My Wife

 

I first turned to my wife. I borrowed her joy, strength, and-at times-her hope to simply face another day. Depressed people often are unable to feel or hope and are overcome with guilt. When every fiber in my being wanted me to quit the ministry and flee (another typical response in depressed people), my wife carried me emotionally for a year, allowing me time to heal and serve the church with limited success, all at the same time.

 

During Christmas I was upset that most of the money my family had received was being spent to reduce the debt I incurred from my failed business. And while our church was particularly generous that year with gifts for the staff, rather than purchasing gifts for my three children, I had to use our money to pay off our daughter's hospital bill. We were faced with a Christmas without presents-or even enough money to prepare a holiday meal!

 

I was ready to sit the kids down to explain everything to them when my wife stopped me. It turns out she was tucking money aside each week from her cleaning job to use for the holidays. I was feeling tremendous guilt, but by God's grace working through my wife's heart, I was renewed.

 

My wife also convinced me that nothing would be gained personally or professionally by fleeing and to stay and work through my problems. Week after week she was a beautiful model of joy and strength in the face of difficult circumstances. She provided the family with emotional stability. Her instincts proved to serve us well as I found, with proper support, I was not finished with ministry.

 

God was reminding me of my own need to depend upon him for strength. I learned the lesson of 2 Corinthians 4:8: "...We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair." In spite of my depression, I was still able to function in ministry, offering to God my broken service.

 

Depression affects families as much as it does individuals. It's also common for spouses to take on the symptoms as well as sympathetic reactions. But my wife had a much greater effect on my healing than I had on her emotional state. Because of her loving support I was given an emotional climate to recover.

 

Youth workers who have husbands or wives would do well in asking for their help and feedback in times of emotional trouble. Why? They have a unique window into your life; they can often more clearly see the events that would otherwise blindside us; they can gauge better if our stress load is too much; they pray for us; and the kinds of skills we seek in good therapists-reflective listening, honest criticism and feedback-are often the skills that our spouses already possess.