Good Thinking

  • June 15, 2011
  • #7598

Joni shares that following her diving accident, looking out for the interests of others helped heal her depression.

Sometimes listening to yourself can get you in a lot of trouble!

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join me today – especially with that intriguing statement I just made. Because I know, as a spinal cord injured quadriplegic, I understand depression – and if you’re depressed you keep listening to your own thoughts, don’t you? You will most likely hear thoughts that are dark, hopeless, pessimistic and critical of yourself and others. And whenever those thoughts get started, they rarely stop until they get to the most despairing place possible.

For example, I remember when I was first injured and struggling with depression, I could not take a compliment. If someone said to me, “Wow, Joni, your hair looks really great,” I would automatically assume that my hair normally looked pretty bad… or that the person was just patronizing me… or that it can’t be that disabled people can have great looking hair; after all, I'm disabled and that means I'm supposed to look unkempt and scruffy. See what I mean? When you’re depressed you always think the worst of yourself and of other people. And if you are honest, you think the worst of God, too. 

When it comes to depression, this whole thought process is kind of automatic. You crank it up and off it goes spiraling downward into deeper despair. And the hard thing about depression is you often just don’t have the mental energy needed to correct those pessimistic thoughts. Somewhere along the line; oh, maybe four or five years after my diving accident, I knew I had to break this cycle. I knew I would have to start by “thinking!” Not automatic thinking (I already knew those thoughts couldn’t be trusted); rather, I had to start purposeful thinking. My thinking had to be guided by scripture. 

For example, early on when I would wheel into a crowded room, I would immediately think people would see my wheelchair and feel sorry for me (and, of course, that would lead to more depression). But after getting into God's Word, I then would wheel into a crowded room and think purposefully – Philippians chapter 2 tells me to look out for the interests of others before my own. In other words: Joni, get your focus off yourself in this crowded room, and put it on the rest of the people in it. I mean, look for ways to encourage them… look around… engage them… be interested in them. Like I said, it wasn’t easy, and there were many times I failed. But I knew I was in a fight… a fight to control my thoughts and submit them to the lordship of Christ. To be honest, a lot of disabled people I knew didn’t want to put up that kind of fight. It was easier to be depressed; they preferred to wait for the world around them to change, rather than make an effort to change their thinking habits.

So, friend, if you’re struggling with depression, have the courage to ask yourself, “Do I really want to change?” And if you do, if you’re willing to shape your thoughts with scripture and fight against those spiraling thoughts that pull you down, well… victory will be yours. Again, you know if you’re depressed, that fight won’t be easy, but I have something I want to give you which will definitely help. It’s a little booklet by Dr. Edward Welch entitled “Depression: The Way Up When You’re Down” and it’s one of the best guides I’ve ever read on defeating depression. I’d love to put this in your hands, so please visit my radio page today at joniandfriends.org and ask for your free copy. Fight the good fight when it comes to your thoughts… through Jesus, the victory will be yours.

Friend thanks so much for these special few minutes we have been able to share together and because this program is called Joni and Friends please note that I would love to hear from you so drop me a line on Joni’s Corner at joniandfriends.org or you can always contact us at P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, CA 91376.

© Joni and Friends

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