It has been a long time since I’ve participated in The Week in Words at Stray Thoughts. I love sharing quotations (anyone who reads my book reviews will attest to this!), but I tend to buzz through books without taking the time to sit down and share a quotation each week. However, yesterday Steady Eddie took all the kids out and about for the afternoon so that I could have a bit of a spiritual retreat, and I began reading the book Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a minister who at one time was the minister at Westminster Chapel in London. From what I understand, this book is actually a collection of sermons that he preached on the topic of spiritual depression, or to put it simply, why Christians lack joy (and what to do about it). I’m going to try to take this book slowly and really meditate on what Lloyd-Jones says about a topic that is very dear to my heart. From the first chapter:
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [the Psalmist in Psalm 42] was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul has been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.’ Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have had but little experience.
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’–instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’. (21)
On a related note, I read this wonderful, simple post about anxiety on John Piper’s blog and leapfrogged from that post to this one entitled “10 Resolutions for Mental Health.” I can’t resist extracting resolution #5 from that post here:
I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.
The two things seem somewhat contradictory–talk to yourself, but forget yourself, too? I think it’s all about walking in the Spirit and doing what God has given you to do today, without all the psychological gymnastics that we (I?) are so given to on any given day.
I’m trusting Jesus today, and I’m “keeping my eyes on my own work.” How about you?