“Don’t worry babe, things will get better. I promise! :)”
“Jesus will definitely heal you. You will be okay!”
“Everything will be okay just as long as you believe! ”
“All you have to do is change your mindset and you will be okay! You will get better, I promise. :)”
Has anyone else been plagued by the positivity monster? When you are promised and guaranteed that everything will be okay and that you/things will get better with just a change in mindset? Well do allow me to share my thoughts on this. And no, you cannot disagree with me because this is what I feel coming from someone who is dealing with chronic illness and mental health issues. However, do let me tell you how to be positive in a way that isn’t insensitive to a person’s struggles.
1- Positivity will not heal illness (physical)
First of all, no. Things will not get better with a change in mindset. Choosing to think positive will not take away my chronic dizziness and vertigo. It will not suddenly make doctors be able to find out what’s wrong. After going through every possible test and scan to no avail, tell me, can you be positive? If doctors can’t even diagnose me and ran out of medications to try, what makes you so sure that I will get better?
What you can do instead is to tell me that you feel with me, that you know how tough it is to not be able to have a diagnosis, much less a treatment plan to get better. Tell me that it sucks and I can cry and I can feel crushed and hopeless. Then, tell me that you are here by my side to support me and MEAN it through your actions. Tell me that you will be strong for me, that you will share your strength with me. Pray with me and for me.
2- Positivity will not heal mental/emotional illness or issues
I did not choose to have depression. Depression forms and grows differently in everyone. Some due to childhood trauma, some due to trauma in their grown years, some due to the loss of a loved one, some due to having everything materially and in their career but empty and lonely inside etc. It makes more sense that a person is allowed to be depressed because of their lack of circumstances. However, many successful people with loving families and great careers suffer from depression too. Lack of balance in hormones or calcium deficiency can also cause depression. There are many causes. Therefore, being positive is not a choice. If forced, can be a false illusion.
Instead, encourage the person you know who is battling mental health issues (I only used depression as one example) to seek professional help. Do note that medication does not work for everyone, it usually makes one ‘stoned’ and numb which isn’t good unless it is to take drastic measures to prevent a suicide. The side effects of mental health medications aren’t great either. The two commonly known are memory loss and weight gain (which leads to further health problems). While the person seeks professional help, you can also help the person to cope taking each day at a time. Having an accountability partner and talking it out helps. Acknowledge the person’s thoughts and feelings and then help them not to dwell in it. Never discredit their feelings. Don’t baby them. Instead, cry with them when they cry and help them up when they fall. Make them know that they mean something to at least one person on this planet. Don’t make them lean on you entirely. Help them stand on their own two feet with you supporting them whenever they fall. If you are a believer, make them turn to God for strength to carry on, a day at a time. Pray with them, take them out, watch a comedy movie, go to the arcade, go on a drive and sing along to loud music, go dancing.
3- Believing in Jesus doesn’t take away my problems
I once shared in an older post that someone once said to a friend of mine, “If you believe in Jesus, you wouldn’t have depression. Maybe you just aren’t praying hard enough.”
Grrrrr. (enough said)
God tells us to lift up our burdens to him. He tells us to look toward him for strength. He tells us to pray when we are down and broken. Why would he tell us this? It is because he acknowledges that being a Christian doesn’t make you different from any other person on this earth. You still have problems, you still have illnesses. If being a believer meant that your life would be holy and perfect, why would he say these things to us in the first place? A problem has to be there first in order for him to tell us to look toward him right? If Christianity guaranteed that we would never have struggles and illnesses I’m sure the entire planet would convert very enthusiastically.
Believing in Jesus means that I have hope to look forward to. That my sufferings have a purpose. It is through ‘down’ times that we appreciate the ‘up’ times so much more. It is when we take things for granted and lose them that we realise how much they mean to us. Blessed Mother Theresa is one famous example. Do you think she went to the sick and poor and hugged them and told them, “Hey be positive! Jesus will heal you. Your life will get better just as long as you think and believe it!”. Obviously she did not. Instead she would have hugged them and cried with them in their state of poverty due to a corrupted government who doesn’t even provide basic food, water and healthcare to their people. Will staying positive help them receive the basic needs they need? No. It wouldn’t make a difference. What about the civil war in Syria? Will staying positive stop another bomb from dropping? No it wouldn’t.
She would have cried with them and prayed with them to find peace in their hearts in the midst of suffering, and like the many that died, they went with a smile on their face eager to meet their maker. We will never know fully God’s purposes only until we die and face him.
Another friend once told me that a pastor told her that God’s healing is already upon us and that all we have to do is claim it. I then told her how that can be so misleading. Trust me, I have claimed all that I can ever claim for an entire lifetime. What about children that are dying that have received so much prayers? That have been so strong and positive through illness? Are you saying that such pure innocence would be ignored by God?
Instead, tell the person you know who is suffering that you are here with them and acknowledge their struggles. I have a friend with whom I share my struggles with. Whenever I feel too overwhelmed, I tell him how much this sucks and how much it sucks that God isn’t choosing to heal me. I complain about how crappy my life is from all the other things that have happened. I tell him all this and yet, he doesn’t tell me to be strong or to be positive. He tells me that whatever I’m going through sucks and that he doesn’t understand why.
Now does that throw me further into the pit of darkness? No. Instead, I feel so loved and cared for that someone knows I’m going through shit and doesn’t discount it. Does he baby me? No. He tells me that he believes God will get me through it like he has for all the other times, and whatever reason and purpose this is for he does not know, but he hopes for me too, for better days. Another friend once told me, “I’ve seen you drag yourself through shit, through the deepest mud and you always get out of it. I believe you will get through this one with God too.”
I knew a family friend who died of cancer. He was really strong. He even told the doctor, “Who are you to tell me how much time I have left? Only God knows how much time I have left.” The doctor told him to continue with that mindset, that it was good. Thinking positive like that helped him fight the nasty effects of cancer, not heal him. It seemed to get better but eventually, cancer took him away. Did his positivity heal him? No, but his hope in God carried him through. He knew that whether he died or not had a purpose and he trusted in God’s will. At his funeral, everyone said the same thing about him. He was remembered as a strong man of faith, always reaching out to help others. I believe that the purpose of his suffering and death was to strengthen the faith of many of us. That like him, we may trust God’s plans through sufferings. Sometimes, it is to strengthen someone else’s faith.
This is the type of positivity that should be shared. People who cry with you, who don’t understand why you have to go through this but pray with you and for you.
There you go. Some of my thoughts on how you can comfort and share strength with someone struggling through life in any way. Positivity slammed in your face can really be insensitive and annoying. I hope this helps paint the correct picture of how positivity should be shared.
“No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” -1 Corinthians 10:13
Be kind to one another,
Tweet me @Godvsdepression