Teaching Kids How to Keep Going Through the Hard Times
I didn’t write anything last week because I wasn’t really able to. I’ve been in a moderate depression for three years, so I finally decided to try an antidepressant, but that was a disaster, two times over. I reacted very negatively to both Lexapro and Zoloft, so I cannot use that class of antidepressant.
But all my struggle with depression and the terrible, dark place I was in while on those medicines for a week have made me think about how we approach the hard things in life and how we prepare our kids for the bad times.
Honestly, I think many of us pretty much ignore the reality that there will probably be as much bad as good in each of our lives. Jesus plainly said, “In this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33. Acts 14:22 says, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way in to the kingdom of God.” And I can’t remember the exact statistics, but something like 2/3 of the Psalms are either laments or pleas or imprecations. Life is going to be hard. And we need to be ready for that.
I regret that I did not take advantage of the disappointments or setbacks or failures my kids experienced to prepare them for the bigger versions of those things they would eventually face. I felt their disappointment and commiserated with them, but didn’t discuss with them the inevitably of these bad things and how we expect them, but don’t focus on them. God doesn’t want us focused on them. He pointedly told us to “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8
I also didn’t teach them specific coping techniques for bad times and concrete skills for making life more enjoyable. I don’t know if I even considered that these things could be taught. But they can. And, not surprisingly, many of these skills are straight out of the Bible:
Serving others (The Golden Rule)
Seeing the world with eyes of faith and possibility (“we walk by faith not by sight”)
Cultivating relationships (“carry each other’s burdens” and “don’t give up meeting together”)
Living with purpose (“for me to live is Christ”)
Prayer and meditation (“don’t be anxious about anything, but make your requests known to God by prayer and petition”)
Taking care of yourself physically (“your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”)
Now that I’m reading books on depression, I’m seeing these connections. This doesn’t mean Christians who practice all these things won’t get depressed; some still do. And we will all have hard times. But these are the the practices prescribed by the professionals as the basis of overcoming depression.
I left out part of the first verse I cited. Jesus did say, “In this world you will have trouble,” but then he said “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” And that’s the bottom line. He has overcome this world. Praise God.