I am generally an upbeat, positive person. Cheerful, encouraging, and hopeful describe me most days.
So why do I find myself feeling so sad lately? What causes me to well-up inside and become so despondent? Why can't I control my emotions better?
When you live in an unequally-yoked marriage, you feel like you just don't belong in the local church the way a Christian married couple does. Your habits and routines are different. Your giving and commitments are different. Your spiritual cadence is different from other couples. You feel so out-of-step with everyone else. Here is a post I wrote earlier that deals with some of those differences titled Are You Missing In Action?
Depression is a valid emotion in the cycle of life. You can "visit" depression - just don't take up "residence" there.
In I Kings 19:1-18 we read about Elijah and his struggles with depression. After God miraculously displayed His power on Mount Carmel, Elijah withdrew into the desert armed with a death wish. He hid in a cave and wailed "woe is me" before accusing God of leaving him all alone to fight the heathen foreigners.
King David struggled with depression and feelings of intense sadness more than once. Some of the emotions had to do with blatant sin, while others dealt with fear and rejection. He often questioned God about the whole matter.
Here are some of David's heartfelt pleas: Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destruction... (Psalm 35:17) Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You. (Psalm 38:9) Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? (Psalm 42:5) Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You. (Psalm 57:1) Lord, I cry out to You; make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You. (Psalm 141:1)
Here are five possible reasons for the sadness...
1. We are grieving the fact that our marriage partner isn't in sync with us spiritually. Believers have a spiritual discernment. We are instructed by the Spirit of God. Our unbelieving spouse can't grasp that concept and they are spiritually blind. Amos 3:3 declares, "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" And Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?"
2. We are saddened by the thought that our best efforts haven't made a substantial difference in their spiritual conversion. We have to be realistic here in our expectations. God is the one who draws unbelievers into fellowship with Himself. As Paul says in I Corinthians 3:6, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase."
3. We have difficulty processing the fact that our marriage might never improve on the timetable or in the way we think it should. God has a specific plan for our marriage. He is never in a hurry, and He is never late. The important thing to remember is God wants to do what will bring Him the "most glory" with regards to our mate's salvation. God has given them His permissive "free will" to choose salvation or to reject it. Our place is to pray for their spiritual enlightenment. (Romans 10:20)
4. We can't seem to grasp the thought of differences that may never be reconciled. One of the hardest things to do is to examine our own emotions and then take steps to deal with them honestly. My previous post Can't We All Just Get Along? has some great pointers to help you stay on track.
5. We reluctantly recognize that depression may visit us for a season. We must come to grips with the fact that we will have good and bad days, ups and downs, highs and lows. Every marriage experiences "seasons" - and quite often they coincide with major life events, changes, challenges, and family dynamics that we have no control over. Our spouse will not always give us the support we long for. However, you can count on this: Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. (Joshua 1:5)
Be practical and proactive. Start by doing the basics: eat right, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. When you feel overwhelmed - take a deep breath and prioritize. Give yourself permission to process sadness and grief. Keep yourself centered on God's Word. Pray for wisdom and understanding. Reprogram your mind to think on "things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and virtuous" (Philippians 4:8).
Don't worry - and be happy might just be words from a popular song - but they also help to redirect your thoughts. Our Lord Jesus put it this way, "And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?" (Luke 12:25-26).
God will help you with your feelings of sadness and depression. Prayer and meditating on His Word brings comfort and security. God is our Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).
Stay well connected with Christian friends. Continue with your small group studies and church activities when you find yourself wanting to withdraw. We were meant to be part of a community of believers. Encourage one another and extend grace even when it is undeserved.
Each day begins with a clean slate. Every dawn holds new opportunities and possibilities. Today is a good day for a good day...
Deborah is the author of a Christian non-fiction book titled “Mission Possible”. It is written for women who love the Lord Jesus, but their spouse doesn’t share their passion. It will encourage and challenge the reader to embrace God’s promises for their spouse and future together.