If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Philippians 2:1-2 (The Message)
Recently, I have spoken with some clients about putting a team around them to help deal with depression or anxiety issues. Sometimes, anxiety and depression can feel like “the devil on your shoulder”. You’ve seen this in cartoons and movies forever. There is a devil on one shoulder, and an angel on the other, each whispering things to the hearer, trying to win their position. The devil is saying damaging or evil things, tempting the hearer, tormenting him/her. The angel is holding out for the good decision, and saying positive things. Often in anxiety, the angel is not winning.
In extreme anxiety especially, that “devil” is seeking your destruction. I think everyone of us has a built-in “self-destructive” part that seeks to tear us down. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. What I do know is that we all carry within us the seeds for our own destruction. That is why we need to guard our hearts and minds and take our thoughts captive and speak truth to them. The part of us that is self-destructive is not from the truth or rational part of us. Indeed, self-destructive thought is irrational, but it does exist, and we need to counter its effects.
How do we do this? By surrounding ourselves with the truth, namely – that we are fearfully and wonderfully made; that we are the objects of God’s love; that others love us, etc. But when we are beset by the overwhelming power of self-doubt, and those recurring negative thoughts, it feels like the “devil” (that self-destructive part), is winning.
I suggest to clients at times that, when their own “exit strategies” of anxiety relief are exhausted, they should not try to fight this battle alone. They need to find a team- a trusted small team of safe people who love them- to help engage in this fight. If the client is “Bill”, I tell him that he needs to identify “Team Bill”. He will convene those people, enlist their help, and elicit from them their pledge to help when he calls or contacts them. I would tell Bill, “This is too big an enemy to fight alone. You deserve some help. Let’s build Team Bill to help”
Think about who might be on your team if you need one.
Prayer: Lord, you have made us to thrive in community. Help us to identify our team of helpers, Amen.