Giving. It seems like such a simple word: the free transfer of a possession from one person to another. It is such a common word in our language and something that we do frequently, and it seems to be the only thing that I can concretely say breaks my depression and anxiety.
When I am depressed, I tend to think that no one cares about me, or the ones that do care about me are only doing so out of obligation. I begin to think of all of my failures as a mother: all the times I was not there for them or all of the times I didn’t take advantage of a situation to teach them. The list goes on and on, because my life is full of mistakes. I start to feel sorry for myself and get more and more inward focused on me and my shortcomings. What I GIVE is hate, vengeance, and just pure selfishness. Guess what I get back? Yeah, the best I get back is that people leave me alone, and the worst is that I get back what I’ve given (Galatians 6:7).
When I’m anxious, I lose sleep. I can’t focus on the conversation around me, because I am solving problems I can’t control, even if I could calculate a solution. I obsess about things I can’t change. I begin to believe the lie that if I want something bad enough or can dream of a solution, it should come true just like an immature toddler throwing a fit because they got chicken nuggets instead of macaroni and cheese. I begin believing the delusion that I am the author of my world. I think that if I worry and complain enough, I can convince everyone around me to believe my narcissistic narrative as well. Here’s the deal, I can work so hard that I may accomplish one task, but I completely neglect life. I don’t even acknowledge the people in my life or the other tasks I’ve ignored (1 Peter 5:7).
If I do not stop these cycles, I just get more nasty, ugly, resentful, etc. The best and most effective thing I have found to do is to give, but not what I feel. I have to start giving truth, despite what I feel about myself and the world around me (1 Corinthians 10:13). It may start with simply smiling instead of grimacing, complementing instead of complaining, laughing instead of criticizing. Then I can start actively doing things to help others: help open a door, carry something when their hands are full, or even give a small gift. As these physical acts of kindness become more comfortable, I have noticed that the door to help and bond emotionally begins to open as I become a source of comfort instead of anxiety for others. I promise, there is always a need if you look. There is always someone that may not physically NEED you to save them, but there is always someone that is struggling with self-doubt and at the least will be appreciative and encouraged by your kindness.
Here’s the only catch that I’ve seen to giving. Remember the definition? It is the FREE transfer of something from person to person. When you give your acts of kindness, just like a physical gift, it is no longer yours. It is not yours to determine how it is repaid. It is not yours to determine when it is repaid or to whom. It is a gift, free of obligation and expectation. Only when a gift is freely given can it be restorative (2 Corinthians 9:7; Colossians 3:12-14).
I do not know what it is, but God has put something inside of us that just rejuvenates our spirit when we begin to change our focus outward (1 John 3:17). I don’t have to understand it to know that it works. There is something about giving that opens the doors for us to communicate on deeper levels, because we trust someone that is willing to risk rejection by offering themselves. And here’s the reality, the opposite is true. If we choose to double down on our own emotions and self-generated truths, the people around us will grow at best to pity us, and at worse resent us for the people that we demand they become.
These giving acts don’t erase our mistakes, and they don’t change the physical world around us, but they do change us. They change our focus so that we are focused on God and His love. We are focused on helping others. Again, I don’t know why helping someone else allows us to mend ourselves, but it does. Look to those closest to you first. Reassure them that you love them. Show them that you love them, and as you become more comfortable expand your circle of giving. Find someone that you want to know more and begin to show God’s love to them. What will be even more exciting is when you see those closest to you begin to give what they’ve received by your example. I pray this gives you peace that passes all understanding as it has helped me to heal even when I feel I am out of control and my world is crashing.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
— Written by Kati
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