Today I woke up less than enthusiastic at the thought of facing another day, fighting gloomy feelings and a heaviness in my spirit that I didn’t really understand.
Some mornings are like that, more mornings than I like to admit. I just don’t feel like waking up. There is a heaviness to life which makes sleep preferable. I just feel down. Down in the dumps. Weighed down with more than I feel willing to carry.
Today I asked myself and God why I sometimes get so low, depressed even. What causes it? Where is the problem? Why do I wake up with a groan instead of a sense of delight?
I know when I get empty inside that I have been trying to fill up on the wrong things and they have left me dissatisfied. But there is perhaps something else going on too when I begin to feel depressed, a bit unhappy, and a bit like giving up. Could it have to do with some mistaken goals in my life, goals like my children’s good behaviour, like having a husband who understands me in the deepest part of me, a loving and appreciative family and close friends? These are good things to want but I cannot and shouldn’t make them the basis of my happiness. I can want them, I can pray for them and I can even have a measure of influence over whether these things happen. But, ultimately, other people determine how they will behave towards me and towards each other. When other people’s behaviour becomes the source of my happiness, I am on precarious ground indeed. I put other people in control of my emotional state and, naturally, I feel very insecure. Neil Anderson, author of “The Bondage Breaker” writes that depression is the end result of making goals out of good desires, which are not within our power to fulfil. I call it by the good old-fashioned word “idolatry”, that is, making idols out of legitimate desires and seeking our happiness, our security or our significance in their fulfilment. Whether we call them wrong goals or idols, the end result is the same. They leave us depressed when we don’t get what we pinned our hopes on. They leave us frustrated, insecure and finally depressed with the ups and downs of other people’s decisions.
When my joy is based on how much other people, such as my husband and children, love, appreciate, respect/obey me, I set myself up for emotional volatility, for disappointment, discouragement, frustration and ultimately the depression of defeat. I set myself on a course where happiness becomes an uphill struggle, a burden and an endless treadmill of effort. But equally when I seek to feel good by being good, by measuring up to the standard I have set myself, life becomes drudgery and I wake up weary to face another day of the same. Either way the pursuit of happiness becomes a weary burden on my shoulders. But Jesus invites us to come to Him, to lay down our burdens and to take His yoke and His burden upon us, because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. There is a way of living this life which is not a constant struggle with the consequences of sinful choices whether mine or someone else’s, or with the effort to avoid sin. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” At the end of the day my joy and my security cannot come from other people, my circumstances or even my own “successes”. It has to come from my relationship with Jesus, from trusting Jesus and looking to Him for EVERYTHING I need. My delight must come from walking with Him, trusting Him with today, trusting Him with tomorrow, trusting Him with the people and the circumstances of my life. That is the starting place for true happiness. True happiness comes at the point when I realise that Jesus is ALL I really need and that I already have Him.
I got out of bed weary this morning, despite the feasting of the twelve days of Christmas, or perhaps because of it, weary from the effort of having a good time with my family, weary of seeking rest and relaxation. But my very weariness reminded me that only Jesus can truly refresh me within. Only He can lift the burden from my shoulder. Only He can be what I truly need. Only His love will satisfy the lonely places within that not even my husband and children can reach. Only His presence can give me courage to face the unpredictability of circumstances. Only in Him can I truly rest. Without Him, sooner or later, life becomes an unbearable burden. With Him, and through Him, I can do all things.
Sometimes I feel like Martha, distracted with all her preparations to prepare a wonderful feast and welcoming environment for the Lord Jesus.Like Martha, I get distracted with all the elements that I think should be “just right” in my life. My goals get muddled up and I end up frustrated.
“But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42)
What would be left if all the different layers of my life were stripped away? All the things I set such store by? Would anything be left? Without Jesus, I would have nothing. With Him I have everything. Why strive for more?
My shoulders are weary and my soul needs rest. It’s time even now to choose the good part, to sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus and listen to His word. That is the one thing that is necessary. He will take care of the rest.