I woke up the other day feeling cruddy. It was a rainy, dreary day, my husband had a test at the hospital (which turned out to be fine), and I was awake during the night; yuk. Depression is not something I have struggled with, but some days are discouraging before they even start.
Have you had days like that?
What do you do when you wake up feeling down?
Here’s what I did. I asked God why I was feeling this way. I found myself paraphrasing Psalm 42 by asking God why my soul was so downcast. Why was it so disturbed within me?
After looking up the passage about downcast souls and doing a little research, I learned that Psalms 42 and 43 together make up one prayer, and Psalm 42 begins with a longing for God.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (Ps. 42:1)
Most days – active, normal, busy days – I don’t think of these words. It’s on days when I’m fighting discouragement or a bad attitude that my soul pants for God. When I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I need God. I pant for God.
Twice in Psalm 42 and at the end of Psalm 43 this question is asked:
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? (Psalm 42:5, 11; Psalm 43:5)
The Psalmist never gets an answer to why his soul is downcast, and I usually don’t either. I’d like to know. Is it the weather? Am I stuffing some anxiety or anger or stress that I need to deal with? Have I lost connection with God?
The Psalmist doesn’t know why his soul is downcast, but he seems to know what to do about it.
My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you… (Ps. 42:6)
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Ps. 42:5,11; Ps. 43:5)
Maybe it’s more important to put my hope in God when I’m feeling gloomy than it is to know why I’m having a cruddy day. Perhaps praise for God is the starting point for an adjusted mindset.
How would I turn my downcast attitude more upward?
It stopped raining for about an hour, and it was 60 degrees in February in Chicago, so I decided to risk a walk. I do my best praying while I’m walking. As I remembered who God is and what he has done, I felt the gaze of my soul rise a little. I began to pray for family and friends, and it rose a bit higher. God heard everything from praise to thanksgiving to complaints to random prayer requests. I felt better.
It started raining again, but not before my thinking had been adjusted to look to God instead of at myself. It still wasn’t the greatest of days, but my hope was in God, and I praised him. What else could I do?
What do you do to improve your attitude on a cruddy day?
Please note that I am not suggesting that clinical depression can be fixed simply by focusing on God. That is a fallacy. I’m describing what worked for me on a recent lousy day.