Why I Don’t Take Antidepressants

I’ve not been feeling myself for a while, and really there’s no reason for it.  A close friend is in hospital; a friend’s dad is also in hospital having had several heart attacks; another friend is schizophrenic, but those are their problems.  I shouldn’t be finding it difficult to cope with life.  One of my friends sometimes calls me ‘Chuckles’.  It’s my favourite nickname anyone’s ever given me.  I’ve not lived up to it lately, but I’d like to.

 

I was thinking seriously yesterday that if something didn’t change, I would go to the doctor for antidepressants, for the first time in over 13 years.  You see, I haven’t taken them since being a Christian.  In April 2000, I had the thought:  “Shall I go back on antidepressants?” but I decided that would make me no different to a non-Christian, and I had the Lord to help me through now.  He’s never let me down, but yesterday I was just so tired of feeling rubbish, and the thought kept going through my head all day.  Then last night, as I sat on the sofa thinking about it yet again, a Bible-verse came to me – the one about how God has given us everything we need for life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:3).  I realised going back on antidepressants would be like telling God I didn’t believe He’d given me everything I needed after all, and throwing all that He’d done for me these last 13 years back in His face.

 

I’d like to say everything changed from that point and I felt wonderfully peaceful, but I didn’t.  I went to bed thinking I’m not drinking enough, the house is a mess, I’m good for no one, and I can’t find the toothpaste.

 

This morning I woke up still feeling low.  Then something that Jarrod Cooper said on the radio came into my head.  “How is God going to fix you?  By His Word”, and that reminded me of one of my favourite verses:  “He sent forth His Word and healed them” (Psalm 107:20), so that got me out of bed.  On Bible Gateway, part of today’s ‘Verse of the day’ said:  “You should serve and honour God by the way you live” (2 Peter 3:11), so I thought what’s the first thing I can do to honour God today?  Probably tidy the house, so I started in the kitchen.  As I washed the dishes, another verse came into my head about how I’d been set free “from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers” (1 Peter 1:18).

 

Do you see what God is doing?  Fixing my mind in a way that antidepressants never could.  That’s why He’s so keen for us to read the Bible, and read it often.

 

So the house is less of a mess; I’m drinking properly today; I’m good for something, … and I found the toothpaste!

 

I know this post has been about me, but really I’m writing it to let you know that God’s love is there for you whatever stage you’re at, and His Word is there to fix you if you’ll let Him.

“Unglued” Chapter 11: Pause and Reflect

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,then you will find your joy in the Lord” – Isaiah 58:13-14.

* * *

This is my last chapter-post, and what a great way to end – with a post about God’s Sabbath-rest.  What does the word Sabbath mean to you?  Depending on your upbringing, it may simply be a day with lots of rules attached.  Or a day of rest, only to find you have double the work the following day.  I went through a phase about 6 or 7 years ago where I decided not to do work on a Sunday.  Dishes piled up, to the point where if visitors came unexpectedly towards the end of the afternoon, I’d shut the kitchen-door in embarrassment, and it was daft; I wouldn’t do my own dishes, but if someone else asked for my help with theirs, that was ok because that was serving!  I wouldn’t have dared admit it to you then, but I didn’t find that a delight.  Sticking rigidly to those sort of rules can become legalistic, not freeing, but that was a very necessary time for me – a time when I looked at lots of different areas of my life, to see if they aligned with what God wanted for me.  It showed me what I could do without and what I was obsessing too much about, so it really has freed me.  I suppose in a way, the whole of that time was a Sabbath.

 

Because I like how Lysa describes her Sabbath – a time to hit the pause button, and to reflect on her Christian journey.  She looks at the Bible-passage quoted above, and asks herself 3 questions:  Are there areas in her life where she’s going her own way, not God’s?  In what ways is she pleasing herself?  And what idle words need to be reined in?  She noticed that when she took care once a week to pause and reflect on her life, she felt more emotionally stable the rest of the time.  When I do the same, when I pause and reflect and spend time with God, that’s always something I find a delight.  It helps; strengthens; refreshes me.  I can’t think of a single time I’ve regretted it.

 

“Keep My Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us” – Ezekiel 20:20.  A sign of what?

 

“He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” – Colossians 2:15-17.  The Sabbath was pointing to a future reality that would be found in Christ.  When we think of our relationship with Jesus as our Sabbath-rest, we see it doesn’t have to be on a Sunday.

 

As Lysa says, “There are private conversations we need to have with God”.  When you next have some free time, will you spend it with Him?  Maybe it’ll mean leaving your dishes in the sink for a bit … or maybe it won’t, but I hope you’ll find it’s a delight.

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Thank you, Faith Without Borders people, for reading “Unglued” with us.  I’ve really enjoyed writing these posts, and chatting to you on Facebook.  Stay tuned for Jess’s post on the last chapter, and the group will still be there for a while if you want to keep in-touch with us.

 

Have you enjoyed it?  Would you like to see more book-studies on this blog in 2013?

Meekness

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“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” – Matthew 5:5.  The problem is, I’m not very meek.  The good news is, being made holy is a process and I can hope that I’ll get better.  Isn’t it good that we can have hope instead of just giving up?  If God didn’t love us so much, we wouldn’t be able to have that hope; He’d give up on us, but He doesn’t.  His love never fails.

The Rose

I went out to an Indian restaurant last night with a friend, and after our meal, we were both given a rose.  As we walked home, she told me:  “The waiter seemed to be wary of you.  He gave me mine, but he just put yours on the table in front of you” (she seemed to think my blindness had made him nervous), so I felt a bit of a freak for a while.

 

As I spent time with the Lord this morning, I asked Him:  “When I get to heaven, will You give me a rose?”

 

Straightaway, into my mind came Psalm 2:8, where God tells us to ask, and He’ll give us the nations.  Then I thought of Noah, and how God gave him everything (Genesis 9:3), and then it hit me.  When we get to heaven, the Bible says we’ll reign with Jesus.  Have we forgotten the awesomeness of that?  He won’t just give us one teensy little flower; He’ll give us authority over the whole earth!  Wow!

 

We’re not meant to feel like we don’t belong.  If we’re Christians, we may be strangers here in the world for a time, and odd in their eyes, but we fit perfectly into God’s kingdom.  Will you make a choice with me today to live like one who’s accepted?

“Unglued” Chapter 9: A Love Beyond Compare

I read chapter 9 (about comparison), and I’ll be honest; that has been a struggle for me, even though 2 Corinthians 10:12 tells us that:  “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”  I didn’t want to write a great long post about the people I’ve sometimes compared myself to, so I sat down and thought how I could do it differently.  This is what came:

* * *

Shall I look at someone greater, and so believe the lie

That what I have to give is not enough?

Shall I look at someone lesser, with an eye for all their faults –

Is that the only way to see my good?

 

Father, You’re so great; You sit in heavenly splendour,

And looking down at me, what do You see?

Your eyes see first the One who sits at Your right hand;

Fervent in His love, He pleads my case –

He’s more than enough.

 

And Father, when You look at me, do You list my faults –

The thoughts; the words; the misdeeds; the unspoken?

Your eyes see first His scarred hands and feet –

A love that hung on a cross to die –

A nail for each of these.

 

Father, I compare myself to no one,

Because You look at me through Him.

Invigorating Oil

I opened my E-mails this morning to read the devotional I start the day with.  It was about reading Scripture with fresh eyes, and it asked me to read a familiar passage from the Bible in a new translation, as if I was reading God’s love-letter for the very first time.

 

I didn’t want to put it off for later, so I went online and looked at Psalm 23.  In the Amplified Bible, there’s a footnote at the end about verse 5, where it says God anoints the Psalmist’s head with oil.  I knew it was the custom when somebody visited to pour oil on their head, to make them welcome, so when I read that verse, I’ll usually think how good it is that I’m welcomed by God, but today I learnt something new.  In hot climates, the footnote said, people’s bodies were anointed with oil to protect them from excessive perspiration and, mixed with perfume, it gave a refreshing, invigorating sensation.  Athletes poured oil on their bodies before they ran a race, to better fit them for action and so, in the same way, God anoints us with His Holy Spirit.

 

So now, when I read Psalm 23:5, I can remember not only that God welcomes me, but also that He refreshes me and renews my strength.

 

Have you let God invigorate you lately?

Glad to be Different

I went to the gym today.  If you’ve got an iPod, you can plug it into their machines and listen to your own music while you exercise; otherwise, you’re stuck with the stuff they play.  Sometimes I manage to block the music out, but today as I sat on the bike, a song came on the radio – one I remember listening to in the taxi on my way to primary school, so a song I’ve grown up with.  These were some of the lyrics:

“The bachelors phone up their friends for a drink

“While the married ones turn on a chat-show;

“And we’ll all be lonely tonight, and lonely tomorrow.

“And nothing ever happens” …  How depressing!  The only reason I’ve quoted it is that it made me so glad to be different!  Why does it seem ok to let our children grow up listening to hopelessness?  I can think of other songs I used to listen to that were either sad, or had lots of questions and no answers.  Where are the songs about living life to the full – about growing and hoping, because good things do happen after all?  As Christians, we’ve got a Friend who’s closer than a brother; we don’t have to be lonely for the rest of our lives.  Please, let’s think what messages are going into us and our children.

 

If ever you make a comment about how the church should be distinctly different, you might be laughed at.  The world thinks the church should get with-it or she’ll shrivel up and die, but they don’t see Jesus – the one who said “I will build My church”, and they don’t see the benefits of being one of His.  If they walked around every day, knowing God was at their side and believing He had good plans for their lives, they might find themselves choosing differently.  Perhaps they’d even see that when they thought they had their finger on the pulse, they were actually shrivelling up and dying.

Undesirable?

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” – Joshua 24:15.

 

No, it doesn’t seem undesirable to me to serve God.  Why would it?  I used to think as a teenager that the future looked bleak; now He’s given me life in all its fullness.  This week, I’ve enjoyed an amazing sermon at church, helped tell a Bible-story to children in a school assembly, taken minutes at 2 meetings, been to the gym, had my volunteer help me write Christmas cards, been out to tea with friends, etc.

 

Maybe you’re thinking it’s easy for me to want to serve God when all’s well.  What about when you’re struggling with a relative and every conversation you have seems to turn into an argument?  What about when you’re in a church, and the people are nice but it’s not your style – you don’t feel settled?  What about when finances are tight, and you can’t do the things you used to (like go to the gym)?  What about those times when the future still looks bleak and it seems like it’s just not happening?  In all those things, I haven’t stopped serving God.  Maybe I haven’t always loved Him with all my heart as I should, but deep-down I’ve had the assurance that He’s working for me (Romans 8:31) and He wants the best for me.  He delights in my wellbeing (Psalm 35:27).  When one person’s caused me grief, He’s given me others to come alongside me and help.  When church feels insufficient, there’s plenty of teaching online to supplement what you’re getting at church (I like listening to Jarrod Cooper on UCB).  When finances are tight, God provides in ways you couldn’t have foreseen.

 

Do you have a Father like my God?  Or does serving God seem undesirable to you?

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I had this in an E-mail today:  “Dear friend, you reading these scribbled words, you are created to live out an amazing love adventure with Jesus. …  You don’t ever have to feel like you are on the outside looking in again.”

 

Did you like that quote as much as I did?  You can read the rest of the post here.