“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
The Bible says that God’s mercies are new every morning. But when I wake up, I’m bombarded with thoughts of sadness, indifference, jealousy, comparison, resentment, and bitterness… just to name a few.
I’m a Christian. I believe that Jesus is Lord, I try my best to read my Bible, and I try my best to pray. Some days are better than others, I guess.
Today, however, I feel overcome by my thoughts and feelings.
Depression As An Identity
That’s a frequent morning introduction to most professing Christians, myself included. We often live our lives drenched in our struggles. The heaviness of anxiety, depression, insecurity, wears on us. We wear our sin. We wear our struggles. Jesus conquered the grave, and we have little to show for it. Jesus conquered sin and death – so we could walk in freedom. Instead, we have embraced the struggles that He died for.
The common phrase for the depressed or anxious young adult in describing their struggle is: “My depression” “My anxiety.”
While I understand the reasoning of that statement, it cannot be the truth we speak over ourselves.
If I’m going to be honest, I’ve noticed myself doing this quite often: My pride, my depression, my anxiety, my insecurity, my fears… have all been witnessed escaping my mouth.
However, the truth is we cannot take a consequence of the fall of man and accept it as our selfhood.
The attachment of mental health issues with our identity is a huge reason why depression not an ordinary discussion within the church because as soon as it’s addressed the walls of defensiveness in the struggler go up. She has lost hope that she can be healed. She has accepted that it’s just the “thorn in her side” and has ultimately become “apart of her identity.” Once a struggle has taken that form of root within a person, the only hope to hear any truth is by the intervention of the Holy Spirit. But, I will try my best to defend my argument.
Holy Spirit, use me as a vessel.
“The sin that is most destructive in your life right now is the one you are most defensive about.”
– Timothy Keller
You’ll know you have an identity issue based on the things that you are getting defensive about. I know when someone has taken depression as their identity when they are defensive and closed off from hearing Truth regarding it.
Just to be clear, though, this can be done with anything. We do this with our careers, our relationships. We can’t see ourselves apart from the degree that we worked so hard for or apart from the man that we are in love with; this is an identity issue.
When we make something other than God an ultimate thing.
As Christians, our identity must SOLELY be seen as a child of God.
Jesus came and made the Great Exchange. He exchanged his position and gave it to us. We are seen now through the blood of Jesus. When God looks at us, He is pleased. He doesn’t look at our struggles and sin, he see’s Jesus on us. What a miraculously beautiful thing.
We too must see ourselves as nothing but daughters of the King.
Yes, as long as we walk on this earth we are wrapped in our sinful nature, but that doesn’t mean that we embrace it. We don’t adapt our lives to our struggles. No, we give our lives for the one that gave His life for us. Tim Keller said it beautifully recently on Twitter: “Jesus took his hands off his life for you, so you can take your hands off your life for him.”
Letting go of ourselves and taking hold of Jesus is the only way we will live a victorious life.
Any other form of identity will come with severe emotional consequences through the different seasons of life.
I understand the reasoning of why a lot of people accept a mental disorder as apart of them; it’s easier to cope and move on with your life. But I do not believe that it’s biblical to adapt or embrace your specific struggle.
As a culture, when we struggle for an extended period, instead of continuing to have hope for healing or aggressively working to grow – we embrace. We accept the struggle, the burden, as the cross we must bear. It’s the thorn in our flesh – as I have heard many profess. And ultimately, because of that embracement, we adjust our lives to fit the needs and demands of our struggle.
Instead of confessing our weaknesses, and asking for help, we just change our social circles. We quit our jobs. We give up and adapt because “my depression” “my anxiety” made me do it. And ultimately, with that type of thinking, we avoid responsibility.
In the morning when we are tempted to fall into our thoughts, our sin nature, the struggle that has trapped us, we have to remind ourselves that our thoughts are NOT Gods thoughts, and our ways are NOT Gods ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) He does have a great plan and purpose for your life
Don’t embrace the struggles that you are walking through today, embrace the King that came to save you. Let go of your life for Him, like he let go of His life for you.
For more on identity here is one of the videos I watched from Tim Keller regarding identity.