Wednesday, May 25, 2011

bad attitude test

Sometimes I just have a bad attitude.  I get caught in the trap of thinking too much about myself and my wants and frustrated because they are always thwarted.  So I am grumpy, and I act like a jerk to those around me.  I need to straighten up, to get some perspective.  I need to repent, to pray, and to open my eyes to what is around me.  I need to remember how blessed I am, and to be grateful.

Depression is not just a bad attitude.  But it may look exactly like that from the outside.


(I think this is one of the reasons it is so hard to be the one who loves the depressed person.  I understand the healthy person who looks at the sick one and grumbles, Why can’t they just snap out of it already! I don’t see what there is to feel so bad about all the time!)

Pain makes everyone grumpy. 
A bad attitude is like a self-inflicted injury, a nagging cut.  It needs a bandage and maybe some ointment, and the person with the cut really needs to toughen up a bit. 

But depression is more like a gaping, oozing hole in the stomach after an attack from a giant, evil lion.  (Is that too much? No, maybe not enough.  But there are kids in the room.)

Offers of bandages and prods to “cheer up” are completely unhelpful.

Bad attitude or depression?
Try my unofficial, unverified experiment:

First, ask yourself this question:  What do I have to be depressed about?

Sit down, get a pen, and make a list.
Think of all the things you should be grateful for (but you’re not.)
And think of the things you should be happy about (but you’re not.)
And remember all the things that once made you joyful (but now they don’t.)
And recall God’s promises that brought you comfort in the past, and feel… nothing. Or maybe anger.

Go ahead, make that list.  If you are doing it right, it will be a long, long list.

While you are at it, also make a list of those people you know whose life is so much worse than yours but they seem to be handling it so much better.  Then hold up your other list and ask yourself, If they can handle THAT, why can’t I handle this?

Then pray, Lord, I’m a jerk.  Forgive my sin and help me see the blessings that surround me.

If this little exercise has helped you gain a new perspective on life, opened your eyes to the blessings He gives you every day, and caused your heart to overflow with love where once there was self-pity, then you probably just had a bad attitude.  Thank God for his grace and move on with your day.

If that little exercise helped you see the blessings, but seeing them only made you more aware of how terrible it is that you have such awful feelings despite all of that, and now you feel even worse than when you started… that’s depression. And sorry, I don’t feel too bad about making you do this, because if you are depressed, my guess is that you were doing this all day long anyways, weren’t you?

Yep, depression is a giant gaping painful hole in the stomach.  Of course, a sinner will also find plenty of bad attitude mixed in with the depression too.  I can’t sort all of that out.  I don't think we have to.  I can assure you that God sees what is sin and what is sickness, and He has mercy on both.

So wait with me, pray with me with David:

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
How I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God
With glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul
And why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
My salvation and my God.

Psalm 42:1-5

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