This is the last in my short series of posts on postpartum depression. Two weeks ago, I started with a quick intro and the short version of my struggle, and last week I talked about some practical ways to handle depression. Today, I am really excited to wrap up by talking about spiritual strategies that were very helpful to me.
Pray. It’s the first place you should go, right?
Ask a friend or mentor to pray. When I feel overwhelmed, I have two women that I call to ask them to pray for me briefly. One is a slightly older mom who is out of the baby stage, but still has kids at home. I know that I can call her in desperation and say, “Please, I’m at my wit’s end, please pray for me!” She will often do it right there on the phone, and then will tell me later that she’s been praying for me all week. There have been several instances of talking to her, and then being able to immediately turn around and deal with my kids. God has been so faithful to me through her. The other woman is a friend my own age, with kids our kids’ age. She, too, I can call and ask for prayer, and she will immediately pray with me. The result is always the same. Something about five minutes on the phone (or in person) praying is something God will use in your life.
When you are feeling blue, it is particularly hard to call someone and admit it. As an introvert, I feel like this is especially hard for me. Make a promise to your husband (which means–tell him about it!) that you will call a friend in a desperate moment. Then make yourself follow through, even when you don’t feel like it.
Read the Psalms. In the Psalms, God has been pleased to show us so much of David’s raw emotion. We see him happy, sad, angry, scared, guilty, repentant, and depressed. The Lord knows that we have emotions. Read through the Psalms and be comforted by David’s pleas that the Lord would comfort him. Know that you can pray those verses yourself, and that the Lord will hear you.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You.
Find somebody else to serve. We Americans are a self-absorbed bunch. When depressed, it is very easy to wallow in our feelings of worthlessness, and the culture around us, even in the church, tells us that’s ok. But it’s not. The Bible tells us not to focus on ourselves, but to focus on others. Find somebody to minister to. If you have a baby with a nap schedule, find a friend that you can invite over for lunch. Go visit an elderly woman in a nursing home. Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center (usually they’re happy to see babies!). If you have lots of kids, like I do, remember that serving your kids counts as serving others. Think of a creative way to minister to your kids above and beyond the normal day. Set aside two hours to make cookies with three little ones “helping.” Sit down and have everybody draw cards for Dad to say they love him. Make sure you make a card, too! Gird up your loins, and take everybody to the library to pick a book (believe me, that is not something I volunteer to do regularly–the library with 5 kids terrifies me!). It will be hard–hard to motivate yourself, hard to make yourself finally do it, but the effort is worth it.
Find a Scripture passage or a hymn to memorize. Or both. Some of my favorites are Psalm 51 (see above), Psalm 30, Ephesians 4:17-32, Philippians 2, Come Thou Fount; Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise; God Moves in a Mysterious Way; and Beneath the Cross of Jesus.
And finally, quit telling yourself you’re depressed. It’s amazing the difference our own inner voice makes. If you say something over and over to yourself, it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, find truths of Scripture to remind yourself of what you really are:
-Sons of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:15-17)
-Conquerers through Christ (Romans 8:36-39)
-Chosen of God for good works (Col. 3:12, Eph. 2:10)
-Given justification through the blood of Christ, because He loves us (Eph. 1)
These are the means that God has used to work in me. If postpartum depression is something you struggle with, I would encourage you to turn to the Lord in the midst of your struggle, and let the light of His Word shine in your darkness.