Start Thinking Long Term By Working Slower


99U recently posted an article dealing with the topic of focus, dealing with two different modes in which the brain operates: fast mode, and slow mode.

According to the article, fast mode is when the brain quickly switches from task to task, looking to quickly accomplish tasks while looking for others in the process.

Slow mode, on the other hand, is devoted to finishing a single task at hand. There's less emotional pressure and stress in slow mode, and our mind is more easily long term focused.

The Myth of Multitasking

I'm sure we've all heard of the myth of multitasking. No human can simultaneously do two things at once; instead, we quickly switch focuses. That's what fast mode is for our brains. Fast mode keeps us thinking about what we need to do next and how to do it.

While operating in fast mode, we end up checking our email, looking at Facebook, eating, texting, doing tasks, watching videos, listening to podcasts, and whatever else is at hand. It's not a bad thing. In fact, fast mode is helpful when we need to quickly move through tasks, like dealing with a barrage of email or organizing documents.

It becomes a problem when we need to get something taking longer than five minutes done.

Focus Mode Enable

Since reading the article from 99U, I started to realize when I am in fast mode and trying to consciously switch myself to slow mode. In fact, I've realized that I've largely been in fast mode since I was in fourth grade when everything became a race for me. I went from the most beautiful handwriting, as my mom would say, to scribbles on a page racing to get done.

I intentionally have to slow myself down and let my mind be at peace toward the task I'm currently focusing. I must give myself permission to get into focus mode so I can see long term.

Multitasking encourages short term thinking while focused thinking enables thinking for the long term.

Short term thinking is a survival mindset, which states what can I do today to survive because tomorrow might not be there. Long term thinking says what can I do with what resources I have now to plan and build toward the future.

Tasks may be accomplished quickly in fast mode, but dreams are built in slow mode.

Don't get me wrong. There is a place for each of these modes in our day to day. If you need to quickly accomplish a number of short tasks, let yourself be in fast mode. If you are strategizing for your business or writing a long-form blog post, go into slow mode.

Getting Into Slow Mode

Slow mode is something I must intentionally engage.

I start by stepping back, letting my racing thoughts go, and taking a momentary mental break. I let the feeling of a rush pass me by, and let myself become emotionally and mentally invested in the work I am doing.

Since there is no longer pressure, good ideas start to flow more easily. My best work surfaces naturally. My best life starts to develop because I am no longer the task-doer, I the long-term dreamer building my masterpiece.

I think it's important to note slow mode isn't just for tasks. It's also for relationships. Going into slow mode helps me be present so I can fully take in and enjoy the moment. Nothing is more damaging to relationships than to constantly be thinking of the next task while you should be investing in the one in front of you.

So take a step back, take a break, and become invested in the moment.

Let yourself be there, and start thinking investment instead of accomplishment. Your dreams and family will thank you.

Learn Something New Without Psyching Yourself Out

There's a teaching model in medicine called see one, do one, teach one. It is a form of apprenticeship used to teach new procedures to surgeons. While learning a new procedure, a surgeon will:

  • see the procedure once so he/she knows how it's done in practice,
  • do the procedure once to demonstrate understanding of the procedure
  • and, finally, teach the procedure to reinforce his/her knowledge.

This method exposes a professional to an idea and quickly moves it from passive knowledge to active. This also leaves little room for overthinking the procedure resulting from too much knowledge, removing a common source of fear, anxiety, and, ultimately, error or injury while performing it.

I like to think the see one, do one, teach one model applies to anything else we learn, yet many of us, myself included, don't use it. Instead, my approach usually looks like this:

  • Research the task at hand,
  • Start doing it, but get scared, and stop,
  • Research some more, and more, and more,
  • Rush at the task again until I don't know what to do,
  • Then, finally, give up because I have so much knowledge stored up and no idea where to take it.

I'm learning to break this cyle of psyching myself out of success and into failure.

The solution is simple: stop consuming, and start producing.

Who cares if you don't know enough. You will learn along the way. In fact, you will never know everything there is to know about a subject before you start, so there's no point in trying.

Instead of preparing for possible failures for lack of knowledge, prepare for success by acting. Failure will happen. You determine whether it is a setback or an opportunity for growth.

Don't psych yourself out before you start. Define and learn what's needed to begin, start moving, and teach someone else along the way.

The journey of learning is satisfying when you turn the power of knowledge and understanding into working action.

The Right Friends Will Make Your Dreams Happen

Our lives are the sum of our influences, those people who lead and guide us, who we look up to, who let us walk the path of life with them. I'm only 27, and, looking back on life, it's absolutely amazing how I see the impact of my parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors on me.

I may not have had a choice who influenced me when I was growing up. I didn't choose my family, nor did I have much say on where I was going to live.

Yet, as I mature, I've learned I have the power to intentionally filter who and what will influence me. I can choose my friends, church, college, workplace, favorite music, and locale.

I'm free to be influenced by whatever I want. And so are you.

With this freedom comes responsibility to manage it.

We manage our freedom by defining the vision for our life and intentionally selecting our influences to match those goals. This selectivity applies to the books we read and movies we watch, all the way down to the friends we have and the person we choose to marry.

Who will you let influence you? Surround yourself with those you want to be like. As you do, you will naturally grow in the direction of your dreams. So to say, the right friends will make your dreams happen.

Overcoming Depression in Body, Soul, and Spirit: Spiritual Atmospheres

This is part five of our five part series on overcoming depression.

Can depression be something external?

I think so.

We dived into the intricacies of the body, the mystery of the soul, but now, we are on the home stretch as we go deeper into the biggest mystery of all: the spirit.

We’ve mentioned how depression rooted in the body can be a behavioral issue like diet or lack of exercise, while depression in the soul can be a belief or an unforgiveness issue.

What about the spirit, or as sometimes we call it, the heart? Where does depression play in with the core of our being?

Depression in the spirit is just that: a spirit.

Let me explain.

Angels and demons are real. They act as agents of darkness (the demonic), or agents of Light (God's angelic forces), which influence the very spiritual realm around us. Our beings exist in multiple planes of existence at one time: physical and spiritual. We can be influenced by both, but we are often unaware of the influence from the spiritual if we haven't become attuned to it.

Depression, just like anger, rage, lust, and greed, is just as much a spirit as it can be a condition of the heart. To be truly, wholly free from depression, or any of these issues, we must be free in our spirits.

More often then not, the depression I end up feeling comes from spiritual sources. You can feel it without recognizing the source, which is the danger.

For example, I walk into a room. All of a sudden, I start to feel depressed whereas I wasn’t before I walked in. This is a signpost there is a spirit of depression in the room.

You might notice this with anger, sadness, or even pain in your body. It's your spirit and the Holy Spirit revealing what's going on underneath the surface in the room.

My point is this: whether or not you have dealt with depression before, the spirit of depression can be the source of the feeling of it. As I’ve walked through the process of coming out of depression, I’ve found understanding a few areas to be of great assistance when dealing with depression in the spiritual realm.

  1. Understand spiritual atmospheres — In the example I mentioned above, I would’ve been experiencing what I like to call a “spiritual atmosphere,” a specific feeling or sense about a place or around a person with the power to influence the people around it. Recognizing atmospheres is founded on the idea that not every thought, feeling, or emotion you experience is your own. Many times they come from spirits in the area. When you step into a new place, check yourself at the door. Be watching for changes in your emotions, feelings in your body, thoughts in your head, etc. Many times this will point to spiritual atmospheres in a place.
  2. Understand spiritual authority — The second step in dealing with spiritual atmospheres is recognizing that Jesus is the name above every name; that is, whatever in an atmosphere that is not of Jesus gets displaced when Jesus comes.  A great way to respond to non-Jesus atmospheres is asking God, “What are you doing here?", listening for His response, and declaring what He’s doing. Another way is to state, “I see you (depression). I will not partner with you. I send you back in the name of Jesus and release His joy!” Making these simple declarations in faith releases His presence which overcomes any dark atmosphere. It’s the spiritual authority of Jesus!
  3. Understand discernment — If spiritual sensitivity is the ability to pick up on spiritual atmospheres, spiritual discernment is the ability to determine if those atmospheres come from God, the demonic, or yourself. This is a gift (listed in 1 Corinthians 12) that can only be given by the Holy Spirit. I plan to write more about understanding this gift in the near future, but one thing can be certain: God will speak and let you know what’s going on! Right now, ask Holy Spirit to come give you spiritual discernment and wisdom in how to walk in it. He will come to fill you up with His presence.

  4. Deal with open doors in your spirit - Have you ever been involved in witchcraft? Pornography? Illicit drug use? Pursuit of the paranormal or ghost hunting? If so, you may have some open doors in your spirit giving demonic forces access to you. Don't worry; if you desire healing, there are many qualified individuals out there who can help you. I personally recommend finding a Sozo ministry to help deal with these kinds of issues. They are trained individuals who know how to help close those open doors in your life so you can get total freedom.

We often limit depression to being an issue of the body, a chemical imbalance, a physical problem. But as we've seen, and as I personally have experienced, depression often goes much deeper than the body into the soul and spirit.

Wherever you are in this process of healing and freedom, remember this one fact: there is always hope. God stands by you in every moment calling your name, looking only to free you in His love. He has many tools available, some of them we've mentioned here in this series.

What's most important is this: if you want to be free, you can be free.

Question: How have these posts on depression helped you? Let me know if you have any questions!

Overcoming Depression in the Body, Soul, and Spirit: Forgiveness

This is part four in our five part series on overcoming depression.

There isn't one person on the planet who hasn't experienced the offense of a family member, a friend, or a leader's lack of understanding. Nor are there many who haven’t experienced being manipulated and controlled by another. Many of us have experienced abuse, harshness, or being wronged.

And it really hurts. Every time.

Many times we leave it at, “They hurt me.” What happens then?

A seed gets planted, and it grows, and grows, and grows, until its ugly fruit is in full bloom for the whole world to see. What is the fruit of retaining offense? Bitterness. The root of bitterness goes deep into the soul, opening us up to a wide array of spiritual assaults and emotions, and, frankly, can easily put a person in a state of rage or depression. Holding offense can even hurt your body. It's no surprise, therefore, bitterness can produce depression.

What is often unrealized in the face of offense is a choice: the choice to forgive.

Forgiveness is not an easy choice to make. It's very hard, if not completely impossible, on our own. It is only the very grace and mercy of our loving God which empowers us to forgive. By His grace, His blood is applied to cover every hurt and pain to free us from judgment.

Us from judgement? Yes.

Holding offense is a form of judgment. It’s the desire to see the offense punished and justice served. What we don’t realize is in God’s upside-down Kingdom, we’re the ones going to prison when we don't forgive.

I won’t get into it all here, but Matthew 18 records a parable of a servant forgiven a debt equivalent to $2.2 million by his master, who then is thrown into prison to be tormented for holding a $90 debt above another servant’s head. The point of Jesus’ parable is this: we’re already forgiven, so when we hold offense, we’re giving up our freedom. We lock ourselves away and forget we have the keys to get out. The keys are forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a choice of the will to release someone from judgment in the heart. It's the choice to align our eyes with the eyes of God toward the person, instead of aligning with our pain and desire for retribution.

But how? How do you make that choice?

It’s quite simple. Pick your offense. Ask the Holy Spirit to come be with you and help you forgive as you pray. Say out loud, "I choose to forgive _ for . I release them from my judgment." If it helps you to visualize it, imagine giving the person to Jesus or taking your hands off their throat.

It may take a few times of saying it to believe it but keep going. From there forward, if the pain from that offense comes up, pray that prayer again until it becomes heart reality for you. Each time is an opportunity to extend God’s mercy to the person. He first extended it to you, so why not to them? I think it's important to note there are a few misconceptions which can keep us from maintaining a forgiving heart.

  1. Forgiveness removes the pain. - Not true. Forgiveness is a choice extending beyond pain, but puts our heart in a position to heal.
  2. I have to restore trust with the person I forgive. - Wrong. Forgiveness may be a choice, but trust is earned. Forgiveness allows opportunity for trust to be built again, if it is safe to do so, but does not automatically make everything A-OK.
  3. Forgiveness happens once. - Actually, forgiveness is a state of the heart needing maintenance just like our cars. If we run into an old offense, it's an opportunity to extend that forgiveness again. Having a heart of forgiveness also stops bitterness before it starts!
  4. Forgiveness makes the wrong right. - Not at all. Forgiveness is for you and you alone. It is not for the other person. Forgiving someone does not make their offense better; however, it does free your heart and make it better.

Punishment and judgment bring the allure of satisfaction if we would only hold on until it is fulfilled. What it neglects to tell us is judgment was satisfied at the cross of Christ. It is from this place we extend forgiveness to be free ourselves. Punishment's allure is only false power. Real power comes in love, mercy, and forgiveness. If I could implore you to explore only one of the topics we've discussed here, make it forgiveness. It will free your heart to be free from depression, bitterness, hatred, and, ultimately, torment.

It may not be the easiest choice, but it will be the best one.

What has been a powerful forgiveness experience for you? Share it with me below in the comments. I want to hear them!

Overcoming Depression in the Body, Soul, and Spirit: The Soul

This is part three of our five part series on depression.

The further we venture into the composition of humanity, the farther we seemingly get away from science and reason. The soul, one step deeper into the holistic realm of our existence, is still not understood by the scientific community. Even so, scientists, psychologists, and sociologists have mapped out many functions of our souls which can help our understanding of the functions of life.

A common definition of the soul is the part of our being comprised of our mind, will, and emotions. It’s the seat of our physical consciousness. I like to think if the body is where interaction takes place, then the soul is where relationship takes place.

Depression rooted in the soul, I believe, stems from relational issues. From here, depression affects the body in some of the symptoms we listed last week.

I want to open up a discourse on how depression is in part a relational disorder. From my perspective of understanding (now, keep in mind I’m not a psychologist, but this is merely an area of passion and an opinion of mine), our relational interaction is largely governed by a set of mindsets we have about the world. We often learn these from our parents, peers, teachers, etc.

Positive interactions early in life teach us people are trustworthy; negative interactions teach us people are not. Psychologists call this the Trust Cycle: the communication of needs met with either need-meeting or need-avoiding responses creates a bond of trust or no trust. (Find out more about it in Danny Silk’s book Keep Your Love On)

These interactions, even single events if not recognized and mended, can result in mindsets built up, forming either positive or negative beliefs. These mindsets govern our interactions with the world around us.

I think we live in a society believing it has been orphaned. I don't necessarily mean the growing up without parents kind of orphan. Instead, I mean many people grew up being taught they are all alone because their parents, though they may try really hard, didn't understand how to show them they are loved and are truly sons and daughters.

This absence of positive relationship with fathers and mothers in our lives causes problems often contributing to depression. Depression is often the result of not knowing how to cope with pain and suffering we often find in life.

When fathers don’t step into fatherly roles, kids grow up aimless and attempting to figure out who they are from their peers.

When mothers don’t act as mothers, kids end up seeking nourishment from unhealthy sources.

I'm not trying to say parents do a bad job. In fact, most parents do a great job of raising their kids. Sometimes it's the perception of unresolved pain that causes problems. Other times, it's flat out bad stuff that happens, like the loss of a loved one, a car accident, or other traumatic events, which wound our souls and can send us eventually spiraling into a depression.

What's most important to note in all of this is there is healing. Whatever the cause of pain, it doesn't matter what, there is healing in Jesus, in friendships, and in reconciliation.

My soul was shattered in a way that only Jesus could bring healing. He broke through the darkness and made me whole. My life changed. Depression left. And in the process, I learned a toolset on how to deal with wounds to the soul. Soul wounds are real, and we have to take them seriously. I know this list won't be perfect or comprehensive, but these are some tools I've learned will help get out of depression in the soul.

  1. Involve Jesus - the King of all Kings knows us better than any other. Putting ourselves before him and letting Him speak and wash over us in His love is more healing and freeing than anything in this world. He's always there, and we are never alone.
  2. Involve friends - I heard someone say God gets us 80% of the way healed, and then gives us friends. It's in deep, intimate relationships where God often moves to heal our pain and work out our character. We also find here people truly do care and love us if we let them.
  3. Learn to recognize and feel feelings - one of the most instrumental, practical tools I learned is how to put words to feelings and share it with others. If you are feeling alone, learn to say "I'm feeling alone." Or whatever your current emotional state is, like, "I'm feeling ecstatic!" Learning to communicate our feelings helps us to move away from acting out on them.
  4. Learn to recognize and get needs met healthily- another super key tool is learning how to say what you need and let other people respond without getting manipulative. So, say what you need, and don't pressure someone else to meet it because it just won't satisfy you. Instead, put it out there, and let someone respond. If they don't, forgive them, and turn to God for your provision. He will help you. Always.
  5. Learn how to forgive - I will be talking more about this next week, but forgivness is also huge. Being able to let go of judgment toward people who have hurt you not only frees you to receive love, but frees your soul from prison. Forgiveness is more for us than it is for them.
  6. Learn how to repent - If beliefs are what guide our mindsets, repentance is the tool that allows us to change our beliefs. It's simply the act of discovering God's truth, spoken from Him, renouncing what we've previously believed, and asking Him what he desires to give us in return. We declare His truth over our lives until it becomes our reality. That's all it is!
  7. Seek deeper healing with help (Sozo, counseling)- I never advocate for anyone to go through depression alone. The above six steps were essential in helping me get free, but it wasn't without the help of trained individuals to help me sort out the deepest of deep issues keeping me away from freedom. If you need help, seek out a local Sozo ministry and a counselor. They will be able to help you sort through pain, teach you how to communicate your emotions and feelings, and help you find a support structure to lean on when the going gets rough. It's really important.

Dealing with mindsets is a big issue, but is only part of dealing with the soul. I have more to write on this topic, and we are going to talk about it next week. In that post, we will be discussing forgivness and how letting go of past hurt and pain will set you free.

Have you experienced any of the above? Tell us your story in the comments!

What do we do with public moral failure?

We’re taking a break from our series on overcoming depression this week to look at yet another timely topic.

Adrian Peterson. Ray Rice. Mark Driscoll. David Yonggi Cho.

These names have in common a heartbreaking story of acts behind closed doors leading to public failure.

Many of these people we’ve looked up to, enjoyed watching on the field, or taken spiritual advice from their materials. Yet now, we’re left with a question: what do we do?

What do we do with failure? With disgrace? With broken trust?

How do you handle such flagrant, public failures from leaders holding high profile positions? It seems to be no easy road.

Trust is a fragile currency earned through hard work and intimacy. It's based on integrity validated by repeated demonstrations of character. What do you do when it's gone?

Do you throw out everything that person has done? Do you shove them out of influencing your life? Do you throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water?


"What?”, you might be saying.

Failures of this caliber always cause us to question everything about a person. Can I believe what they say? Can I believe what they’ve said, the actions I’ve seen them take, the success they have?

Yet it takes intentional eyes to step back from a situation to see the real person. Our own hurt blinds, offense deafens, and bitterness hardens, but a forgiving heart chooses to see clearly. 

We can be held back by the offense of the action, the broken trust, but forgiveness enables us to see the person for who they really are without the blinders of bitterness.

So do we have to throw a person’s life work out with their failure? No.

Do we need to evaluate their influence on our lives? Yes. Does forgiveness make a wrong right and hurt less? No.

But forgiveness does allow us to see clearly, and help us receive the God in others when it’s not so visible.

How do you choose to see people who have had public moral failures? Leave a comment below!

Overcoming Depression in the Body, Soul, and Spirit: The Body

This is part two of our five part series on overcoming depression.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or licensed medical professional. This post is not meant to substitute professional medical advice. If you are suffering from depression, please seek professional help in the form of a medical doctor and/or counselor.

The human body is an incredible wonder. It’s intricacies are still as unknown and not understood as the deep seas and furthest reaches of space. I find it incredible we’ve had the ability to narrow down possible physical causes of depression in our limited understanding of the miracle of human life.

Depression, though it often has its roots in the soul and spirit (which we will address in the coming weeks), can have major implications in the body. Some of it’s physical symptoms can include indigestion, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, and general fatigue. Depression slows you down, often causes you to lose or gain weight (as it did for me), and, ultimately, opens the possibility to put yourself in a dire situation from the sum of your choices to keep your body healthy or not.

Though I believe it’s important to deal with the root soul and spirit causes of depression, in my journey in overcoming it, I discovered keeping the body is just as important to getting and staying healthy and free. What did I learn that has helped me get on the other side of depression?

1. Eat Well

Since I started dating my wife, she’s helped me get a perspective on what it takes to eat healthily. Prior to that, I’d eat whatever was in front of me, often turning to fast food or cheap, processed foods high in carbs. There were many times I’d make a frozen pizza only to sit down and eat the whole thing. That was 1,200 calories a pizza! I’d feel bad about eating it, but the insane amount of calories I’d eat along with the high fats and carbs would cause me to feel down. I gained weight and continued having poor self image.

Now, my diet consists of a lot of vegetables, foods high in protein, and not nearly as many carbs. It’s all about changing your mindset, and it took me a long time to start eating right. The journey was step by step, starting with eating fruits at work for a snack instead of candy, and slowly progressed from there. Now I crave healthy foods, my mind is clearer, and I don’t walk around in carbo-fog all day. Diet affects the chemistry of your body, so it’s important to make sure you take in the nutrients you need! Not having them, in my experience, contributes to depression.

2. Exercise

I’ll be honest, this area is one I still struggle with building good habits. Stress can often be a factor in depression, and one of the best ways I’ve found to deal with stress is exercising with a purpose. Sometimes after work I’ll go to the back yard and chop wood. Maybe I’ll go for a run or a bike ride. Other times I’ll just mow the lawn. What’s important is giving your body what it needs. I’ve heard it said mental exhaustion requires physical exertion to rest. You rest by doing the opposite of how you are drained.

So if you work a mind-exhausting day job, go do something active after work instead of watching TV or continuing to do mentally draining work after work!

I’ve been finding some practical ways I’ve been learning to build momentum in this area. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with: * Go for a walk at lunch * Switch from a sitting desk (which is really bad for your health) to a standing one * Get a sporting hobby with your spouse or a friend like riding bike together * Use the 7-Minute Workout app for a quick workout during the day * Remember to rest your brain in the middle of the day by being active

3. See a Doctor

Wait what? Yeah. I said it. See a doctor.

Sometimes Christians can get hung up on waiting for the Lord to break through when sometimes He wants us to use the resources available to us as well. God didn’t condemn medicine; He gave mankind the wisdom to decipher the chemical code of nature so we could apply it for all kinds of purposes. Medicine is one of them. He also gave us wisdom to understand the human body. Every good gift is from Him, including our understanding of medicine. Therefore, medicine is not a second class healing. Though I believe God moves in miracles, as He did in my life, there is nothing wrong with going to the doctor to seek help. They can help apply their understanding of the human body to your life and help you process through what’s going on in you to determine what can assist you.

I went to the doctor when I was feeling depressed. He gave me antidepressants. Though others have had good experiences, this didn't work out so well for me. The drugs made me feel only one emotion: anger. I felt flat otherwise. It was not fun, life was not enjoyable. I couldn't feel. So I got off of them and continued my journey to healing.

The experience may be different for you. I still recommend to see a doctor, but we have to remember there are other underlying causes of depression that don't exist in the body, but are in the soul and even the spirit. Addressing the symptom doesn't mean you're resolving the problem. My problems and areas of unresolved pain in my life started in the soul and spirit, and, thus, needed to be resolved there.

The Long and Short of It All…

What we do with and put into our bodies affects the other facets of our being. If you take one thing away from this article, it is this: be mindful of what you do with your body. Make efforts to change bad habits into better ones. And don't be afraid to involve other people in your journey through.

You're not alone. Ever.

How have you noticed depression has affected your body? What are you doing to begin changing your life? Share with me in the comments below!

Overcoming Depression in Body, Soul, and Spirit

This is our first post in a five post series on depression.

It walks like a ghost among us, sometimes never noticed until it is too late. It might be seen by those it does not chase, but to those it does, it can be an invisible straight jacket.

I’m talking about depression. It’s a big topic, one that affects a large portion of the world today. Many fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters live under depression’s heavy cloud of despair with an estimated 6.9% of all adults in the United States stuck in it’s jaws. It’s an often tragic disorder. Many individuals, including creatives, wrestle with the deep blue sea of depression. For some, like Robin Williams, it costs them their lives.

I was also one of them, and it almost cost me mine.

The Story of My Life…

I struggled throughout my younger years socially. I was really awkward and didn’t have many friends. It didn’t help that soul-shattering events happened early in my life which chained me up inside, preventing me from truly living. I lived my life distantly as a loner, even though I was a quiet, smart, respectful student. I was even an award-winning debater in high school.

I played video games to supplement my lack of relationship. My online community gave me “hope” of friendship, even though many of the people I played with were not very healthy, neither relationally nor in their view of the world. I played very violent video games, and was so addicted I spent hours every night after school and every day during the summer playing. I truly wanted to win and be the best, but I also wanted connection with people that I wasn’t getting from “real life” friends.

I carried this behavior into my college years, finding myself making a huge mess in my loneliness and despair. By my sophomore year, I was so troubled and tormented inside by my pain, I walked around in severe depression. I wanted to hurt myself to try to cope because nothing else was working. There were a handful of occasions I was tempted to cut myself, but I didn’t. Each time there was a voice in my head saying, “Don’t do that Justin.” I listened.

I sought out help through counseling and antidepressants. Counseling didn’t do me much good because I didn’t know how to take ownership over my life. The drugs just made me angry. I never was an angry person before, but I think the anger and hurt I blocked up inside from my earlier life was coming out. It scared me when my anger began to turn into actions. As a result, I decided to get off them.

From then on, the cloud slightly started to lift, but the messes I was still making kept pulling me down into its jaws.

A Door Opened in Heaven

The only thing that blew it wide open was an encounter with God. There is nothing that the everlasting One, the God of all the universe, cannot overcome in you. He reached down, touched me one night, and delivered me from depression. I felt like a new man, and I really was because I was born again!

We, the church, talk about being born again as a doctrine. Whether or not you believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I will tell you one thing: you will know if you’ve had a transformational encounter with the Living God. You’ll never be the same.

The story didn’t end there; it’s still being written. Every day since that moment, that inciting event, has taken me on a deeper journey of what it means to be healthy, pure, holy, righteous, faithful, loving, and clean. Though I didn’t feel the grips of depression after that night, the following years were filled with messy mistakes, confronting conversations, and painful nights filled with tears but also encountering the overwhelming love of God, His deep inner healing, and an incredible journey of freedom which made me whole inside.

Overcoming depression was not an easy road. The love and favor of the Lord made it easier, but it didn’t absolve me from having to take ownership over my life, learn new mindsets, right wrongs, and forgive people. Beating depression is supremely about having victory in Jesus, but it’s also about pressing into becoming a whole person.

Overcoming Depression Involves Holistic Healing

I believe each person has three parts. Much like God has three parts in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we have a body, a soul, and a spirit. Holistic living, from the Christian perspective, thus involves getting healing for all three parts.

Depression is a sign something is hurting somewhere inside, but determining whether it’s rooted in the body, soul, or spirit is a work that must be done in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Only He can reveal what you need to overcome.

Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing how I’ve learned to overcome depression in each realm of our being. It is possible to live free of depression. I want to take a piece of my life and put it out there, hoping you to find in it an encouragement, an understanding, an empowerment, and a signpost pointing to freedom in Christ.

Creatives, I am especially talking to you. We’re so much more in tune with feelings, beauty, and even the spiritual atmosphere that our creativity often gets twisted through the lens of negative feelings and depression, producing hopeless, dark, and depressing work.

I do not believe our call as creators to be one of creating out of the junk of our lives and leaving the resolution of our creative work to hopeless ruin. Everything is in process, and some of our painful art may be really depressing and hopeless, but what matters is we’re pressing on toward the goal of being hope-releasers. We are influencers and we have a responsibility to show people hope, joy, and reveal something to which we can look forward!

This week, I leave you with an assignment: set 15-20 minutes aside and go to a quiet space. Invite the Holy Spirit to come. Ask Him to pour out His love on you. If you don’t believe in Jesus, that’s okay. Ask Him anyway. He will meet with you whether or not you believe in Him just because He loves you. If you sense/hear/see/think anything positive in this time, write it down! He’s speaking His love over you.

Next week we will discuss how to overcome depression in the physical realm, your body.

If you feel comfortable sharing, what did the Lord speak to you this week? Let me know in the comments below or via email!

How to Wrestle Through Chasing a Dream

My gut sits in knots as I type these words on my computer. A question burning in my mind.

How? Just exactly how do I go after this?

I enjoy dreaming big. I have a huge list of big dreams in my journal. My problem is putting feet on them. Actually doing them. At that point I find myself terrified.

It's an honest struggle. I get scared of moving, or of the vast nature of my dreams, or that they're not going anywhere I can see. And then I get locked up... lose sight of things... don't know what to do...

Chasing dreams being tough has been a topic of note lately, with Carlos Whittaker and Tyssul Patel, commenting on this seemingly ever-present wrestle. It seems to be the big struggle for creatives. We have a lot of dreams, desires, things we want to accomplish and see. We expand our thinking to see what is not possible.

Yet when it comes to the nitty-gritty part of doing it, we get scared. Sometimes it takes planning out a disciplined routine to get going. Other times it takes steping one foot forward, taking the leap, and figuring out as you go.

The most important piece is: you go when the light is green.

There's an interesting conundrum that hangs up a lot of Christians in this place: God's will. I often finding myself asking, "God, is it OK for me to do this?"

Or saying, "God, please tell me what to do!"

I've been learning something about God's heart lately, and it's that He wants us to be able to make the choice on our own, so much that He freely lets us set ourselves to pursue ideas. Then, if He doesn't think it's a great choice, He'll speak, or He'll confirm it's a good one!

As Eric Johnson of Bethel Church puts it, "The light in the Kingdom is green until it's red." God says go for it until He says stop. Yes, there is wisdom to be had in the process, but you can't apply wisdom to something you're not doing. Often the "wisdom" we find while idle is fear giving us an excuse not to pursue our dreams.

If God's for us and our dreams (if it matters to you, it matters to Him), then what's stopping us from pursuing the greater things in life! So, for me, chasing my dreams is not going to be religious. It's going to be fun, and I'll get to make awesome things with people along the way!

Here's what I'm thinking my process will look like:

  • Keep track-- write my dreams down, as they keep coming up, process them with important people (like my wife)
  • Start moving -- if I'm not sensing a no, go! Even if it's something as small as researching my dream, I'll keep it in focus!
  • Keep moving -- Set a small goal in front of me, and be diligent to do it regularly. No dream is ever accomplished without diligent work!
  • Invite God in and trust Him -- Bring God into the plan, the process, and the work. Ask Him to speak to me and reveal strategies to accomplish my goals, and for wisdom!

It seems to be a proven model based on what other people have mentioned. Now, what are you waiting for? Go!

What are your dreams? Where do you want to go? How are you accomplishing them?