As Kingdom men, we are called to be overcomers. We're called to live a victorious life, rising above our circumstances, and ascending above the issues that can easily cause us setbacks.
However, just because this is our calling doesn't mean we signed up for an easy life when we committed to following Christ.
Like everyone, I also have good days and I have bad days. I just want to be transparent and vulnerable because we don’t always talk about it as guys because we're armored up, firmly holding our shields, and we don't let people in past the outer gate. Figuratively and literally.
How Do You Fight it When You're Just Down?
In Episode 56 of Raising the Standard, we looked at a moment in King David’s life where he was in the depths of despair and the steps he outlined in Psalm 42 to get back up again. If you haven't listened to that episode, you are highly encouraged to do so, but it's not necessary for today’s post to make sense.
In that episode, I emphasized immediate steps you can take on a personal level, like talking to yourself, remembering what God has done in the past, praying it out, and so forth.
But in this post I want to emphasize a few things you can do in community among trusted brothers.
Surround Yourself With Brothers Who Will "Kindle" You
There's a stereotype of men that we don’t show any sign of weakness, or any transparency, and we put on a front and say “nah, I'm good” and hide whatever ails us.
Isn't that what we do when we meet up and see each other?
“Hey, what's up? What's up with you? How are you doing?”
That's the typical response we give, right?
We rarely admit we’re struggling even a little bit or that it hasn't been the best week or that we’re trying to get out of this space we’re in.
Find Some brothers You can Confide In
Who can you call or text in one of those moments and ask for a listening ear or for some prayer?
I know as much as anyone that it’s simple sounding on paper or on your smartphone to read words like this saying it’s necessary, but I know a lot can hold us back in our own heads.
It takes vulnerability because we have to share how we're feeling with someone. If not, we carry it around bottled up, and it also takes trust to share with a trusted brother.
But you’ve got to have someone you can confide in, and a lot of us don't have that. We often don't have an inner circle of friends, and even if we do have some friends that we can confide in, you may not be sharing your challenges because as men, we're competitive.
Do You Have a Mentor or Someone you Mentor?
What do you do when you're distracted? What do you do when you're seeking the Lord but you end up only reading a lot about Him, or end up listening to things but not actually spending time with God? You're just doing a lot of things for Him or about Him, but it's lacking that passion, that fire, that intimacy that we're called to have with our Father and walking this life out with Jesus.
One Scripture to look at is in 2 Timothy 1:6 where the Apostle Paul has someone he considers his spiritual son and this guy's name is Timothy. He tells him, “for this reason, I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you.”
You might be looking at it through a different translation, but that word “kindle” is interesting and I’m not talking about the device to read digital books on, but where it pertains to starting and keeping a fire going. Paul’s saying kindle it up, inflame it, strengthen, use zeal.
He's talking about reigniting a fire that was once there.
“Timmy, there’s something you have to do to light and guard this fire. If it goes down, kindle it afresh, bro.”
Another reason we need to talk to others is because we can see blindspots and perspectives in each other that we’re not seeing in ourselves.
Sometimes I think James chapter 5 tells us to pray for one another not just because there’s power in praying where two or three are gathered, but because it’s easier to believe in faith for solutions to other people’s problems sometimes than it is for our own.
So, find people who can pray in faith with you and for you.
Those close to us, praying for us and kindling our fires can ask us hard questions or encourage us to take up another perspective:
Have You Backslidden?
Perhaps you did something you weren't supposed to do and you feel like you failed God. Maybe you stepped away, or fell into outright sin. That will definitely leave you feeling disconnected and open to possible condemnation. Even though we know the Lord forgives us and restores us, we don't always forgive ourselves.
Maybe it's not a blatant sin, but perhaps you feel like you let God down or you disappointed someone close to you and you're just beating yourself up over it. Maybe you dropped the ball somewhere in your life, and that has pushed you into despair, or a bit of depression.
It also can be because you lost your zeal, that fiery passion that we are to live for with God. You're living clean, and you're not involved in any open or blatant sin, but you don't have that fire. You don't have that passion. You're not walking with renewed energy every day of living and walking with Jesus and the adventure that he invites us into.
Talking to Someone = Self-medicating
Another benefit of having people we can call out to and ask for prayer and share our struggles with is that when we communicate, studies have shown our brains trigger a neurochemical cocktail that makes us feel either good or bad.
Have you ever heard someone share their troubles with you, and before you even had a chance to utter a word, they tell you “thanks for just listening, I feel much better already” and you feel like you didn’t say or do anything? That’s because “feel good” conversations trigger higher levels of dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, and other biochemicals that give us a sense of well-being.
So when you're in that moment and you can't find your way, guys, take the lessons from Psalm 42 and talk to yourself and set expectations, but don’t hesitate to reach out to others.
And of course, lift up worship to God and watch what happens in your life!
If You're Feeling Isolated and Stuck, Don't Stay There!
As a Christian you can be spiritually SAVED but STRUGGLING with things like depression. Called to an overcoming life while you are being overcome.
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