Renewing My Mind From Despondency
One afternoon, I convulsively struggled with uncontrollable sobs. My throat and soul were strangled with innumerable tears and fears. Gasping and hiccupping spasmodically, I compulsively rubbed my tight and painful throat. I cried like that for hours.
I’d never cried like this before. This wasn’t crying from fatigue or weeping for relief. This was my slough of despondency. Failure. Fear. Regret. Doubt. Despair. All created a toxic mud in my mind that sucked me into despondency.
When I first slipped into the slough, I didn’t recognize the mud. Dizzily lurching into despondency was — and still is — my instinctive reaction. In fact, I sincerely thought that despondency was good — that it would humble and discipline me.
But I was wrong. Despondency is a dejection of spirit at the loss of courage or hope, and our God is not a God of discouragement or hopelessness! This loss of courage and hope might be what Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians 7:10: “the sorrow of the world [that] produces death.” Despondency is physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually draining. It may even lead to spiritual death.
My despondency led me away from God. Feeling discouraged and hopeless was a phony way of pursuing humility and discipline. In retrospect, I laugh at myself. How in the universe did I think that despondency was Godly? How could I have forgotten the magnificent message of the Bible that manifested forgiveness, redemption, courage, and hope?
The truth is, I was zealous in lurching into the slough, but not-so-zealous in walking in the Lord's way. I failed to remember and follow God’s Word (see Josh. 1:8 & 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Consequently, I did not examine my despondency and capture my thoughts to obey Christ.
"...Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.." -2 Cor. 10:5
I remembered God’s Word the hard way. I had countless bouts of depression and went through intense crying paroxysms before I realized that I was stepping off God’s solid ground and wallowing in Satan’s lies. Forgetting God’s word results in serious, painful outcomes.
Sister, examine the Word and examine your thoughts. Are your thoughts obeying Christ? Because thoughts have consequences.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” -Romans 12:2
After I recognized how toxic the slough of despondency was, I prayed for God to transform me by the renewing of my mind. Constant prayer is a marvellous fellowship with God that humbles you, reminds you of God’s presence, and is a key step toward transformation. It was my first step out of the slough and onto the Way.
My second step was renewing my reliance on God through prayerful humility. My self-pressure – pressure that I had to achieve this, stop failing that, and so on – had pressed myself deeper into despondency. And when I thought I could escape the slough through my own power, with just a bit of guidance from God, I relapsed into despondency. I finally remembered that it is God who works in me to fulfill His good purpose (Phil. 2:13). God will only work in me if I humbly rely on Him, not my fallen self.
[pullquote width="300" float="left"]God will only work in me if I humbly rely on Him, not my fallen self.[/pullquote]
In my third step, God is renewing the attitude of my mind to do everything for the Lord and not for men (Col. 3:23 & 1 Cor. 10:31). I’m still learning to embed this attitude in my mind – but I tell you, the idea of doing everything for God’s glory is already radically transforming! Since I know that what I do stands before God’s judgment and not man’s, my fear of failure changes into humility before God’s face. Since God uses the thorns and thistles to teach, chastise, sanctify, and transform us, my encounters with discouragement change into Godly growth. And since I know that God’s strength works powerfully in me to do His good purpose, my struggles with hopelessness change into strivings toward God-given goals (see Phil. 3:12-15). Girl, if you do everything for the Lord, it changes everything.
Fourth, God led me to turn my reactions of despondency into rallies of bravery! God loves to work everything out for good. Further, not all sorrow is despondency – not all sorrow is ungodly.
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted…. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!” -2 Corinthians 7: 10-11
Can you hear the excitement in Paul’s voice? Whenever you sin, do not fall into despondency; instead, sorrow in a Godly manner. God forgives and renews you, so failures are not funeral bells. Instead, they are wake-up clarions! Godly sorrow produces great gusto to glorify God.
God can work powerfully to transform you by the renewal of your mind, even though it may be slow and difficult in the beginning.
When I first began actively avoiding despondency, I was constantly tempted to wade back into the slough – and often did so. But the Holy Spirit brought me to do the following whenever despondent thoughts whispered in my mind:
- Consciously stop dwelling on despondent thoughts
- Immediately pray, especially for my despondency and for what triggered my despondency; and
- Move on to whatever task I had been doing. In short – stop, pray, then move on.
I don’t sink into despondency anymore, but if temptation does return, I know that I’ll be ready to run from despondency into the arms of my Almighty God who will pull me out of the slough and set my mind on the Way.