We have never lived in a better time with more opportunities. Yet, depression and suicide are rising, especially among the millennials. There is a fixation on an alternate reality. In this alternate reality, the world is dying. Doom is inevitable, and it's nobler not to have any kids than to bring life into a dark and depressing world. In this alternate reality, we are failures, and there is nothing we can ever do to be better. Not even God himself can change the weak and disturbed creatures that we are.
As Christians, we should know better than to allow the lies of the world to control our thoughts. But which of us can say he’s never been depressed about something? We live in a sinful world full of deceit, and it can be tough to guard our hearts against it at times.
In some circles of Christianity, there is shame in depression. It is true that we shouldn't be ashamed of it or hide it, but we should realize it is an attack on the truth. It's an attack on God's sovereignty and power. It's an attack on who we are in Christ and who He made us to be.
The enemy wants us to focus on our failures and doubts. He wants us to believe a lie either about ourselves or the world. He wants us to see ourselves as separate from God and forget that the Holy Spirit lives in us. He wants us to believe that we are ultimately hopeless, insufficient, and inadequate, and nothing can ever change that. Not even God. This disparaging of the creation also demeans the creator and His power.
However, the beauty of reading God's word is that it can help us overcome these lies. It can help us see how He sees His sons and daughters. Whatever we believe based on what we see in the news or through our limited experience isn't true. No matter how much the world wants to tell you that "lived experience" is true, many times it's the furthest thing from the truth. God has a monopoly on truth. The truth isn't how we perceive reality based on how a few people treated us in the past or what we did. Where we see flaws and failures, God sees gifts and victory.
In addition to God's word, the Holy Spirit guides us in overcoming this false reality that surrounds us. In prayer and meditation, God speaks to our hearts. For instance, I recently had to take a personality test for a job. I wasn't sure how it would turn out. Traditionally I've often looked at my past in light of my failures. By focusing on my worst moments, though, this often paints a picture of someone who has no confidence, is uncaring, selfish, lazy, impatient, and has a whole sort of other terrible qualities.
Despite all of this, God led me to do it differently this time. As I prayed in the Spirit, I could see beyond this limited definition of myself and see my past in light of how God sees me. I realized there is victory, confidence, beauty, and joy in the person I am. It's always been there; it's just often overshadowed by the negatives I focus on (doubts, failures, and mistakes). My traditional perception of the past or "lived experience" was always a lie. The person I sometimes think I am doesn't exist and never did.
I am a new creation in Christ. I am not defined by my flaws and failures but by the gifts and spirit that God has put in me. This is how we Christians must look at ourselves and others. Ultimately, the world wants us to focus on psychology, self-help, and self-affirmations. While there might be some value to these tools, they will never be enough. Why? Because these tools focus on us, but it's not about us. It's about God. In seeking him, we find the truth, and in that truth, we can tear down the lies we believe about ourselves and the world.
Jim Miesner is an author and ghostwriter of several books. He currently lives in Rochester, NY, with his wife and two kids. You can find more of his musings on jimwriteswords.com.