I just read something that totally threw me:
“It is impossible to be both grateful and depressed. Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.” – Steve Maraboli
I have made a habit of being a grateful girl. I have walked through some very difficult and dark seasons (some that lasted decades) and I have always, always been grateful for my life, my breath, my family, my friends, my faith.
A few days ago, I admitted that my counselor listened to me describe a recent situation and how my mind/heart/body were responding to it and he characterized it as being depressed. That was HUGE for me to admit to the world, and even though his word choice didn’t surprise me, it still was a bit of a pill to swallow, as that has not been my mind/heart/body’s response to any other hard life circumstance up to this point.
So to then read that I cannot be both grateful and depressed hurt, confused and shamed me.
Because there is a part of me that feels that my mind/heart/body took this turn a tad without my permission. I didn’t want to still be sad five weeks out. I didn’t pray to still be sad five weeks out. In fact, I wanted to feel better and I prayed for healing and release. I feel, in part, like it happened to me. (I’m not saying this as in I’m a victim of my circumstances, but as in sometimes our mind/heart/body responds in ways we wish it wouldn’t.)
And it hurt to read as well because even in my sadness, I am still completely grateful. My faith is not shaken. I am not begrudging God his due praise because of a prolonged melancholia. I am not wallowing in misery, doing nothing with my life.
I am completely grateful for every gift God has given me but also very much for the gift of the circumstance that led to my sadness. I can absolutely “see the message in the mess”. And I have spoken of that sweet time with honor and respect and shared the lessons I’ve learned and about how grateful I am that I was able to walk through it. And I have, every day, despite the lingering sadness that I wish weren’t here (however that I can gratefully say is lifting) found reasons to get up and have taken steps to move forward.
So, I guess, all that to say, I completely disagree. And I think a disservice is being done to make those who suffer with depression feel as if they’re ungrateful or could just choose their way out…happy up, as I’ve sometimes heard it said. It’s more complicated than that. It just doesn’t work that way.
So, sweet one, if you are in a funk, a season of suffering or sadness, or in an actual diagnosed clinical depression, please do not allow statements like that to add to your sadness and guilt and shame. Yes, get help; yes, keep walking; yes, ask Jesus to heal you; and yes, whisper or shout your gratitude even in your pain (as many of us did on my Facebook page on Monday). One doesn’t negate the other. You are loved, just as you are.
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.
Yes! I agree that it is possible to be grateful AND depressed. I’m sorry that the words to the contrary made you feel shamed, but I do understand, and I believe that there is reason even now to be grateful that, as painful as that was in your journey, it happened. Because God used it and you to point it out to others, so that we might be less shamed.
I had a similar encounter. In the darkest days of my marriage, I met despair.
Total despair. And I was told that Christians could not know despair because of the hope that is in us. So, then I began to wonder if maybe I wasn’t really saved, because the despair certainly was real. I found that God does indeed give examples of his followers meeting actual despair.
I wrote about that here. I hope you don’t mind if I share it. It’s sort of along the same lines as what you’re talking about.
Rebecca, it’s good to know I’m not alone in this. And I’m glad you shared! -Elisabeth
Job’s friends are alive and well even today….
Ha! Yes, Stephanie… -Elisabeth
THANK YOU for speaking to this issue. This is a huge problem I have with the “thankfulness movement.” It implies that sadness is some sort of moral failing instead of a normal reaction to upsetting events, or even just a part of being human! It IS totally possible to be thankful and sad at the same time, as you said. Hang in there.
Yes, Brenda…it’s all part of being human. So true. Thank you! -Elisabeth
Thank you once again for sharing. Depression is such a difficult topic to talk about with anyone… especially in the church.
Lorraine, yes it is. Which is so sad. That’s where we should be able to be our most true. -Elisabeth
Thank you so much for sharing this!! It so validates my thoughts and feelings these last 8 months since separating from my abusive husband. Bless you Elizabeth!! 🙂
I’m so sorry, Tymerie, but grateful my words are resonating and helpful. -Elisabeth