Overcoming Depression: Holding on to Love

Some people don’t like the word faith. I can understand that. It’s rather unnerving having to trust something you can’t see. But the odd thing about faith, is that we exhibit it every day. Every time we sit in a chair we trust it will hold us. The one that always blows my mind is how a jumbo jet stays in the air with all that weight just because it has wings. But I exhibit faith each time I get on a plane trusting it will get me to my destination.

There are plenty of things we can’t see. The wind, wifi, the actual waves in a microwave, the facility that makes the chocolate we munch on…and love. We see the effect of the wind on the trees and we know it’s real. Our food gets hot in a minute inside this electric box. Amazing. Love is harder to quantify. I have a 9-month-old and I sure love the little bugger. My hope is that my hugs, kisses and cuddling will help him know he is loved and secure. There would be big consequences in his life if he wasn’t a recipient of that affection.

Love is a feeling that isn’t visible, but we know when we feel it. Love is also a verb, an action we extend or feel the effects of. We exhibit faith when we trust that when a person says they love us that they really mean it. When there is no one saying it, or even extending it in our life, there are big consequences. We need love. We need to know we are loved. Life becomes difficult and depressing if we don’t have that need met. There are two distinct manifestations of not “feeling” loved: first is not having anyone in our lives to tell or show us, the second is not believing we are loved even when there are people in our lives that love us. I’m only going to address the second one in this blog.

On Saturday I tweeted that “I am deeply loved and it set me free.” 1.25 million people have seen that tweet according to twitter. I’m no one special, but that says to me that knowing you are deeply loved resonates with people. How do I know that I am deeply loved? I didn’t always feel that way. I’ve wrestled with truly believing someone loves me when I perceived something otherwise. It’s taken me learning how to trust something unseen…faith…to be able to get to this spot.

I changed jobs a few years after college and moved close to where a roommate from college lived. I loved him like a brother, and was excited to live close to my friend. He had a demanding job and a very filled life with friends, and he never drove the 25 miles to come and visit. I always had to drive his way if we were going to hang out. Usually this didn’t bother me all that much, because I loved spending time with him. But I wrestled at times when he didn’t initiate as much as I did and never came my direction…does he really love me? In counseling I talked about this. Do I believe he loves me even if he isn’t around? Even if he doesn’t tell me or has too much going on? I would ask and he would affirm his appreciation of our friendship. So I had a choice–believe what he said even if he wasn’t always around to say it, or don’t believe it and live with that anxiety. Numerous times I talked to myself out loud saying “Junior loves me even if he isn’t here. Bev loves me even if she isn’t here. Chris loves me even if he isn’t here.” I talked to myself out loud a lot that year. I was convincing myself, but it was also a step of faith.

Kind of like the bridge in the photo above. Taken in Shrewesbury, UK a number of years back, it perfectly illustrates what I’m talking about. I can’t see the building because of the bridge, but I know it’s there. I know it’s there because I saw it before moving to the spot I took the photo, and I know it’s there because I see the reflection. I could choose to not believe it is there, but I have the quandary of seeing the reflection and the memory of having seen it with my eyes. I have to take on faith (or simpler, I trust) that the building is there. Trust doesn’t seem so mysterious when we look at this image. How come it seems so mysterious when it comes to other things?

Holding on to love is trusting that someone loves us even when they aren’t there currently to tell or show you. It took a while but I began to believe that my friends deeply loved me even when time had passed apart from them. I had faith they did. It was a game changer for me. Part of my depression was feeling unloved or not knowing I was loved. I would never have come out of my depression until I truly believed that I was loved even if no one was nearby to tell me. I had to believe my counselor loved me and cared for me even though I was limited to one hour a week with him. I had to cling to the truth even though there was no immediate way to affirm that truth. I needed faith in order to come out of my depression.

There is another way I know I am deeply loved. Believe it or not, God the Father says it. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” He says in the Bible’s book of Jeremiah. I can choose not to believe that He loves me because He doesn’t show up daily as the mailman. OR I can choose to trust He loves me even when it is written in a book penned 2000 years ago. I choose to believe it because I see the effect of His love resounding around me, like the reflection of the building in the image. I see His reflection in my wife, my family and friends, in the situations around me. I never see God, I see his reflections everywhere. To know it is an everlasting love that is never withdrawn is so crucial for me. I hope it can be for you too. I would have never come out of my depression without believing God’s love for me, or without His help.

Believing you are loved even if there is no one in immediate proximity telling you, is essential to a balanced self esteem. But you are going to have to trust that it is true even if you can’t see it. Having the power of a choice is key to coming out from under the cloud of depression. Holding on to love is a choice. You need to choose to believe you are deeply loved. I have to make that choice every day to believe it. But that is what gives me hope. And that is how I can say that I have been set free. Set free from depression because I hold on to love. Is that a bridge you are willing to cross over?

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