"I Was Depressed But Living a Fancy Life and Now I'm Neither"

I used to live in Manhattan and have a fancy life. I had plenty of money and ate in all the best restaurants and had famous friends. But I was depressed the whole time. One day I finally had a breakdown and I realized God was missing in my life. So I started going to church and got saved and was baptized. All of that was good. I wasn't depressed anymore. 

But then all the things I liked about my life...dropped away. Very quickly and strangely I suddenly lost my job, my social circle, and then I couldn't afford  to be in New York City and had to move. I live in a place that I never imagined I could ever live. My life looks nothing like it used to.

I can sort of deal with all that. But there's one thing I'm having a lot of trouble with. In my old life I had a purpose. Even if it was vain in the grand scheme of things, I still had a reason to get up in the morning and be totally focused on something. I was surrounded by people. I was busy!

Now I have a job that requires very little of me (I don't even have to leave the house for the most part) and if I don't go to church I miss out on any social interaction for the week. 

On the one hand I feel safe in God but on the other hand I feel like I have no purpose. At least before I was doing something. Now I just read the bible and listen to sermons. And sort of follow blogs and look at stuff that covers my old life in NYC.

Do you have anything to say to me?

I think the first thing this letter writer needs to know is that they are having the cliched New Believer experience. It's totally normal and to be expected. When one is saved from the world and a worldly life, that means they're taken from out of the world. All attachments to the old world will necessarily fall away.

The challenge is to not look back the way the LW is by keeping tabs through blogs and social media. More on that in a minute.

When we're made into a new creature in Christ, construction happens. The old is demolished and the foundation for the new is laid. Then the process of construction begins.

LW has gone through demolition:

"...all the things I liked about my life...dropped away. Very quickly and strangely...My life looks nothing like it used to."

I have personally been involved with several construction projects. And there is a moment when, once demolition has been completed and the new structure roughed out, when the walls are closed up after the plumbing and electricity is completed, that something magical happens.

A site that for weeks on end looked like a mess, from which you couldn't picture anything cohesive emerging, suddenly looks on its way to completion. You can see where it's going and what it will look like when it's finished.

Some professionals have a special gift of discerning when a site has "good bones" despite looking hopeless to a person without that special vision. It's one of the best things that can be said about a site. It means that no matter what it looks like now, it can be turned into something awesome because it has the most important essential ingredients. It doesn't need to be taken down to the ground, in other words.

But sometimes a site doesn't really have much redeeming it, and it would be better for the builders to start practically from scratch. That's called a "full gut" when all of the insides are taken out and only the shell remains.

Or else a complete razing, when nothing on the inside or outside is worth keeping. Where the building must be completely destroyed and a new one started from the ground up. Think of the caterpillar being hidden away in a cocoon while it undergoes its transformation. Wherein that caterpillar goes through its own stage of demolition: it changes into a goo, basically. And then it morphs into a butterfly. Even if we don't read a bible, God shows us His laws and principles in nature.

God not only can see when a person possesses "good bones," but to what degree the demolition must go in order for the new construction to be the best it can be. God knows everything about us, down to the number of hairs on our heads. He's called the Potter and we're the clay.

So the LW has gone through demolition and is now in what I believe to be early construction. God has isolated the LW into a kind of study hall, where they can focus on God and learning the bible. We're not expected to be fully mature in faith right away -- it's a process like a baby who graduates from milk to solid food. The way we get strong in faith is through listening to teaching and preaching,  by hearing the word of God, and the LW says that's all they're basically doing!

The LW is tucked away in a place that's the opposite of New York City and their life is less populated with people:

 "I live in a place that I never imagined I could ever live. My life looks nothing like it used to."
"...if I don't go to church I miss out on any social interaction for the week."

The bible talks about being hid in God. What do you think we're being hid from? The enemy and the world, basically. Temptations and terrors and arrows. Like a baby in a womb, or an egg under a hen, there is a delicate point of creation that must be hidden away for safety. Construction sites, too! Paper goes up on windows, plywood fences and scaffolding gets erected, all to hide away and keep safely away the process of building something new.

But like Lot's wife, the LW is looking back at their old life. So it's suitable to include a warning here. It's understandable to look back, especially when they're used to being so consumed and now they have nothing much to distract them. But I use Lot's wife as an example for a reason. She was on her way to being saved from destruction. She was being led by God out of the danger of her old life. But the pull of what she knew forced her to look back, despite being warned not to. And she got stuck in the place between. Researchers today believe they have found her pillar of salt still standing off the plains of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Social media is one of the enemy's greatest tools of distraction and temptation. We know this. People present their highlight reels only, and the best possible face at all times. That's not real. But it feels real. It also feels like our instant connections with information and other people online are real, too. But they're not. At all. Deep down we know this. The connections we make online are ephemeral and fleeting compared to connections made in real life. Would you rather get a hug from the person you love the most before they die or a tweet they @ you?

The point is transitioning from one mode of life into a totally different one isn't easy. It's uncomfortable. I think it's rather amazing how efficiently God moved LW from one life style into its opposite! But it doesn't surprise me. It's my own testimony and the testimony of many, many other believers.

The LW's "job" right now is to be still. Their job is to become a listener, a hearer of what God is trying to say now that they're no longer

"...totally focused on something. I was surrounded by people. I was busy!"

LW, look at all this free unoccupied time as a value in itself. Not as something to kill, per se, but as something God has given you to use as SPACE and QUIET to hear what God couldn't get your attention to tell you before.

We need space and quiet to pray. Jesus tells us to go into our quiet private place and close the door and talk to God. He has made the LW's whole life a quiet private place! Its best use is to pray and talk to God. Prayer is a dialogue, not a monologue.

God will use the gifts and talents he gave each of us -- which maybe we don't even realize we have -- to fulfill the purpose He created us for before the foundation of the world. He's God. He doesn't create anything without a purpose, and no one is an exception.

LW, up until this point you used your free will to use your gifts and talents how you wanted to. And by your own admission, even with all the material rewards that reaped, you were still depressed.

Maybe the gifts you used in your old life will be re-purposed in this new one. Maybe they're a part of your "good bones." But maybe they're not, and maybe only small parts of what you did and learned in your old life will be used in your new life. And maybe nothing at all from your old life will carry through to this new life in God you're living. Only God knows!

But you must trust the builder! He has the blueprints. But that moment will come when you'll see where he's leading you. When you see the shape your life is taking. You might figure it out sometime during the construction process. You might not see the whole picture till it's completely built and you're occupying it.

Either way, let God have his perfect work in you. He never starts something he doesn't finish!






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