I turned 50 last year, and it was a big realization that I'm officially "over-the-hill." 😛 That doesn't bother me though, because I know my eternity is secure because of my faith in Jesus Christ, and what He did for me on the cross.
I talk more about my faith here. Even though I am completely secure in my eternal future, that doesn't mean that life here and now isn't without it's struggles. I still have an earthly body with its imperfections, mentally and physically, and am prone to frailty just as someone with an obvious physical impairment or illness may be.
I have often struggled with anxiety and/or depression, and help has come in many forms including therapy, counseling with pastors and physicians, medication, Scripture meditation, and also in reading.
I want to be clear that reading books alone didn't take care of my anxiety and depression. All of the things I mentioned above have been helpful for me at different times in my life. However, I've always loved to read. I even got in trouble in elementary school in 6th grade, because I would take books outside to read during recess, instead of running around and getting some physical exercise. 😛
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, get to a hospital, or call 911, or (in the U.S.), contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a counselor.
Because of its significance in my life, I HAVE to share this book that God brought into my life years ago. It was, and continues to be, a huge help to me, and it's called Loving God With All Your Mind by Elizabeth George. It has so tremendously helped me, that I feel like everyone should read it, men and women alike. Elizabeth George gave me the tools to help take charge of the untrue thoughts in my mind, and replace them with the truths of Scripture: that I am a loved, chosen, accepted and forgiven child of God, and that He is always with me to strengthen me and give me hope and wisdom no matter what I am going through. This book still helps me so much, and I tend to read it often. It's sitting in my book basket by my couch right now. 🙂 Hands down this one book is a must read!
Another book that I've been reading for the last few years, and giving away as gifts to friends and family, is a daily devotional by Paul David Tripp called New Morning Mercies. I guess I like it so much because he pulls no punches as to the truth of the Gospel, and he emphasizes over and over again, that the believer's security in our salvation doesn't depend on us or what we do for God, but it's all because of Christ and what He did, and His mercy, forgiveness and grace to us. There is tremendous security in that for me. I practically have every page of this book dog-eared and underlined. Recently I also had the chance to go to one of his marriage conferences and hear him speak live, and he is so captivating, and has a wonderful sense of humor.
After an Easter visit this year to my parent's home in West Virginia, I found a book on my mom's bookcase, and immediately bought a copy for myself, it's called Laugh Again by Charles Swindoll. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m already loving it because I think many people, including myself, who struggle at times with anxiety and depression, tend to be pretty hard on ourselves and expect a lot from ourselves. Some of us (me too) need to lighten up, relax and be able to laugh again. Charles Swindoll is kind of known for his sense of humor, and has been one of my favorite writers since I was a teenager. 🙂
Also, just a few other thoughts I'd like to share if you're struggling, as these things have helped me:
- Start your day with God's word and prayer.
- Take care with what you let into your mind, (what you watch, read and think) fill it with good things, not junk.
- As a believer of Christ, replace untrue thoughts with the Truth of who you are in Him, loved, precious, forgiven, and never alone.
- Take a walk, get some endorphins flowing.
- Find sources of clean humor. Laugh again.
- Listen to praise and worship music.
- Share with trusted friends, family or your physician. Don't isolate yourself.
- Make a thankfulness list, and find things each day to add to it.
I'm not a professional anything, but I know what has helped me, and I pray this will encourage you.