Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! But this time of year can also yield bouts of depression, or “blues.” I’ve had the Christmas blues before. I truly am thankful for this time of year. As a Christian, it’s monumental gratitude to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Relationally, it’s a season of gratitude for kids, family, and church. My Christmas Blues were just a funky cocktail of thankfulness and sadness. If you are having the blues, here are three things I’ve done. I am not a professional, just on a journey, sharing my story.
1️⃣ December Christian Therapy. If you go once a week, that equates to four sessions. It’s probably the best Christmas gift you can give yourself because you’re gifting yourself purge and peace. Don’t have the resources for that this time of year? One idea: when asked what you want for Christmas, say, “a 4-pack counseling session.” If it will bring joy to you, it will bring joy to them to give it.
2️⃣ Go to Church. One of the hardest things to see is someone who tells me they can’t go to church because they’re not in the mood (ie, the Christmas blues). This can not be because that is a lie being whispered to your soul! The FIRST place we should run to in our blues is God’s hospital, the church. There is a supernatural, healing, holistic experience awaiting you there, that ONLY God can offer. Yes you will have to miserably drag yourself there, but I promise, you will leave better than you came.
3️⃣ GIVE. Give old clothes to the homeless, give donations to your church, give time to the elderly, give free babysitting to a single mom, give your time to people in the hospital or at halfway houses in addiction recovery. It’s true that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I would also add, it’s more healing. It’s the ultimate paradox: giving. away. fills. up. And that’s what a blue-depleted soul needs: a fill-up. I hope this encourages someone today. May you know His peace. And Merry Christmas.
Once upon a time, when I was four, my Dad tucked me into my Raggedy Ann sheets and asked if I wanted to invite Jesus into my heart. That’s how he explained it. That’s how I understood it. So I said, “YES!” But when I invited Jesus into my heart, I actually invited him into all of my life. Lever 2000 used to have a commercial saying their soap was for all “2000 parts.” Yea, Jesus is like that. When we invite him into our hearts, we invite His perfect, holy, forgiving, forever presence into all of our 2000 parts. But Jesus is a gentleman. He stands at the door of your life and waits for your invitation to enter. At your invite, the bible teaches He comes into your life entirely, leaving no part out. Back to me: later in my college years, I wanted (and needed) to rededicate my life to Jesus. I had accumulated a lot of bad parts: eyes that saw things I shouldn’t have seen; mouth that regularly lied; mind that coveted and connived; feet that wandered into regrettable places. But the bible teaches perfect Jesus left Heaven to die on the cross for ALL my imperfect parts. Yours too. He was our substitute. The bible says the wages of sin is death. But Jesus took on death for us when we didn’t even know Him yet. It’s THAT ultimate, unconditional love that has sustained me since 1977. I hope you know that no part of you is bad enough for Jesus. He loves all 2000 parts of you. And every day, He stands at the door of your life waiting for your invitation.
Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High. That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. Psalm 107
PS – I’d like to thank Fozzy (ie dingus) for sneezing at just the wrong time, here. SMH.
When we choose solitude it is a good thing (Jesus himself chose time for solitude). But sometimes life will give us seasons of un-chosen loneliness. During these seasons, you feel like “they” (whoever your “they” is) isn’t texting you, “liking” your posts, including you in group-chats, including you in the plan, or all of the above. It’s your world yet you feel like the invisible one in it. Jesus experienced this too. He had friends, family, and a following. But when He hung by nails on a cross, He was separated from it all. The bible tells us what he did in this extreme-lonely moment: he cried to God and he talked to God. If all we depend on is encouragement from “our world”–what will we do when our world isn’t there? With a mind like mine, there are seasons where people around me can’t be sources of encouragement to me. During bouts of depression or “lows,” (i.e., un-chosen loneliness) it’s forced me to look within (not around) for encouragement. Seeking encouragement from within, I discovered there was a bounty of encouragement there. A “still, small voice” reminds me that I’m God’s royalty! His heir! His favorite Heather Michelle Funk Palacios! My soul whispers to my loneliness that my Master-Artist still believes in me, His masterpiece. When I invited Jesus into my life, He moved into my heart. You honestly can’t get ANY closer [to encourage someone] than from within their heart. I learned to encourage myself by His presence in my heart, and His promises in His book. Today, if you are in a season of unchosen loneliness, seek encouragement from within. They say it’s lonely at the top–your Savior would know…He was alone atop a cross. He gets you. And right now, he’s ready to encourage you, from within.
I often troll the bible looking for mental-verses. It is the book of LIFE. It is a “double-edge sword” against thoughts of death. It is a book that–-when opened—sinks itself like treasure in your belly, NEVER to return void. It is the book that—when stored in your heart and uttered aloud—will make the enemy flee. It is a powerful mental-health remedy, and it’s free and accessible to all. So I was thrilled when I came across Isaiah 61:3 that says God can give, “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” This verse tells me that God can exchange my bouts of wet-wool-blanket heaviness for his garments of light, uplifting praise. How? By praising Him! This sounds super-spiritual, but I’m not super spiritual. If I do it, anyone can. I’ve learned praising God isn’t bound by church services or pitch-perfect voices. On a jog one morning, I passed a lady praising God while walking. Praising God is sometimes in song, sometimes at church, but it’s also when we’re driving, walking, exercising, working, crying, falling asleep, waking up, writing, praying, rueing or reflecting. It’s simply giving God props in a reverent way, from wherever we are. It’s telling Him how good He is, no matter how bad we are. It’s taking our focus off our heaviness and putting it on His holiness. If you are in a spirit of heaviness, try putting on the garment of praise. There’s nothing to lose…and a garment to gain.
Sometimes we get down because we don’t know who we are. We don’t know where we belong. We wonder why we are here. This confidence-injury needs First Aid! Let me preempt this by saying there is only one First Aid that has stood the test of time. It is the only First Aid that has sold the most “kits” of itself, the most often. It is the only First Aid you will find in every hotel room. It is the only First Aid prescribed by a Doctor who created every patient and can heal any wound. This First Aid is the bible. And it is the greatest remedy for a confidence-injury. On its “Rx Script,” it says YOU ARE…
A – Accepted, Romans 15:4, 13
B – Beautiful, Isaiah 61:10
C – Chosen, Colossians 3:12
D – Delivered, 2 Timothy 4:18
E – Empowered to obey, Philippians 2:13
F – Free, Romans 8:2
G – Granted grace, Romans 5:17, 20
H – His, Isaiah 43:1
I – Inseparable from His love, Romans 8:35
J – Joint heir, Romans 8:17
K – Kept, 1 Peter 1:5
L – Lacking no wisdom, James 1:5
M – Made alive, Ephesians 2:5
N – Not given a spirit of fear, 2 Timothy 1:7
O – Overcomer, 1 John 5:4-5
P – Purposeful, Psalm 138:8
Q – Qualified, Colossians 1:2
R – Renewed, 2 Corinthians 4:16
S – Strengthened in Him, Ephesians 3:16
T – Thought about, Psalm 139:17-18
U – Useful, Isaiah 43:7
V – Victorious, 1 Corinthians 15:57
W – Washed, sanctified, justified, 1 Corinthians 6:11
Y – Yielded to God, Romans 6:13
There’s a wise, old saying, “one day at a time.” Which, in many seasons and situations, rings true and hopeful. However, when I’ve battled through seasons of diagnosed-depression, that adage was nearly impossible (“nearly” because with God all things are possible, Matthew 19:26). In prior seasons of depression, I’d wake up and no sooner would I open my eyes and “one day at a time” was one day too many. Such a daunting and tiring “goal,” it almost presents itself as an excuse to stay in bed and rest. So what to do? I put a sticky note beside my bed that says, “one hour at a time.’ Let’s say I wake up at 6:30am. When I reach for my phone to turn off my alarm, I see that sticky note. But as pangs of sadness, darkness, emptiness wake up in my head too, I’m immediately commissioned to just make it to 7:30am. “Heather, what can you do to make it to 7:30am?” That kind of rhetorical question is answered with things like: brush teeth, put contacts in, make coffee, let dogs out. It still requires effort and energy, but not in overdrive or abundance. Now with anything related to my mental-plight, I always try to tie it to God’s Word. Because you and I need that a million times more than personal advice and experience. This 1-minute post may stick with you for a day. God’s Word will stick with you for a lifetime. As it pertains to my “one hour at a time,” this verse really spoke to me: “Desperate, I throw myself on you: you are my God! Hour by hour I place my days in your hand, safe from the hands out to get me.” (Psalm 31:5) Friend, if you’re going through a depressing season, one…keep going—we walk through the valley we don’t live there! (Psalm 23:4). And two, you’re not by yourself—we’re in this together, even if we’re taking it one hour at at a time!
For eight years I’ve carried a concealed weapon. Concealed because it’s always in my purse; and unless you snoop around in there, you won’t know it’s there. I bought it for cheap at a local store. I don’t have a license to carry it, but I have power with it. It’s double-impacted, so it’s offensive AND defensive in its use. It’s my pocket-size notebook with handwritten verses. 🙃 I selected verses that personally speak life to me when the devil whispers, “die, quit, give-up, why bother.” The Bible says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) With this, I believe God at His word (lit. & fig.) so that’s why I started carrying this “weapon” of life. If God is life and the devil is death, then I will speak God’s words to counterattack. Why do I speak them aloud? Because of what the Bible says—and doesn’t say. Isaiah 46:9-10 says only God knows the future. It also says, “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7); and when Jesus was resisting the devil tempting him in the wilderness, Jesus spoke aloud to him. Furthermore, there’s nothing in the Bible to indicate that Satan is omniscient. Now, I’m not weird about it—like, I don’t go around shouting verses in public. But that’s not where the devil whispers to me anyway. Most of the time, when I hear, “give up,” it’s when I’m alone. So I pull out my notebook and speak a truth to the enemy’s lying. I recognize this is an unsophisticated tactic. But I can’t deny it’s effect because I’m still here, God and I are winning. I hope this encourages someone today. If you want to know which verses I have in my “concealed weapon,” email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.