Depression is a cunning device Satan can use to lure people away from their destiny. We once knew a pastor suffering severe despondency. He determined that his dysfunctional church caused him to fall into this state. His solution? Leave that church for another. For a time after the move, his eyes sparkled again and he didn’t need to cheerlead himself out of bed each morning.
His new church loved him and initially embraced his innovative ideas and fresh energies. However, people are people wherever you go. Some are committed to being contentious. Challenges and conflict arose. Sadly, within a year, this dear man suffered a nervous breakdown.
During my teaching years, I accepted a position as a high school vocal teacher rather reluctantly. I’d taught in this field before joyfully, and served for many years as a minister of music. My heart changed, though. I still loved music but I didn’t want to teach or oversee it anymore. I yearned to teach secondary English, my second college major, but every door I knocked on closed firmly.
After eight months of teaching music again, I felt depressed and discouraged. No longer a young woman, it appeared that my dream of sharing literature and language in a classroom would not come to pass. I toyed with the idea of quitting, but knew that God planted me in that school. I came soooooo close to checking out.
Shortly after I resolved to accept God’s placement for me, my principal came into my classroom one Spring day and said, “How’d ya like to teach sophomore English next year?” Would I?!? My excitement made it easy to use every morning of that summer to prepare lesson plans. Those years of teaching sophomore, and eventually freshman English also, are some of my fondest education memories. What if I’d turned in my letter of resignation earlier that Spring like I wanted to? Near misses like that scare me.
Lest you think I’m quite the hero, I’ve quit on a few things due to depression. Sometimes it’s been small items like a craft or interior design project. Other times it’s more significant, like a relationship that became strained or challenging in some way.
When you are depressed, everyday troubles become magnified. It’s climbing a mountain to perform the daily activities of life. When you feel like jobs, ministries and relationships become additional mountains, it’s tempting to quit. The idea of leaving something or someone begins to sound like an excellent solution, but it seldom is.
Making life decisions when you’re gloomy is a risky business. Deal with the roots of your melancholy first. Start with your doctor to eliminate any physical causes. There are many kinds of depression caused by a variety of health issues. Even though yours may be rooted in your chemistry, depression still affects your emotions profoundly, and your decision-making abilities.
If there are no physical causes and you are chronically blue, it’s even more unwise to make life altering decisions. Depression is a normal emotion when we experience sorrowful events. When it becomes your dominant emotion for an extended period, that’s a problem. It might be highly beneficial for you to seek out professional help for some wisdom and objectivity. Ultimately you may make some major life changes if indeed something in your daily life is the main source of your unhappiness.
Until you discover the root of your sadness though, don’t assume it’s your circumstances, job or relationships. In the case of my teaching job, it was that situation. My unfulfilled dreams made me profoundly sad. Nevertheless, God didn’t release me from that position because He knew good things, that I couldn’t imagine, were just around the corner.
At other times, chemical imbalances caused depression in me. I blamed circumstances and relationships but they weren’t the cause. How sad that I walked away from people and situations because I didn’t take the time to figure out what was truly brewing inside of me.
I’ll restate plainly; don’t quit on something due to depression. If the problem is you, leaving won’t solve it. In fact, it may intensify your sorrow.
I know what it’s like to keep a pleasant face and work hard while all you want to do is crawl in bed and pull the covers over your head. Doing this day after day is exhausting. Pray. Ask God to lead you to someone who can help you uncover the roots of your depression. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally…” (James 1:5 NIV). Meanwhile, don’t run from wherever God has placed you for now.