Take stock of your life for a moment. Think about what you dreamed for yourself as a young man, and how that dream developed over time. Now think about where you are today: is this what you wanted? Are you satisfied with your career? Do you feel fulfilled in your relationships? If you feel like you’re not the man you want to be, you are not alone. Fortunately, Christian counseling offers an excellent space to learn and to grow in your development as a confident yet sensitive man in today’s world.
Sadly, our culture does not encourage men to speak openly about their struggles and challenges. For that reason, one of the most common issues facing men today is silence: we often do not feel that we can acknowledge our weaknesses and pain before others. Men, like women, can struggle with eating disorders or abuse; yet, unlike women, we are told to be strong and bury our pain. Counseling can be a wonderful place to find a voice for yourself in all your complexity as a man in today’s world.
The standards of ‘masculinity’ can place a lot of weight on men today: being a man means that you are strong, confident, handsome, and successful in your work and relationships. When we change ourselves to meet these unrealistic expectations, we can become caught up in unhealthy habits and ways of being that betray our authentic selves. This only adds problems to your life and makes true intimacy with others difficult.
At Seattle Christian Counseling, we are interested in helping men discern how to be Godly leaders. What does it mean to be a Christian man in a world where masculinity is so often identified with power and success? How do we learn to be loving husbands and devoted fathers? How can we be role models for the next generation of Christian men? Learning how to be a prayerful man in a world marked by hyper-sexuality, violence, and apathy is a lifelong process that takes patience and strength.
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I was a pastor for 23 years, and during that time I often heard parishioners talking about mental health issues like depression. The view was often narrow and uninformed. I heard such statements as, “If you have enough faith, you will not be depressed,” “You just need to trust God,” and many other choice comments.
I remember while dealing with my own depression, a friend and mentor told me to “get over it and quit sinning.” He apparently believed that depression was a sin.
There are a lot of well-meaning Christians who do not understand mental health issues like depression. They do not understand that depression is an illness. Most of these people have never dealt with depression themselves. If they had, I doubt they would ever say such things.
Sadly, there is a lot of ignorance in the church about mental health issues. I took in what my friend had said to me and felt guilty for feeling the way I did. For quite a while, I believed him. When I finally went to a counselor myself, I learned that depression is an illness and not a sin. I also learned that people don’t often get over depression by themselves. Once I learned this, I was able to dismiss such unwise counsel.
Through my own struggle with bouts of depression, I have done some research in the Bible. I wanted to see what Scripture had to say about depression. Technically, the Bible does not...Read More
How do you know you are experiencing depression? What are the common symptoms of depression? As a professional counselor, when listening to clients describe their symptoms, I am looking for patterns and changes in patterns, as well as a few key words or phrases. What is normal for one person may not be normal for another, but here are few of the most common signs and symptoms of depression.
Change in Mood
Depression is associated with the words “sad” or “down.” While those are certainly aspects of the moods of depression, I also find that feeling “nothing” or “numbness” are just as common.
It is normal to feel different emotional responses to various events in our lives, but unfortunately we push down many negative emotions because they are hard to feel or talk about. We do our best not to dwell on them or think about them. But we can’t selectively damper certain emotions.
The more we numb our negative emotions, we also end up numbing our positive emotions, which can leave a sort of emptiness, hopelessness, and overall numbness. I frequently hear people struggling with depression describe their emotions as mostly empty with sadness mixed in; but these changes can also include mood swings, irritability, and anger.
Change in Sleeping Patterns
Sleep changes are one of the most pernicious symptoms of depression. This can take the form of either sleeping too much or not sleeping enough, or simply your sleep...Read More
When I was in my late teens, my mom told me a story once about one of my ancestors. I told her I was feeling “blue” and she proceeded to tell me of my great-great-great-great-grandfather Charles, who reportedly once described how he would get “in his moods” and not be able to shake it. For these occasions, he kept a pile of dirt in his basement.
When the moods would hit, he would go downstairs with a shovel and move that pile of dirt from one side of the basement to the other, one shovelful at a time. After a while, he would start feeling better. I have a sneaking suspicion that Charles might have been diagnosed with depression if he had had the opportunity to see a modern mental health professional.
There is a range of symptoms that fall into the general definition of depression. People often describe feeling “down” or “blue.” Other signs of depression may include having trouble getting out of bed, of finding a reason to live.
Severe depression can be life-threatening, as a person may become dissociated and unintentionally a threat to self or others through inattention (i.e. while driving), or suicidal or intent on harming themselves.
There are two categories of suicidal ideation, passive and active:
This is where a person has an undefined desire for life to end....Read More