How depression is demolishing my idols

I have never felt so dependent.

Every simple task is a monumental feat. Getting out of bed feels like scaling the Everest, only harder. Don’t even mention picking up a phone call. My head feels like it is locked in an unrelenting vice grip.

You see, I am being held hostage by two very experienced kidnappers: Depression and Anxiety.

Cunning abductors

My abductors can be quite unpredictable. They strike when I least expect it. Like that random bout of sadness when the rest of life is going well. Or that unexplained anxiety attack when the name on the caller ID just wants to know how I am doing.

Sometimes my abductors are lenient. They let me enjoy the occasional early morning, or an empty in-tray at the office. Sometimes they even let me reply to friends’ messages and agree to meet up with them.

Small wins

Other times I am lucky enough to escape from their grip and do normal-people stuff. For instance I went to church last Sunday; I wrote an essay on Wednesday night; I sat through a long meeting on Thursday. I even met two friends over lunch during the week; and I am writing this post right now.

All these highs and lows are familiar to anyone who has ever tasted depression. But my abductors have also been teaching me things.

Hard lessons

In the months and years I have slogged through this tar-like existence, my captors have inadvertently taught me key lessons about myself.

For instance, Depression and Anxiety have taught me that there things I used to idolize and look upon to give my life meaning. They have revealed to me just how much of an idolater I am.

You can see it in the things I am no longer able to do, and what that inability is doing to my sense of worth and identity.

I am a writer, and I am lucky (or unlucky depending on how you view it) to have my hobby double up as my job. I often joke with friends that I take breaks from writing to write. However, one of the first fingers that my abductors chopped off to torture me was my desire and ability to write.

These days it is normal to walk around uninspired for weeks. I have a feeling my captors are housing me in a dingy apartment on Writer’s Block. So, not only am I not able to write for a living, I am not even able to write for fun!

Depression and Anxiety have taught me that I may have had an unhealthy reliance on my ability to do certain things. Yes, I am a gifted, trained and experienced writer. Yes, I enjoy writing and do it for a living. But do I find my identity in my ability to write? Do I find my validation in the fact that others applaud my skill?

Crushing defeat

In the past, I would have easily answered a confident “no” to both questions. But now, I am not so sure. Each time I am unable to write or find inspiration, I find myself feeling utterly defeated. I want to hide from the world. I am suddenly ashamed that I have nothing valuable to offer the world.

Not being able to write as easily, as often or as well as I used to has revealed that I had pegged so much of my self worth on my ability to do these things. My gift had become my idol and my bargaining chip in a world that values personal talent and competence.

Gradually, I have realized that the fact that I am made in the image of God; that I am loved by this God who created the universe; that it has pleased this God to forgive my sin and welcome me into His family; these truths that I claim to subscribe to don’t seem to hold that much sway in how I value myself in this world.

I am learning that while I paid lip service to the fact that God is my all in all, I was really finding my real worth in what I had to offer this world, in the acceptance that this world showed me because of what I could do.

Now all these false gods are being stripped away, and instead of feeling like someone who has been unburdened, I am suddenly feeling like someone who has been stripped naked. It shows that these human abilities are all I really had as my covering.

I thank God for these lessons, even as I try to figure out how to apply them and refocus my worship. It took the scheming plan of my abductors Depression and Anxiety for God to show me where my true allegiance lies.

These agents of a broken world sought to destroy me by taking away the things I valued most. But God has been gracious enough to use these plans of evil as opportunities to show me what really matters, where my true identity is, whose acceptance really counts. God is showing me that I should never have been valuing these things so supremely to begin with.

May the Lord hold me fast through these trying times. To anyone currently going theough the same or similar idol-smashing process, my prayer is that you will recognize the process for what it really is and you will not despair. Instead of grumbling, be grateful. This is an opportunity to re-focus your worship and reclaim your true identity.

Our God is faithful. Even though He slays you, He is the only one worthy of your worship. Hold fast to Him. His grace is sufficient.

John 6:68 “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Rom 8:18–21 “ I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

2 Cor 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.”

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