This series aims to promote awareness of the nature and reality of depression, encourage those who are battling depression, and equip those who want to help someone who is struggling. This post is part 2 in the series. Stay tuned for a new post each week, and find the rest of the series here.
There are dark alleys in our hearts where we choose to walk alone. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The first aspect of the human condition that God addressed wasn’t sin—it was not the lie of Adam and Eve in the garden or Cain’s murder of Abel. The first thing God that addressed was loneliness.
After completing the work of creation and surveying the panorama of all that God had made, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen 2:18). After declaring, “It is good,” seven times regarding creation in Genesis 1, this is the first thing of which God says, “It is not good.” The first thing that God recognized as wrong with creation was the plight of human loneliness. This is a significant theological and existential moment in the opening pages of Scripture.
It is also worth noting that the first spoken words in Scripture attributed to a human being are, “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23). After Adam’s animal-naming parade, he is finally presented with a peer. An equal. A partner. One gets the sense from the words “at last” that Adam had been feeling the effects of loneliness for some time—that the addition of Eve to the scene is a welcome, long sought-after development.
Now, this is not a marriage or dating spiel. Singleness need not equate to loneliness. I know single people whose lives are full of vibrant community, belonging, and acceptance. I know married people who feel empty, isolated, and disconnected. There are lonely people in every situation in life: single, married, rich, poor, old, young, etc.
Do we have a theology of loneliness?
Feeling alone is a crippling reality. It is like fumbling through a dark room for the light switch only to discover you can’t even find the wall. Loneliness creates an oppressive mixture of panic (“Why does no one love me?”), self-doubt (“I am unlovable.”), and despair (“No one will ever love me.”). These are voices from the enemy. They are lies. Do not listen to them.
Depressed people are lonely. They are often surrounded by people and have dozens of acquaintances, but feel that they don’t have a single friend. They are longing for connection—to feel that they belong, to have someone with whom they can be real and honest. They want someone to speak into their life. Someone who will listen. Someone who will journey with them. This can make all the difference.
Lack of purpose
Why am I here?
What good am I?
What’s the point of life? Of my life?
Why should I get out of bed today?
These are the kind of questions people battling depression ask constantly. Each day is a struggle for meaning and purpose. If you feel worthless, you feel you have nothing to add to the world. You believe that you have nothing to contribute to society. You may even begin to imagine that the world might be a better place without you in it. This is the downward spiral that leads many people to consider suicide, which I’ll address more fully in a later post.
Okay, I need you to listen closely. If you have the TV or radio on, turn them off. If your kids are playing around you, go to a quiet room and close the door. No distractions. You need to hear this—truly hear this.
Your life has purpose.
You are needed.
You have a part to play in the unfolding drama of humanity that no one else can play.
You have a voice to add to the chorus of humanity that no one else can add.
I know, you’re thinking, “Not me. I have no voice. I have no part to play.”
False. Wrong. Lies.
Refuse to believe them. Renounce these voices inside you.
Depression causes us to lose sight of ourselves.
Reclaim your identity as the beautiful, unique, and vital member of the human family that you are.
If you feel that the world is missing something, perhaps that something is you.
There is no one like you.
Find your voice.
Find your place.
In my next post, I will explore negative self-image as a common symptom of depression.
This material is taken from my book Rethinking Depression (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2016).