Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Losing God: Clinging To Faith Through Doubt And Depression

One of the last books that I reviewed, was a book that I was disappointed in the content for a Christian book. I decided to review a totally different kind of book that I read a few weeks back, Losing God: Clinging to Faith Through Doubt and Depression, by Matt Rogers. One of my friends read it and kept bugging me to read it, so when I had enough gift cards earned for from Swag Bucks to get a couple of books, I decided to get that book with them since I wouldn't be paying for it - figured it was a waste of time.

I was wrong. Guess there is a first time for everything...... :-). Just kidding! I have been extremely depressed and discouraged for quite some time, the worst in the last year. Many things, some of which I'd rather not make public, have attributed to it, but I refused to admit that I was actually suffering from depression.

Some years back, I read the newest book by Karen Kingsbury at that time, "When Joy Came To Stay". It is the fictional story of a woman who suffers from depression, and checks herself into a hospital to get help, it is so severe. In the book, when told what his wife was dealing with, her husband makes the comment that he didn't know Christians could suffer from depression. I admit I was of the same mind. That book more or less changed my mind.

My mom had depression about a year and a half ago. She lost way too much weight, and was doom and gloom all of the time, until she got the medication that she needed to pull her out. My friend Steven kept insisting that I was suffering from depression, but I didn't believe it - I sure haven't lost too much weight, and I would have up times, though the down times were much more frequent. I was pretty good at hiding how I felt, though I feel anti-social all too often.

I really thought all of my problems were stemming from the spiritual. I felt disappointed in God - could even point to the time when I felt He let me down, and often feel that the cross He gave me to carry is way too heavy. I would try to pray, and it never went anywhere. I went to church because it was expected of me. Most of the time, I would come home and have no clue what the preacher preached on. I found myself daily wondering what on earth I had done for God to walk off and leave me.

The prospect of my turning 40 seemed to worsen everything. I'd look at the future and wonder how on earth I was going to make it. Life seemed so bleak and hopeless.

And then I read the book. My life was instantly transformed, and all was well. Not really. Although the book did open my eyes to reality. To a couple of realities.

First off: I am indeed suffering from depression. Whether I want to admit it or not - and it won't go away by itself.

Second: Much of what I was attributing to be spiritual issues, were actually emotional issues.

This author, Matt Rogers, who I would guess to be in his early 30's - went through a few years of depression. Bad depression. He too felt God had let him down, and much of what he said was like reading my own thoughts and feelings. He couldn't pray, felt God had left him. Felt like his Christian experience was a waste and a mockery.

I learned something else from reading the book. I thought I could point to the place where the depression started. October of 2006. The author also had a place he could point to where it all began, but came to the realization that he was depressed before that, and the event that he thought triggered it, was just something that made it worse. I thought back, and though I am not trying to just echo his experiences, have to agree that it is very likely this started long before I thought it might have.

I emailed the author, and he emailed me back. Although in the book, he never took medication, but did get counseling, he told me in the email that after the book went to press, that he did have to get some medication and urged me to do likewise, which I have.

Since I have come to realize that much of what I thought was spiritual, is depression linked, my spiritual life has improved. I took steps to get rid of one of my issues, though it is a drastic solution, and is not the best option, but is the best option at this point in life. That has helped relieve a lot of pressure that I was under. I still have a bit of it hanging over my head, but it is only a fraction of what it was.

Life is a little brighter now. I don't dread the start of each day, and am sleeping better. My relationship with God has improved, though it still needs work in the area of trusting Him and believing that I matter. Even the idea of turning 40 isn't quite as bad as it was, though I am still not excited about it, and still think sympathy cards are in order. :-)

I highly recommend this book. Even if someone is not suffering from depression, but may be discouraged and having doubts. It isn't a cure-all or a quick fix, but it is encouraging and helps the reader better understand what is going on in his life.

So can a true Christian suffer from depression? Oh yeah, and believe me, the devil can use it to his advantage.

I am sure it was difficult for Matt Rogers to write down his experiences, but I am glad he did, and I am also glad that I read his book.