Dylan Dodson: Can a Christian Suffer from Depression? My Story

shutterstock_308068409Editor’s note: I came across this post from Dylan Dodson in my Facebook feed. It turns out Dylan’s wife’s (Christina) used to serve on our social media team. We obtained permission through Christina to share it on our blog because I thought it would very much resonate with our readers. Here’s Dylan…

About a year ago I heard a prominent Christian leader whom I respect explain his thoughts on depression. He said that he did not believe true believers in Christ could really be depressed because our hope is ultimately in Christ. He talked about how Christians understand that this life can be difficult, but that in the end we know that Christ will not give us more than we can handle, and that we know in the end that Christ will prevail.

Therefore, no committed Christian should suffer from depression because we know there is more to life than our present circumstances. It did not make sense to him that a Christian could be depressed.

He was wrong.

Now for those familiar with my story, you know that I lost my father to suicide in 2009. However, this is not about him. If I were to be talking about my father then what I am saying here would be more speculation than knowledge. I’m talking about me.

2009 was a horrible year in my life. Five people I knew died in 2009, and obviously none were as difficult to deal with as my father’s death. In the fall I headed back to UNC-Wilmington for my sophomore year, hoping this would help me heal and move forward.

Unfortunately it didn’t. Many other things went wrong when school started back up. I got to the point where I feared each day wondering what bad thing would happen next. I was not happy, I was internally bitter at every single person who seemed happy, and I thought I would never feel anywhere close to “normal” ever again.

I was depressed.

shutterstock_434262010I thought I hid it well, but then people I barely even knew began asking me if anything was wrong. I must have been asked that at least twice a week by various people for about two months. I still am not sure how most of these people could tell I was “different,” they barely even knew me.

I knew many people were praying for me and my family. I was surprised by the people who knew what I was dealing with and truly cared. I was also surprised by some who I thought would care more but hardly did anything.

But how does this prove that this prominent Christian leader was wrong in his views on depression? Because I have never been closer to Jesus in my life than I was those three months that I was depressed.

I read the entire Bible through in about 70 days. I prayed more often and for longer amounts of time. I would be so upset that I would hand write chapters of the bible on notebook paper. I read the entire biblical books of Isaiah and Jeremiah in one day. That was 118 pages of the bible in one day. Bible pages have small print and two columns per page. That’s a lot of reading.

And I was depressed.

Never once did I question God’s goodness in all I went through that year. I never questioned why this happened to me or even if God existed. The only thing I did question was the power or prayer. And through it all, I knew that God was still God and that God was still good. I knew that Jesus was still greater than what I was going through and that he can bring good out of any situation.

I knew all of that. I know God cared, I knew God loved me, I knew God was in control. But I couldn’t help it, I was still depressed.

By the end of the year I began to come out of it by the grace of God. I was still a long ways away from feeling any kind of “normal” again, but I was slowly getting better.

If you are a follower of Christ and for whatever reason have fallen into depression trust me, it will get better. I like the following quote that says,

It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s not okay to stay there.

Pain and grief were emotions created by God, you should not feel guilty for feeling them. Being depressed does not mean you no longer love Jesus or that Jesus no longer loves you.

If you need help, get help. Do not stay “stuck.”

And to the prominent Christian leader, and no doubt others, who believe that firm believers in Christ should never be depressed, you’re wrong. I’ve been there. I did not chose it, and I did all I could to get out of it. But for a while there was nothing I could do to change it.

So yes, Christians can suffer from depression. And in the words of David Crowder who wrote a song I listened to over and over in my depression:

In joy and pain. In sun and rain. You’re the same.

Oh, You never let go.

You never let go.

You never let go.

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Dylan Dodson graduated from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington in May of 2012 with a B.A. in Religious Studies, and from Liberty University with a M.A. in Religion in December of 2013. In February 2012, he and his wife helped plant a church in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he served as an intern for two years. He is getting ready to plant New City Church in Raleigh, NC in January, 2017.

Dylan’s book, True Pain, True Grief, and a True God, details his experiences in going through and dealing with the loss of his father to suicide in 2009. Dylan’s loss is a driving force for him to share Jesus in broken and hurting world. Dylan looks forward to seeing his father again in heaven due to his faith in Christ. Check out his blog.

 

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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