Arming Yourself Against Depression: Repentance

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False guilt is a common cause of depression: but then, so is legitimate guilt. As David put it in Psalm 32:3-5: “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”

Whether we’ve sinned on the level of committing a crime, or on the level of indulging hot and hurtful thoughts, ignoring “repent and confess” proddings from our consciences and the Holy Spirit is the spiritual equivalent of dragging around a ball and chain. We go about business as usual, pretending the weight doesn’t exist and the chain isn’t tripping us up, blaming our chronic stressed-and-tired feelings on everything but that weight. All along, the key is hanging within easy reach–all we have to do is ask for it–but we’re afraid. Afraid of looking weak or stupid. Afraid that having the chain removed will take too long and upset our schedules. Afraid of finding a skin abscess under the shackle and requiring additional, painful treatment.

There are alternatives–but they aren’t pleasant.

  1. We can make ourselves chronically miserable with fear someone else will notice the weight. This means we don’t dare let anyone get close enough for a good look at us, so we become afraid of others,  and withdraw further and further into our shells of depression.
  2. We can succeed in convincing ourselves that the weight doesn’t exist, or isn’t so heavy after all. This is worse than the first alternative, for it usually means we turn our backs on God and on anyone else who might tweak an old nerve by implying, “Like it or not, what you did was wrong.” It also usually means that we get comfortable with doing the same thing–and worse–again and again, adding to our weight of guilt without even noticing. Eventually, the weight grows so heavy that, seemingly out of the blue, it drags us down in a spectacular fall, leaving our lives in shambles and no supporters in sight.

Does coming clean and facing the consequences seem that bad by comparison?

Of course, repentance is still an option after a major fall, or after years of chronic fear of being “found out.” But the longer we wait, the longer full recovery will take, and the greater our chances of sustaining a permanent disability. If you know you’ve made a mistake, the best time to apologize and make amends, to God and others, is today.

Then (Psalm 32:1), “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!”

  • A blog for naturally melancholy Christians tired of being told to "snap out of it"; for Christians who struggle with mental-health issues and long for assurance God delights in them nonetheless; and for naturally optimistic Christians who want to understand their "gloomy" loved ones.

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    I am the go-to writer for people with tough stress issues and special emotional needs—and for those who love them, organizations that serve them, and anyone who just wants to better understand the world of mental/emotional struggles. Or who just wants to pick up some good stress-management tips! Visit my main website at

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    Bible quotes used in this blog are from the New Living Translation or the New International Version (1984). See for copyright details.
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