October 2-8 was National Mental Illness Awareness Week. I’m a little late to the party, but this week I’m going to post on my own struggles with clinical depression. This post was originally published on October 19, 2007.
I don’t take too much literally. My favorite genre of fiction is fantasy after all. But there is one verse in the Bible I do get very literal with as a way to cope with depression and the anxiety and worry that accompany it (or do the anxiety and worry come first then the depression–chicken and egg, I guess). The verse is: “Cast all your cares on God for God cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, my paraphrase). I like the wordplay of the two “cares” when translated this way.
This is one of the meditation techniques I use to control worry and anxiety. I sit with my eyes closed and picture a worry or anxiety then I throw it to God. Then I think (or say aloud) God cares for me. Then I go on to the next one and the one after that until I’ve tossed all my worries and fears to God. Now I do mean toss. I don’t picture myself hurling these things at God. It’s more like when my dad and I used play catch in the backyard. My dad was a slow pitch, softball pitcher for years, so throwing balls in the yard was a family pastime. Normally, it was a three way of Dad, my sister, and me. Sometimes Mom would join in (don’t feel sad for Mom: she’s the one who taught us how to swing a bat. She was a better batter than Dad was. Not to mention she was probably glad to get the three of us out of the house and her hair for awhile.) So we’d play catch, and I would throw the ball to Dad, and he’d toss it back to me. That’s how I picture this meditation, but I don’t get the ball back because I have whole supply I need to get rid of. In fact, when I picture my worry, fear, or anxiety, it’s always in the shape of a ball. I throw it to God who catches it, who then says, “Okay toss me another one.” I never see where the balls go. One minute they’re in God’s mitt, and the next they’re gone.
I did this a couple of days ago when the anxiety was getting overwhelming. I find the imagery of the action of literally throwing my cares to God to really help me let go of them and know God will take care of me and the things that are worrying me. That’s why I say or think “God cares for me” after each throw. What I’ve thrown to God is in good hands, and so am I.