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Sunshine and Shadows
"In a dark time, the eye begins to see, I meet my shadow in the deepening shade; I hear my echo in the echoing wood." -Theodore Roethke
Throughout our lives, we all experience times of darkness and times of light. Though the joyful times are a pleasure to go through, we may wish away all sadness and depression. Without our sorrowful moments, though, we would not be fully human. Our sad times teach us about ourselves, revealing our inner reserves of resilience and strength.
What sad occurrence weighs on your heart today?
Think of a sad time you have experienced in the past. How did God's love help you through?
I'm feeling so sad about _____________. Help me to understand that sorrow is part of being human. Be my guide as I struggle to cope with my distress.
We're Only Human
"Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on." —Samuel Butler
Being human has never been an easy task. Our humanity makes us vulnerable to heartbreak, disappointment, and regret. Our expectations of ourselves, along with the expectations others have for us, can be difficult or even impossible to meet. By embracing our imperfections and limitations, we grow to accept ourselves as lovable children of God. We ease our sadness when we allow ourselves to make (and learn from) our human mistakes.
List five big mistakes you've made in your life.
Have you forgiven yourself for being human? Can you start today?
My remorse and embarrassment about _____________ keep me from being fully happy and fully alive. Let your forgiveness be an example to me as I try to forgive myself.
Without a Word
"Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul." -Mohandas Gandhi
Sometimes it's impossible to verbalize the reasons for our sadness. Vague, melancholy feelings may cast our hearts into the darkness of confusion. Without our saying a word, God understands and accepts the changing landscape of human moods and emotions. God listens to every silent soul prayer with empathy and love.
Set aside a silent morning. Whether at home in a quiet room or alone in nature, contemplate the sadness and depression you feel. Allow God to listen to your unspoken questions and needs. Listen for God's wise and loving response in the silence that surrounds you.
God's Promise of Renewal
"For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal." -Jeremiah 30:17
Physicians, psychologists, and theologians agree that strong connections exist among our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. Feeling depressed can affect one's physical health in many ways. When you're depressed, you may experience extreme fatigue, or you may have difficulty sleeping at night. Depression affects one's appetite and inner rhythms. When we ask God to heal us, we can be assured that our bodies, minds, and souls will be made whole.
My body needs healing. My mind and soul need healing, too. I welcome the blessings of _____________ into my daily life.
Help me understand the connection among my mind, body, and spirit. Bring joy back to my life. Make me healthy and whole.
Don't Look Back
"Even God cannot change the past." —Agathon
Unresolved guilt and remorse can cause depression in our lives. And once depression takes hold, it's difficult to find the serenity to forgive ourselves and move on. God understands our humanity and knows that our journeys through life will be sprinkled with mistakes and misjudgments. Prayer reconnects us with God's message of forgiveness, acceptance, and love. Prayer gives us the strength and hope to begin anew.
I feel guilty about ________________________________________________________.
I can make amends by __________________________________________________________.
Grant me serenity as I move forward in my life. Help me to be patient with the person I was yesterday, as I vow to make the most of today and face tomorrow with hope and courage.
Miracles Within Us
"The ladder that leads to the kingdom is hidden within your soul ... Dive into yourself, and in your soul you will discover the stairs by which to ascend." —Saint Isacc of Nineveh
We often underestimate the reserves of strength and insight we possess. God's power and wisdom live within our hearts. It takes courage to dive into our souls and examine the issues and troubles that cause sadness to overpower us. When we take time to still our minds and look within, we find that God has provided us with built-in answers to our questions and relief from our pain.
My inner voice has been telling me to ____________________________________________________________.
Other voices have been saying ____________________________________________________________.
Which voice will you listen to?
Help me to trust the voices of hope and possibility within me. Remind me to pay attention to your spirit in my heart and mind.
God Bless Friends
"A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out." —Alban Goodier
Depression isolates us from those who care. When we're feeling low, we hesitate to bring others down by sharing our heartaches. Even when others reach out to us and offer their support, we may feel unworthy of their friendship. God blesses us by placing sensitive, giving people in our lives to help us through times of sadness and despair. When someone extends the hand of friendship, we are worthy to accept the gesture with gratitude and grace.
Today I will reach out to __________________ in trust and friendship. I will share my sadness and fears about ______________________________________________________.
Give me the courage to show my shadow side to friends and family. Help me hear their responses of acceptance and love.
"For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." —Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Even when confusion, sadness, and despair touch our lives, the world's small miracles glimmer with hope. The shimmer of moonlight on a calm, clear lake, the feathery down on a baby bird, the taste of wild strawberries, the fragrance of a rosebud-these and other blessings of nature give us little reasons to smile. We can make a conscious effort to open our senses and our hearts and discover the joys of God's creation.
My favorite taste is ___________________________________.
My favorite sight is ___________________________________.
My favorite sound is ___________________________________.
My favorite smell is ___________________________________.
My favorite sensation is ___________________________________.
May the gift of my five senses lift me from depression to joy.
Feel God's Touch
"In the circle of earthly existence You shine so finely, it surpasses understanding. God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God." —Hildegard of Bingen
The caring touch of another person helps heal our sorrows. A caring hug, a pat on the back, or a soothing hand eases our pain and reminds us that we are not alone. When sadness comes and you are alone, visualize and imagine the touch of God's nurturing hand.
Likewise, share your gentle touch with others who carry a heavy load. Every little gesture of kindness makes our world a more loving place.
I could use a hug from ___________________________. _____________ could probably use a hug from me.
Teach me to share your love with hugs and gentle touches. Help me to feel your love in the kind gestures of others.
Remember-It's All Good
"Love all Creation The whole of it and every grain of sand ... Love everything." —Fyodor Dostoyevsky
When depression clouds our vision, we find it difficult to find the good in others. When we feel unworthy and unloved, it's tempting to focus on the faults of others. However, with some effort and prayer, it is possible to make love a habit.
God's unconditional love is a model of how we should regard our fellow creatures. Our own sadness and depression give us insights into the pain and grief accompanying our friends and family members on their journeys. Pray for love and understanding. In loving others, your sorrows will be eased.
_____________ is getting on my nerves. With God's help, I can focus on this person's wonderful traits, such as __________________. I can accept and embrace this person, even the traits that annoy or trouble me.
Give me the wisdom to extend to those I meet patience, acceptance, and understanding. Likewise, bless me with the gift of patient, accepting, understanding friends.
The World Is On Your Side
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills before you will burst into song, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." —Isaiah 55:12
God's assurances have sustained the world for thousands of years. In times of sadness, keep your Bible nearby. Allow the timeless stories, psalms, songs, and prayers to enter your mind and heart, easing your pain.
Attending religious services can also take away our feelings of isolation and loneliness. By joining in a community of worship and prayer, our connections to God and humankind are enriched and strengthened.
I will commit myself to a new spiritual ritual: ___________________________________________.
I will take the time each week to read my favorite Bible verses:_________________________________________.
Keep me mindful of the spiritual wealth to be found in the Bible and in my religious community. Help me stay connected with the spiritual resources in my life.
Horizons of Hope
"This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere ..." —John Muir
People considered it revolutionary when early astronomers maintained that the earth was not the center of the universe. When we're depressed, we sometimes lose sight of that discovery. We tend to focus tightly on our own problems, making ourselves the center of our attention.
If we keep the warm sunshine of God's love at the center of our spiritual universe, our problems and sadness seem less overwhelming. Keep your eyes on the horizon and realize that, before long, a beautiful new day will dawn. Believe that tomorrow will be more manageable than today.
Here's something good that might happen tomorrow:_________________________________________________.
Here's a problem I can focus on outside myself:_______________________________________________________.
Here's what I can do to help: _________________________________________________.
The Bold Believer
"Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." —Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
In these logical times, we may be tempted to explain away everyday miracles by quoting scientific principles and mathematical probabilities. But by daring to believe in God's wondrous plan, we renew our childlike sense of awe. We can find miracles in a refreshing glass of ice water, in the synchronicity of our body's living cells, and in the music of birds outside our window.
When we are depressed, it may feel as though we'll never feel happy again. What a miracle it is every time we're touched by God's emotional healing and our sadness gives way to optimism and hope.
Look out the window. Describe what you see.
What miracles can you witness right this very minute?
Keep on Striving
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" —Robert Browning
Depression creates a feeling of hopelessness. Despair can paralyze us, making us feel trapped in unhealthy and unhappy situations. Relief from this helplessness is always just a prayer away.
With God's help we can overcome our circumstances and find a happy and productive life on earth. Whether we feel stuck in a tedious job, a difficult relationship, or simply have lost touch with our optimism, God gives us the strength to continue reaching for the stars and striving for happiness.
My most daring dream is that I __________________________________________. One thing I can do today to move toward the fulfillment of my dream is __________________________________________.
Help me to realize that my dreams can come true. Show me the steps I can take each and every day to bring me closer to my goal.
Fruits of the Spirit
"Take hold of the life that really is life." —1 Timothy 6:19
Depression can be a painful and long-lasting byproduct of grief and loss. When you lose someone you love, it may feel as if you have a "hole in our soul." It can feel difficult to remain grounded in your faith when sorrow overcomes your daily life.
God can help us reconnect with our spiritual life. When we're spiritually sound, we are able to believe God's promise that death is but a passage to another, more beautiful realm. In time, God's love eases our pain and allows us to remember our loved one with joy and thankfulness.
I miss the company of ____________________________. A favorite memory of this person is ___________________________________________________________.
Help me to let go of my sadness and release ____________ to your eternal care. Help me to reconnect with the joy and beauty of ___________'s remarkable life.
Look to the Light
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light." -Matthew 6:22
As humans, we choose how we view our circumstances. God has given us the freedom to "see the glass as half empty or half full."
Depression clouds our vision, blinding us to the goodness that surrounds us. In prayer, we can ask God to reopen our eyes to the blessings in our world. With God's help, we can rediscover the hidden joy in each moment of our lives. We can feel glad and grateful for every breath we take.
Close your eyes and visualize yourself in a happy, contented place. Describe your surroundings:
What can you do to make your real life more like your visualization?
Help me to see the best in everyone and everything around me.
Pray for Everybody
"May suffering ones be suffering free And the fear struck fearless be. May the grieving shed all grief And the sick find health relief." —Zen chant
Medical researchers have found evidence that healing is accelerated and enhanced when others pray for a patient's recovery. By asking others to pray for you, your depression or sadness may be relieved more quickly and completely.
Excerpted from PrayerStarters In Times of Sadness or Depression by Molly Wigand. Copyright © 2000 Molly Wigand. Excerpted by permission of Abbey Press Publications.
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