Millions of people struggle with depression and anxiety, yet the church has been slow to begin talking openly about mental health. Today’s podcast guest, Stephanie Lobdell, shares candidly about her struggles with depression and anxiety and about her life in ministry. She has learned much about healthy vulnerability and describes how she’s watched the Lord bring resurrection to many areas of her life.
In this conversation, Stephanie describes what depression has felt like for her and also how an important conversation in college encouraged her towards finding grace in the midst of a mental health diagnosis. We also talk about image, ministry, and what it looks like for Stephanie to rest well. Of course, there is also a healthy dose of talk about the Enneagram.
I’m going to let you in on a secret: this blog and podcast ministry affects me more than it does my audience. Of course, my intention is for PRN to encourage other women in their faith, but I also find that it encourages my own. Let me explain.
While recording my the last two podcast interviews, I found myself becoming tearful as my sweet friends shared their God stories. Tearful because the stories were touching. Tearful because even though these women are my friends, there were layers of their stories that I had not previously known. Tearful because the Lord was using their stories to touch my own heart. As they shared about how God ministered and spoke to them, God was, through them, ministering to my own heart as well.
My pastor often says, “Believe the Gospel more.” At face value, this sounds like a really wise blanket statement to any Christian, but I honestly don’t often apply it. What does it really mean to believe the Gospel more?
The Gospel is GOOD NEWS, not just the minute I received salvation, but every minute: In the midst of hard days with my kids, in the midst of days my body doesn’t want to cooperate with my plans, in the midst of busy, can’t get a breath between activities, kinds of days. It’s good news on the days many people read my blog and listen to my podcast, and it’s still good on the days that they don’t. The Good News remains the same: I am loved, accepted, forgiven, and redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is using every circumstance in the present life, even the bad, to be worked into His (and my) ultimate good. (Romans 8:28)
That is SUCH good news! Realistically though, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain that perspective! The primary way I can believe the Gospel more is to spend time with the Lord and in His Word. However, the second most important factor to my faith being renewed, is twofold:
I need to remember and tell others about God’s faithfulness in my life. Remembering times He has been faithful in the past helps me have faith for my future.
Hearing others’ stories of God’s faithfulness encourages and renews my faith. Where has the Lord shown up, sustained them, spoken to them, reminded them of His goodness? When have they stepped out in faith and been caught by their faithful Savior? Hearing others’ stories bolsters my faith.
Thankfully, through podcasting, I get a double portion of faith stories. I get to hear the stories the first time as we record, and then I listen to the conversation again through the editing process. I find that there are many parts of the stories that I hear the second time around that I missed the first time. This too reminds me of the faith walk. I may read a passage of Scripture once and come away with one golden nugget, but when I read the passage again, another nugget of truth sticks out to me.
Telling and hearing faith stories is a key part of being in the body of Christ. So, if you have a story of God’s faithfulness in your life, don’t keep it to yourself. Pray and wait – the Lord will bring people into your life who need to hear your story.
Are you feeling depleted in your own faith right now? Spend time in the Word and in prayer. Go talk and pray with those whom you know are strong in their faith and listen to their stories of God’s faithfulness. The body of Christ working together can spread faith like wildfire. Faith is contagious. Like a baton in a relay, pass it on.
Pause: Take a deep breath and find a quiet space to read Psalm 40: 1-11. What stands out to you as you read this passage?
Renew: Reflect on a time that you heard someone share, as Psalms 40:10 says, God’s faithfulness and deliverance in their life. How did hearing that story affect your own faith?
Next: Spend some time this week reflecting on the Lord’s faithfulness in your life. If you have not previously done so, journal about it. It can be helpful to record those memories. Pray about how those stories may encourage others.
May we speak of the Lord’s faithfulness and believe the Gospel more!