How God’s Grace Brought Me Out Of Depression
By John Livingston Clark
I feel compelled to write this due to all the people who are suffering from this dreadful emotional illness, several of whom have expressed hopelessness and despair in prayer requests on this website. May this article serve a purpose in the many lives who need emotional healing. I am not a counselor nor do I have degrees or experience in psychology or social work. This is own personal story of depression and how, by the grace of God, I was delivered from it.
About 15 years ago, in 1999, my life came to a crossroads. If I wanted to see positive change something had to be done! We can’t expect to see change unless we take action. To take no action would have resulted in continuing to live in defeat and aimless direction in my life.
I was a Christian who had served as a choir director and worship leader in several churches. That was one side of me. The other side was a person living with depression because of events that had happened in my life and wrong forms of thinking that had built up over the years. In my case some of my wrong thinking was due to programmed teaching by the religious and theological culture in which I grew up. Events that occurred in my life had something to do with it, but it is how one thinks in reference to circumstances that is the determining factor. Wrong teaching not based upon an accurate interpretation of scripture played a role.
To make matters worse I was the son of a pastor, you know, a “PK,” which I also think can stand for “picked-on kid.” My wrong thinking was not my dad’s fault, who is now with the Lord. I blame it on the undercurrent of thought prevalent at that time, in my young teenage years. Coupled with that was the reluctance to question things because I was raised in church where I was just supposed to accept whatever I was taught. It got to the point to where I was confused, frustrated, and defeated in my Christian walk. My wrong thinking also entered into my marriage, work, self-esteem, and overall success in life. Because I was not providing well for my family, not being a good example to them due to my anger, and saw my life as not going anywhere worthwhile, there were times when I felt like crashing my car into a tree, which I discovered later through counseling that that was a suicidal thought. Me, a Christian, and son of a pastor growing up in church, having thoughts like that? How could that be?
In an excerpt from my book, “God’s Healing Hope: Breaking The Strongholds of Wrong Thinking,” my life can be described this way: “The most compelling situation in my life was finding out why, especially as a Christian, I had all of these problems. I simply could not go on living happily with myself, and as a staff member at local churches without having some answers. I desperately needed to know the causes of my problems, and to get my life on track to seeing positive change…Everything in my life was just the opposite of what my belief system told me it should be. I either needed to change my beliefs or find out why mine weren’t working. Furthermore, my negative strongholds had become traps. Let’s use low self-esteem as an example. One of the results of low self-esteem for me was living a life of mediocrity, which in turn led to thinking poorly of myself. This perpetuated the low self-esteem. It is a circle that goes round and round.” (page 59 from my book, “God’s Healing Hope: Breaking The Strongholds Of Wrong Thinking”) Wrong thinking pervaded my life until I was 50 years of age.
By God’s grace I recognized my need for change. It is hard for a man to say, “I need help.” Since I am a reader I began reading a lot of books. Then I started going to see a Christian counselor. I had to come up with, and apply, strategies to deal with anger issues. I had to “force feed” myself to think differently through reading books, scripture memorization, and by replacing negative, destructive thinking with positive, biblical truth. This was all a very long and difficult process, and many times I took one step forward but two steps backward. It took sheer discipline and a lot of conscious effort, but I had to succeed. The strongholds of wrong thinking had to be broken! Counseling went on for five years. The reading continues to this day. My counselor told me that reading helped bring me out of depression because “filling my mind with constant positive thoughts produced neurochemicals in my brain,” (page 70) I discovered later, through my reading, that it is possible to literally change the way your brain is wired. Awesome! Brain research backs this up. My complete detailed story is told in my book. I began to see positive change and to experience direction in my life, for the very first time. In the words of Psalm 27:13, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
In the past 14 years my life has taken an entirely different direction. Have I gotten totally rid of my past? No, I still have personal and relational issues with which I struggle. God, by His grace, however, met my need where I was at the time, and today has sent me on a journey of living out the purpose and vision He has for my life as a teacher through writing and speaking, so that I can now help others experience a life of victory, value, and vision. God’s grace has been so good to me! Thanks for reading my story. I hope it has been a blessing to you.