Windows receding within the car’s interior, my fingers fumbled to put my hair through the elastic grasp of my scrunchie. Winter air rushing to fill the heated car, I looked to the setting sun in hopes that its rays would warm my skin faster. Bass of a nameless song vibrating through the black leather of the seats, I swayed my head to the beat of its rhythm. Eyes drifting to my left, my chest swelled with compassion for the brunette girl yelling lyrics off tune. I focused my gaze back onto the pavement we climbed and smiled.
From the outside, you would’ve never known I had depression.
Within a world where happiness is currency, we are devastatingly impoverished. As pressured as we are to live our best lives, not caring what people think, it isn’t surprising the irony of reality that people are actually living lives full of anxiety, depression, illness, and loss. Circumstances weighing us down, it is difficult to be optimistic. Hearing those cliche lines “God’s got a plan” or “everything happens for a reason”, only make your heart sink.
And while I wish I there were a solution, a 3 step program on how to pull ourselves out of tough situations, the truth is that there is no strategy to winning the lottery of happiness.
So how do we endure difficult times? If we have to simply wait for the rain to pass, how do we strive for a “glass half-full” mindset?
For me, it started with realizing that happiness is circumstantial, that I should instead be striving for joy. Joy being the concept where despite your circumstance, you are content. And from a practical stance, it looked like having gratitude for what I had.
Now, gratitude looks different to each person and situation. In my own mind, creating habits of gratitude was made easier when I imagined “appreciating the little things” as a form of combat, a tool to drill lies out of our minds. Because when Satan was inserting lies within one ear - saying that I was not enough, that I would never measure up to the standards and requirements of the world - it was like bombs going off in my mind, altering and destroying every encouragement, every achievement, every good and pure thought I had. So in a sense, verbally or mentally noting the blessings in my life felt like fighting back with truths that no matter what the world would say, I was already enough and was already loved by so many.
So to bring this to usable terms, the trick is to take the issue and theme of your circumstance and find the ironic thing to do. The type of battle will hint towards the type of weapon to use.
Each time we feel our chest twisting with knots, we must fight back with laughter (Proverbs 12:25). Each time we wake up with our heart beating too fast, we must fight back with physically feeling the warm sheets beneath us, stretching each limb in thankfulness of a new morning (Philippians 4:6-7). Each time we feel a pit in our stomachs after receiving a rejection from an organization or relationship, we must fight back with looking to the birds of the air in remembrance of his plan for us (Matthew 6:26). Each time loneliness envelopes us, we must look at the palms of our hands, tracing each line and curve with love (Isaiah 49:16).
Each time we walk onto the battlefield, we must fight back with the little things that God gives us.
Within the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), this concept is applied. In a match between average ol' David and a giant, David is able to defeat his opponent with a freaking pebble. A pebble!
So if God was able to help David defeat Goliath through a little rock and a little faith, how many giants made of depression, anxiety, illness, or loss do you think he will equip you to win with even the smallest of tools?
Thinking back to the car ride with my best friend, I am overwhelmed with appreciation that I reacted the way I did. Often, there is an array of response that come with difficult seasons. Whether it's an overdrive, underdrive, or complete withdrawal in endurance, we all get a certain way when we're in a funk. But by taking a step back and utilizing the blessings God had lovingly placed in my life like a pretty sunset, good music, and a best friend, I was able to allow God to do the big stuff like healing and restoration and growth, WHILE glorifying him through thanks giving, WHILE being content within my soul.
So whether you're surviving in hard times or thriving in good ones, I hope that you begin to see the blessings in the little things, the power they contain on the battlefield of life.