As a follow up to last week’s post, I will address the first question on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), my thought process as I sought to answer, and Scriptures I learned that addressed it.
The first question asks the mother to check the box that is the closest to how she has felt within the most recent week.
I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things …
- As much as I always could
- Not quite so much now
- Definitely not so much now
- Not at all
Maybe I overthought the question because I compared the present-Ashley to all the past Ashleys. While I used to be a lot more care-free and silly, I recently hadn’t felt that way. But, this whole mothering business had sobered me up quite a bit. Can the amount of laughter in my life and my sense of humor really tell me if I am depressed? I guess, in a way, they can.
So, what does Scripture say about laughter? Here are some encouragements from Scripture that I found helpful in tuning my heart to sing God’s praise and to laugh again.
- Proverbs 14:13 “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.” There is a misconception about depression: those who are depressed are sullen all the time or it’s obvious that they are depressed. This is completely not so! There are still moments of laughter, but just because a person is laughing on the outside doesn’t mean that they are not hurting on the inside. Often, people will seek relief in things like distractions (busyness, self-improvement, alcohol, drugs, etc.) or in amusements. Amusements are simply things that produce the state of not thinking or being entertained. This involves t.v., movies, scrolling social media, vacations. Not a single one of these distractions or amusements address the root problem of depression or any emotional/spiritual issue. They only lead to more emptiness after being enjoyed. I am thinking of having that post-vacation-funk, the feeling after Christmas, the feeling after a really good book is finished. In all those situations, I will think, “it’s over! What can I look forward to next?” As a believer in Christ, I knew that I needed to find my joy in Him, my satisfaction in Him and not in the next best thing on the horizon.
- Psalm 42 is a poem written for depressed people. I identified with the self-directed question in verse 5a “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” I couldn’t figure out why I was struggling so much with negative thoughts and I couldn’t accurately describe to anyone exactly what I was feeling. However, the second half of the verse gave me a strategy to fight those angst-filled thoughts. Psalm 42:5b says “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” There is an excellent John Piper sermon on this Psalm which describes six ways to combat spiritual depression. My biggest take away from this sermon was that I needed to learn how to fight my negative thoughts by immersing my mind in God’s word. I could laugh again and not be dependent on things to make me do so. The joy and laughter could only come from a stability in the Lord.
- Psalm 126:1-2 “When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” Charles H. Spurgeon wrote a commentary on this psalm and I just love what he said about our [Zion’s] restoration: “Let us look to the prison houses from which we have been set free. Ah, me, what captives we have been! At our first conversion what a turning again of captivity we experienced. Never shall that hour be forgotten. Joy! Joy! Joy!” When God rescued my soul from its determined path of sin, he restored all the dreams and promises of Zion. Christ had taken my debt and suffered God’s wrath in my place so that now I am forgiven and made an heir to His throne. This is the Gospel! I should be filled with such exuberance that only laughter can come out of my mouth because words are not enough. He has done a great and marvelous thing in redeeming me, it should be the basis of all my joy.
- Proverbs 31:25 “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” I was very encouraged by this blog post by the Proverbs31 Ministry. Fear was zapping all my joy because I wasn’t trusting in my Father’s voice for the future. Anxiety would grip me in my season of PPD to the point where I avoided going out of my house. I would think “What if we get into an accident on the way to the store?” but that mentality put no trust in a sovereign, good God. Strength in the LORD and fear of the LORD are the only ways to be able to laugh at the time to come.
- Ecclesiastes 3:4 says that there is a time for everything… “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” There will be times of deep sorrow and there will be times of great rejoicing. Thankfully, God promises that “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Laughter wasn’t gone from me forever. I would regain it back, but I had to practice being grateful in order to see light and to laugh once the night had passed.
- Psalm 16:9 “Therefore, my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.” This is my favorite of all the psalms, the one I would recite aloud the most to encourage my soul. I had to tell myself to rejoice though I didn’t feel like it.
May delighting in the Lord bring about lasting hope and ceaseless joy for you and that laughter would return again to your heart.