This past August when Robin Williams died, the world was shocked. How could someone so funny come to such a sad and horrible ending? We really do not understand the depths of such internal battles unless we ourselves have been there.
Just because we put on uniforms it doesn’t mean that we stop experiencing difficulties.
Just because we become a Christ-follower doesn’t mean that we stop struggling with internal battles.
Some people even genetically struggle with things like depression and I would like to talk about this today. Before you stop reading and think to yourself “this doesn’t relate to me“, perhaps you’ll reconsider because we are all in this together and you just might be able to help someone else who DOES relate to this.
A Story About Depression:
One of my Uncles, who is an Officer in the Southern Territory USA, shared with me a story about a local Presbyterian minister in his town. It is a sad story. The kind of story that causes shell shocked locals to question life and death and to reconsider their preconceived notions of depression.
Apparently, this local Presbyterian minister, who had been on sabbatical from his church, committed suicide. He ended his life. He allowed the darkness within him to quench the light of hope. Let that sink in for a moment. A minister, who was deeply depressed and struggling with this difficult internal battle, ended his life. It doesn’t matter how he did it, but that he did it. His church and surrounding community are currently and completely devastated. Questions have been swirling and the idea that not just any person committed suicide, but a Pastor and leader of a church committed suicide has sent his church and community whirling in disbelief.
There’s A Lesson Here:
-Everyone is susceptible to these internal battles.-
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Presbyterian minister, a Catholic Priest or even a Salvation Army Officer or Soldier. We still struggle in life sometimes. We can still face things like depression. Sometimes we’re very good at hiding it too. Sometimes we’re so good that we even convince ourselves that nothing is wrong when something is very wrong within us. We sometimes compartmentalize these struggles and convince ourselves that someone else is to blame or the situation at hand is to blame when the battle is truly internal. Instead of beating ourselves up over feeling this way, we need to reach out for help.
The Misnomers Of Depression:
We can often look at these internal battles as weaknesses and something to be embarrassed about. If you’re struggling right now or know someone who is, please don’t be embarrassed or make that person feel embarrassed. Don’t think for a minute that you are less valuable because of the internal struggles you are facing. Don’t think for a minute that no one will understand. Don’t think for a minute that you are all alone in these dark days. Don’t buy into the lie that you must be weaker than other because you are struggling.
Another misnomer with depression is the idea that if I deny it exists (that I’m depressed) I will be fine. Have you ever shaken up a carbonated soda and then opened up the top? What happens? The bottled up carbonated soda explodes from the container doesn’t it? In the same way that bottle can’t hold the shaken contents, so too our bodies and minds aren’t equipped to hold everything in either. We have to let these struggles and abscesses of the heart and soul out of us. We can’t avoid them…they won’t simply go away. We could do more harm to ourselves if we just let them fester within us without releasing them.
Here are three prescriptions, dear soldier, to help us conquer and win these internal battles –
1) Seek Professional Help!
It is a sign of strength, not weakness to receive help from a counselor, pastor, or professional psychologist. Get over the misconception that it is wrong to talk about your struggles. Seeking out help is the first step to having victory over that internal battle! Don’t be afraid to ask for help! When we have someone else on board with us helping us find hope and joy again we can also find healing.
2) Seek Accountability
This might go hand in hand with #1…but it goes further. Do you have a friend in whom you can confide? Are there trusted people in your life who can listen but also be honest with you? Don’t seek out just anyone or even someone who agree with everything you say. Find someone who will challenge you, be honest with you and will keep you accountable. Seek out a fellow brother or sister in Christ who can pray with you and help shoulder your heavy burdens. Accountability helps relieve some of these internal struggles. Depression is worse when dealt with alone…remember that!
3) Find Rest And Activities
We need our rest to replenish our physical and emotional reserves. Officers and soldiers are ever in the fray of this mission field, but even soldiers and officers need hobbies and rest! Make sure you find some “Me” time. This isn’t selfish this is self-preservation. What good will you be if you are spent and worn through and through? Make sure you find things to do outside your mission field sometimes. Get sufficient rest, take time to reconnect and rejuvenate.
These are just three crucial prescriptions. There are more, but doing these three things will help in your journey to victory over your internal battles. Don’t quit. Don’t think for a moment that you are alone. You are loved. You are needed. You are important!
If we are to be healthy Soldiers and Officers, we must first be honest with ourselves and be willing to do a little soul-care from time to time. These internal battles won’t just go away if we just ignore them, we must confront them and in that confronting we can find healing and recovery!
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23
Something more for our Army world to ponder today!
To God Be The Glory…and remember, You are NOT alone!!