Our minds are very powerful things. I don’t mean that in a science fiction way – there’s no such thing as telekinesis or the Force or whatever they do on space movies – but in a way that how we think can directly affect our spiritual and emotional well-being.
I’m not a psychologist, but I do know that there is a pattern of thinking I can easily fall into that’s very self-defeating. If I do something wrong or if something bad happens, I can instantly start thinking everything is my fault, and I’m a failure, and nothing will ever change and I’ll never do anything right.
If this way of thinking becomes a habit, it can be a part of depression and ultimately lead to thoughts of self-harm, if not actual self-harm. I have to learn to recognize this pattern and consciously stop it before it gets really bad, but easier said than done. Often if I don’t stop it, that becomes just one more way I’ve failed.
The good news is that I have a powerful way of fighting that pattern and it has nothing to do with me. When God saved me from my sinful self, there was literally nothing I did to contribute. In fact, this is what Ephesians 2:4-9 says:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
There is literally nothing I contributed to salvation except my own failure. I was an enemy of God and dead in sin, but God turned me into his beloved child despite all that. No matter what I do or what anyone does to me, I’m loved by an all-powerful God.
Again, remembering this is easier said than done, and it’s not the magic cure for self-defeating thoughts or depression. Sometimes, I don’t believe it’s true, or I feel like the gospel isn’t true for me, or I just don’t want to think about it. The way I feel doesn’t make the gospel less true, though, and that’s the best thing about it.
The wise sages known as Twenty One Pilots sum it up well: “Sometimes to stay alive you gotta kill your mind,” and the best weapon to kill depression in your mind is the truth of the gospel.