Hope and Faith in Times of Sadness

She had every reason to be happy. So why wasn’t she?

By Elizabeth Sherrill, Hingham, Massachusetts

As appeared in

I can accept myself–delight in myself–because, the Bible tells me, God made me for himself, and can use all the particulars of my history for good. The very things I like least about myself, indeed, may be those he values most.

It was the beginning of true healing, not the completion. There’s no quick fix, I’ve discovered, for the disease of depression. Though the down cycles are less severe and come less often today, that self-destructive voice still whispers its accusations.

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Like all of us who have struggled over the years with a poor self-image, I need to hear the message of self-acceptance again and again.

I wasn’t expecting to hear it that Sunday in London as I headed toward Westminster Abbey. I took a notebook along with me; during the sermon on sin I planned to make a list of the changes in myself I needed to make.

And this is what I heard: “To love myself just as I am,” said Dr. Wright, “is to accept God’s evaluation instead of my own. I am right now as loved and worthy of esteem as I ever shall be, already infinitely loved and respected.”

Sin the minister defined as “the condition of not knowing this.” Repentance, he continued, comes when “we weep for the sin of ever having thought of ourselves as unloved, for not having loved ourselves as we are.”

There in that high-arched nave I did weep. In the notebook that I had brought along to list my shortcomings, I wrote instead, You are infinitely loved this very minute! When that little voice next whispers to me that I’m no good, that sentence will remind me that God is of another opinion.

Read Elizabeth Sherrill's response to a query from a reader about her fight against depression.

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Your Comments (7)

I have enjoyed your stories in the annual Guideposts books for years. My daughter gives me one each Christmas. I was never treated for depression until my dad passed in 1996, but have been on medication since that time. Your story made so much sense to me, things I've thought, could not share with others, things that seemed like such small concerns would snowball into such large fears to me. My depression doesn't keep me from doing daily activities but sure keeps me from enjoying them. I pray that reading your story about your depression will help me see a light at the end of the tunnel. i force myself to continue, but I make it really hard for my husband because I can't discuss it with him Maybe I will be able to now. Thank you again for sharing your story.

Dear Elizabeth, My mother sent me a copy of your story, which she was extremely excited for me to read. She told me she'd found the answer and reason for the depression I've suffered with all my life. She was right! While it won't cure the depression, it certainly helps to finally understand the real root cause, in a manner that makes so much sense. My father committed suicide a few months before I turned two and it makes so much sense that a child at that age would think that it was because of them. I've always been the over achiever when I wasn't in a deep depression, the same as you suffered at times. Thank you, so very much, for sharing your story!

Dear Elizabeth...I had a divine appointment with
your story tonight. I went to my weekly counsellor
appt Tues morn. Very depressed after sorting
through Mom & Dads picture albums. I've known
for years there are no baby pics of me. Born in
1950, second daughter, mommy had a nervous
breakdown! She shared with me from the time I
was small that Daddy had cheated on her and neglected
her! He took her to doctors and they gave her shock
Treatments and how horrible they were! My Dad had
Friends who were willing to take me for a while . Mommy
Made my Dad take her to ck on me after 2wks because she
thought they had put me in the oven for supper!
I was a small baby. I am a depressed woman who,
Right now is wondering what leftover stuff I have
actually carried around from going through this period
in my life. I see pics of her and daddy holding my sister
Who was born in 1948 and my bro who was born in 1952.
Happy pics! I was born on 1950. It's like they disappeared .
And me too, until I was 3. What input can you share ? Thanks

Thank you.

Thank you for sharing your story. About a year ago, at age 55, it was determined that I suffer from low self esteem. I assume it was brought on by being adopted and from being terribly shy as a child. I have always felt that I had to do 110% to be almost good enough. I have been working every day to quiet the destructive voice in my head and with God's help (and others) I am beginning to see that I too am a valuable person in God's Kingdom. I keep this verse with me always to remind that God loves me. 1 Corinthians 15:10 "By the grace of God I am what I am..." Thanks again for remind me, I'm not alone.

Thank you - I really needed to see this today.
When I was about 2, my mother had a miscarriage and then experienced severe depression, compounded by migraine. From what I know, she had already found me to be overactive and demanding, and certainly her health did not help matters. This story helps me see how this may have factored in to other concerns in my life.
We were never close, not at all, and I feel that gap again, even more, as my dad is now in final stages of dementia. An unexpected twist is that she is now moving in next door to me - I am anxious about how this will go.
My sister asked me how I felt about her becoming my new neighbor, and I said Maybe it will give her a chance to appreciate me.
Prayers, please, for my mother and I to find connection and forgiveness.

You are precious. Just be your self and show her love and kindness. Sounds simple, but love is a winner no matter what.