We serve a right on time God.
It never ceases to amaze me how the idea He puts in my heart for our loved and blessed box of encouragement is always aligned with an area of my own life that I need encouragement in.
The battle begins
There is a certain stigma that comes with admitting you battle depression. When you’re a Christian, people make assumptions about what that means about your faith. What I’ve learned is that the more transparent I am about it, the more encouragement I actually receive. It’s a bit of a catch 22. If you hold it inside and try to battle on your own, you can save face. But if you open up, seek help and let people know when you’re struggling it will put a smile on your face, because you realize you’re not alone. I can testify that there are others who can relate and there are more people that care about your wellbeing than you think.
It’s like our relationship with Christ. If we try to go it alone and neglect spending time with Him and seeking His care, we avoid dealing with our issues; what’s truly causing our stress and our anxiety. But if we let down our guard and truly call out to Him for help, He will uplift our spirit and give us the clearness of mind and strength to make it through.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression in my 30s. I had battled it my whole life, but it wasn’t until I was a newlywed, in a season that should have been the happiest of my life, that I found myself in a major depression. With the support of my husband, I accepted that I needed help. Initially I felt ashamed that I couldn’t “snap out of it”, but speaking to a therapist helped me recognize that there is no shame in admitting that I needed someone to help me get out of my own head, sort through my feelings and understand how they were affecting my life.
It was such a season of constant spiritual warfare. There were times when I was so depressed that I couldn’t think one positive thought. All I could do was repeat and meditate on these paraphrases of scripture.
Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Pressed, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Your grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
These became my mantras that got me through some really tough moments. Eventually through a lot of prayer, some very deep therapy sessions and a short stint on antidepressants, I was able to get back to a place where I could choose to be joyful again.
When I started this post I mentioned how amazing it is how God uses our loved and blessed boxes to minister to my own heart as much as to the hearts of the women who receive them.
Well for the past few months I’ve found myself not feeling well physically. I’ve had a bunch of what seemed like random symptoms, aches and pains. It turns out that many of them were caused by my emotional state. I didn’t realize what a toll the stress of being a Christian entrepreneur had put on my health.
I’m a workaholic. I know that. I got my work ethic from my parents who taught me the importance of always doing your best and working hard to achieve your goals. Like any business owner I work late nights and weekends, don’t get enough exercise and skip meals in order to make sure everything is running smoothly. But for me there is an added level of emotional energy that I expend because loved and blessed isn’t just a business. It’s my personal ministry. It truly is the legacy that I believe God gave me in place of a child.
Beyond designing and manufacturing every piece of encouragement that goes into our monthly care packages, I spend time in our community sharing my heart and praying for our members. I have phone calls and email exchanges with loved and blessed ladies who are seeking advice on how to handle challenging situations in their lives. I absolutely love what I do. And I have also come to recognize that it takes a lot out of me.
I shared recently about all the aches and pains I’ve been feeling. So after seeing a bunch of doctors about all my symptoms, it comes down to this……I was stressed out. My symptoms were a physical manifestation of what I didn’t fully recognize was going on inside my mind.
It took me a few days to process this realization and I laughed because I thought, “Really Lord? So in the midst of me working on a box of encouragement themed ‘Uplift’ I find myself in a battle with anxiety and depression?”
Then God reminded me of why I started loved and blessed in the first place. It was to uplift the spirit of other women who are feeling stress, anxiety or depression about the challenges in their lives too. It is to help women learn how to live life encouraged, no matter what they face. It’s to help women learn how to choose joy over despair.
God used the process of me working on this “uplift” themed box to remind me of my purpose but also to remind me that encouragers need encouragement too. That I need to make time to encourage myself so that I can continue to be full of His Spirit and encourage you.
I’m transparent about my own struggles in the hope that it will encourage you to be open about yours. Don’t suffer in silence. Proactively find ways to encourage yourself and make them a part of your lifestyle. If you want tips and strategies on how to do that, I hope you’ll join our community. As the Lord continues to bless me with ideas I’ll continue to share them with you and we can live a more encouraged life together.
I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.
When you experience depression, how do you uplift your spirit?
Jamila is the founder of loved+blessed. On her personal mission to leave a legacy of encouragement, she blogs about her own life lessons with the hope that it will bring joy into others lives and help them find the courage to keep walking in faith knowing that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Read her testimony of how God turned her misery into ministry.