Do you ever experience moments of melancholy? A feeling of pensive sadness that comes over you with no obvious cause? A woe or sorrow that just has your soul feeling downcast?
If you do, you are not alone. I, too, experience moments of melancholy. Sometimes these feelings seem to drift in slowly. On other occasions they roll in more suddenly and distinctly like a storm front on the horizon.
As much as I am a fan of writing about the upbeat, delightful and joy filled there is a truth that some days here are earth are just mushed with melancholy. I would certainly like to avoid all moments of melancholy for the rest of my life, but I know that is not possible. Since we can’t avoid it, we need to face it.
Melancholy is temporary. Like rain storms, downcast times do not last forever, though they may seem long as we are going through them. That is the key, how do we make it through?
I actually had this happen to me recently. I was enjoy the summer day, working through my project list, tending to things around my house and hanging out with my daughter. My motivation started to slow and my thoughts seemed to darken with doubt. I just felt sad; very, very sad.
There was really no specific event that would explain or reveal a trigger for my gloom. All I knew was that I was feeling downcast.
Like the Psalmist wrote asking these questions in Psalm 42:11 (NIV), “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” I too asked the same thing. Why am I feeling this way and why am I sad? When the answer is “I do not know”, one wonders what to do next.
Pray: Any time we have questions, is a good time to talk to God.
I often find myself relying on my own understanding and wisdom attempting to answer my own questions. That can be like riding the carousel of crazy in my own mind. Up and down, round and round, exerting a lot of energy on the problem but never really getting any where.
Talk to the Lord about what is going on. Ask your questions. Go from there.
Ask for Prayer: Moments of melancholy do not bring with them an increased motivation for reaching out to others. Melancholy tends to bring avoidance, not wanting to visit or chat or communicate in any way. I think part of the avoidance comes from not being able to explain what is really going on. It may also come from a lack of desire to play the 20 questions game in attempt to reach a root cause.
Picture this, I am feeling quite blue for unknown reasons, so I call a friend to ask for prayer. The conversation may look something like this.
Me: Can you please pray for me? I am feeling overcome by melancholy and I am not sure why.
Friend: Of course I can pray for you. Did something happen?
Friend: Is there something going on in your marriage?
Friend: Did something happen with your kids?
Friend: Anything new going on at work or with finances?
Friend: Are you having trouble at church or with your volunteering?
Me: No. Nothing in any of those areas is specifically standing out
or the source of the problem that I can identify.
So it goes. It only takes this happening once or twice to want to skip this option in future moments of melancholy.
BUT, Friends can have the right words to pray when we do not have any words ourselves. Even if their questions are many, their desire is to help and to serve. A couple of understanding friends who you can simply send a text message to can make a world of difference.
Text: Feeling down, do not know why. Please pray.
Priceless is the friend who responds to pray first and ask questions later.
Read Scripture: One of the biggest benefits of all the technology we surround ourselves with is the ease of accessing scriptures. A quick Google search for encouraging Bible verses or Bible verses for downcast hearts can yield amazing results.
Go back to favorite Bible verses. Re-read stories that you think you know by heart, you never know when the Spirit will reveal a new aspect to you or grant you greater understanding.
It may not make you feel instantly better, but it will certainly help to pass through the downcast times.
Listen to the Lord: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;” Psalm 37:7 (NIV). There are several uses of the phrase “Be still” in the Psalms. Being still is not easy, especially when in the middle of the muck that melancholy brings. It is hard to listen because we can be looking for a distraction to numb the feeling.
I often find it helpful into those moments to write down the impressions that I am getting or what I am hearing. Many times when I am listening a new realization will cross my mind.
Serve Someone: Sometimes it is in an act of service that we find our sunshine again. I find that doing something for my husband or my children can break me out of my gloom. Writing a card to a friend. Sending a message of well wishes. Making a more laborious dinner (the way to my hubby’s heart is through his stomach – his favorites take much effort and energy).
Give it Time: It is perfectly normal to feel down on occasion. Feeling down sometimes does not mean you are a constant downer, have a poor attitude, or are a failure. It is a feeling. Feelings happen. All feelings do not result in beaming smiles. Our lives will hold moments of melancholy.
I just want to say that the moments of melancholy I am referring to today are different than a clinical depression or severe seasons of grief, which often times require professional advice and care to make it through. If you find yourself with deep consuming sorrow and an overwhelming darkness, I would strongly encourage seeking help.
Life is hard. Disappointments abound. Plans are shredded, modified, and tossed aside. Expectations go unmet. Pain pokes us. Mess-ups and mistakes happen.
You are not devalued in any way because you experience moments of melancholy.
You are a beautiful gift and a precious treasure!
Moments of melancholy really stink. They can leave us wanting so badly to fix it, avoid it, and just make it better. Lord, when we find ourselves downcast in the future, help us to turn our eyes towards You. Help us to still ourselves and know that You are God.
Lord, help us to get through those times. Especially when we do not understand why we are feeling gloomy. Help us to pray, to read scripture, to ask for prayers, to listen and to be open to serving others. Woe filled times can be such self centered times.
Help us to not allow the feelings of melancholy to overcome us. May we not be dejected and deemed worthless because we felt an unhappy feeling. Help us to not be ashamed to reach out for help and help us to reach back to those reaching out.
Most of all, beloved Lord, help us to make it through. In the miraculous and eternal name of Jesus, amen.