Those of you who follow my blog know that I hit a rough patch last week. I received a lot of support and quite a few comments from fellow suffers. Their messages were both encouraging me and reflected that they were encouraged by me. Some assumed that one particular incident or disappointment caused the bout of depression, but that wasn’t it. I was already there when a few incidents happened that I would normally have been able to handle easily but couldn’t at this time. Depression magnifies the bad and sometimes even makes it up. But that’s not what I want to tell you about this week.
What I really need to tell you is that the tools that were given to me by my counselor helped. But what helped even more were some things that many would call serendipity or coincidence. I’m not calling them serendipitous. I’m calling them an intervention of the divine kind! One thing could be a coincidence, but this was a river of blessings daily as the week progressed.
(1) The first thing that happened is something I already wrote about. Joni Eareckson Tada shared a post on her blog that spoke directly to me. I follow her on Facebook and read her blog. But not always. I actually hadn’t read anything she wrote for a couple of weeks until this post. As I have said since I was probably fifteen-years-old, Joni always has a way of making me look at things in perspective. God has used Joni’s life to benefit many, many people in huge ways and small. My in-person interactions with her over the years have become only a memory, but her words still reach me.
(2) The next thing that happened was in the car. I couldn’t find a single thing on the radio that I wanted to listen to. Since I couldn’t reach my phone or tablet, I hit the CD button to see what was in the player. David Crowder’s voice singing “Come As You Are” filled the car and my heart. His CD Neon Steeple has some songs that really speak to me, and I realized how much they speak to me at a time when I’m down.
(3) Then I woke up one morning and turned on the television to see Robin Roberts interviewing Mandissa. Many people who don’t follow Christian music still recognize her songs “Overcomer” and “Stronger” which became anthems for those fighting cancer. Mandissa talked about her struggle with clinical depression. She had reached a place so low that she wasn’t leaving the house, taking calls, or seeing people. Her friends staged an intervention that she credits with saving her life. She has taken those experiences and put them in her new album, Out of the Darkness. The CD is due to be released on May 19. I immediately pre-ordered the new CD after hearing her song on Good Morning, America. And I was happy to see that three of the songs (“I’m Still Here,” “Unfinished,” and “Prove Me Wrong”) were available for immediate download. She was delivering a message for me.
(4) After hearing Mandissa’s and David Crowder’s songs, I was led to create a new playlist. I went through the music in my iTunes and found other music that lifts me up. It’s been playing constantly ever since.
(5) My daughter-in-law will sometimes share a devotion that she has read. It doesn’t happen often, but there is always something she sees in it that reminds her of me or that she thinks I will like. Early one morning this week, she texted me and told me to watch Joyce Meyers that day. It isn’t a show I normally watch (I had my personal vendetta going against her words – which may or may not have really been her words. Long story.) I was heading out to continue my volunteer training at New Hope Ministries; so I hit the record button on my DVR and went on my way. The topic of the message was our need to slow down. Laura recommended it because of one particular part that she thought I would really identify with. And I did. But at the beginning of the program, Meyers was talking about her new book 20 Ways to Make Every Day Better: Simple, Practical Changes With Real Results. The message that day came from the book. And the book is turning into a blessing for me.
(6) I’ve been driving to York every week to attend church with Laura, Lily, and Deborah (Laura’s mom). It’s a bit far, but it has really been worthwhile. I have a family to attend with, the new senior pastor is a really good speaker and writer, and their programs are good. Pastor Brian has started a new sermon series and is writing daily blog posts to go with it. The topic? “Get Real – The Flourishing Series.” He began the series on April 15, but I just hooked into the blog in the last week. It is all about happiness and flourishing in your daily life. He’s writing to me. (click on the picture to be linked to the blog)
In the six days since writing my post about depression while in the throes of a very deep funk (not usually a good time to do such things), these are the ways in which God has spoken to me. I read a part of Meyer’s book where she talked about starting each day having a conversation with God. She stressed that prayer is a conversation and that a conversation involves speaking AND listening. I stopped and I realized how many people and words had spoken truth to me this week. I realized that I was feeling much better.
While this bout was especially hard, it was mercifully short-lived. I know that I’m not cured. My constant companion will probably make itself heard again some day. Until that time, I’m thankful for all of the “coincidences” of this week. And I pray that, the next time depression tries to pull me down, I will remember the things that I have added to my arsenal against the dark moods this week…that I will start the music, rewatch the video of Mandissa and the one of Joyce Meyer, and reread the words of Pastor Brian.
Until then…maybe a little bibliotherapy will do you some good too. I haven’t shared a book list for a couple weeks so today I’m sharing some of the books that have given me a great deal of food for thought, that have helped in some way, or that inspire me. Some are religious. Many are not. Some are deep psychology. Some are motivational Some are fun fiction. There are adult books and picture books (also for adults). There are biographies and memoirs. And as usual, they are just in alphabetical order by author. I hope you can find something here that can help you in your journey. (An * indicates a book recommended by the counselor – some of which I liked better than other – or one that I’ve read recently that was extremely good.)
- Albom, Mitch – Tuesdays With Morrie
- Andrews, Andy – The Boy Who Changed the World
- The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters
- The Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs is a Little Perspective
- The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success
- Angelou, Maya – Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now
- Bauermeister, Erica – The School of Essential Ingredients
- Blanchard, Kenneth – The Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure
- Gung Ho! Turn On the People in Any Organization
- * Brown, Brené – Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are
- *Rising Strong (also check out Brené Brown on TED.com)
- Covey, Stephen – The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People
- * Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu & Douglas Abrams – The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
- Deedy, Carmen Agra – 14 Cows for America
- Dungy, Tony – Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning Life
- Gilbert, Elizabeth – Eat, Pray, Love
- Gladwell, Malcolm – Outliers: The Story of Success
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
- Hall, Ron, and Denver Moore – Same Kind of Different as Me
- Harris, Alex – Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against LowExpectations
- * Harris, Dan – 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works
- Hunter, Zach – Be the Change: Your Guide to Freeing Slaves andChanging the World
- Johnson, Spencer – Who Moved My Cheese
- Lucado, Max – Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear
- Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Meant to Bear
- When God Whispers Your Name
- Lundin, Stephen – Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results
- Manning, Brennan – Above All: He Took the Fall and Thought of Me
- The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out
- McBride, James – The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother
- McCourt, Frank – Angela’s Ashes
- * Meyer, Joyce – 20 Ways to Make Every Day Better: Simple, Practical Changes With Real Results
- * Ortberg, John – Everybody’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them
- The Live You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People
- Otoshi, Kathryn – One
- Pausch, Randy – The Last Lecture
- Pearl, Nancy – Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason
- Polacco, Patricia – Junkyard Wonders
- Thank You Mr. Faulker
- Quindlen, Anna – Being Perfect
- How Reading Changed My Life
- A Short Guide to a Happy Life
- Reynolds, Peter – Creatrilogy (Dot, Ish, and Sky Color)
- Playing from the Heart
- Rhimes, Shonda – Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and
- Be Your Own Person
- Robinson, Ken – The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life (also check out Sir Ken Robinson on TED.com)
- Rosenthal, Amy Krouse – Exclamation Mark
- * Rubin, Gretchen – The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
- Sheehan, Monica – Be Happy!: A Little Book for a Happy You
- The Dandelion’s Tale
- Smith, Michael W. – A Simple Blessing: The Extraordinary Power of an Ordinary Life
- * Tolle, Eckhart – A New Earth: Awakening to Your LIfe’s Purpose
- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
- Voskamp, Ann – One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
- Walls, Jeanette – The Glass Castle
- Wiesel, Ellie – Night
- * Yapko, Michael – Keys to Unlocking Depression
- Zagarenski, Pamela – The Whisper