For a variety of reasons, many churches are not places of welcome and rest for those struggling with depression. The helpless silences and perceived judgmentalism can have tragic consequences.
In Depression in the Church, my sister, Alison Hall, courageously tells her own story of suffering in the darkness and of breaking through the deceptions and misconceptions that afflict many Christian communities. She honestly tells her story and then offers very practical, hopeful, and biblical counsel for those who suffer or who love those who find themselves so afflicted.
I’m a proud big brother, but I’m also confident that many will be blessed by Alison’s hopeful reflections.
10 thoughts on “Christians & Depression”
Tim: For your sister and any others not already familiar with them I recommend my friends Steve and Robyn Bloem’s book and ministry.
Their book is Broken Minds: Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You’re Losing It (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2005); on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Minds-Healing-Youre-Losing/dp/0825421187 [accessed 14 MAY 2014].
Steve and Robyn’s ministry web site is Heartfelt Counseling Ministries at http://www.heartfeltmin.org/ [accessed 14 MAY 2014].
Steve’s blog is sbloemreflections at http://sbloemreflections.blogspot.com/ [accessed 14 MAY 2014].
TheBloem’s seem to have much in common with your sister and what she presents in her book.
Thanks for this, John!
Dyfed Wyn Roberts
I’ve had mixed experiences of being depressed in church. I’ve been wonderfully supported by some sensitive people but I’ve also been criticised and judged. This mixed picture is seen across the whole church spectrum – liberal and conservative.
No doubt, you’re right. When you find a church community shaped by love and a warm welcome for the broken, you’ve found something precious, indeed!
Thanks for pointing us to this Tim. Both of my parents attempted suicide, my father came to faith in the aftermath of one attempt, and he attempted suicide again 7 years later. He battled deep depression, and our whole family battled it with him. The pastor of the church we were part of was fantastic, and he encouraged my dad to write when he was depressed, and the result was some poetry which (whilst it wouldn’t win any literary competitions) left a legacy of a man who loved the Lord and was honest about his experiences. I have ordered a copy of your sister’s book which is available on Amazon UK.
Thanks for this, Jackie! I hope you find it helpful.
To Alison’s Brother:
Having a supportive brother like you I’m sure is a rich source of grace and encouragement to Alison. We hope for a wide reading for her book. Thanks for posting its arrival.
That is so true Tim. Thank you for those comments. You know–my best girlfriend was looking for your wife because she wanted to ask her about her vertigo episode and about our women’s retreat. So if you feel comfortable, you can zip me a quick note. Thank you.
This isn’t a fault that lies only with the church, but society. In this case church reflects society. Even then it’s not obvious the fault lies outside of the victim of depression at all.
As a veteran of Afghanistan struggling with PTSD I can attest that the church seems less welcoming after than before, yet I’m confident the ‘church’ hasn’t changed at all, or the people within. The change lies with me. It took years to accept that a problem existed at all.
Even then, it’s a terribly shameful problem to confess to others, a weakness that should not exist. It’s hard to see compassion in the attempt. How can any other who has no experience struggling with an unseen injury such as this (depression/PTSD) be expected to relate, when the victim doesn’t know how to relate? There’s an unspoken expectation that they cannot.
No, depression and other mental injuries separate victims from their communities by the nature of the injury. That’s not to say compassion and Christian patience cannot bridge the chasm; but it’s difficult to build a bridge from separate sides of a chasm to meet in the middle.
This is a helpful insight Andrew, when my father struggled with his depression, he felt isolated from the church even though there were men (including the pastor) who took time to visit him and listen to him. His mind was believing lies about himself, and so he wrote a resignation letter. The pastor, having received the letter by post, came right away to see him and asked if he would reconsider and take the letter back. This very practical response got through, and my dad was able to believe that he had a place in the fellowship. That was by no means the end of his struggles, but it was a victory.
Your personal experience helps me understand something of what my dad went through, May the Lord be your strength, and may your church fellowship be the embodiment of the gospel to you.