During a time in my life when I was at a particularly low point, I was unable to do very little. I could not get up and go to work as I was accustomed. I was unable to care for my family. Even showering and dressing took more energy and effort than I could summon. I was so sick that all I could do was sleep, listen, and read. It was a time in my life that I despised, yet at the same time cherished.
God does not call us to a life of perfection. He desires us to have a willing heart. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. When you are tempted to give up because you have tried and fallen short of the goal or the expectations of yourself or others, take a moment to take a deep breath, assess the situation, course-correct the situation and your thoughts and attitude about the situation, and try again. Remember, it’s not about perfection…it’s about progress.
Part of what perpetuates our penchant to hide behind a mask, is our inclination to compare ourselves to others. By comparing ourselves to others, we hold ourselves up to the image that they desire for others to see…the public mask they put on display. So we compare ourselves to others who were not given the same personalities, gifts, and talents as we so we will always fall short if we try to measure ourselves against others as our standard. Yet we must align ourselves instead with what we know to be true. The Bible says that we each are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
When someone is depressed, they have a choice to make: to either let depression define them or to desire joy bad enough to seek after it with obedience and sacrifice. Jesus offered us the same joy he had; the fullest possible joy. What I’ve learned is that thanksgiving and gratitude is the doorway to joy. As Proverbs tells us, we are what we think in our heart. As we become increasingly grateful, God exchanges our worries and sorrow with His peace, joy, and abundant life. Our circumstances may not change, but our mindset does.
My strength was failing. Sorrow was all I could taste. Hope was more than I could bear. I didn’t know what the next day would bring, but I couldn’t stand more of the same. If I was going to fight for my physical and emotional health to return, I didn’t want to be left unchanged. I prayed repeatedly that this torment that I endured would not be wasted and that the Lord would use this experience to draw me closer to Him, AND to help someone else.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Part of the problem with comparison is that you can always find others who have more, do more, and achieve more than you. But on the other hand. But, you can always find others who have less, do less, and achieve less than you. Either way, you aren’t content with where God has you.