by Danen Kane
The word depression carries with it a lot of baggage and stigmas, especially when you are a professing Christian. It carries with it words like weak, defeated, pathetic, and damaged. Those who battle it hear things like “just get over it” on a semi-regular basis. And those of us who face it every day know that that statement, though it’s usually coming from a person who legitimately cares, is as ludicrous as telling someone with a broken wrist to “just bend it”. Depression is not just a result of circumstance. It is not about mustering up enough self will and concurring it like a difficult workout at the gym. Depression has physiological, psychological, and spiritual elements to it as well. And that’s why it is so hard to treat, explain, face, and even understand.After battling depression to varying degrees all my life, I’ve recently come to view it much differently. This perspective change came at an interesting time, as the last four years of my life have been without question my most difficult. They have been filled with heartbreak, loss, abandonment, rejection, and extreme loneliness. All of which are secretly my worst fears on earth, my greatest sources of pain, and what I try my hardest in life to avoid at all cost. During all of this, depression’s voice whispered its familiar songs of hopelessness, regret, self-hatred, calls for seclusion, and just to give up. Many days it was hard just to get out of bed and even find the focus to complete the simplest of tasks. The emotional pain, coupled with what feels like a fog over your mind, steals motivation and tries to rob you of the hope that things will ever be different.
But for me, it was during my darkest days that I started to be the most transparent about my life to those around me. Not because I wanted to, but because I had no more strength to convince everyone I was ok. No one wants to admit they need help. And no one wants to admit that illusion, a lot of us try to perpetuate on social media of a perfect and happy life, is actually the furthest thing from our current reality. So I started to share. At concerts I started to speak about the battles I was facing every day. The mistakes I had made that perpetuated the problems. I started to be more open about my longing for acceptance and the empty things I had been going to that only lead to deeper pain and disappointment. I also started to talk about the reality of depression not being a seasonal thing for me, but instead, it really was part of my entire story. My emotional struggle was not just a result of hard times. It has been something that has been with me as long as I can remember and does not discriminate based on season or life circumstance. With depression, there is a difference that separates it from sadness resulting from hard times. That ache, that sadness, that sense that the things of life are not as they should be, never goes away. As circumstances improve they lessen, and the voices get quieter, but they never really leave. There is always this feeling, this dull ache, this sense and subtle sadness that remain.
With all that said, one day following a series of conversations with others in my life that have battled the same things, something clicked. When I thought back over my life, the times I grew the most spiritually and depended on God the most were my darkest times. They were always when I was at the end of myself, emotionally broken, and feeling the weight of depression. I thought about how the songs I’ve written out of those times have brought more healing and salvation to the followers of my music than any of my songs birthed during brighter days. And even more than that, I found that it actually was the sadness, the struggle, that dull ache, that most often drives me to pour my heart out, and recognize my need for God and seek after Him and His Word the most. It was in these realizations that my view of this sadness began to change.
I used to view it as an affliction, as an enormous burden. As if there was something wrong with me and that I needed to find a cure. But then I thought, “what greater cure could there possibly be than having a love relationship with The God Of The Universe?” And yet, here I am 25 years into that love relationship, and the presence of depression is still alive and well. After wrestling with these thoughts over and over, I’ve come to find that in many ways, as crazy as it might sound, depression has actually been a blessing in my life. A blessing I do not enjoy as much as finding a hundred dollars or making an amazing new friend, but a blessing none the less. Nothing has brought me to greater dependence on Christ, or to the foot of the cross more times than this “affliction.”
Nothing has brought me to a greater dependence on Christ, or to the foot of the cross more times than this “aflication.”
Nothing has made me search the depths of my heart more than this “curse.” Nothing has allowed me more opportunities to stare into the eyes of a person who is emotionally broken and say with complete sincerity, “I understand.” It is very difficult to minister to a suffering world unless we ourselves have suffered. I think that fact is woven powerfully and clearly throughout scripture, though we live in a culture that tries to avoid it like the plague.
The truth is, we live in a broken world. We live in a world marked with suffering that does not just exist on the news in foreign lands, but exists everywhere and in all kinds of forms. It exists silently behind closed doors in our neighborhoods, and even exists in our own homes. It sometimes manifests physically as hunger and poverty, and sometimes as emotional wounds too deep to mention. But as a result, I believe we live in a world that worships happiness. That worship is the escape. Every sermon the world preaches is that the point of life is to achieve that high. We go to great lengths to find it and often trample on anything or anyone to taste it, even for a just short while. But if we believe that the Bible is true, then the point of life is not for us to seek happiness at any cost. The point of life is to worship God. To worship Him in much or in want. To worship Him on the mountaintop or the valley floor. To worship Him in happiness or in broken sadness. He wants us to experience the depths as well as the heights, and in all things say with confidence, “My God is good.” Nothing has brought me to a greater understanding that God is good than the times I’ve spent in brokenness sitting at His feet. And nothing has brought me to that place more often than this thing I was so ashamed to talk about for so long. God truly can use ANYTHING to bring us to His love. He knows He is everything our hearts long for in this life. He designed us to long for things only He could fulfill. So though it may sound strange, I have learned to even give thanks for my depression. That ache and that sadness remind me of the truth, that I need Him every moment of every day.
If you deal with this issue know that you are not alone. Know you are deeply loved. And I encourage you to reach out to those around you and let them into the reality you face every day. I think you will find many can relate, even more than you might think. The more we share about our struggle the less power it has over us. I encourage you to allow it to remind you that this world is not as it should be, and not allow it to define you, your worth, or your future. That value is fixed and determined by the One who designed you. He says you are priceless. Irreplaceable. He is willing to go to unbelievable lengths to know you and to fulfill the longing in your heart. So to that I proclaim from the bottom of my heart, my God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine
Danen Kane’s new album, Flesh And Soul, continues to receive strong support from Christian media since the project’s release in March. Kane has received high-profile reviews and been busy doing several interviews and television appearances that include, Campus Crusade for Christ, CCM Magazine, LeSea Broadcasting “Harvest Show” and “Studio B,” Life With Purpose Radio, Solutions Magazine, JesusFreakHideout.com, Alabama Baptist, KBPK Radio/Fullerton College, among others.
To purchase Flesh And Soul, visit iTunes or www.danenkane.com/store