal with Anxiety
1. Recognize and confront the issue
Hiding the issue won’t help. You can’t fix what you aren’t willing to confront.
Ask for prayer. Name the issue. Tell those praying for you, “I’m suffering from anxiety and I need healing.” People aren’t going to be shocked; but they will better know how to pray for you.
Reach out to someone. Don’t go through this alone. Find a trusted friend and let them know what’s going on with you. Allow them into your life. Stay in contact and let them know when you’re struggling.
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
2. Know your triggers
Anxiety is rooted in natural situations that become overwhelming. I have a friend that began suffering from anxiety when her first child was born. The feelings began as a concern for the well-being of her child. But they quickly grew into intense feelings of anxiety not in proportion to what was going on with her child.
If you suffer from anxiety, know what triggers those feelings. For some people, it’s crowds or financial concerns or negative thinking. It may even be a person! Learn to recognize your triggers.
3. Leave the situation if possible
Do what you can to avoid the situations that cause you anxiety. If you cannot avoid them, have a coping mechanism planned.
If your job is causing you intense anxiety, find another job. If your finances are causing you to have panic attacks when you think about your future, get a budget, get your spending under control, make a sound financial plan and stick to it! If a family member or friend causes you anxiety, stay away from them.
4. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique
These steps are a way to ground yourself. This takes you out of your head and interrupts the negative thoughts.
Point out five things you can see (a bird, a chair, anything big or small). Identify them out loud. “I can see a chair.” “I can see Teresa.” “I can see the lights.”
List four things you can feel. Literally touch four things. Move around and make physical contact.
Acknowledge three things you hear (external sounds, what is audible in the moment).
Identify two smells (if necessary, walk around to locate something)
Name one thing you can taste (gum, a drink)
5. Practice mindful, slow breathing
Relax your breathing. Take in a slow, deep breath through your nose while counting to five. Breath out through your nose, counting to five.
Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Relax your muscles. Close your eyes and focus solely on your toes. Curl them under tightly for a count of five, squeezing the muscles together as hard as you can, then relax. Move to your feet and do the same. Continue up your body all the way to your face.
This exercise will occupy your mind.
6. Take control of your thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:5
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
God wouldn’t tell us to take every thought captive unless He also gave us the ability to do so. Anxiety will cause a person to imagine a scenario that doesn’t even come close to the truth. Their mind will “run away with them.”
If you have a tendency to think negatively and then spiral into a panic attack, change the way you think. Think on the Word of God. Have scriptures ready that you can refer to when you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about something.
The mind is one of satan’s favorite places to attack. He can’t read your mind, but he can put thoughts there.
Sometimes in these battles, the devil attacks with the truth. (Remember that anxiety is rooted in natural situations.) He did this to Jesus when He was in the wilderness fasting for 40 days. Satan would say, “It is written.” What he was saying was true. Jesus’ response was, “It is also written.” Yes, that’s true, but this is also true.
I am pressed but not crushed. Persecuted but not abandoned. Lonely but not alone.
Fill your mind with the Word of God. A good tip is to research scriptures that apply to your situation and write them down in a notebook. When you have anxious thoughts, refer to those scriptures. Read them aloud. Pray them. Repeat them over and over.
If you’re with someone who is having a panic attack:
1. Be calm and patient
Your calm demeanor can be a model for your friend and let them know everything’s okay. Don’t be condescending – don’t tell them, “just relax, you’re fine” or “there’s nothing to worry about” – just be present. Sit with them. Let them know they are not alone.
2. Ask them if they’ve had a panic attack before.
If they have, they will recognize this for what it is. If they haven’t and they don’t think they’re having one now, call 911 or get them to the ER. Panic attacks can look like heart attacks.
3. Ask them what they think might help.
Don’t assume you know what’s best for them. They may be able to tell you exactly what to do.
4. Take them through the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique.
5. Have them breathe slowly while you count to five for each inhale and exhale
6. Take them through the muscle tightening exercise
7. Pray with them – speak God’s Word over them.
Take dominion over the situation and speak peace to them.
Depression negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.
There are different forms and causes of depression.
Depression can be:
a side effect of medicine
a side effect of illness
caused by exhaustion
brought on by stress
the result of a great loss
a chemical imbalance in the brain
a lack of serotonin in the body
a sign of a disconnect from God – lack of prayer, fasting
spiritual warfare – an attack of satan
Steps to Deal with Depression
1. Recognize and confront the issue
Hiding it won’t help. Reach out to someone. Don’t go through depression alone. Everyone needs a friend who can speak into their life. Someone who knows you well and can properly assess your well-being.
Elijah was a prophet of God. He called fire down from heaven. And then he outran Ahab’s chariot when the rain began. What a supernatural anointing must have been on him. But then the anointing for that task lifted, and Jezebel attacked him personally. She told him she was going to kill him.
So a tired, weary, fearful Elijah ran into the wilderness, found a Juniper tree and asked God to kill him.
The Bible tells us that an angel of the Lord baked him a cake and brought him some water. Elijah ate, took a nap, woke up and ate again and then went in the strength of that meat 40 days and 40 nights.
Sometimes what we perceive as depression may very well be overwhelming exhaustion. We may need to withdraw for a time of rest.
The Lord will anoint us for various tasks and we can go to some extreme measures while under that anointing. But when the anointing lifts, our flesh may be worn out and weary. We’re not depressed; we’re tired. We don’t need medical attention; we need a nap and a snack.
A friend can tell us that. A friend can help us see another side to our issue. Sometimes when we are in the thick of a problem, we can’t see clearly. A Godly friend can come alongside us and say, “Here’s another way to look at that problem.” Or, “I think you need to get away for a few days.” Or, “I think you need to seek medical help for this problem.”
We also need the help of our Pastor and Pastor’s Wife. Everyone needs a Pastor. They can pray with you, help assess the issue, and direct you to further help if needed.
2. Examine yourself
Is there sin in my life? (Living in constant condemnation will bring depression)
Is there destructive behavior in my life?
am I getting enough rest?
am I eating a healthy diet?
am I spending enough time outside?
am I exercising enough?
how are my finances?
are my relationships healthy?
what am I filling my mind with?
what music am I listening to?
what material am I reading?
what media am I watching?
Some things are consequences of our actions. We can’t fill our minds and bodies with junk and then ask God to heal us. He’s given us the power to take care of some things on our own.
3. Seek God
Matthew 11:28-30 – Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The word rest in verse 28 means: to cease from any labour in order to recover and collect strength. This is physical rest.
The word rest in verst 29 is a different word that means: blessed tranquility of soul. This is a spiritual rest.
When we seek God, He will give us rest both physically and spiritually.
He says, “Learn of me.” When we come to Jesus, we learn a better way. Some things we go through is consequences of bad choices, or it may be that we have a skewed perspective of a situation. But when we bring our issue – our source of depression – to God, when we learn of Him, we learn a better way.
4. Use the Word of God
Some depression is actually spiritual warfare. When depression is caused by spiritual warfare, we must go to battle with the Word of God.
Some tips for filling your environment with the Word of God:
Fill your heart with Scripture. Say it aloud, say it often. Read it, pray it, quote it, write it.
Be an intentional worshipper.
Make a list of the miracles and blessings God has given you. Spend time every day thanking Him for them.
Fill your home with music. (I have a playlist entitled Atmosphere for this very purpose.)
Listen to the Bible. (You Version is a free app for this.)
My favorite song to sing in times like this is:
“Holy Spirit, You are welcome here.”
Where? In the midst of my chaos. In the midst of my depression.
In the midst of my suffering. In the midst of my mess.
God isn’t afraid of my mess.
“Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.”
God isn’t afraid of my mess.
“Your glory, God, is what my heart longs for,”
Welcome Him into your midst. Because anything He touches is changed.
“to be overcome by Your presence, Lord.”
5. Get busy
Bouts of depression will cause you to want to sleep the day away. To withdraw from everything and everybody. Get busy! Have a schedule. This shifts your focus and gives you something to occupy your mind.
6. Understand that life is full of seasons
Not all sadness is depression. Grief is not depression. Grief is grief. Sometimes we will feel feelings of sadness and grief, and that is appropriate. Sometimes in life that we must grieve to heal. Never feel shame for feeling emotions.
Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus even when He knew He was about to raise him from the dead. Why? It was appropriate to weep. Don’t feel shame for feeling what is natural. Christianity does not forbid or do away with our natural affections.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 – But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope.
Paul is saying that we sorrow WITH hope. Joy is not the absence of sorrow. Joy is knowing that “weeping endureth for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Joy says, ‘I’m crying tonight, but I’ll be okay tomorrow”.
Sorrow is grief. Grief is not depression.
Seek Professional Help
If you struggle with depression and you have done these things and you are still struggling, you need to seek professional help. You have a medical problem. It is appropriate to seek medical help for a medical problem.
As Christians, when we are faced with a medical problem, we pray and ask God for healing. Sometimes we are healed and sometimes we seek medical help. The same goes for depression.
Natural problems can be fixed through spiritual measures – you can worship your way through some hard times, you can pray your way out of depression, God can touch you and heal you, the Divine can heal the natural, but you cannot fix Spiritual problems through natural measures.
If your depression is a spiritual problem, all the medicine in the world will not help you. We MUST properly identify the problem.
That’s why the correct diagnosis is so important. That’s why it’s so important to go through the steps we’ve listed. Make sure this is not a spiritual problem. If your depression is a Spiritual problem, all the medicine in the world will not help you. But if you’ve addressed those things, and it’s not a spiritual problem, then it’s a natural (physical) problem. Seek help.
If the depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, until those chemicals are regulated, all the encouragement in the world of “think happy thoughts” or “you just need to power through” won’t help. It’s a physical problem.
Professional and Spiritual help can work hand-in-hand. They do not have to contradict each other. You may seek professional help and continue to pray for healing. Ask your Pastor to recommend a professional to you.
There is HOPE!
You are not alone. There are people willing to help you. Please reach out to them. Talk to your family, talk to your friends, talk to your Pastor.
Speak up. Share your story. Allow your experience to help someone else. Let’s break the silence and destroy the stigma.