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Finding Hope in a Dark Place | Clarence Shuler and Dr. Monique Gadsen

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
April 1, 2023 1:00 am

Finding Hope in a Dark Place | Clarence Shuler and Dr. Monique Gadsen

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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April 1, 2023 1:00 am

If you’re in a dark place in your life, don’t miss this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Dr. Clarence Shuler had an amazing job opportunity fall through at the last minute. That event sent him spiraling into depression and anxiety. Dr. Monique Gadson reached out to help. Hear the hope in their journey together on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured Resource: Finding Hope in a Dark Place

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God Himself touches us on our shoulders to say this is the way I designed your body for you to give attention back to yourself to figure what is it that I need to do for myself. When we're in a dark place it's not necessarily sin, but God's with us there and He's going to teach us things we can only learn in a dark place. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . If you or someone you know is in a dark place, don't miss the conversation straight ahead. You may be there because of anxiety or a feeling of inadequacy.

Perhaps you've been rejected. Maybe you've been through a divorce or another big loss. If that's you, you'll want to hear more from our guest today. Dr. Clarence Shuler and co-author Dr. Monique Gadson will join us today to talk about finding hope in a dark place, facing loneliness, depression, and anxiety with the power of grace.

It's the title of our featured resource at buildingrelationships.us. Gary, you're upbeat, you're positive. I see you as a glass half full kind of guy and that's my perspective. Have you ever been in a place that you would call a dark place in your life? You know, Chris, yes.

I think all of us somewhere along the line and sometimes for some people it's darker than others, okay? But I remember, for example, when my wife and I were turned down by a mission board when we'd longed to go to Nigeria and teach in a seminary and we got turned down. And that was a very disappointing time and a frustrating time and, you know, what's wrong?

I mean, the mission board is making a mistake here. That just jumped to my mind when you said that. But I think today talking with Dr. Clarence Shuler and Dr. Gadson who wrote this book together, this is going to be a good discussion. And I am really excited about this book. In fact, I don't know of another book that brings together a client and a counselor writing a book together. You know, the client's sharing his struggles and the counselor's responding in every single chapter. And it's just a great book and it's going to help a lot of people, I think, who are in a dark place.

I think you're right. And if that's where you are, friend, keep listening because I want you to hear Clarence's story and then Dr. Mo, how she came alongside him. Let's meet our guests, co-authors of Finding Hope in a Dark Place, Facing Loneliness, Depression and Anxiety with the Power of Grace. Dr. Clarence Shuler is president and CEO of Building Lasting Relationships. He's a counselor, diversity consultant, speaker, author of 10 books. He and Dr. Chapman speak together at "The 5 Love Languages" , date night and life changing cross-cultural friendship events. Clarence and his wife Brenda conduct married seminars internationally.

They live in Colorado Springs and have three adult daughters. Dr. Monique Gadson, G-A-D-S-O-N, is an assistant professor at Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, a licensed professional counselor, consulting therapist, podcast host and president of Transforming Visions, LLC, which provides counseling services. Again, you can find their book, Finding Hope in a Dark Place at our website, buildingrelationships.us. Well, Dr. Shuler and Dr. Gadson, welcome to Building Relationships. Well, thanks for having us, Gary.

Thank you for having us. You know, first, I want to know why you wanted to write about such a difficult topic. OK, half the world seems depressed.

So, Clarence, you first. Well, I don't know if I want to write about it, but typically what God does for me is when I go through something, He has me share that. And so part of my ministry sort of be transparent. But I also thought if people knew about this, they say depression is an epidemic that would help a lot of people. So I try to write with sensitivity without condemning people who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, loneliness or even thoughts of suicide. So that was to try and give them a little bit of hope. Monique, I'm assuming that as a professional counselor, you have counsel with a lot of people that dealing with depression and anxiety. Is that correct?

That's correct. Unfortunately. Do you think it's worse today than it was maybe a few years ago or not? You know, it's hard to really compare that simply because I say people have language now that they did not have say 20 years ago when I had begun counseling people. Mental health is there is an awareness around mental health, especially in African-American community. When we have churches that are now embracing this aspect of mental health, it is now opened up a population of people to understand and to also put words to what it is that they have felt for so long and maybe have not really been able to define it as depression. So for me, it's kind of hard to say that there are more cases of depression. I think that people are better able to articulate and express that they are feeling depressed and or that they might have the condition known as depression than before. Well, I think it's safe to say that there are going to be many of our listeners today who either are in a state of depression or anxiety or some other dark place or they have been or they have friends who are. So what do you hope will happen if people pick up this book, Finding Hope in a Dark Place?

What do you think will happen to them? Well, I hope that they will, one, feel a kindred relationship, that someone knows how I feel or someone is really thinking about me or that also if they feel like normal, they will kind of come to realize that pretty much everybody is abnormal. Some are just more abnormal than others, but that someone's talking in a voice that's compassionate and sensitive and not pushing them, but also just really trying to let them know they have some hope and some choice in their life, maybe more they realize. Monique, do you remember a time in your own life when you felt depressed? Because counselors are people too.

Absolutely we are and absolutely I do. The more vivid memory I have of suffering from depression and knowing it by name would have been in my college days, my early college days. I remember being depressed during that time.

Looking back over my life, I just recently did an interview about this and recognized that I probably suffered from a bit of depression earlier than my college years. But again, it wasn't until my college years that I was able to put words to that entire experience. But I do remember in college, I remember being there where all of a sudden, or for me in some of the context of my life or my lived experiences would have been, I grew up a PK and there was this very real sense and experience of making certain that others are pleased. We would have these encounters with people and these expectations where, you know, preacher's kids don't do this or the pastor's kid ought to be this way. And as children, you absorb that and you're thinking, OK, what do you do to please people?

And when you live that type of life of perpetual people pleasing, you find that it is hard to have your own voice. You lose yourself. You don't know how to connect with what it is that you're feeling because your life is more consumed with managing other people's feelings and their expectations. And I do believe that when I went away to college and did not necessarily have to kind of, quote unquote, live in that world week in and week out, I think that's when all of those lived experiences during that time had come crashing down on me. I didn't know it at that time. I just knew that my body was saying that I was experiencing this condition of depression.

Yeah. Clarence, what brought on your depression? Describe for us, you know, something of what was going on in your life. Well, the most recent depression was simply that I think it was 2017 and I had this opportunity to just consulting for a multi-billion dollar company. And the money was more money we ever talked about before I could even dream of. And it would have just done a lot for, quote, my career. And when everything like it was going the right way and I was excited, the company seemed to be excited to CEO, I think when they came back 10 days later after courting me for about two or three months and then said, we're going another direction, I was just really devastated. I, you know, because at that time, unfortunately, I was validating myself by how much money I made speaking engagements, all those things trying to, quote, be something that seemed like God took.

I didn't have those things, but then just took it away even more. So at that point, I don't want to talk about God. I don't want to hear Christian cliches. When God, God closed one, he opens another, stuff like that. I just want to be left alone.

So that was part of the biggest and deepest one I ever went into. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. He's the author of The New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . You can find out more about that online at buildingrelationships.us. You can hear a past program, take an online quiz to figure out your love language or see our featured resource for today. It's the book Finding Hope in a Dark Place, Facing Loneliness, Depression and Anxiety with the Power of Grace. It's written by our guests, Dr. Clarence Shuler and Dr. Monique Gatson. You can find out more at buildingrelationships.us.

That's buildingrelationships.us. Clarence, we were talking about your depression whenever you got the decision that what you had hoped was going to happen didn't happen. Did you tend to withdraw from family members or from other people during that time? I withdrew pretty much from everybody to an extent.

Brenda really didn't know because we were poor, so I had to keep working. So I was functional in my depression. In fact, she said, I really didn't know you were depressed.

I didn't talk about it. I was just, you know, kind of in a mood. But I was able to get along with people and I could have been in denial, but I didn't know where to go to help or get help or even know that I needed help. I was just mad. And I felt like someone else was really controlling my future and stuff. And so I was mad about that.

I mean, there were some race thoughts that went through my head as well. So I was just in a tough place. And when I wrote about it in my newsletter, but very mild, not much, Dr. Monique read through the lines and she called me and actually threw out a lifeline.

That's kind of how I began to get help to come out of my depression. Other than that, I'm not sure if I would have come out. I was going to ask you how you got together because you live in Colorado Springs and Dr. Gadsden lives in Atlanta. And I was going to say, how'd you got together? But I think what you're saying is she knew you beforehand. Yes, she did. We met at Windshape, but then she also prays for our ministry.

And so she's one of our prayer partners, the same newsletter you get, she gets. And so when she read my comments, which were really pretty brief, I was surprised. She picked up on it and she called me right away and said, you want to talk about it?

And naturally I said, no. But then a guy just told me I needed a counselor, so I called her back and asked if the offer is still on the table. And she was very gracious to help me. Yeah, that's great. So actually the counseling was done then really on Zoom, I assume? Yes.

Which is more and more common in today's world, of course. Dr. Gadsden, let me ask you this. You know, I think it's hard sometimes to understand the kind of feelings that we're talking about here. You know, people are often confused with the terms, depressed or feeling blue, or many times those feelings come from a time of disappointment. What's the difference between being disappointed and being depressed? You know, when we're talking about disappointment, that's typically a more short-term feeling.

It's situational, you know, something happened, it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to turn out, and therefore we might be disappointed. Usually, again, it's short-term, it doesn't impair our other life activities as depression is. Depression tends to be more long-term, it's more persistent. It's that kind of dark cloud, if you will, that shames over, like everywhere I go it is there.

We can kind of move beyond disappointment if we, you know, switch gears, if you will, switch hats. You know, it might have been we were disappointed that we didn't win this game, or our team didn't win this game, or I didn't get that job, and I can move to the next thing, and it relatively does not follow me to the next thing that I do. When we're dealing with depression, depression tends to kind of blanket all the things that we do, and how we perceive our world, and how we feel in our bodies. So it's more all-consuming. It is one of those things that, you know, again, it impacts most aspects of life.

So it might be that either we're not sleeping enough or we're sleeping too much, or it can manifest where we eat too much or we're not eating enough. We can be irritable. We can feel suicidal. We can have suicidal ideations.

We can just feel isolated, and we can withdraw from doing things with other people and continuing the other activities that we usually do in our lives. That can be one of the ways that we can differentiate between just being disappointed versus we are suffering with depression. Yeah, and I think, Clarence, you mentioned that when she reached out to you, your first response was, no, you didn't want to talk about it. And I think there are people, many times, who are in some kind of depression, some level of depression, but they don't want to talk about it. What do you think was going on in your mind? Why do you think people today may hesitate to reach out to a counselor? Well, I think, well, first of all, I counsel people, so I figure out, you know, I can figure it out.

Can I heal yourself? And then the other, to be very honest, was pride. You know, here's somebody, if we do this, she's going to know a lot more of me than I want her to know. She's going to see me in some, if not all, of my weaknesses. So that was that. So I thought about that. And I guess maybe as a man, I can't speak for all men. It's just that idea I can figure it out.

I'll survive because I'm a survivor. So I think that was just my initial concern. But simultaneously, though, it meant a lot to somebody to reach out. You know, because I think when we are hurting, we do want somebody to care. But a lot of times we don't want to tell them that we're hurting. It's kind of strange if that makes sense. Yeah, yeah, I think it does. And I think, you know, many people who are struggling in one way or another, they don't have somebody that reaches out, you know, to say, hey, what's going on?

Can I help you? And so they have to take the initiative themselves if they're going to reach out. And I think sometimes they're, for many different reasons, they're hesitant to do that. Sometimes they think, well, it's not that bad, you know, it'll work out, you know, and they get more and more, you know, in a dark place. So, but, you know, whether someone's reaching out or whether we have to take the first step, if we're struggling with something and it goes on very long, that's what counseling is all about.

Right, Dr. Yetzen? Yeah, people, it can be daunting for certain to reach out to a counselor. Again, I'm kind of hopeful that in this day and time, as we are understanding mental health all the more and the importance of mental health, that it doesn't seem so overwhelming to reach out to a counselor. I also like to just make sure that people understand that I didn't really start off being Clarence's counselor. And even I kind of refute that when he says that, because really and truly in the context of our relationship, it was friendship. I mean, I've known Clarence for many, many, many, many years. And I just wanted to kind of just go back to when we talked about that comment about the disappointment versus the depression.

One of the reasons I was able to discern that there probably was a little bit more going on, truly, I trust the Holy Spirit when those types of deposits are given to me and I act upon those. And also knowing that that was not the first time that Clarence had experienced that. And I really had begun to think about the accumulation of those rejections. And I had begun to think that after a certain point, you know, it becomes more than I'm just disappointed that this didn't happen, because again, this is a lived experience that has persisted in his life. And it's when I get close enough and I think I am, you know, this is going to be this opportunity or this time, you know, it is built up as though it will be.

And it doesn't and it falls short. Our bodies can only accumulate so many disappointments, especially in the same way for so long. And so that was initially what had become my concern with Clarence. And then that is when I wanted to, you know, just check up on him as a friend to say, you know, I don't know that you might be doing OK after yet again this happening. And also in a way to kind of give permission to say that if that's how you're feeling, you should be able to say that also. Yeah, yeah.

Well, I think it's always fortunate if you happen to have a friend who is also a counselor, because counselors pick up on those things, whereas others maybe not pick up on those things. Clarence, let me ask you this question. Is being in a dark place, which is the part of the title of the book talking about depression, anxiety, other things we're struggling with, loneliness even. Is being in a dark place always a bad thing?

No, no. In fact, when I call her Dr. Mo, but when Monique reached out to me, one of the first things she said to me, she said, you know, when you're in a dark place, God's with you in that dark place. So she said, so that dark place can be a holy place. And after it was really profound and I'd forgotten because I was so self-focused at the time that God was with me. And so when she said that, it actually gave me hope. And that was a really big turning point for me, just to think about that. Hey, God is with me in the midst of this and what happens next, I don't know.

But that was a huge point. So no, being in a dark place is not always a bad thing. I've heard many people feel like, Christians feel like, well, you know, I should never be depressed. This shouldn't be happening to me. Is it a sin ever?

Feelings of depression or anxiety? Sometimes depression can be a result of sin. It's not always the case. I don't think my case was an example of sin and stuff like that.

It would be frustration. But there's a verse in Isaiah that's really sort of foundation of the book. And it says, it's Isaiah 45, verse three. And it says, and God is speaking and God says, I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness, secret riches.

I do this so you would know that I'm the Lord, you know, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. And when I read that verse, I read through the Bible numerous times, but it seems that's the first time I remember seeing that verse. The whole idea that there are hidden treasures in the darkness. So the darkness is not always bad.

In fact, there's secret riches there, too. But it could also mean that in the darkness, God's going to heal me during that time. And if God's with me, then I don't have to fake being fine. And so, no, I would say for the most time when we're in a dark place, it's not necessarily sin, but God's with us there. He's going to teach us things we can only learn in a dark place.

I thought that for me, that was kind of profound. Having gone through that, Clarence, how have you seen God use those dark places in your life now, you know, after you've kind of come out of that? Well, I well, a couple of things.

That's a great question. I had to learn to admit that I have an issue. I had to battle depression. I had to learn some of my triggers. I had to learn that I needed help.

And I had a couple of things, too. I stopped beating myself up and I began to learn to forgive myself of letting go of the past so I can be present in the present and future and just learn to like myself a little more. And so I'm a little more sensitive in general to other people, but especially those who are wounded.

So there are a lot of things that came out. I think I'm better. I'm not nearly as important to myself as I thought I was. And but it's just and I think I have more patience with myself and other people. My depression was caused by sin, I think, about idolatry for me. But the benefits of going through it and learning from it has just been an incredible blessing.

And I'm no longer trying to validate myself by circumstances or engagements or finances. Some pretty heavy lessons, I would say, you learned going through that. Monique, Clarence mentioned the word triggers, and in the book you talk about triggers, you know, triggers for dark places. Explain what you mean by triggers. Yeah, depending on the situation, like how would a person label their dark place? There might be some opportunities where we encounter triggers that take us back or set us back, if you will, to that dark place. So, for an example, if we are talking about someone who has struggled with substance abuse, for an example, and if they have done the hard work and they have been, you know, many years sober and they may come upon a rejection, or they may experience an abandonment from someone at work, for example, that might remind them of the reasons that they had begun to use the substance in the first place to avoid some pain, to numb out of pain, to deal with some anxiety, but whatever the reason may be, that could be a trigger for a person.

That can send them back to how they once felt when they, like prior to using the substance, if you will, in this example that I'm giving. So, you talk about people who say loneliness may be their dark place. And if they have worked to find a community of friends and they've done well, so they've engaged in these interpersonal relationships which were supportive enough that it kind of lifted them out of this dark place, well, if some of those friends move away or if these friends say were not married and had become married or have other priorities or if, you know, the individual him or herself moved geographically to another location, that can be a trigger where it can feel as though the experience can be such that here I am, I'm all alone again. Now, what we hope is that what a person has learned, they are able to employ those techniques where then they can recognize, okay, this is where I am, these are the things that I've done before to bring myself out of this dark place or to be assisted coming out of this dark place.

We are hoping that they will be able to employ those, but sometimes it's hard when a person has not had to tap into those resources that they may forget. And so, again, the loneliness, the isolation may consume, it may overshadow, and they find themselves triggered in recognizing, like, oh, here I am in this dark place again. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. If you go to our website, buildingrelationships.us, you'll see our featured resource, as well as many of Dr. Chapman's books.

He's the New York Times best-selling author of "The 5 Love Languages" . For more ways to strengthen relationships, go to buildingrelationships.us. Our guests today are Dr. Monique Gatson and Dr. Clarence Shuler, co-authors of the new book, Finding Hope in a Dark Place, Facing Loneliness, Depression, and Anxiety with the Power of Grace.

Discover more about it at buildingrelationships.us. Clarence, you've described some of the voices that were in your head when you had rejection again and again. When you're hearing those voices in your head, obviously, at least hopefully, there's often two voices.

Which one do we listen to, and how do we make the decision to listen to the more positive voice? Well, sometimes there can actually be three voices. It could be God speaking to you through the Holy Spirit or through the Word that you may have memorized. It can be Satan or some demonic thoughts, or it could be your own thoughts. It could be sometimes negative. But the biggest thing is the voice, the one to listen to, is the one that talks about the long-term benefits.

You know, Satan focused on short-term pleasure, but a lot of times he didn't really share about the consequences of that. I mean, I always say, you know, the voice out here, no one cares about you, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Sometimes for some people, it tells them to kill themselves, stuff like that. That's not a voice of God. But the one that says, you know, I care for you, you're not by yourself, other people love you, talk to someone, let people talk to you. Those voices, that voice, that's a voice of God in the Holy Spirit or through his Word. I think that's the way you need to listen to. And I think that's when it really helps you to begin to have a foundation to come out of your depression. Yeah, yeah.

Well, we have a choice, do we not, to listen? You know, one of the other things that you mentioned is the role of music in coming out of depression. What role did that play in your experience? Well, it was huge. One morning I was supposed to get up and go work out at this guy's house. It was early morning. I woke up about 3 a.m., supposed to leave the house about 4.30. And my heart was racing.

There was some pain in my left arm. I was kind of freaking out. And so I just started taking deep breaths to slow my heart down. And I was struggling, but I didn't wake Brenda up.

I didn't want to bother her. So I finally got dressed, not feeling great. But I got into the car and I had this music on that was gospel music. And it was some kind of gospel music I normally wouldn't listen to, but the words were so powerful.

And the words of God in music were so powerful. It was soothing my soul. It was calming me down. It was kind of giving me confidence.

And it just kind of repeated how much God loves me. And it just really helped me. So by the time I got to a place to work out, I was sort of in a good place, in a much better place. And then we finished working out and I rode back to the house listening to that music. It had changed my whole attitude. And I'd gone from one of fear, panic, anxiety, I guess maybe, to one of just kind of peace. And so I began to really listen more to music. And in the book, we even talk about, I have listed a bunch of songs to encourage people that are different places emotionally and to worship music can really make a difference.

It was huge for me. You also say that you discovered the concept of kind of focusing on today. You know, we living life one day at a time and making the most of today. Wherever you are, take some steps.

Describe that. Well, I got that from you. I think you used to always say, you know, live every day as though it's your best day. And I think you said, if you're going to live every day as though it's your best day, then live every day as though it's your last day. And if you want to be around the next day. And I took that to heart. And so I began to make sure I had short accounts with people doing things special.

Just, you know, closing loose ends. Not that I'm looking forward to dying, but just really having a good day and not having a lot of things on my head that might stress me out or carry them over to the next day as much as possible. So and then I think we had the idea that every day is a gift from God. That God gives us 24 hours a day just to spend time with us. I thought it was really important.

And he didn't make us for the day, but he made the day for us. And so I think it's a gift. So that's why I look at that. But I stole that from you.

Well, if you stole it, I'm not going to persecute you for it. I want to ask your opinion. How has the church as a whole done with this whole issue of depression and or the general concept of mental health from your perspective? From my perspective, I think the church is struggling. And same with COVID.

I think it hit. They're not really sure what to do with it. Some can be sometimes legalistic and say, just, you know, get over it or read so much scripture or pray and it'll be over. And just not knowing how to deal with it. The reason I wrote the book was I started sharing my story and I was just blown away about a response. And people kept saying, even counselors would say, I've never heard anybody talk about depression in church from a biblical perspective. And people just were sort of going crazy.

So that's what my book agent said. You need to write a book about it. So I think now, like especially with Dr. Monique, there are certain churches now they're embracing that and want to deal with that. So I think we're doing a better job. But I would just encourage our pastors to start preaching about that. There's some examples in scripture.

David, Joseph, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, who who may have been depressed in battle with that. I think it'd be really helpful. But so I think the church is trying to do a better job, but it's still it's still, I think, relatively new for the church to actually verbalize and say, talk about depression and how to handle. I want to ask you, Clarence, to talk to the man who's listening, especially the woman, too, but especially men. Maybe even an African-American man who's listening, who thinks I need to be strong.

I need to not ask for help. I need, you know, was in the same place that you were. It took some courage for you to reach back out to Dr. Monique. What would you say to that man who's listening?

Well, you know, the thing Monique knew about me is that she knew that as a black man and a struggle with equality, she knew some of my struggles, a lot of times being the first African-American in a situation. And when you're facing that rejection all the time, it just becomes overwhelming and we have to look beyond that to see God. But I think someone said that there's an epidemic among men with depression, especially African-American men. And so I think it doesn't make you weak to go for counseling. Some guys, it's not weak to have a female counselor if you need that because Monique came and helped me. So I think we need to shout out and ask for help when we've gone through that, because what happens is if we don't, we internalize that.

You can have heart attacks, increased blood pressure, all the kind of things that can kill us. So it's not a sign of weakness to ask for help. But there is a certain, I think, unique pressure on African-American men in all that, trying to be a man, support their family, trying to go to lab success in business. And I think when Monique talked about that earlier, she didn't come out and say that, but she knew those rejections I dealt with and the frustration of that. So I would tell a guy, if you're feeling depressed, go get help, find a good biblical counselor. And it's not a sign of weakness.

It would actually strengthen you. And it may save your life or it may help save someone else's life because there has been a spike in young African-American men committing suicide. And we also talk about that in the book as well. So that's a great question, Chris. I think, Clarence, that's so important today. I've always found it interesting that if we have a physical pain in our body that persists for a few days, most people are going to reach out for medical help, go to the doctor. But sometimes we have emotional and mental struggles and we just go on and on and on and don't reach out.

So I think both your testimony that you've just given us and this book that you and Monique have written together, I think it's going to help a lot of people. You realize that, hey, I need to reach out and find some help for this. And I can't speak for women, but I think a lot of men, when we talk about mental health, we don't want anybody, well, I think it's probably true of women, too.

No one wants anyone else to think they're crazy. And the mental health is so new, we don't really know how to respond to it. Well, Clarence, let me thank you for being with us today. I know you have another appointment. You've got to leave us a little early and we're going to be talking more with Monique about this same topic. So thanks for being with us today and God bless you and what you're going to be doing immediately and what you're going to be doing later in your life because God's going to use even the dark places. Well, Gary, thank you and Chris for having me today. And y'all be nice to Dr. Monique now.

OK, see you guys later. Well, this is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Again, our featured resource today is the book Finding Hope in a Dark Place, Facing Loneliness, Depression and Anxiety with the Power of Grace. It's written by our guests, Dr. Monique Gadson and Dr. Clarence Shuler. Find out more at buildingrelationships.us.

That's buildingrelationships.us. Dr. Monique, now I have to ask you this question now that Clarence is gone, he can't hear what we're saying. I want you to talk about him because my sense is that you are so proud of him for not forgetting better, quote unquote, or getting over depression or anything like that, but just having the courage to face what he was dealing with and and to talk about it. Tell me how you feel about Clarence.

Absolutely. It's not easy. It's not easy just in general to have to admit to how we are feeling. Also having to understand some of the very unique dynamics that Clarence is dealing with, not only being an African-American man who is also a minister or pastor or preacher, but also who is a counselor himself, as he said. There are just so many extra layers there that we have to consider that have to be kind of broken through, if you will, to be able to come to this place to confess and to say I need to do this work. There is something more that is going on with me. I also, I think as we discussed a bit in the book, even have to revisit some places that we try to repress and we try to suppress and we try to forget and we try to do all of the things to say that's in the past, but we carry these things in our bodies, even in our here and now. So there are just so many other reasons, as you say, to be just really proud, happy for him, relieved to a degree that he was able to take the steps that were necessary to first and foremost do that intrapersonal work that needed to be done and then to be vulnerable enough to share his story with others.

Yeah, we're all grateful for that. Now, I'm going to quote something you say in the book and I want you to share with me your perspective on this. I'm quoting, we must give depression the sacred space that it needs. Yeah, people have asked me about that particular quote. It's interesting how that has taken kind of resonance with some people. When we talk about giving depression a sacred space, I truly believe that our emotions are messengers. They convey a message to us from our bodies.

That's the way I tend to kind of frame it and that's the perspective that I have on it. I think about us all being made in the image of God. So we're sacred. We're all sacred beings. We carry a piece of the image of God within us.

We are joint heirs with his son. So we're sacred beings and when we have our emotions to stir up within us and to convey messages to us, I think that depression is saying, I need for you to give way to something that is happening within your body. There's something here that we need to attend to. Now, human experience, of course, most of us want to avoid pain. We don't like not feeling good. We don't like feeling anxious. We don't like having to deal with conflicts. And so most of us employ ways to get around that, to circumvent those things.

And so we leave a pile of unresolved stuff. Each and every time we find ways to bypass these particular occurrences or incidents or lived experiences. So if we are saying I'm feeling depressed and if we would be more willing to kind of lean into it, I say we have to kind of fellowship with it. We have to be in relationship with it because in part it is inviting us to look at ourselves. To me, the way I frame it for clients that I sit with is that this is inviting you into this opportunity to relate back to yourself. It's saying, hey, don't focus on everyone else at this moment.

Let's focus on you. What's happening within you? What have you been doing? Have you not rested well? Have you not grieved well?

Have you not attended to those feelings of rejection or abandonment or constant disappointment? And so it invites us. It invites us to this opportunity to go back into this relationship with ourselves, to see how even God himself is inviting us to a place where he's saying, hey, I want you to akin to this area. I have a healing for you. And that healing looks different for different people. But I do believe that it's sacred. I believe that it is a sacred, sacred place that God himself touches us on our shoulders to say, this is the way I designed your body for your body to get your attention for you to give attention back to yourself to figure what is it that I need to do for myself?

What is my body trying to say to me? You also note in the book that depression gives an opportunity. What do you mean by that? Yeah, I think it gives us an opportunity to to pause. It gives us an opportunity to stop and to say maybe even the way that we have dealt with how we are feeling need to change. So many of us live in a perpetual state of survival and we're just trying to survive. We're just trying to kind of keep our heads above water and we're trying to make it from one thing to the next thing. And we we're not really living.

We're just more in this state of constant perpetual survival mode. And I believe that depression can give us this opportunity to be able to say, could it be the way that I have been dealing with life? Could this be an opportunity for me to realize that these strategies that I have used, they have been what, you know, has helped me to survive my lived experiences, the experiences that we collectively are having to deal with as a, you know, not only as a society, but the world.

I mean, there's a lot that's going on. So I do believe that depression gives us this opportunity to be able to say what is happening within us, because our bodies might be responding to what is happening outside of us. And also what is happening outside of us is reminding our bodies of something that perhaps we have stored away within us.

And it very well may be saying that in order for you to be able to deal with what is happening outside of you, you have to take this opportunity to deal with what is inside of you. We only have so much capacity. And so we do have to find ways. Yeah. Well, I think that's a good word. You know, we're coming near the end of our program, but I do want to ask you one more question. And that's this.

What can a friend or family member do to help someone who is in a dark place? Yeah, I think that as I was speaking about really wanting to frame Clarence and I's relationship more in that vein of friendship, because, and you're right, yes, it helps to be able to have a friend who happens to be a personal counselor. Yes. Does that give me an edge in some ways?

It does. However, I do believe that if we as friends and family members are okay with expressing our own emotions, then we're okay with other people being able to express their emotions as well. And we invite them to be able to do so. So we have to be careful not to spiritualize, not to intellectualize, not to rationalize people's experiences and their feelings away. It would have been easy for me to have said, oh, well, Clarence, it's okay. You know, when one door closes, another open, you know, God is going to close this door.

He's going to open another door for you. But I mean, he couldn't say we couldn't say that in the moment. I don't know that.

I don't know. And what that does is that dismisses a person's experience and their feelings in that moment. So we have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. We have to be comfortable with stepping into the miry and the murky with people and being able to say, I bet that made you feel really disappointed or it seems like you might be depressed because this has happened to you repeatedly. And being able to say, I'll walk with you through this and not just lift a person out of it too prematurely. Because, again, that doesn't give people the opportunity to kind of allow that process to be resolved within them.

And we have to be careful because we can short circuit how God might be leading a person to their healing when we do that. Well, I think all of us are concerned if we have family members and we observe our close friends and we observe this in them. And so I think what you're saying is so encouraging that we reach out and ask what's going on and let them share with us. Well, this has been, I was going to say, a happy conversation.

I don't know if happy is the right word because we're talking about a really heavy subject. But I want to thank you for working with Clarence and then thank you for working with him in this book. It's a unique book because it has the client sharing, you know, his journey and his feelings. And then in every chapter you have you, you know, the counselor responding to what he has just said. So I don't know of another book anywhere that is like this book. So I think hopefully our program today is going to help some people begin to look at this idea.

And the book itself then is going to help them take some positive steps. So thanks for being with us today. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. I would say hopeful instead of happy, Gary, because that's what I've heard coming through the Dr. Schuler, Dr. Gadson. Finding Hope in a Dark Place is the title of the book Facing Loneliness, Depression and Anxiety with the Power of Grace. We have it linked at the website buildingrelationships.us.

You can hear the conversation again right there as well. If you'd like to suggest it to someone else, go to buildingrelationships.us. And coming up next week, if your marriage has been anything but happily ever after, don't miss a conversation with Dana Grish. Before we go, let me thank our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry at Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-01 03:36:43 / 2023-04-01 03:55:13 / 19

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