As you’ve been reading through this series, I hope you remember that everyone with a caring heart can support troubled individuals, especially peers. The Bible says, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Those of you who have experienced mental health issues could very well have more compassion than others . Many of the writings in this series can do double duty—helping those who support and those who need support. I hope this piece today will help everyone who reads it.

People who have considered suicide, often make up a safety plan which they can refer to when they consider harming themselves. When it’s hard to think clearly, they would have the plan to remind them of back-up people they can call—friends, family, or a care provider. The plan includes a statement to help them remember their reason for living.

What I wrote in that space was “Not for myself alone,” taken from the apostle Paul’s words: For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14: 7-8)

I first read those verses at a time when I was deeply depressed. I’ll never forget how they affected me. They helped me remember that I had something to live for. They helped me look at what lay beyond my present circumstances, and that was my call to serve God and help others.

Have you ever noticed how uplifted you feel when you help others—when you make others feel happy and cared for? If you’re able, try doing something for someone when you’re depressed and see what happens. You might very well find this “other-centeredness” remove the “self-centered” part of depression—that part of depression that’s so hard to shake.

The prophet Isaiah wrote the following, a description of what living beyond ourselves can do for us:

. . . if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:10-11

If we pour ourselves out for others, God promises to make us like a well-watered garden. That is, we will receive the water we need for refreshment. But more than that, we will be a spring of water that does not fail for others.

Realizing there are things to live for beyond ourselves gives us purpose. Our life does not have to be a dead-end journey with ourselves the only destination. When we go beyond living for ourselves, life has more colour and vitality. By helping others, our own stresses become easier to manage. We take the focus off ourselves.

One of my favourite parts from the Bible talks about Christ’s humility and servanthood. It’s a good example for us to follow: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Consider how amazing Jesus’ other-centeredness was. As he suffered on the cross, in excruciating pain, one of the criminals hanging on the cross on one side of him called out, saying,  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  (Luke 23:42-43)

He was in great pain, yet he responded to another’s needs. Even as he ended his life on earth, he was an example of other-centeredness. An example for you and me.

If you can relate to some of what I’ve shared here, you might decide on a change of direction.  Maybe you, like me, need to be reminded that we don’t live for ourselves alone.

Are you ready to find a world beyond yourself? There is a world of people, friends and friends-to-be, those who need you and those who you yourself might need. There’s a world out there for you to explore and become a part of. A world to give yourself to—a world with which to share God’s love.

  • What is God calling you to?
  • What would you like to give?


(I’m not a professional caregiver. Since 2006, I have given spiritual support as a peer to people living with all sorts of mental health issues. I write from the point of view of someone who has been there and understands—someone who wants to share the faith she has found in God.)
This has been Part 12 of the series In the Name of Jesus. For Part 13 go to Because of a Label.