I found out today that the legendary action sport athlete Dave Mirra died from a self inflicted wound. It’s not uncommon to read articles about extreme athletes dying at a young age, but Dave Mirra’s death was different. I’m still trying to make sense of it. Somehow depression snuck into his life and got the best of him. Which seems strange because Dave was an innovator who piled on medals at the X-Games. According to wikipedia here are just a few of his career accomplishments :
He won a medal at the X Games in every year from 1995 through 2009, with the exception of 2006. He won 24 medals at the X Games, including 14 gold medals, which stood as a record until 2013. In 2005, Mirra won the Best Male Action Sports Athlete ESPY Award
As the action sports world and myself are mourning the tragic news, I felt nudged to explore this unmerciful monster called: Depression. I know that Dave is not the only action sports star who has fought it. This monster takes you on in an invisible mental war. Its easy to assume that people that can double backflip a BMX are emotionally on top of the world. But it’s simply not true. Sometimes even success can lead to depression, especially when the “glory” days seem to be behind us.
Depression is often masked by those that struggle with it. No one likes to admit weakness, but according to surveys it plagues about 10% of our nation and it’s said that 25% of college students struggle with it.
So what causes it? HURT.
Somewhere, some place, a person has began to feel hurt.
Hurt can hit a person in a variety of way:
- Loss of a loved one
- Poor self image
- Negative “not good enough” thinking
- Sin and Guilt
- Underachievement or failure
- Oppressive environments
- The “now what” syndrome following a success
- Undervalued because of your age
- Health issues
- Chemical imbalance
- Degrading insults from others
- Pressure to perform
- Loss of your identity
A person can try to conquer depression by winning more, but it won’t work for the long haul .
A person can try to conquer depression by buying more stuff, but it won’t work for the long haul .
A person can try to conquer depression by drinking more, but it won’t work for the long haul .
There are no quick fixes, but here are some ways to help you face-off with this monster and kick it out of your life.
- Look to God. In the book of Psalms its common to see King David struggling with the Lord, his enemies, and even himself. Which is strange because he had a resume that outshines William Wallace. But as you look deeper you will notice where his strength lies. At that at the end of his frustrations he often comes back to putting his hope and trust in God. God is strength. Honestly, I don’t know how a person can fight off depression without putting ones hope and trust in God. The more you know God the more purpose you will find. A life without a meaningful purpose is depressing, but in Jesus we can find a rich purpose that brings us joy. Need place to start? Read the book of Luke and watch how Jesus transforms those that are hurting and suffering.
- Open up. Force yourself to share your struggle with others that you trust. Find the friend who loves God, won’t spread your garbage, and is a compassionate listener. Keeping things bottled up inside will just cause things boil and eventually erupt, but being open with someone can bring a freedom that transforms you.
- Become an expert. Study up on what you are feeling and why. Read books on it. Google it. All while doing everything you can to conquer it. Discover what works and cross off what doesn’t. Aim to know more than a counselor.
- Reach out to others that are hurting. Statistics say that you are not alone. That means that there are others around you dealing with the same lows that you are. You don’t see them, because they are like you. They keep it hidden. But if you decide to open up about your struggle then you will notice others coming to you for advice. Its possible that your very pain could turn into your purpose.
- Move. Nearly every counselor will tell you to keep a healthy lifestyle. Get off the couch. Eat healthy. Try to break a sweat everyday. We’ve heard it a million times, but its true. Try it. More MOTION equals better EMOTION.
Feel free to add to this list in the comment section below.
Heres to the Legend.
In the western world the word geneology puts most of us to sleep. When we come up to a genealogy in the Bible we often skip over it to get to the “good stuff.” But in the ancient world genealogies were a big deal. People were a part of different groups, clans, tribes, and ethnicities that they often took great pride in.
The Jewish people were no different. In Jesus day the Jewish leaders (Pharisees) had set a high priority on being racially and morally pure. Marrying into another ethnic groups was highly frowned on. Pure blooded Jews were known to hike around mixed-blooded towns like Samaria so that they would not defile themselves. It’s also been said, that a Jewish priest had to prove that he was a pure blooded Jew by tracing his heritage back four generations on his mother’s side and four generations on his father’s side. They had to prove that they were the “real deal” before they could have authority.
Jesus was born into this kind of thinking and its no wonder he rocked their paradigm. You should seriously study the geology of Jesus at some point. In the book of Mathew there are there are 42 generations listed. None of the men listed were perfect, intact some of them made some graven mistakes. You will also notice the names of four women listed that had something in common. Tamar , Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba were all Gentiles. They were what the Pharisee’s would have called Pagans! They were women from an unclean race. And yet there they are in the opening chapter of the New Testament listed in the lineage of Jesus. Jesus lineage had universal blood in it.
Matthew chapter one is a beautiful introduction to a man who would be on a mission to extend grace to even to those beyond the exclusive club.
When people see you do they see you as a person of faith in an exclusive club or do they see a person who is a friend to all?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
I live in farm culture. A place where there is a strong ‘gitter done’ mentality. A place where if you’re not sweating then your not working. Infact, the idea of taking a rest, a hiatus, or especially a sabbatical is a foreign concept. Nobody out here wants to be that guy that was caught leaning on his shovel. There is some great strong truth in that mentality. It is healthy to steer clear from laziness and have a strong work ethic, but if a person never takes a break then eventually they themselves will be the one who breaks.
In college a couple of my roommates called me “Busy Biz” because I was always on the go, hoping to accomplish something for Jesus. Ministry became my obsession. I was always dreaming and even daring to push the boundaries, but after 14 years ministry began to loose it’s joy. I had a resume full of places I had gone and people I had ministered to, but it started to feel like a duty rather than a joy. The thrill of following Christ had faded. My emotions had gone raw. My wife took notice of my ministry fatigue and she began to encourage me to take a short break from ministry (a sabbatical). I initially laughed at the thought of taking an extended break, but she was persistent, and she won the tug-a-war match.
I spent 40 days disengaged from ministry. I still came up with a plan of things to do like: study my Bible, get healthy, cherish my family, house work, etc. But anything ministry related was out. No sermons. No planning. No dreaming. It was super hard at first because I felt like I was leaning on my shovel. But looking back it was one of the best things I have ever done. It gave me a fresh perspective and rekindled my heart for God an ministry. Its not the easiest thing for us driven types to do, but now something I plan to do every 7 years (Deuteronomy 31:10).
Why? Because in the long run it makes me stronger and my ministry healthier.
Are you one of those types who keeps pushing hard? Has it brought you to a place where you are starting to feel your passion fizzle? If that’s you then maybe its time to take a break and lean into God.