Psychiatrist Harold Koenig, M.D., in his book, New Light on Depression, wrote: “Love—unconditional love—is the ultimate long-term antidote for depression, for at its core love is connected with faith and hope.”

I’ve liked that statement ever since I first read it. I have found out how important it is to have the love and support of my friends when I go through hard times. What I haven’t always thought of is that giving love is just as important. It’s when we give that we stop being victims. When we give we gather strength and renewed hope.

Koenig described the best kind of ally a person with depression could have. This person would say in words and action:

“I love you, and there’s nothing you could do or say that would change that. I am with you now, and I’ll be with you as long as you need me. I believe in you. I know that your depression has placed a great chasm between the person you really are and the person you feel you are. But I will try to help you bridge that gap with love—mine and God’s—for he loves you and believes in you too. We three are in this together—you, me, and God. And when this is over, together we’ll find a way to use the pain to help others.”

On September 27, 2007, I wrote the following:

This morning I feel enveloped with the love of my friends. To think that I’m so loved by them! It’s precious to know.

It seems as though I best realize what love is when I’m struggling with depression. It’s when I start doubting my friends’ love. When I feel bad about myself and when I’m then assured of their love. It’s then that I most understand what love truly is, and the joy of it.

How great is the love of the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

God’s love is a holding us in his arms love. God’s love is a holding us close to himself when we cry love. God’s love is a forever love. He loves us no matter what we say or do or think, He will stay close to us, no matter what we go through. Though we may feel lonely, we’re never alone.

My biggest aim as facilitator of a Living Room support group was to help participants learn about and experience the love of God. It’s when hurting people understand how much God loves them that healing can best occur. I know this because this has been my experience.

It was when I was in the depths of depression that a person who I held in great esteem told me she loved me and that she would always love me, no matter what I said or did. This person is a very godly person and I knew that what she said came from God and that God was expressing Himself through her. And what a difference it made to me!

Now, when I help others through tough times, I remember what my friend did for me and I try to do this for others. I ask God to fill me with His love and to help me share that love with the people I meet. This is one prayer I can be confident that God will answer.

1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” It’s through those of us who love God that God reveals Himself.

But God’s love is unfathomable; it’s beyond measure. We can only show a part of it, but we can do it with abandon. We need to accept others as Jesus did, using Him as our example, following in His footsteps. Jesus loved everyone—the poor, the sinners, the sick. He touched the untouchables and His loving touch made them well.

God’s commandments that sum up all commandments given in the Bible is to love God with all our heart and soul and strength and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. God IS love. If only the whole world could share in this love! What a better place this planet would be!

But we each have a little corner of the world—a little sphere of influence—people surrounding us who we can love—people whom we can help to heal. Let us ask God to help us share His love with them . . . with abandon.

I know that I’ve found healing through how I love others.

There’s a story in the Bible about a woman to whom I can relate:

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. (Luke 7:36-38)

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:48)

How loved the woman must have felt to pour out her love for Jesus in the way she did!

Her tears tumbled down like the tears of a child. In the greatest expression of gratitude, one that she didn’t plan and couldn’t have helped, tears spilled over Jesus’ feet as He was reclining. With love, and in an act of worship, she wiped His feet with her long hair. She kissed them and poured perfume over them.

For so long she had been without care or guidance, lost in a world that didn’t care about her as a person—a world where others received love, but she didn’t.

I wonder if the woman, thought to be a prostitute, instinctively recognized Jesus as someone who regarded her as a special person, someone He deeply loved. Did she recognize Him in the way someone might recognize a long lost mother or father whose love she vaguely remembers but hadn’t felt for a long time?

Lord, I wonder if I love as much as I do—in the way I love my best friend, for example—is because I see God reflected in her, and that’s what I love. Her unconditional love. It’s you in her that I love. And—like the woman washing Christ’s feet with her tears—perhaps I too love so much because I’ve been so very ill and you have healed me.