Do you remember the story of the unclean woman? Jairus begged Jesus to come heal his daughter. When they left, an unnamed woman who had bled for twelve years without any cure touched the fringe of Jesus’ robe. Scriptures say Jesus literally felt power leave from him and he turned around to see who had touched him. When the woman revealed herself, Jesus healed her because of her faith. (Luke 8:40-48)
I am a youth pastor. I have depression. 350 million people which is five percent of the world’s entire population have at least one major depressive episode a year. And, as a woman, I am statistically more likely to live with depression.
Depression is hard because it presents itself differently with every person it touches. For me, as a youth pastor, it ate away at the inner core of who I was. I questioned God. I felt like I was losing my creativity. It was a painful burden and a burden that for many years, I chose to bear alone.
Depression made my soul bleed in a thousand different ways. I was labeled, judged, and spent several years figuring things out. I also came to believe that I was my condition; I was depression. I wasn’t the best version of myself and I certainly wasn’t interested in anything God had to say about it.
And then, the turn. I touched Jesus’ robe in the form of a friend who opened my eyes. She was the first friend to assure me that it was ok to seek help and to take medicine. Am I healed? No. Do I live with depression? Yes.
This life is hard. Often times, as youth pastors, we travel down long, lonely, and arduous roads that can take us into dark spaces. Sometimes on that journey, we just long to touch Jesus’ robe. That is the point where we open God’s word to find light in our darkness.
First, let me say that you are not alone. Cliche? Sure. True? Yes.
If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. (Psalm 139:9-10)
Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Second, this is no surprise to God.
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:15)
Don’t be afraid to reach up.
Depression doesn’t make me a bad youth pastor. It simply colors the way in which I see the world. Have faith. Continue to seek God. Reach out. Reach up.
Tori Mick is the Director of Youth Ministries for Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, LA. She earned her M.A. in Youth Ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary and The Center for Youth Ministry Training. She is passionate about youth, worship, social justice, and issues of race. When she’s not hanging out with her students, you can find her hanging out with her sweet dog Roscoe, traveling, trying new food, or reading a great book. You can connect with Tori on INSTAGRAM, TWITTER or her BLOG.