Naomi, From Depression to Joy

Naomi is introduced to us in the first chapter of the Book of Ruth. In the story she suffered from depression, just like we still do today. She even changed her name to “Mara” (which means bitter, or feelings of grief) to reflect her dark mood (1: 20).

Peoples’ emotions haven’t changed all that much since Naomi’s time. That’s because depression has no time boundaries, no race preferences, no cultural favoritism. And no social-economic bias. Depression just is no matter the background or the era.

Depression is often overlooked by family members, sometimes misdiagnosed by professionals. And the result of either one is disappointing, to say the least.

Naomi’s depression happened because she had lost all her family members over a span of ten years. She had a right to go through deep sorrow. I don’t know how long her dark mood lasted but seems like it lingered for a while.

I relate to Naomi not because of her loss, but because of her depression. I’ve been in and out of different types of therapy for depression for years, with only minimal results. So, I know what I’m talking about when I say, “less than desired results.” Oh, I would feel good for a while after a few sessions of counseling but, like all feelings, it just didn’t last very long.

Something for me had to change. And, thank God it did. Over the last three years I’ve been going to a therapist that’s taken in my life’s “full picture.” And it helped that I felt I could connect with her from the beginning.

The type of counseling she uses is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Sometimes this is called “talk therapy,” and it has given me a huge amount of relief. I feel as normal and happy with life as is humanly possible. I wake up each morning with an eagerness to live a fresh new day in my life. Since I started this type of therapy, I’m managing depression much better now.

I want the same healing for you if you are suffering with depression. Or if not you, then someone you know. There are different kinds of depression, but there are also different types of therapy. If CBT hasn’t worked for you, then find another type that will work better for you.

None of us have endless amounts of time to straighten things out. Our lives are running ahead of us, and often at lightning speed. Don’t let depression be your life’s story. We all are more valuable than that.

Naomi did experience an emotional healing in time. Even to this day, she points the way for us on how to overcome depression. But how did she experience this healing?

I hope this brief look into how she overcame depression will be as helpful to you as it has been for me, even though I have dysthymic (chronic) depression.

I want to encourage you to read the Book of Ruth. It’s found in the Old Testament and is only four chapters long. But, don’t let its brevity fool you into thinking there’s not much teaching in it. Like all the Bible, it has multi-layered messages written all through it, and is forever fresh and relevant for us today.

In this story, Naomi is a background personality. She was the older woman who connected Ruth to her new husband Boaz. Their great-grandson became King David and ruled over Israel. But who was Naomi outside of her pivotal role of being a Jewish matchmaker? And how was she healed of depression?

Her story is enveloped between the larger story of Ruth meeting Boaz and then marrying him. But before that took place, we’re introduced to Naomi and her family. Elimelech was her husband, and her two sons were Mahlon, and Chilion. They lived in the Jewish town of Bethlehem. But when that area had a drought, they moved to a country across the Dead Sea called Moab. Today it’s called Jordan.

Now the Moabites spoke a different language, practiced a different religion, and had a different culture. But this young Jewish family even in spite of all of that, had high hopes of doing well in Moab. I assume they moved there to farm, since it was a lush, green country known as a “place of many oasis.”

Not long after moving there Elimelech dies. Naomi and her two sons decide to stay on and continue farming. Well, Mahlon and Chilion grow up and marry two Moabite women. One is Ruth and the other Orpah. Ruth, of course, is the center focus in this eloquent story.

Then, ten years later both sons pass away. No children are mentioned being born to either couple during that ten years. So, now we see Naomi living in a foreign country with two young women she’s no longer related to. This is where we see Naomi’s personality come to the forefront. It’s also where we see her depression sit in.

I believe her depression moved over her from day to day, like surging waves that crash on the beach. That’s like the depression I’ve experienced. And perhaps you, as well.

After her sons’ passing Naomi decides to sell the farm and move back to Bethlehem. I believe being separated from her extended Jewish family increased her depression. She knew she would feel better being back around them. Once her mind was made up, she saw no need in putting off this difficult trip.

It’s clear to me that Naomi held on to her faith and missed her worship services in Bethlehem. That’s where she worshiped God with other Jewish believers. This also, helped to restore joy in her life.

Being active in my church has helped me. I’ve met many other Christian women there that I’ve emotionally and prayerfully supported like they have me. Fellowship, and Bible study are a part of my mental wellness plan.

Just like Naomi, people down through the ages have had or will have depression. I want to encourage you to not let depression go untreated. There are effective cures being used to treat this form of mental illness.

I see Naomi as a realist, and a pragmatist. She saw life as it is, not how she wished it to be. Once she planned to do something then she became resolute in carrying it out. That helped her in solving difficult problems, which then helped her in overcoming depression.

Now Orpah and Ruth wanted to travel with Naomi to Bethlehem. In preparation, each woman would’ve made sure they had some fresh water stored in a dried animal skin, several loaves of unleavened baked bread, and roasted grain for their evening meal. They also had cakes of figs and clusters of raisins for stamina and quick energy while they were traveling. This would’ve been their common “travel food.”

So, after gathering up their small bundles the three women start out on this arduous journey together. But they hadn’t gone far when Naomi takes the leadership role and told the two young women to go back to their mothers’ homes (1:8,9).

Like Naomi, you’re not going to get better unless you show leadership in your own life. If you’re unsure of which direction to go in, then seek some guidance from someone that you trust.

Avoid taking negative advice from someone who demeans you. And don’t take advice from someone who won’t meet even their own expectations or potential.

Naomi only wanted the best for these two young women and didn’t want them to take unnecessary risks. But she was a woman with a strong will. And not afraid to take a calculated risk.

Naomi had been the glue that held her family together. She had mentored and cared for all of them. That’s why the two women wanted to go with her. She had taught them all about the Jewish faith during their time in Moab. How do I know that? At the time of their departure Ruth told Naomi that she wanted to follow “your God.”

Now when Naomi said her goodbyes to these two younger women something significant took place at that dusty crossroads. Let’s find out exactly what happened.

A Brief Look At Orpah

There they were, three women standing at the crossroads of not only their physical direction, but also their life’s direction. And it didn’t take long for Orpah to change her mind.

It did seem logical for her to go visit her family. But, in truth she longed for the lifestyle she had before she married. She was tied to her past. The past in in the past and none of us can change it, nor relive it.

Orpah, looked too closely at the problem instead of looking at the big-picture solution. Because of this she bought more problems on herself than had she gone with Naomi.

Orpah may sound like someone we might know. Or one of us. We get started on the right track, but things just don’t seem to last beyond a few months or so. We lose our focus then our ambition slowly ebbs away. Then, we begin a new set of “self-improvement” plans. I want to encourage you to stop the “yo yo cycle” of self-improvements. Like I’ve said, I’ve been there, done that. There is a better way.

I’m only surmising about Orpah’s life, but I believe she “pushed the easy button” many times in solving her life’s problems. She seems to have lacked problem-solving skills that would’ve brought some order to her life. That makes her no different than many of us.

A Brief Look At Ruth

Ruth would not be swayed from leaving Naomi’s side. Instead she spoke these immortal words to Naomi:

“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried.” 1: 16,17 (ESV)

We learn about Naomi by looking at Ruth. Why would this young woman even consider taking this dangerous journey? They could’ve died of thirst and/ or starvation during their journey. And how long would it take them to walk or ride in a caravan approximately a hundred miles?

Naomi and Ruth obviously, had a strong loyal bond of friendship between them. And Ruth was the type to think through her decisions before making them. Doing this kept her from being indecisive.

While they were under Naomi’s teachings in Moab, Ruth became a Jewish convert. But, apparently hadn’t made it known until the start of their journey. That’s when she made a public profession of faith to Naomi.

Naomi must’ve had a nurturing personality to have had Ruth so drawn to her. The two of them spent quality time together even before their trip. Ruth severed all connections to her past. Doing that helped her to plan a brighter future for herself.

When they got settled in Bethlehem, Naomi didn’t go out into the fields. I think Ruth told her to rest in their home, while she went out in the hot sun to gather barley.

Well, Ruth happened to gather barley in the field of a man related to Elimelech. The owner was named Boaz. And he observed how this young foreign woman took care of the older Jewish woman that lived with her, which impressed him. He started asking others who she was. (2:11).

Naomi

I believe Naomi stayed in Moab because she got caught up in the routine of busyness. Busyness can consume our time, but it’s not very fulfilling. Busyness always leave us feeling empty and wondering if life has more meaning then just the routine.

In the middle of her busyness, Naomi got blind-sighted by events she didn’t expect to happen. At first her husband then her sons passed away. She could’ve let her grief rob her of any joy she might’ve had in the future. But she didn’t.

Moving back to Bethlehem helped Naomi find joy again. Her relatives still remembered her as having been a joyful person in her younger years.

I relate with Naomi on moving back to a place she called home. I experienced joy when Jeff and I moved back to Western North Carolina where I’m from. I had left my hometown of Sylva, some thirty years before, being a single young woman. A few years later I joined the Air Force, and met my future husband, Jeff.

We both were stationed at the same air base in Germany and married there. When my enlistment was up, I received an Honorable Discharge. We had our first child by then, and I wanted to stay home with her. He reenlisted, though and made USAF his career. Along the way we added two more precious daughters to our family.

Thirteen years later we moved to Shaw AFB, SC. We had been out of the country for six straight years. Three of those were spent in Turkey where I drove very little and never off base.

So, I was glad to be back in America and drive anywhere I needed or wanted to go. But not long after settling there, I began longing for us to move back to my hometown of Sylva, NC. I still had extended family living in the area and missed the mountains. Jeff’s from Monroe, Georgia. Moving there never interested me.

Well, Jeff only had a few more years to finish his career when we moved to SC. However, we ended up staying thirteen years in Sumter. Our girls finished school there, and I finished my credits and graduated nearby Coker College during some of that time. Then, we just got busy with life. Finally, after our girls left the house, we began making plans to move up to the Sylva, NC area. I relate with Naomi on so many levels.

Naomi’s joy also came back because she changed her focus from herself to others. Her problems became smaller by her doing that.

Ruth had become like a daughter to her by this time. It was in taking the older woman’s advice that Ruth was able to capture Boaz’s attention and his heart.

Boaz and Ruth married and had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse. He had a son named David who became King over Israel.

In moving back Naomi became involved with life in her village. The women socialized with each other during their daily chores. This is where she began bringing joy back, not only in her life, but in others as well. She understood that life is bigger than her own personal problems.

She had set a goal of moving back home. After that her goal was for Ruth to meet Boaz. Naomi kept setting goals for herself and became involved with life again. And she let the rest take care of itself. And it did.

In the end, Naomi had a complete emotional healing. She was happy and contented. This can happen in your life as well if you seek God’s will for your life. Don’t expect everything to work out as you’ve planned it, though. God’s plans are higher than ours.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

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Get Involved in Something Bigger Than Yourself

Do the holidays increase your level of depression? If so, then take the advice of therapists, that tell us to get involved with activities that make us feel positive about life. For me that would include being involved with activities my church sponsors that interest me.

One church connected activity I’ve enjoyed being involved with for the last three years is a community outreach Christmas Dinner that’s held at my church. I’ve “jumped in” and gotten involved in whatever way I can with this “open door” invite at Webster Baptist Church, Webster, NC.

This community Christmas Day Dinner was started more than 10 years ago by the DeRico family. That would’ve been when Ken and Katrina DeRico’s two young adult children would’ve been quite young.

At that time they were just getting settled into living in the Smokey Mountains. They were new Floridan transplants that found themselves eating a big Christmas dinner by themselves away from their extended families.

That experience made them realize that the holidays can be a time of being away from family as well as having to choose which family to be with. And not everyone has family to spend the holidays with.

Within a year or two the DeRicos found and joined WBC after moving up here. Noticing our church has a well equipped kitchen, an idea began to form in Ken’s mind, “Why not cook a community wide Christmas Dinner at the fellowship building and visit with whoever shows up.” After all they are both great cooks so within a few years of them being up here they did just that.

I’m not sure Katrina said “Sure lets do it,” right off, but she found herself tripling her dressing recipe and wondering how many hams and turkeys they would need to buy for their first “Open Door Christmas Dinner.” After all, they found most people here had deep family roots and probably celebrated Christmas with their extended families.

And, pray tell, how would they pay for it all?

Nevertheless, they were on a self directed mission “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,” James 1:27 (ESV).

Now, leap forward ten plus years and below are some stats that their daughter Caitlin put up on her Facebook page. This is not to glorify them or any of the other sixty-plus volunteers that helped out for two prep days and also helped serve on Christmas Day.
Caitlin DeRico Snodgrass to Webster Christmas Outreach Dinner

December 26, 2019 at 12:20 PM
We did it!

425 delivery and carryout
60 inmates got cookies
30 Sheriff Deputies
4 Sylva PD
10 EMS
4 911 dispatch
20 Qualla FD station
30 Balsam Center
75 Hermitage Nursing Home received essentials stockings
50 Mountain Trace NH received essentials stockings
35 Skyland Care Center received essentials stockings & 2 personal gifts for 2 residents
At least 50 dined in.

“Thank you to ALL who made this possible!!! What a touching year and God continuing to show up and how!!!”

By now, Caitlin is the main organizer and scheduler. The bulk of us just show up on the days she posts for volunteers.

Now how did it all come together for them? Of course I don’t know the tiny details. But, I do know that they start in November cooking their kettle corn in WBC parking lot for donations. Behind the scene one of them is going to all the grocery stores in town asking for donated food, which includes hams and turkeys.

They don’t ask for donations at the Christmas Dinner. All of that has been taken care of by then. There’s actually a flow of order to it all and coming together at the right times. Nothing is overcooked and there is always plenty of it.

Of course, the dinner prep comes with a lot of anticipation and excitement every year. Excitement in the air builds among the volunteers. And, everyone is excited about participating in it in someway.

Just being there raises my endorphins. Jumping in and helping out keeps me feeling that excitement for days later. One year we had Santa show up with his eight tiny reindeer! Okay, the reindeer were really his pickup truck but no one was disappointed with his visit.

I’ve gotten to meet so many great Christians in my church by just participating in various church connected events like this annual event. Friendships with a lot of different people have opened up for me. This year my husband Jeff got involved with the Christmas Dinner and helped me take meals out to shut-ins.

I want to encourage you to get involved with volunteering or being involved someway with a need that’s bigger than your holiday blues. You’ll have great memories, make new friends, meet people who need you to just listen to them for a minute or two. You will become more involved in a world of happiness that’s bigger than your blues.

Are There Generational Curses?

“… and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” Genesis 27:12

I’m not sure where we Christians get the idea that curses can be passed down. Recently a relative and I were talking about this subject. My relative said that another relative of ours is under the family curse.

I asked, “What curse is that? Nobody told me that we were under a curse.” I’ve never heard this, so I asked, “Where is this written in the Bible?”

Well, I’ve looked through different versions of the Bible and I still haven’t found this teaching on generational curses. There are generational sins but that’s another subject for another day. But, these two are not the same thing at all.

The whole subject came up because of my maternal grandfather. He was born out-of-wedlock to a teenage mom in 1898. My math tells me she was 15 1/2 yrs old when she gave birth to my grandfather in a rural community here in Western North Carolina. His dad was twenty. I’m not sure whether he was married then or not.

She didn’t keep her newborn boy so he was passed around to various family members. Somewhere in there he took his Dad’s last name. Even though, his dad rejected him and never claimed my grandpa as his son. Well, Grandpa looked strikingly similar to his father’s legitimate son so there you have it. And it was then and still is a rural community. No more than a crossroads with a store and a post office.

Now, this young woman had one more son out-of-wedlock about when she turned 18. With that birth she died. It might’ve been because of her experiencing a difficult delivery or her premature death might’ve been the result of catching influenza (flu).

There was no cure for influenza back then. And, there were “mini” outbreaks of it before the 1918 large scale death of the flu that swept across America because troops were trained in large group settings, and then passed through metro areas on their way to Europe. Many people who got it back then died from it.

So, what happened to my Grandpa to bring this idea of curses about? Even I’m not sure how to answer that one. I knew him and am pretty sure he would reject that idea also. Grandpa always had two things nearby that he read: his Bible and their local paper.

He was a WWI Navy veteran that went to the shores of France. After that he came back to WNC and moved to the largest town near where he grew up, Murphy, NC. There he met my Granny and they married about 1920.  They had four children, two sons and two daughters in that order.

I knew him to be a small frame man that might’ve been as tall as 5’6″ and weighed about 140 lbs. A lightweight to be sure, but he was a hard worker.

Both of my grandparents’ sons, my Uncles J. D. and Jack, were much taller and larger bone than their parents.  My mother, named June and her sister my Aunt Mary Jo, were both small frame women.

My grandpa was well educated for his time. A relative had the foresight to send him to Rome, GA to attend Berry’s School for Boys about 1914. There he learned carpentry and farming. Then, he entered the Navy in 1917.

Both he and my Granny were hard-working, honest, Christian people: “salt of the earth” type of folks. Together they made a strong couple. They farmed most all their lives together, which was about forty years.

Grandpa only spoke when he had something to say. He said what he meant and meant what he said. I think that must be a genetic trait because that was my mother’s style of communication, and pretty much mine, also.

His childhood experiences left him somewhat hard to deal with.  But, he lived his life on two main principles: truth and logic. What is the truth here and what is the outcome going to be? Those two qualities worked well for both my grandparents.

In time, they owned about 15 acres that included a small frame house. He and his sons enlarged the house, built an indoor bathroom, and all the family farmed about a quarter of the land. In my early years they still had a horse trained for pulling a plow, but had a tiller also.

My Grandparents saw both of their sons leave to join the Navy during WWII. Amazingly, both came home being in the same physical shape as when they left.

All their children lived by the practicable values they learned from their parents as well. My mother was a down-to-earth woman who was the major influence on us five children. My dad was more of a “think-outside-the box” idealist. He worked long hours honing his sales approach by selling restaurant equipment. And, all that work paid off for them through the years.

An example of that is about 16 years into my parents marriage my dad convinced my mother to follow one of his impracticable dreams of them becoming entrepreneurs. By both following dad’s dream they became wealthy and experienced their own American Dream.

My parents became successful small business owners and, in time, millionaires! Fortunately, my very practical mother controlled the outflow of the money. And, in part, that’s how they stayed wealthy.

I’ve used these principles for my life’s direction as well. No, I’m not a millionaire. Or at least not in monetary terms that is. But, I am known as being an honest, hard-working, Christian woman.

Over forty years ago, I married Jeff, who also shares these principles. We have three beautiful daughters named Ruth, Rachel, and Esther. And two blood grandchildren, and two step grandchildren.  We love them all very much.

Now, my Grandfather had no control over the circumstances that surrounded his birth. He did not choose his parents. No one does, all our parents are chosen for us. Yes his upbringing was harsh. That experience, I believe, left him short-tempered.

But, grandpa, granny, nor any of their four children, and not their seventeen grandchildren, and so on have ever been under a generational curse. That whole idea just doesn’t exist.

Outside of accepting Christ as your personal Savior than you, and I are or were under the curse of sin. That’s the only curse I’m aware of that affects us humans. That curse can be taken away by asking Jesus to come into your heart to take up residence inside you through the Holy Spirit.

I’m still not sure where this generational curse idea developed. It’s not Biblical. Nor is it even practical.

The above verse I chose for this blog shows that we bring either curses or blessings on ourselves. And that’s what I believe.

 

 

Why Do Some Burn Bridges To Relationships They Should Be Cherishing?

Are you involved in a relationship where there a history of mistrust? Why do some people subconsciously sabotage relationships that they depend on always being there for them?

Yes, I’m primarily talking about the manipulators and / or emotional controllers that easily move about in our inner circle of relationships. You and I both know people that don’t seem to care about your feelings, but only theirs. Let me list a few of these type of people for you.

First, there are the “pouters” that threaten to throw a fit if things don’t go their way. This group includes people of all ages. Especially the people under the same roof as you live under. Such as parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, and spouses.

The habit of being a manipulator begins in early childhood and deepens, like a murky river, into a person’s psyche during their formative years.  Only a trail of failure and then, hopefully counseling can change the course of that dark river of self-absorption. Change can happens but it takes effort.

What are the other types of manipulators? Well, how about the self-absorb people who weave “I, me, my, mine, or myself” into every other sentence? Yes, you know people like this just like I do. They are our detached and self-focused relatives, or friends. All you ever hear about from this type is them talking about themselves.

Then, there’s the temperamental relative that almost never shows gratefulness. Never a “Thank you” is uttered from their lips. The ungrateful can catch you “off guard” with saying something hateful in the middle of what seems like a normal conversation.

And, last, but not least are the “blasters!” They likely have what is called, “intermittent explosive disorder.” These individuals are the hardest on your nerves, to be sure. Their anger is out of proportion to the circumstance. We think of road rage as an example of this disorder. Or a family member who starts shouting over something that was simply misplace, but easily found, for instance

If a person has this disorder their behavior can develop PTSD in other family member’s psyche in a sub-conscience way. PTSD happens to more people than solders that fight in a war.

Encourage this person to get counseling and take the appropriate prescription for his/her anger issues. Anger plus fear create anxieties. Out of control anxiety needs to be controlled because it will affect this person’s physical health. Help where possible with them in making a long term solution in controlling their disorder.

As I’ve said, you know any or all of these people just like I do. What can you or I do about not being controlled, manipulated, or blasted at by our loved ones who see us as target practice for releasing their pent-up anger or schemes on?

For one, avoid conflict with these people, in as much as possible. Sometimes these people say provocative statements just to get us to react to them. That seems like an odd way to get attention, but as the old saying goes, “negative attention is better than no attention.”

Don’t become a victim of other people unleashing their negativity out on you. Become a victor instead. Becoming a victor may mean you going to counseling. This would give you a healthy outlet to talk in-depth with a trained counselor that can guide you into healthy communication habits.

If you work with any of these personality types, then talk with their boss. And tell him or her about what you’re experiencing in working with or under this difficult person.

Don’t “build” your self-thoughts on other’s negative statements they make about you. There will always be negative people in our lives. They are the “bridge burners” that sabotage their own selves of not being able to build healthy relationships.

You be a “bridge builder” to hope, and personal happiness without being selfish. Be a person known to have a clear conscience, and to posses quality of character. Don’t let negativity, whether its yours or someone else’s be the over-riding attitude that guides you through your day. Don’t let other people’s negative comments shape your own personal belief system you have about yourself.

Only listen to people or teachings that guide you into mentally healthy ideas about yourself. Follow those that help you to be the best person you can possibly be.

 

 

Overcoming Depression

I am doing some limited talks on how I have managed chronic depression. I would like to Skype as well as do some public speaking on this subject. I’m willing to speak at most any venue, but I am a believer in Christ Jesus. I wouldn’t want to not be able to speak freely about how my faith has helped me in tremendous ways. You can get in touch with me through my WordPress site or at my email: myjouneyintohealing@gmail.com