Showing items for 'Jonathan Herrera'

Showing items filed under “Jonathan Herrera”

Depression Today...But Hope For Tomorrow

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Depression. Do you have it? I do.

It’s spreading like a virus in our society. It is no respecter of person, or position, title, gender, income, or opinion. It takes hold of a person and darkens their eyes so they can’t see anything but despair. Sometimes it’s circumstantial, and other times it’s biological.

And I haven’t escaped its grip.

It has been a really tough season in my life. And there’s a real possibility that I’ve been dealing with depression for longer than I previously knew. Then with the holidays just passing, life hasn’t been any easier.

For me, depression steals away happiness and joy, replacing it with hopelessness. It’s dark and scary. Others like myself, live with “walking” depression which means that I carry a heavy mental and emotional burden that triggers here and there while I’m at work, driving home, doing homework, and spending time with friends.

Then it strikes. It’s like swimming with weights on your ankles and treading water where you feel like you’re on the edge of drowning, struggling to breathe and survive let alone swim. It doesn’t take much of that to bring me down and make me feel isolated, even if I’m not.

Most of all, it’s exhausting.

When you follow Jesus, depression gets even trickier. It messes with what you thought you have always known, and it makes you doubt what God is able to do. 

Here’s what I mean:

  • I know that God has a plan for my prosperity (Jeremiah 29:11), but it’s not going to look the way you’d expect.
  • I know that God gave us the ultimate gift, but people in my life are going to be selfish and inconsiderate.
  • I know God loves me, but these broken relationships aren’t healing.
  • I know God won’t let me fall, but that doesn’t protect me from facing some really hard challenges.

Do you see the trend? God gives us so much, and yet depression can rob you of everything good in your life. I don’t have the perfect outlook on everything, but reframing the situation is starting to give me a new mentality. It might help you too, if we can embrace it.

  • God has a plan for our prosperity, and today, we are one day closer.
  • God gave us the ultimate gift, and today, our gift from God included waking up with breath in my lungs.
  • God loves us, and the friends around us right now have been chosen specifically for our benefit.
  • God won’t let us fall, and He is with us always, even today.

Personally, I don’t think there is a “one size fits all” solution to depression. Just like there is also no fixed way to serve the Lord. Paul in the Bible talks about different gifts and using them to the glory of the Lord. I’m learning that being a “good” Christian doesn’t necessarily mean that I am working in a church building. Likewise, people living with depression have different levels of depression that shows up in different ways. Fighting the depression also looks different for different people. 

The one idea that God has been pouring into my heart is this idea of “today”.

It’s not too hard to look at my life and circumstances to think the worst and instantly become depressed. Then I remember that the situation looks the way it does only today. And what happens tomorrow? Today, I’m depressed. It’s hard to get out of bed. It’s hard to work on projects, schoolwork, chores, and finishing tasks. But tomorrow is a new day, and there is a hope that something will change. If nothing else, I am certainly closer to seeing something change. 

This hope for a better day is strengthened by Bible. Romans 5:5 says, “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

That’s what realizing this idea of today means to me. It means that I can hang on for tomorrow. I can go on living to see something happen that can change circumstances because God has given us the Holy Spirit. 

Depression today? Yeah. Hope for tomorrow? Even more so.

The Importance of Community

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I’ve had the unfortunate experience of living life with this inescapable feeling of being alone. God in the beginning of the Bible recognized that, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18

Early on in my life, my mother and father divorced, and my father was my primary caretaker. And I know now that there was always something missing in my life by not having a motherly figure throughout my life.

This affected my friendships. I would sometimes connect very well because of my personality, but I had more friendships and less deep meaningful relationships.

One of the ways I self-medicated was by turning to pornography. It didn’t start out that way, and there is certainly more than one reason I chased after pornography. But in the ten years I spent in and out of addiction to pornography, I remember feeling extremely lonely before and after looking at porn.

And one key idea I’ve learned in the past year has proven to be true in so many ways. 

Addiction thrives in isolation.

For ten years, no one knew that I was struggling, let alone how much I was struggling with porn. And the enemy loved it. In isolation, I felt despair, disappointed, and unable to resists temptation in my life. I never really had any marked success to brag about.

And when my life fell apart in the form of divorce and losing custody of my son, I was faced with a very desperate need for something to change in my life.

What I was missing in my life, and also what I was missing in my marriage, was having something God was not just encouraging me to pursue but demanding me to take seriously. 

I needed a community. 

There is the age-old cliché that it takes a village to raise a child. That doesn’t stop because you leave home. I don’t think it ever stops. I believe that God gives us other people to help us grow through our hard times and struggles.

And after six months of success in my own battle against porn and the hard times life has thrown at me, I learned the hard way just how important having friends, mentors, and family in your life can truly be.

Now I know - when I stumble, my friends are there to help me get up. It doesn’t mean that I’m perfect, but it does mean that I can do better. I can be better.

And as it goes, “A burden shared is a burden halved.” The Bible says in Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” This command is born out in community.

The biggest turnaround and change I’ve seen, was the day my close friend and mentor told me that he was praying for me daily.

I didn’t feel judged or ashamed. I felt motivated and encouraged. It was as if someone truly believed in me to become the man God intended me to be.

And if it weren’t for community, I would have never received such a major blessing.

Hebrews also puts it really well in chapter 10 verses 24 and 25. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” 

If you are struggling with addiction, there is help; in the Word, at the church, and in a small group. You don’t have to be alone. Reach out to a loving, Bible-following community and watch how they will come alongside you in love and help you overcome.

Growing Pains

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I had a significant growth spurt when I was about 12 or 13. Specifically, I remember going through the growth spurt because I can remember a significant amount of pain from growing. When I would lay down at night, my legs would ache, but there was nothing I could do. It was downright awful, yet ultimately I grew much taller than my family. 

There are a lot of things in life that require us to go through pain while we grow.

Like athletics or exercise, for example. You work out. You get sore. You run. You get tired. Soreness and fatigue are necessary in order to improve. And no matter how much stretching, medicating, and replenishing you try, there will still be pain. 

But what happens when you need spiritual growth?

In my experience, I’ve needed great pain to grow spiritually as well. It’s been the biggest difference in my walk with God. In the Bible, Romans tells us suffering can produce in us the things that signify spiritual growth.

Romans 5:3-5 – Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

 

Suffering—not just pain—suffering.

I’ve had my fair share of it over the last year. And the majority of it started with my own mistakes.

I’ve been alone. Nearly homeless. Unemployed. And did I mention alone?

I know now that it’s part of God’s design because without those hard times I would have continued of the path of doing the things that caused my trials.

Because I hit rock bottom – having no job, losing my wife, and having nowhere to live – I had very few options. To be honest, I could have chosen to continue a life of debauchery, I could give up, and I even thought of suicide for a long time. I faced dark times when all I wanted was to fall asleep and not wake up in the hell I was living in. Depression and anxiety were taking on whole new and personal meanings for me.

Instead, I held on to life. I found new faith in Christ. Admittedly, that didn’t fix everything, but somehow, I’m still standing. I’m still fighting and climbing out of valleys to get to the other side of my canyon. I learned that community with other Christians and vulnerability were not only beneficial, but for me they were life-changing and saving. My spiritual growth then, and even now, is taking me to places I had long ignored in my life.

My growing “pains” were very literal in nature. I was suffering. Undoubtedly. And all I could do was hope for something more, something better. And I grew into a Christian community that I wouldn’t change for anything. It’s a foundation that breathed life into the death I was walking in for many days.

If it weren’t for the hardest of times, I wouldn’t have been made aware of how much I need God. The people around me have blessed me and taught me that life is tough, but we serve a God who gives us all the tools to not only survive, but to thrive.

My hope now is to make it to other side of my canyon and use my growing to help others who are in need and who are suffering. I believe that was a call from God early on. The struggles that I was facing then and now are going to happen to someone else who needs Jesus just as much as I did – and still do.

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