I may also have been reacting to some of the comments from various people about my condition. From the beginning, I was very open about it to my church family. However, my church has over 2,000 members. One of the foundational doctrines of the Baptist branch of the Christian church is the “priesthood of the believer”, generally meaning that we don’t rely on a priest, preacher, pastor, or other teacher to go to God on our behalf or to interpret the word of God for us. Any believer can “boldly enter the throne room” of God and make requests known and listen for the voice of God through his Word, the Bible.
In practical terms, this doctrine can lead to as many different interpretations of the Word of God as there are believers, which is one reason why there are so many Protestant denominations and so many separate church organizations. Believers are not immune to error; only God is. And just as many different ideas about mental illness exist in the church as exist in society.
One belief I ran into very early on when I was suffering a depression after Hurricane Katrina was expressed by a young woman in a preschool mothers’ group I attended shortly after the hurricane. A woman had come and talked to our group about her experience with depression. We were having small group discussions afterwards, and I had poured out my story about my experiences with depression, particularly postpartum, in the past and after Katrina.
I finished my tale, and the young woman next to me looked at the group leader and said these words: “I just don’t see how you can have Jesus in your heart and be depressed.”
Her words hit me like a wrecking ball. I simply shut up and did not contribute any more to the discussion. Again, depression is not always an issue of the emotions or circumstances. It can be an issue of an imbalance of chemicals in your brain. Having Jesus in your heart makes the difference in eternal life or eternal destruction in the afterlife and can give you hope when hope seems very, very remote. But David was a man after God’s own heart who suffered from depression. Read the Psalms.