As I was reading One Nation by Dr. Ben Carson I came across a topic in one of the first chapters that struck a chord with me and one of my past battles with depression. The topic was in regards to what is and isn’t effective for lifting people out of poverty. In short, the more effective approach is to create a favorable environment for education for those who come from or are at risk for falling into poverty. Instilling a sense of self-worth and self-reliance are the keys to helping someone who is downtrodden uncover their human dignity and liberate themselves or their families from their individual and/or collective burden.
When I think of this principle applied to depression it proves true as well but in a different light. I recalled something from my most recent low point this past winter of 2013. I was debating my parents, who like me are politically conservative, on how they could “waste” time on helping me get better when all I seemed to be from my perspective was a financial burden on them. They would offer to pay for things which I needed but that I was too proud to accept. I had lost my belief that I would ever have any occupational value again after getting fired from my job.
I got stuck on that rumination and by the severity of my condition had come to associate “occupational value” as synonymous with human dignity. What I came to understand however is that in those moments it was imperative that they persevered in helping me uncover my own perception of self-worth and self-reliance when even I couldn’t see it for myself. They removed my immediate financial obligations so I could stay on the road to resurrection. Once I regained my health, I also regained my self-confidence and my ability to provide for myself.
What I learned from that is if you strip away anything and everything that we crave or try to worship in this world that is material, you find that the only thing that has any intrinsic value is our ability to lift people out from under their own crosses; our ability to love. When we fail to or stop trying to build people up where we are able we move backwards both as individuals and as a human race. Once we do this then we need to educate people by our words and actions so that they too can do what’s possible to help others. We cannot love outwardly if we do not first love inwardly. I thank God for his pure and constant outward love, for without it my life would be lost.