As always, I hope this greeting finds you in good spirits. If not, just hang in there, and know that it usually passes and you'll soon be fine.
I want to piggyback from the lyrics and music of the video I posted for the month of September in the sense that I want to bring encouragement into the lives of more people.
I don't want to gloss over people who read my posts who feel depressed at times. We don't always feel "honky dory." I know better. We're human wrapped up in different packages, feeling at times the lows that stem from the sins and frailties of our human existence.
In light of the above comments, I'm going to risk sounding repetitive to a degree, because I want to hammer hard at addressing these distressed moments on this particular posting which will focus on depression. Depression as I personally see it. My little take on it that comes not necessarily from something I've read in a book. These are not the words written by a professionally licensed person (like a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor).This is me holding a life experience degree (LED). So if I sound foolish or presumptuous, I'm game.
(If you are truly pressed for time or simply don't want to read all of my ramblings, simply cut to the chase by going to subtitle #6)
1. PERSONAL THOUGHTS
We all have our down or depressing moments. Sometimes, those moments seem explainable. Other times, there seem no justification for them. We think about how bad things are in the world or how sad everyone seems. And even those things we describe as silly—like crying sad tears for no particular reason—are signs of something. The point is that depression strikes. It strikes the weak and the strong, and being that it is a part of life, if it doesn't strike soon, it will strike us later. I've surely had my share.
A few months back, I ventured into some in-your-face areas on the Internet. After spending more time than I should have, it didn't take long before I realized what was happening. Not long after leaving my computer to talk to my husband, it was like wham! Depression in a flash. I knew my diagnosis, because I knew certain thoughts brought me down as they had before. I scolded myself for allowing curiosity to lure me from my usual routine (bible study, writing, and family and household activities). That was a mistake.
Was my smooth sailing set to end? I had been on a rather lengthy ride, enjoying too much spiritual sunshine. Negativity did its duty-bound thing when a door was left ajar. So, really, I'm not surprise at all. This is standard fare. You know how it goes. We usually say it with the devil. Give him but a small opening, and it's enough to cause havoc. In my case, the havoc was depression. And you know what? I wouldn't be surprised if you told me a similar story.
Now with that being said, your response might me a sympathetic apology or a rude or incredulous dah? You may be thinking there's no ingenuity needed to figure that there's a connection between
actions and thoughts that are both negative, and that these can explain much of our sad or depressing moments. What would be neat is a recipe or way to conquer depression or low spirits, preferably for good. But you're thinking realistically that a total elimination is never going to happen so you'll settle for any improvement.
Well, some years back I did come up with a "recipe" that works well for me, and for it to work, I had to make some changes in my life. One change relates to news consumption. You see, I was once a news junkie, and I'm still one. The difference now is I'm making every attempt to move away from the bad news and more toward the good news. And no, I'm not advocating an irresponsible departure from the "essential news." Whatever that is. But, these days, it's my husband who turns on the tube, and that's where I have a few encounters with news matter that's connected with the harsh realities of life. As for me, I've grown more circumspect in general, and I exercise greater control over the amount of good and bad news I hear or read daily.
With that decision locked in, that gives me a vacation of sorts. It's one I'm enjoying. It's long and well-needed. I'm using it to bring balance to my life and to recapture and maintain a serenity and sanity I once thought for sure I had lost. I'm trying to become as close to being "really" normal as possible (of course, some abnormality is good). I believe most people, those who haven't quite gone over the edge, want it as desperately as I do. Maybe that's you. I want for you that sparkle of hope. Take your vacation. You need it. If I'm correct, you, as I do, have a sense that too much bad news has taken its toil on you. Correction procedures are long overdue. Let's act in the best interests of our spirituality.
2. PREVIEW TO A PLAN
The sooner we start these healthful procedures, the sooner we can see results. We don't need to continue in our suffering. Make room for good nutrition. Just as we aspire to consume the proper foodstuff for the physical body, so must we also aspire to consume the proper thought-food for the spiritual head of that same body. Be aware that Imbalances generally are not good, and an imbalance with respect to the type of news upon which we fill our spirit is also not good if bad news overwhelms the good news. How can it be when all the pieces are not properly placed to reflect the true reality of our situation or circumstance? The picture being evaluated is incomplete and so that makes it inaccurate. The element of perspective (at least proper perspective) is not there, and this leads to a false analysis, along with manifestations that are damaging such as sadness, lack of motivation, tiredness, etc.
Now, to counteract the damage, I'm offering a plan to combat the less serious moments that may be described by words like doldrums, blahs and blues. I hope you'll get something out of the plan I'm suggesting. Maybe you'll be motivated to create your own ideas or plan, something you feel would have the personal tailoring that would make for a plan more apt to be a success for you. For the clinical or biologically based forms of depression, you should probably seek the advice of a professional. This is a plan for those who, for the most part, know they're likely to bounce out of their depression, but don't mind a little assistance to get out of that rough path they're in now.
3. THE GOOD NEWS-BLESSEDNESS PLAN
GOOD NEWS—As I may have alluded to, if bad news can depress a spirit, it seems to stand that good news can uplift one. So, with that premise in mind, again, I'm suggesting we consume more good news than bad, or at the very least, strive for a balance. I will start the ball rolling by calling out the good news presented in example #1 (Scroll down), as we move along in the discussion. With this and other good news, I suggest the following:
Read it and then re-read it. Several times even. If possible, give an acknowledgment of thanks to the person or source from which it was received. Some of you may want to do this through a prayer to God, who is the Source of all good news. Include in the prayer your gratitude for every opportunity for a fellowship and/or a positioning to receive good news and for any other news like it to come.
Express the eagerness with which you await good news and how your soul hungers for the wellness that's attained by the hearing or receiving of it. Practice reciprocity and spread good news to others that they may benefit as well. Learn to be intentionally thankful for all the grace and compassion that God provides during your sojourn on this earth. Above all, give God glory for His love and all that He's done and will continue to do.
BLESSEDNESS—As difficult as it may be, let's put into practice actions that will absorb into our conscientiousness the biblical view that YOU (and I) ARE BLESSED. Now this sort of ties in with the Good News portion of the plan, because good news provides not only a benefit to our spiritual well-being (because it tends to ward off depression), good news also includes the recognition that our blessedness itself is good news bestowed upon us by God. Our blessedness helps us in the midst of negativity, because we come to see that our blessedness is much greater than the negativity that surrounds us. Greater is the blessedness in us than the negativity that is in the world. When we fully grasp the depth of our blessedness, I believe we'll likely to complain less. If we succeed at that, I see more time and positive energy for using what we have to get what we'd like to have. Our needs will be taken care of first when God is in the plan.
As we grasp the depth of our blessedness, we'll become more acutely aware and appreciative of it. We know that things could have been the opposite of the good we are experiencing now in our lives. Sticking to the good/bad theme, chew upon this: Would we not know (or appreciate) one without the other's existence? In other words, how could we define what is evil (or bad), if we don't know what good is? Or vice versa? I'm not trying to get too philosophical here, but I believe there's a valid connection that deserves mentioning. Now, let's get down to business.
GOOD NEWS EXAMPLE #1—A close friend shared with me some rather good news about hepatitis C. After being a part of an experimental program using a special drug for this particular hepatitis, the person is now free of the disease. The virus is no longer in the blood stream!
MORE INFO ABOUT GOOD NEWS—Now Example #1 is good news, especially for those who suffer from the disease. Now this news is just one piece among many other pieces of good news. The task before us is seeking it out or turning to sources where there's a healthy flow of it. We must remember that the news we are more accustomed to is the kind whose goal is this: to serve us an unhealthy plateful of bad news. Rarely is it good.
Though some news organizations are on a bandwagon for change, let us be proactive in our quest. Seek and yea shall find. Good news is out there. Don't be deluded to the point of your own detriment. Meditate on the good news of the gospel or a particular verse. Or even the beautiful, yet truth-filled lyrics to a song. If you're not quite ready to part totally with the bad, that's alright. You can always come back if you must, as long as you don't gobble it all down at once. Just remember the principle of balancing the good against the bad.
MORE INFO ABOUT BLESSEDNESS—Instead of focusing in on your problems or worries in your conversations, or even in your thinking, try conversations that center around your blessings. And we all have them, including the every-day-taken-for-granted type of blessings. For example, I'm in a conversation with someone, and I may say along the way, "I'm blessed to have a place to lay down my head. There are so many who don't have that, even Jesus Christ, during his earthly ministry fits into that category." In fact, a good exercise would be to take the time to jot down your blessings. It helps to list them in black and white and to actually see them.
Post them in a place where you can see and be reminded of them daily. This is something that I believe would be beneficial if only for the fact that it's rarely done, and when it is done, it allows for the possibility of greater instilment within your very fiber. Doing this gives you a hard copy and internalizes the blessings, making them seem more real and something like a receipt.
There's a well-known hymn that says, "Count Your Many Blessings." We have the blessings of our sustenance which are food, shelter, and clothing. But preceding these three, we have LIFE! It's at the top of the list. Others follow. Just list them. Count them. Dare I say, prioritize them? If you think you can handle it, start two columns: one for posting your blessings, and the other for your worries or concerns. See which list contains more. I'm willing to bet your blessings will far exceed the worries/concerns which are contained in the second column. The key is perspective. This helps me tremendously.
One caveat I must give. Don't compare your blessings to someone else's. For example, if someone else has a financial blessing, don't discount your blessing as being less. You don't know the road that person had to travel to get where he or she is. All that glitters is not gold. You may have a physical blessing or a spiritual blessing the other person would rather have, but that's unbeknownst to you. It's better that we all learn to be a blessing to one another and to position ourselves for a blessing to occur. That's a nobler undertaking than engaging in harmful acts or harboring thoughts of jealousy and ill-will.
4. THE PLAN: GETTING MENTALLY PREPARED FOR ASSIGNMENT #1
I'd like you to read a poem. (You may want to stop here, and scroll down to the poem in section #8, if you don't want me to spoil your initial reaction to it). I'm not the author of it, but my hope is to get a certain reaction from you. If it's not the right one, you'll know, and it's left up to you whether you wish to proceed or not. I say this because I know there are those with personalities that may mock or scoff at attempts such as the one I'm making. It may or may not be that you have a high degree of skepticism. If your level of skepticism is high, then you're likely to find your prophesy for failure to be self-fulfilling. In which case, this is not the plan for you.
But that is not going to stop me from hoping and praying that there will be a few in the world of cyberspace who are willing to give this a shot, even if doing so starts out for the sake of fun, because when reading is fun, it is also uplifting to the spirits. If this appeals to you as fun reading, then that's really all right too. If I were to hear that from you, I would do as promised and properly acknowledge it.
I can't tell you how much it would mean to me to see you smile or hear you laugh, or to hear you say "Lesmotsique is serious or even crazy." My only condition would be that it's in a good way. It would be good news to hear something like that because it would appeal to the comedic side to my personality. Now that's not my intention here originally, but if you laugh or smile, that's a good fringe benefit I can live with. There is that saying that speaks to laugher being good for the soul.
Anyway, I'm going to assume that you've already read the poem, and are all gamed to try the plan out. I like that, and it would be good if you would see what I see in this poem. You know, this poem, when I first read it, was rather thought-provoking, to say the least. I was certainly struck by its powerful punch of perspective. How about you? Wasn't it odd, too? I mean, I found myself going down the list of conditional statements, taking count of where I stood. And let me tell you, I wouldn't have a problem getting down on my knees thanking God for all the favorable ones that apply to me.
The Bible does teach us that we are molded and shaped by those experiences that on the surface we would seek to avoid. But just imagine what it must be like for the other person who's wearing the other shoe? What the person must be going through? Are you one who would prefer not to even think about it? Well, let me just say, I wouldn't blame you a bit. There are certain thoughts (painful ones, certainly) that people choose not to dwell on for too long, and this is one of them.
However, and forgive me, I must say that when I hear of stories about the "other person's shoe," who has it so much worse than I have, I feel ashamed and convicted. You see, this poem says to me that there are folks that are in situations far worse than mine, and that my complaints are petty and insignificant by comparison. So strongly affected can a person be by these realities that the most arrogant among us would feel some degree of humility, or so you would think. Those dire situations would seem to be enough to cause anyone to appreciate each and every blessing God bestows upon him or her.
But in the same breath, I'm smart enough to know that there are still many who wouldn't care one way or the other or who would even come out boldly displaying a heart of stone. But if one has within him or her a heart for humanity, it will make a difference. Of course, how people react to various situations depend on many factors which I'm not going to attempt to cover. Suffice it to say, there are some scenarios that are more likely to elicit our compassion while other scenarios will not. For example, a child who is starving is likely to get more support or sympathy than an adult facing the same situation. In fact the adult is likely to receive something closer to condemnation.
For the purpose of carrying out this assignment, I hope there will be something in the poem that will affect you to the point that you will simply have to pause and reflect, and realize your state of blessedness, and aim for an affect that is lasting and more meaningful. That's what I believe will help make this plan successful. The longer I can complain less and use what I have to get what I want (God will give me what I need), the better chances I have for keeping depression as far as possible from my door.
5. ABOUT THE POEM AND THE VIDEO: WORDS AND CHANT
Now lest I forget, I humbly submit this entire package plan as a suggestion and not as a promotion of something that's a surefire thing for, as I've heard some say, nothing is sure in this world except death and taxes, and now sin has been added to the list. I'm just putting it out there as a beginning. I welcome any input to make this plan even more comprehensive. Hopefully, it will meet God's approval. It has my human marks written all over it so I seek learning from those who know more.
So here it is. Take it for what it's worth. Again, I'm hoping this plan, with its accompanying assignment, will be fun at the very least and effective on some level at the most. Maybe some adjustments, some tweaks, to improve it can be made. Anyway, I'm posting the poem here, because I want it to be on the same page as the video I'd like you to hear and see as well. The poem is entitled, You Are Blessed. The video has the title, I Am So Blessed.
6. CUTTING TO THE CHASE
After reading the poem (See #8 below), which contains statements I presume and pray won’t be a problem, be prepared to participate in an affirmation assignment of being blessed.
The words of affirmation are, "I Am So Blessed." Once you click to play the video (at the very bottom of this text, following the conclusion of the poem), say these words about being blessed, following as much as possible in unison. Hopefully, this will go smoothly. If not, I hope at least you've gotten the idea of what I'm trying to do and can carry out the exercise like a pro on your next try. The video features a singer applying a technique called chanting (repetition). This is a technique I've heard long before now. You may begin.
Personal Side Note: I have a girlfriend who is very good with this, and as I think about it now, it reminds me of humming to myself a tune over and over. Sometimes I may sing out loud or in a low voice until I grow sick of it or others grow sick of hearing me. However I decide to do it, I'm usually feeling upbeat and very pleasant in my mood.
I have seen others doing this, and it seems to have a calming effect. I chose this video not only because it is soothing and relaxing, but also because the words are clear and concise, and the chanting/singing is very simple. You don't have to be a great or professional singer to pull this off. You need not compete in some voice contest. No. There's no need to strain to meet somebody else's impressive vocal range or singing ability. You can get through this vocal assignment rather easily. You just need a commitment to be sincere in this assignment.
7. OTHER IDEAS FOR THE DEPRESSION PLAN
Personal Side Note: My family makes me laugh. The things they say and do. In fact, when my husband is not playful, then I know something is wrong. I love the excitement in my son’s voice and some of my daughter's facial expressions. You know, it’s those simple things in life that gives you so much joy. They’re free and yet they’re precious. I love to dance, and when I get into it, I exercise (for example, I like running and walking).
8. YOU ARE BLESSED
If you woke up this morning
with more health than illness,
you are more blessed than the
million who won't survive the week.
If you have never experienced
the danger of battle,
the loneliness of imprisonment,
the agony of torture or
the pangs of starvation,
you are ahead of 20 million people
around the world.
If you attend a church meeting
without fear of harassment,
arrest, torture, or death,
you are more blessed than almost
three billion people in the world.
If you have food in your refrigerator,
clothes on your back, a roof over
your head and a place to sleep,
you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank,
in your wallet, and spare change
in a dish someplace, you are among
the top 8% of the world's wealthy.
If you hold up your head with a smile
on your face and are truly thankful,
you are blessed because the majority can,
but most do not.
If you can read this message,
you are more blessed than over
two billion people in the world
that cannot read anything at all.
You are so blessed in ways
you may never even know.
Though the chant is easy, and there’s no real memorization, you may still like to have a copy of it with the words repeated as it is the video. For that, go to the song tab of the blog and then print. Remember that I'm inviting your input. Help to put some more meat on the plan. What are your ideas about #7? Help to fill it out. Take care. Love to all and remember you're so blessed.