Thursday, February 5, 2009

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue.

I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Do you have any advice or suggestions as to how to address a feeling of continuous sadness in a person’s life?


Anonymous said...

Hi Greg,
thats a tough one.. my wife suffers from clinical depression and OCD so I have wrestled with this question to some extent.
I know what not to do more that what I should do.Most obviously don't tell someone to 'pull there socks up ' that demonstrates a lack of understanding.
Learn to listen, resist the urge to fix problems, and be a part of a community, pray lots :)

Greg said...

Thanks. The "not to do's" are always helpful, along with the more pro-active listening and praying.

John said...

Point to something hopeful, and show that hope is really possible.

When I have encountered those who do not have hope, or who are sad all the time, I try to point them to something in their life that is hopeful, or going well, and encourage them that the same can occur in other areas. This is especially hard if the person does not believe in a higher power, or is very confused about a higher power and if it is good, but I think this is another way that we can point to Christ, who is the ultimate hope (as cliche as that sounds).

Greg said...

Thanks. Valuable words. I was also thinking of creativity as a possible counter to sadness.

The Walk said...

I'm so excited I stumbled into your blog again today (haven't blogged lately, but I was just going through my history, and there you were).

Here are some tips I would give to a person who is depressed--


-Be open enough, brave enough, humble enough to ask others for help. For example, if you have feelings of guilt, shame, or doubt eating and eating away at you, bring those to people you trust. And then do it again. What you are feeling is too heavy to be carried alone. Surround yourself with resources.

-Join a support group. Many churches have them...Celebrate Recovery often has groups for folks struggling with depression.

-Make a difference. Maybe it's passing out bulitins at church. Maybe it's answering questions on an internet forum.

-Know that you are not alone in your experiences. Many other saints have also struggled. (Perhaps you could find quotes from them, tips that they found helpful).


-Read the Bible everyday. Even if some days that means reading only two verses so that you'll stay in the habit. Find a few sections that are especially helpful to you and go back to those again and again.

-Pray. If prayer is a struggle, sometimes it helps to begin by drawing what you are trying to express, singing it, or writing it.

-If there are questions you need to sort through in your faith walk, remember to be open with people you trust about these struggles, so that they can walk with you and support you.


-Allow yourself to express your pain, through tears, and through something like art or music. It is okay to cry a lot when you are in pain, and tears can be healing.

-Get in the habit of journaling--this can help you to sort through how you are thinking and feeling, and why.


-Remember that life is like a book with many chapters. Right now you are in one of the crummy chapters, one of the chapters where everything is dark and gloomy. But there will be good chapters in the book too. Even if it seems like it will take a long long time, there will be good chapters.

-Be careful about what you are allowing into your mind, through music, tv, internet, books, whatever

Finally, this video's kinda interesting. It helped me when I was in a rough spot...

Not all of these tips would be relevant to everyone, and they would certainly apply to different people in different ways, depending on whether it was a a school teacher or a twelve year old. But hopefully some will help somebody.

Thanks for bringing up this topic!

John said...

Greg -
Creativity, huh? That's not one I had thought of, though it could be something that people who are inclined that way could enjoy.

I wonder if the idea that I've come across from time to time that it's bad to have fun, or to enjoy things (outside of Jesus, of course), has any effect on this in Christian circles.

Just a thought. Have you come across that sentiment?

Valorosa said...

I'm wondering also if it is because faith is diminished.

God seems so far away these days ... we pray for people to be healed and they die anyway.

Healing is a big one I think ...

Then that could be linked to the things I mentioned before ... we don't spend time with God enough??

Greg said...

The Walk,
Helpful stuff. Thanks for your insights. To remark on just one. I think that trust is a real key as sadness can often be due to the lack of any people in one's life that are trustworthy. As a result, suspicion seeks to take over, although it can never do so entirely. We're made to trust.

Greg said...

Yes, I have. Due to a lack of a creational perspective this idea is an untruth that many seem to buy into.

Greg said...

Thanks. And welcome to Living Spirituality.

I agree. Maybe we could formulate this as disappointment with God, which unfortunately leads to spending less time with him. Perhaps, the eventual response should be the opposite.

Joshua said...

Reading a book by Plantiga. He seems to be attributing it to sin. Haven't got far enough in the work (just preface and intro), so I'm not sure of what he's gonna say. If you are familiar with Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin or something similiar he's put out, what are your thoughts on his argument?

Greg said...

Thanks. Excellent book and I agree with much of it. In a nutshell, yes, I think sin in some form is ultimately the culprit as it attempts to block and destroy human flourishing.

Anonymous said...

A large part of my life has been characterized by feelings of sadness and so I find myself unable to ignore such a question. As I reflect on what has helped me there are many things that come to mind, but the one that sticks out is meditation. It has been through my learning to read what God has spoken through scripture and engage with it by consiously seeking to understand what is being said on not just an intellectual level but on an emotional level as well. It's allowing the scripture to awaken me in the dark places of my heart--the places that have shut down from pain, despair, broken trust, broken desires of the way I wish the world to be, the way I wish myself to be, the way I wish relationships to be...dwelling, meditating on who God is and who I am in times of silence. This has brought about an ability to then go about my day and experience God's presence. I don't mean it in a way that I feel that the sadness is gone but I find that there is something else besides the sadness. There is a God who is loving and is thus reshaping my understanding of what love is all together.Community has been important but for one who interpreted relationship through a lens of suspicion, as Greg suggested, community seemed at times an an aggrevation to my sadness. It hasn't been until I had something else to contradict my beliefs, a God who sacrificed himself to be in relationship with me, and I could find that belief in times without others, in silent times alone reaching towards God, that I could then begin to crack the door to opening myself to people and thus my experience of community in a new way. They work together no doubt as people demonstrating the love of God can also be a means of contradicting a dominating perspective of mistrust. Perhaps this can be helpful in some way to someone like me.

Greg said...

Thanks for your helpful comment and welcome to Living Spirituality. It's very good to hear your words. So often the love of God is left to the side when it should be front and center.

harry coe maynard said...

Greg and all,

The problem with Faith, Hope, and Bible study and Prayer is it is not a one time event.


Greg said...

Harry coe,
Welcome back. Thanks for the comment. The problem would be, it seems to me, if faith, hope, Bible study, and prayer were a one time event.