Our theme in July is Overcoming Depression. In honor of that, I’d like to share my story of how I overcame religious confusion and disappointment in people. A disappointment that launched me into a period of depression. One of the hardest times that I’ve had in my walk with God is suffering under the burden of religious frustrations. It almost caused me to walk away until I remembered that the faith of Christ is right even if everybody doesn’t follow it. When I came to the Lord, I was so happy with church. I had great admiration for leadership and the message of Christ that was taught from the pulpit. Over the years, however, that picture eroded. As some of the pioneers died off, church splits erupted and arguments started, I was extremely disappointed in my entire religious group. For those that have never experienced religious disappointment, it can be extremely depressing. It’s a horrible feeling of uncertainty. Up to that point in my life, I had suffered hurts in many areas including health, finance, lost friendships, and misunderstandings, but I had never felt like leaving my denomination to themselves.
I told my current Pastor that I often felt like Alberto (a Chick Publication comic book about a young man who wanted to be a Catholic priest but was disappointed by what he found in the priesthood). I don’t know what it’s like to be jealous of other people. I was never the jealous type. So it was difficult to understand how treacherous and jealous people could be. Why anyone would take time out of their life to actively hinder my progress or even care about my status or standing in the church was beyond me. But like little children who put their trust in the wrong stranger, those who innocently put 110% into serving the Lord, find out very sadly, that everyone whose involved in church is not always there for honest reasons. When you discover that people are acting under pretense, it’s hurtful. After a while, you feel used and disappointed, especially, if the preaching is strong on love and obedience and you still see very little of either around you. Even before I was a minister, I found myself innocently going to the Pastor explaining what I saw and took comfort in the fact that he already knew these deficits, and I did not let that deter me from serving God.
Someone saw what I had been going through after being ordained and handed me a book called, “Leading Women Who Wound” by Sue G. Edwards and Kelley M. Mathews. It was an entire book about a female minister and how she weathered opposition to her ministry. In the book, the minister found that most of her struggles came not from men, but other women who may have felt threatened by her efforts. She talked about the sadness that it brings in trying to labor in the kingdom of God when women gossip and backbite against one another. At the time the church member gave me the book, I thanked her but was frankly so busy with activities, that I didn’t have time to read it then, yet after having suffered another scheme against me, I finally picked up the book. I had suffered setbacks, embarrassments and even more than 1 or 2 orchestrated take downs in my time as a minister, but I had never thought about it quite the way these authors covered it. The book shared good wisdom how to avoid conflicts and keep moving. What was even more disappointing was that this lay person could see there were problems.
When I was going through this time of religious turmoil and constant attacks, my husband said that he was just praying that I would stay saved. There was literally no one to help me and absolutely no one to confide in. I would come home from church depressed. Why? Because I was disappointed in people. One of the greatest gifts from that period of my life is learning to forgive and love even under those circumstances. Over the years, I’ve talked to people both in and out of my denomination who have suffered the same type of depression. They are disappointed, not in Christ, but in those that profess to follow Him.
Besides being disappointed in our brothers and sisters in Christ, there are so many ways we can feel disappointed in those around us. If you are depressed and hurt by people, that can be one of the hardest times to ignore your circumstances. If someone has wounded you deeply because they were weak and didn’t stand up like they should have, forgive their weakness. If someone has wounded you by leaving you, forgive their cowardice. If anyone has wounded you by persecuting you, Jesus forgave persecution and false charges. If a person lies about you or misunderstands who you are or spreads rumors about you, remember people lied about Christ and did not recognize him at all. Sometimes people are depressed because no one has called them or reached out to them or they feel ignored during their trials or health problems. Remember that you may not be the center of everyone’s universe but you are the apple of God’s eye and he has you engraved in the palm of hand.
There is nothing that you are going through that Christ hasn’t written down on his to-do list for you. Even though it hurts each time I go through these valleys, the periods of hurt and disappointment are shorter and I’ve learned not to let them take me out of commission. God recovered my heart and mind and helped me to let it all go.
Here are some tips about folks:
- Never put all of your stock in people. Always keep a level of self-reliance and self-love so that when people let you down or put you down, you will have enough reserve within yourself to function.
- Apply the “nothing last forever” principle to your disappointment and give it an expiration date.Put a time limit on how long you will allow yourself to wear this pain on your sleeve. Refuse to allow it to take over your life.
- If you have to be at a place filled with disappointing folks, make sure that you don’t become one of them. Have yourself a good cry about their sad condition and move on.
- Carry yourself with the dignity Christ gave you as a child of God. If they act up, don’t lower yourself and act up too.
- Understand that you should never think more of man than what’s written of him (me included).
- People can be great actors and actresses; never decide that anyone is your BFF, just because they are nice to you. People have a way of holding their mask up, until their arm gets tired ; and
- As Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them”.
Share how you’ve overcome disappointment.