I originally started this blog in order to share my struggles with depression, how I’ve come out of it, and to encourage others to do the same.
But I must confess: I haven’t completely come out of it.
I know, that’s not terribly encouraging and it’s not exactly easy to share, but it’s necessary, I think.
You see, I don’t ever want to put out this facade like I have everything all put together, because I’m still figuring out life and experiencing new things and discovering different obstacles. I’m no different than anyone else.
I used to put so much pressure on myself to be perfect and to have it all together, but it’s just not humanly possible. I, on my own, will never be perfect. But during this journey of struggle with depression, perfectionism, pressure, and fear, I’ve come to learn a few things. And I want to share these things with you.
My purpose in sharing this with you and making myself vulnerable is this: I am not perfect. I still struggle some days. I still experience moments of depression and heaviness. But I also still experience joy. I still experience peace. I still am able to walk uprightly. And you can too.
Having a struggle does not define you. It’s what you do with it that makes all the difference.
I want to help give you the tools to work through it, to manage it. I want to inspire you to find ways to help yourself along, find strength in God, and to truly enjoy the life you’ve been given.
So in this post, I’m going to compile a small, random list of things that help uplift me in times of discouragement and strengthen me in my weak moments.
However, I want you to be informed that there’s no “quick fix”. There’s not a three step process to ultimate and lasting freedom. Of course Jesus can heal — absolutely! But when a stressful moment creeps in, a bad situation arises, or you fall on hard times, are you prepared to act?
That’s what this is for.
And be aware, following and using these tips is not always easy. It will take work and effort and intentional pursuit. So be ready to go after it. Be ready to chase after joy, no matter what. Be ready to find peace, no matter what. Be ready to go after that thing you so desperately need and hold onto it with the strength we have through Christ.
Are you ready? Let’s go!
Tip One: When you can’t change your circumstances, change your perspective.
Sometimes, situations are not in our control. We can’t control someone’s health; we can’t control social situations, governmental affairs, or other people. And if you’re anything like me, this can be unsettling.
I love to fix things. When people are upset, part of me turns into comfort mode and the other side immediately starts thinking of ways to fix the situation. But, like I said, it’s not always possible.
So if you find yourself in one of these uncontrollable situations, and there’s no way for you to fix or change them, the only thing left to do is change your perspective.
When I’m in a situation like this, I get stressed and depressed real quick. But when I shift my focus, things begin to change.
Instead of honing in on the issue, worrying about it, stressing about it, and looking at all the negativity, I begin to remind myself of the God I serve. And I think this:
If God’s brought me this far, why would He abandon me now?
This problem is big, but I know my God is bigger.
My fear and worry is big, but I refuse to let this override my faith. God, resurrect my faith and let it be bigger than my worry, fear, and doubt.
I trust that God has good things in store for me; that He has a plan and a purpose; that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I am in the palm of His hand; He cares for me; He has not left me.
This situation is not the end of the story. I will overcome it and come out stronger through Christ who gives me strength.
And when I begin to encourage myself, as the Bible tells us to do, I begin to shift my perspective from everything that’s currently wrong to the God who can do all things. I look to the God who is bigger, stronger, and able.
And while this might not completely alleviate my fears immediately, it sure does make a difference.
Tip Two: You can’t control the actions of others, but you can control your response.
I know this one seems a bit odd, like, what does this have to do with struggles and overcoming them? But trust me, it does.
When someone hurts me by their actions, I typically begin analyzing the situation and wondering what I did wrong. Even if I had absolutely no hand in the situation, I still pick myself apart over it.
For instance, if someone says they don’t like me, I wonder what I did wrong to make them feel that way and wonder how I can fix it. If someone lashes out at me for seemingly no reason, I wonder what I did to provoke it. If someone starts giving me the cold shoulder and I have no idea why, I blame myself.
And in these instances, insecurities begin creeping in. The thoughts like I’m not good enough and I always mess things up and I’m such a screw-up and what’s wrong with me start overtaking my brain.
Then, I get stressed about it. Then I get depressed about it. And none of this is healthy.
While, yes, it’s good to make sure that you were not in the wrong, you can not agonize over it like I stated above.
Sometimes, it very well might be your fault. And in that case, you deliver a sincere apology, do what you can to fix the situation, and move forward. But other times, you’ve done nothing at all.
In either instance, though, you can not stay stuck in this negative thought process.
If someone starts treating you badly, with no respect, or no love, your first reaction may be to retaliate in kind. But don’t do that! It will not make you feel better in the end.
If things like this happen, respond with love, respect, and kindness; that is what we are called to do.
The Bible says to love your enemy, pray for them, and give to them. In other words, respond in love and kindness.
When you do this, your conscience will be guilt-free. Even if you made a mistake that caused the situation in the first place, you can rest at peace knowing you’ve done all that’s humanly possible to rectify the situation.
Tip Three: Never lose your excitement for the future and all that God has in store for you, but don’t forget to enjoy today too.
Oh so often we focus on the future with excitement. And that’s great! We should have a plan, a hope, and a vision. But if we only live for the future, we miss today.
I recently listened to a sermon on this subject and it was so good! In the sermon, the pastor said that we should be content with where we are while still striving for a good future.
This, at first, seemed so foreign to me. Like, how do you enjoy today and work towards a future at the same time.
But I ask you this: how can you enjoy that future you’re planning when you never learn to enjoy today? Because when the future becomes today, will you be striving for something else then?
We should always look for ways to grow and improve, but we should also be practicing gratitude in our everyday lives. We should learn to love the journey and not just the destination. We should learn to love the little things. We should learn to recognize how we’re blessed in each and every moment, even the hard ones.
And when we do these things, we’ll live in so much more joy. We’ll learn to practice gratefulness in all seasons of life. And we’ll learn to simply enjoy the day the Lord has made.
Today, I only want to leave you with these three tips so I don’t overwhelm you. But I want to also share a statement I heard on a podcast recently. I loved this so much and I want to share it with you while you’re on this journey.
The statement is this: “Perfectionism is not a prerequisite to a relationship with God.”
We do not have to be perfect and put together before we seek a deeper relationship with our Creator. He knows us better than we know ourself, and He wants you just as you are right now.
So today, I share with you that I’m still on this journey as well. I still have hard days. I still experience struggles. But that doesn’t discredit my testimony or disqualify me from a relationship with God.
My struggles make me stronger, my hardships give me wisdom, and my journey is a beautiful testimony of what is possible through Christ.
So today, I want you to walk away from this knowing that you are not stuck in your struggle, but you’re simply on a journey and you haven’t reached the destination yet. I want you to know that even though the journey is tough, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. And I want you to know that it’s okay to still be journeying; no one is perfect. We’re all on a journey, and it’s okay that yours is different from mine.
We’ll reach our destination soon, and I can not wait to stretch my legs! But I’m going to use this time to intentionally learn more, grow deeper roots, and gain more wisdom. So when I exit the vehicle, I’m better off than when I started.
I refuse to let the journey wear me out. Instead, I choose to let the journey strengthen me for the next one. And I pray the same for you.
Maddisen Sauls is the smile and voice behind the Everyday Joy blog as well as the author of the Word of the Week posts and the editor of by leaps and bounds. Throughout her life, Maddisen has worked as a reporter for small town newspapers, a School Age and Preschool teacher, and has acquired her ministerial license.
An avid book reader and lover of the written word, Maddisen is passionate about using her favorite medium to reach the lost and the hurting, and to offer encouragement and hope to those struggling through life.
Following her battle with depression, Maddisen has made it her mission to help other people through this journey and to bring joy to the lives of the people around her.
You can find Maddisen on Instagram @maddisen.paige