Sunday, May 15, 2011

Opening Up.

I am one of about 10-15% of Americans.

I have depression. 

In my early teenage years I struggled with depression for a couple of years and I thought that was all behind me, but then in December it came back and by the beginning of March, it was back with a vengeance. It was beginning to seriously affect my life and was stealing my happiness away from me. All I wanted to do was eat and sleep and eat some more. The things that I used to take pleasure in, I no longer enjoyed.

You know the commercials for depression pills where the people have to wind up the little figurines of themselves? That's how I felt - like I had to wind myself up just to get out of bed each morning. At my lowest point, I experienced something that totally opened my eyes to how others feel: I didn't want to live anymore.

It's not that I was suicidal. I didn't want to kill myself; I just wanted to cease existing. It was so strange to experience that, and that was when I knew I needed help. So after 3 months of keeping this intensely personal battle a secret, I made one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make: I told someone about my depression.

Doing that was one of the most TERRIFYING things I've ever done.Honestly, I was worried that it would cause me to carry a stigma. I was worried that people would think of me differently and would behave differently around me. And you know what? Some people did. But that's ok.

Going public with my depression has been one of the greatest and most humbling things I've ever done. I prayed about it for awhile and decided that I needed to be on display with my depression because I believed God would glorify Himself through it. So I decided that if I was gonna gonna go in, I was gonna go ALL in. I cannonballed into the water by telling my parents, my fellow staff members, my GrowGroup family, and a few others as I felt necessary about my battle. 

By being open about it, God has opened up so many opportunities for me to minister to other. I can't tell you how many times I was transparent with someone about my depression and I saw their disposition totally change. It was like new life was breathed into them as they realized they weren't the only ones. Every time I told someone about my depression and saw how God used it to bring healing to them, I also felt healed a bit.

As treatment for my depression, I started counseling. Let me say, I have always had massive respect for our counseling team at Del Sol but it wasn't until I actually started going to counseling with Justin that I fully understood and appreciated what God does through our amazing counseling team. They have so many great resources that can really help you find healing in God and be transformed as you put into action the plan they give you. I am amazingly grateful to our counseling team for helping me through this.

So now, 4 and a half months into this ordeal, I'm at a point where I feel better because I am transformed. I don't know if I'll ever be "healed", but honestly I don't know if that's even the point. But I do know that Romans 12 talks about being transformed by the renewing of your mind, and I know that 2 Corinthians 1:4 says that God comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others with the same comfort God gives us.

In other words, my depression can be a ministry. So if I'm never healed, but God can use my pain to minister to others ...I'm ok with that.

Psalm 3:3 says that God will lift up my head. I can't even count how many times since December I have asked the Lord to be the lifter of my head and restore to me my joy. He has answered my prayer because there is incredible power in prayer.

So now that you know about my struggle, will you pray for me?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My thoughts on Osama bin Laden

Three days ago it was announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Sadly, right away it seems that Christians were divided about this into two groups: the group who celebrated justice being served and the group that mourned the death of a man who is now spending an eternity without Christ. Some quoted a verse from Ezekiel which says that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. Others - myself included - quoted verses talking about the justice and righteousness of God triumphing over evil.

Let me just say to start that I should have thought before I posted anything. I learned a big lesson from all this.

Now a few days after the fact, having had plenty of time to think about it and listening to the perspective of Christians I respect who stand on opposing sides of the issue, here are my conclusions.

The death.

First, I don't think anyone would argue that his death was just and was not murder. That being said, as Christians I believe we should do two things with equal energy:

1. We should mourn the death of a wicked man who has now entered a Christ-less eternity. If you have even the slightest idea of what a horrible place hell is like, you would understand why there should be absolutely no pleasure in knowing that OBL is there. Hell is a terrible place, horrible beyond description, and we should take no pleasure in even someone as depraved and wicked as OBL or Hitler being there. Anyone - ANYone - being in hell is a terribly sad thing which we should mourn.

2. We should celebrate the fact that justice has been done. We should not celebrate the death, but we should celebrate the fact that good triumphed over evil and justice was served. The Bible is very clear that the primary role of government is to protect its people. Romans 13 reminds us that the government "bears a sword" for a reason, and the job of government is to bring justice swiftly and fairly. So the fact that an enemy of the State was found out and eliminated as a threat to our nation is right and just because it is a triumph, and that is something to celebrate. There's nothing wrong with rejoicing in the triumph of good over evil, and we should all be tremendously proud of our soldiers for a job very well done.

To embrace one of these viewpoints without the other is (in my opinion) wrong, shortsighted, and shows a lack of a proper understanding of the Bible. Honestly when I first heard the news I embraced #2 without embracing #1 and that was wrong. When it comes to OBL's death, I would encourage you to ask if you are responding to this in a Godly way and repent if necessary, like I've done.

The photos.

Today the President announced that the government would not release the photo of Bin Laden's corpse. He was quoted as saying "We don't trot out this stuff as trophies". When I first heard this, I didn't know how to feel about it. My first instinct was that the government should release the photo so that every American who wants to can see it, as was done with the corpse of Saddam Hussein.

But after a little more thought, I've come to realize there are some good arguments for both releasing and not releasing the photos. One of the arguments against releasing the image is that it will incite muslim terrorists to attack. I think that's a pretty weak argument because terrorists are gonna attack either way. They're gonna be angry about the news alone and releasing a photo won't really do much more to incite them.

I think the best argument I've heard for not releasing the photos is that we should take the higher ground that muslim terrorists and not stoop down to their level of parading these kinds of things around. That seems to be the approach our President is taking and I see some validity to it.

The other argument I've heard is that the government owes it to the citizens of America to prove that our number one enemy had been eliminated. That to dispel rumors and conspiracy theories, the government should be open and honest and show the proof that justice has been served, again, like they did with Hussein.

As a Christian, I agree that we should take the higher ground. But our government is not a theocracy. This is a secular government and because of that, they should release the photos and the video of the burial at sea. There will always be conspiracy theories, but the average American citizen has the right to know the truth and the best way to prove what has been done is through photos and videos.

What do you think about all this? Do you agree or disagree with my conclusions?