FROM BROKEN BREAD TO POURED OUT WINE
Everybody in the Body of Christ is not called to be a professional grief counselor. However there is a clarion call for members of the Body of Christ to be a “Helper,” to those who are in distress and in need of soul care, companionship, and empathy.
Being a Christian does not exempt us from trials, troubles, persecution, various kinds of losses, sickness and dying. Many, who have suffered severe traumatic events in our lives, also suffer from secondary trauma. It is described as secondary because there is leftover baggage of hurts suffered from the event. There are attitudes, incorrect information, and wrong belief systems, pent up emotions we ignore and are afraid in some instances to confront. These symptoms can slow us down, and can be a source of oppression and depression if we fail to address them.
Excessive trauma, tremendous consecutive losses, can bring on depression. Severely depressed individuals can be very withdrawn, lethargic, suicidal, subjected to addictive behaviors and abusers of prescription medication. A concerned friend can provide a valuable and possibly life-saving service. There are everyday task that may seem troublesome and even difficult when a person experiences trauma like the death of a loved one. People can go into depression, suffer memory loss, and feel unloved, fearful and overwhelmed because of the myriad of decisions that have to be made on a daily basis.
A Christian helper can help by doing something as simple as: food shopping, washing the dishes, cleaning up the house, or picking up children from school or after school programs. This act of kindness would take a load off the mind of an individual’s mind , stop them from feeling guilty for having a messy house, and demonstrate that you love and care about them. Talking candidly with your friend may help them figure out the many details of their life that now seem to be a foggy. Trauma can stop the blood from flowing properly to your nervous system. Details, your thoughts can become submerged within the subconscious. The gentle nurturing and friendly discourse can help to assure the individual that they are not losing their mind.
There are some ground rules for talking with your friend and here they are:
· Do not try to “cheer them up.” If you do that, you will probably make them feel worse. Allow them to freely share how they currently feel.
· Do not criticize or shame them, if feelings of depression don’t improve.
· Do not say,” I know how you feel or I feel the same way you do about his or her loss. You do not know how a person feels, even if you lost a mother, father, or child. Each person’s relationship is separate and different.
·If a person is going through cancer treatment, never say I know what you are going through, unless you have been diagnosed by a doctor as having the residual effect of depression as well.
·Try not to get angry or frustrated when the person does not come around and start feeling like their old self again.
Please continue to visit and show mercy, kindness, and patience with that individual.
Your primary goal is to let your friend know that you are concerned and will be there for them as long as they need them. One of the things we can do as Christian helpers is to pray for them, they need it and may not be able to pray for themselves. Keep in mind that being a care taker or helper is not an easy job. It can wear you out. Make your visits short and after your visit, try to find something enjoyable to do. Relax and seek out the company of other people who are not depressed. You need to be energized and renewed in your spirit, mind and soul.
Keep in mind that we are talking about Depressed Christians here. There are several things that you should not say to these individuals. People who are Christians usually know some of the Bible. They know scriptures about health and healing. They know the Word says, “By your stripes we are healed.” They know, “He sent his Word and healed them.”
When I was going through the loss of my daughter and husband, I did not want people spouting off a lot of scriptures to me. I know the Word, having someone repeat Bible quotes was not what I needed. Everybody cannot and should not be a Christian Helper! It is important to know your gift. Saying some of these things can cause more damage and be hurtful to the person receiving it.
So here is a list of things you should not say to a Christian that is depressed:
· Real Christians don’t get depressed.
· You need to have more faith, read your Bible, and have faith in God.
· Taking drugs and medication is not good for you, let God heal you.
· You’ve been to the altar, the intercessors prayed for you, why has nothing changed, why are you still depressed and miserable.
· You should be praying about this, physician heal thyself.
· You need to plead the Blood of Jesus, depression is a demon, and you can cast it out. Don’t let the devil steal your joy.
Being a Christian Helper should be taken seriously. Pray and ask the Lord to confirm whether you have the passion and compassion to be an asset, a gift to individuals who are depressed. Read books on depression, grief and healing for damaged emotions.
Talk with your pastor and access whether there is a need for this ministry in your local assembly. Attend workshops and inquire at local hospitals as to whether they have classes that would help in providing education in this area of ministry. God bless you in your endeavor to provide a necessary area of empowerment, love and assistance, to those who need much TLC not judgment in the Body of Christ.
I'd like to acknowledge Reverend Dr. Wanda Pryce from First Cathedral. I learned much of this information in her Christian Counseling Class back in 2002.
Have a Blessed day and don't forget to say your prayers.