For months, God had been working on me, teaching me to "go beyond what I feel" - urging me to do what I knew I needed to in order to fight the depression even when I didn't "feel" like it. It began gently - with the promise that He would teach me on the days when I didn't feel as though I could even get out of bed to get up anyway - to trust Him to meet me in my weakest moments with His grace to sustain me - in His words, "indeed, to carry me" in my time of greatest need. God promised me that in those dark hours, I was not a failure and that He would use even the worst of those moments for my good. He assured me,
I had known for some years that in the midst of the lows of depression, working out could produce endorphins (happy chemicals in the brain) that could boost my mood in spite of what else was going on chemically in my brain. I knew likewise that upbeat music and other means could produce similar effects... Of course, the problem always lay in that when one is incredibly depressed there is no motivation to get up and shower or brush teeth, much less workout or put on uplifting msuic, regardless of the possible benefit. Still, God was pushing me to go beyond what I "feel" and do what I knew to be right anyway...
So I began with baby steps... Even though I felt no inkling of praise in me, nothing but despair and heartache, I'd put on Elevation Worship and let the music get to work on my heart, mind and soul. And I began to notice an amazing transformation... No matter how bad off I was, having the praise and worship music on in the background would begin to reorient my frame of mind - take the focus off of myself and my depression and point my heart and mind heavenward - to things lovely, and pure and praiseworthy... And the depression would lift. Every time.
There were so many times I did not at all "feel" like turning on my iPod or syncing up youtube videos - but I knew that God was not a liar, not one to mislead... and I trusted Him. So I did it anyway - pushed aside how I felt and what all my thoughts were telling me and pushed play. I am not saying it was easy... not at all. But the indwelling of the Holy Spirit & the PROMISE that I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength was enough to help me get up and just push PLAY.
I did not start out with my hands raised - I did not right away begin with singing or dancing in front of Him. But bit by bit, as the choruses played one after the other, my spirit was lifted from the dark despair where I felt so incredibly isolated and alone - so very far away from everyone, including God... to the higher places, where I could sense God, where I could feel His Presence again and see the Light of His face... And as I persisted, my mood would improve and inevitably, I would end up singing, hands raised, in an entirely different state than that in which I'd begun.
I didn't entirely understand what was going on - I just knew it worked. And so I'd share this advice with anyone who mentioned they were wrestling with any kind of mental distress - anxiety or depression, frustration or any kind of mental anguish... I knew God had brought me a sure fire way to ease the stress in the mind - praise and worship music (my go to thus far had been Elevation Worship, but I was pretty certain that any God-centric praise music would serve the purpose). I was certain of the "cure" even though I didn't yet fully "get" the mechanics of how it worked.
I figured it had something to do with the neurochemistry, right? Surely it was tied into the endorphins I mentioned before... What a person doesn't understand readily, the first natural inclination is to look to science to explain. And I'm sure that there are endorphins and good neurochemicals that are being activated when I let the music work... but I know now it has a lot more to do with the type of music I've been leaning to - the praise and worship - the lyrics that I've turned to and saturated my mind with when I've been lost in the darkness. It's not just the melodies that have rescued me - not at all. Now, I have received enlightenment that I wasn't ready for at first... and I want to share this amazing life changing Truth with you.
But one step at a time - just like God showed me. I don't want to overwhelm you with eight tons of information all in one fell swoop. I promise I will share with you everything God has taught me here & in everything else He has shown me that has led me into wellness and restoration...
For now, I urge you the next time you feel overwhelmed, to go beyond what you "feel" - to push past what all the thoughts circling your mind are telling you - shrug off all the whisperings in your heart and put on some good praise music and just get lost in the lyrics and the melodies... Let the music work on your heart and soul - let it reorient your mind, taking the focus off yourself and your situation, your circumstances or your problems... Shift your gaze toward heaven and be reminded of who God is and who you are to Him.