Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
The endurance and love my husband showed me during the five long years I suffered from debilitating depression set an incredible foundation of trust in our marriage. When I was isolated by my condition–– emotionally, physically, and mentally separated from him––he showed great love for me by simply sticking around. To be honest, we both had resigned ourselves to the possibility that depression would play third wheel to our marriage, perhaps, forever. Praise God––that was not the case. He answered our desperate pleas for help and I have now lived free from depression for almost six years.
In the wake of my healing, I found our marriage to be anemic. I can’t praise my husband enough for not abandoning me when I, although unintentionally, abandoned him for so long. However, anyone who has endured any difficult season of marriage knows simply sticking around is not enough to produce a successful life-giving relationship. It took years of prayer, marriage counseling, and additional therapy to restore all we had lost in the battle with my depression. My husband had suffered as I suffered. What depression robbed from me, it robbed from him also.
Providing love and support to a spouse, family member, or close friend of someone living with depression is one way the church can love the body of Christ well, and can intentionally share Christ with those who are somehow surviving depression without the incredible acknowledgement of Christ’s great love and mercy for them in their time of need.
Earlier this week, I posted five ways to love someone living with depression. In this post, I share five ways to love the caretakers of those living with depression. I hope this inspires you to reach out and love those who may get overlooked—those living in the pit with a victim of depression.
5 Ways to Love a Caretaker of Someone Living with Depression
Invite the caretaker to participate in life-giving activities.
Care-taking, especially caring for a spouse living with depression, can feel like a very lonely and unjust experience. Providing an outlet for the caretaker to enjoy a vibrant conversation, outdoor activities with friends, or a creative outlet with others can breathe life into a person caring for a spouse, family member, or close friend living with depression and it can fuel that caretaker with the endurance needed to care for their loved-one well.
Check in regularly.
Not every engagement needs to take up much time. A simple text to the caretaker asking how they are doing, how you might pray for them, or simply that you are thinking of them provides encouragement that they are seen and remembered in their efforts to love well.
Validate how difficult the situation is for the caretaker.
Often, much of the focus falls on the person suffering from depression, which is appropriate and helpful. However, validating the difficulty of the situation for the caretaker is equally important. As a friend, you can communicate compassion by providing a listening ear and showing sincere empathy by affirming that caring for a loved one with depression is hard. And trust me (and my husband)––it is.
Pray for endurance for the caretaker.
I think we often underestimate the power of prayer. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians that we are to “pray without ceasing.” Getting in the pit with your friend or family member by praying consistently for endurance for that person will not only evoke the Lord to move in their lives, but also remind you of the battle the caretaker is in to love and care for someone living with depression well.
Share or remind the caretaker of the gospel.
My husbands says this is probably what he needed most during my time living with depression. Caretakers need to be reminded of the hope they have in Christ––that He is writing a redemptive story that, in the end, conquers all sickness and pain and provides abundant life everlasting. Intentionally sharing the gospel with the caretaker is one of the best ways to remind them of the greater picture––the one where Christ, who moves in towards the desperate and broken, reigns as King.
For an example on how to share the gospel, read or listen to my recent article The Gospel in Five Minutes.
This is hardly an exhaustive list of ways to love caretakers of those living with depression well. If you have experienced caring for someone living with depression, we would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment on what has been most encouraging and helpful to you.
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