#620 The Ministry of Presence: Supporting Loved Ones Through Depression

#620 The Ministry of Presence: Supporting Loved Ones Through Depression

620 – The Ministry of Presence: Supporting Loved Ones Through Depression

Hey friends, today’s episode is a powerful and important one. But be advised, it’s also a sensitive subject. Kathi Lipp will be diving deep into the topic of depression and suicidality with her dear friend and author Chris Morris.

You’ll hear how Chris hit his lowest point and the transformative experiences that followed. He opens up about the pivotal moments that set him on a path of healing and the vital role his wife and community played in that journey. Whether you’ve personally battled depression or suicidal thoughts, or you’ve walked alongside a loved one facing these challenges, Chris’ story and insights offer hope and practical wisdom, such as:

  •  How to come alongside someone struggling with their mental health
  • The importance of finding the right therapist, and it might not be the first one you find!
  • The importance of communicating effectively and clearly that they are needed and loved

This episode will move you, challenge you, and ultimately inspire you to show up for those you love who might be struggling in ways you can’t fully understand. So grab a cozy spot, and let’s dive into this powerful conversation together.

Interested in more of Chris Morris’s story?
Click this link. Resilient and Redeemed: Lessons About Suicidality and Depression from the Psych Ward
And sign up for his newsletter at chrismorriswrites.com

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The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

How has Chris’s vulnerability in sharing his story impacted your own understanding and perspective on mental health challenges?

Share them the comments!

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

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Meet Our Guest 


Chris Morris

Chris Morris is a certified mental health coach dedicated to promoting understanding of mental health issues within the church. Because of a lifelong struggle with depression and suicidality, Chris became committed to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraging others to seek after holistic health.

As a writer and speaker, Chris has shared his personal story and insights with audiences across the country, inspiring many individuals to take control of their own health, break free from poor theological teaching placed upon them, and seek the support they need. He has published several books on mental health, the most recent being Resilient and Redeemed. His work has been featured in a number of media outlets, including CrossWalk, The Mighty, and Fathom Magazine.

Visit him at chrismorriswrites.com

Follow Chris on social media: Facebook @chrismorriswrites and Instagram @chrismorriswrites 

Tonya Kubo Picture

Hey friends, welcome to Clutterfree Academy. Today I am having a beautiful and important conversation with my friend Chris Morris, resilient and redeemed. We’re gonna be talking about some pretty tough topics about depression and suicidality.

Friends, if those are triggering for you, you may want to skip this episode or you may wanna listen to it with a friend or a family member who’s safe. And if you’ve got little kids in the car, cause I know a lot of you listen to this podcast when you’re on your way or back from school, you may wanna listen to this at another time. Or if you just need to skip this episode altogether, hey, we will be back next week talking about your clutter. But I just wanted to give you a heads up. It’s a great conversation, but I also know I want you to feel safe and I want you to know what’s coming up. So please listen to my conversation with Chris Morris.


Kathi (00:00.861)
Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter-Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And guys, I am very excited to dig deep into this episode. I am here with one of my good friends and savior in some ways, because he also does our taxes and keeps me out of jail. So I am deeply appreciative. It’s Chris Morris. Chris, welcome to the podcast.

Chris Morris (00:39.886)
Thanks for watching!

Chris Morris (00:45.986)
Thank you so much for having me, Kathi.

Kathi (00:48.113)
Oh, Chris, I have been looking forward to this. We’ve had this on the books for a while because you are an expert. I would say, I don’t know if you would call yourself a reluctant expert, but we’re talking about mental health today and some of the aspects of that go with Clutter. But could you just tell us a little bit about your journey into becoming, to writing on the subject to sharing about this and opening up your own story.

Chris Morris (01:20.91)
Sure, I guess the first thing I’d say is that I am maybe not an expert in the way that you could consider it on the one hand, because I am not a psychiatrist, I’m not a social worker and I’m not a pastor, but I am an expert because I’ve been dealing with depression and suicidality for the last 30 years. So reluctance is a great term to add, because I certainly wouldn’t wish that on anyone, including myself.

Kathi (01:30.465)
Right? Yeah.

Kathi (01:38.434)

Kathi (01:44.781)
Right. Yes. And yeah.

Chris Morris (01:47.606)
But I started writing about it because I realized that a lot of people, myself included at times, have gotten stuck specifically in our faith and in the ability to make forward momentum. And over the last four or five years, I’ve figured some of those things out for myself. I can’t promise that what I figured out is will work for everyone, but I’m in a much better mental space than I’ve been in a long time.

Kathi (02:11.696)

Kathi (02:15.841)
Well, and I feel like this podcast, yes, we talk specifically about clutter, but so much of what we talk about is hope, hope for change, hope for living in new and different ways. And I feel like the last four years of your life have been a huge reflection of that because you and I have been working together. And when I say you and I, you mostly work with Roger because the money part is scary to me and I don’t avoid it. Well, okay, I don’t embrace it.

But I am very grateful because you’ve helped Roger and I really figure out the money aspect of not just our business, but our home, all those kind of things. And you’re an incredibly talented person. But you’ve gone through some really big struggles in the time that I’ve known you and also have experienced some tremendous healing.

Chris Morris (03:13.138)
I have so probably the low point of my life in 2020. I know 2020 was rough for everyone, but it was terrible. For me, I actually had a suicide attempt. And I landed in a psych ward for about a week. Part of that time that I was there, I was angry that my suicide attempt didn’t work. And it’s sort of in a weird

twisted way it became one more thing that I was not good at. Oh great Chris you can’t even kill yourself properly. Which is really wicked frankly and pretty close to demonic.

Kathi (03:51.045)
It’s, yeah, right. It’s a very, very dark way, but.

I think, you know, so many of us, if we cannot relate to that particular portion of your story, we have had people that we love. We have had people that we’ve worked with or gone to school with. You know, suicide touched my life very early in that somebody I worked with when I was 16 took his own life.

And yeah, you know, and it, I think about the people who were close to him and the, yeah, I think about how much it affected me and, you know, we just knew each other. And so I think about, I think about not only you, Chris, but also your wife and your family and the people who love you like I do and how…

Chris Morris (04:22.542)
I’m sorry.

Kathi (04:51.325)
how heartbreaking that is. What I wanna do in this episode, and I’m so grateful that you are so honest and so raw about your story. I wanna talk to our listeners about if you are,

if you love somebody, if somebody in your family is in these spaces, how can we best come alongside? And one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you about this is the clutter where it is an issue for a lot of people, but for people who are struggling with their mental health.

this can also be a catalyst and a symptom. It can keep people down and it can be a real struggle. And so what I wanted to ask you about is, I know you have a wife who desperately loves you. I know you have a lot of people who care about you. And I wonder how can we come alongside somebody who is struggling so much in this area?

Chris Morris (06:08.142)
That’s a really important question. I’m glad you’re talking about this. Thank you for asking it. The biggest thing that my wife and I have learned through this process is just being radically honest. So, you know, even in marriages, we can get into that space. How was your day? Oh, it was fine. And we’re not answering very transparently.

Kathi (06:13.135)

Chris Morris (06:36.95)
You know, so sometimes it’s as simple as, well, you said it was fine. Are you sure? And then with my wife, yeah. I was very stubborn personally and my mistaken belief that I had my life put together pretty well when I really didn’t. So it took my wife.

Kathi (06:42.569)
Mm-hmm. Mm. But one more question. Yeah.

Kathi (06:57.873)
Okay, so what did that look like? What did that look like for you, that you felt like your life was together, but finding out it wasn’t?

Chris Morris (07:08.414)
Um, what it looked like for me in the context of where we’re going is asking that one more question didn’t accomplish anything. Like my wife would have to get almost aggressive with me. Like, Chris, you’ve not been yourself. And you seem really down. I know that you struggle with depression. Are you struggling with it right now? And that was Yeah, that was very hard for her.

Kathi (07:19.782)
Oh wow.

Kathi (07:32.548)
So being super direct.

Chris Morris (07:37.514)
She’s a middle child, so that means she doesn’t like conflict. And I’m an only child, which means I’m always right.

Kathi (07:41.815)

Kathi (07:47.292)
Oh, don’t you love how God knits these relationships together, right?

Chris Morris (07:51.634)
Yeah. So so it ended up I would love to tell you that they were all super happy conversations, but some of them were sort of aggressive. They were you know, we got in some arguments over it, where I was telling her I’m really okay. And she’s like, you’re really not. And she’d always she’d always source it or center it in her love for me. Over and over. She’d say, Chris, I want the best for you. And you’re not living your best right now.

Kathi (08:11.413)

Kathi (08:17.061)
So is that what you needed to hear? That you were deeply loved and she wanted more for you?

Chris Morris (08:26.43)
Yes. Yeah, there’s this there is at least for me or there was it’s less so now this intense fear that if I let people into the darkness that’s within my soul, they’re going to go, Oh, I don’t want any of that. So the best one of the best things my wife did was say, I’m committed to you no matter what. And I think there’s more for you.

Kathi (08:51.981)
Right, right. Mm-hmm.

Chris Morris (08:55.222)
But you have to, you have to want it. Let me help you want it.

Kathi (08:59.863)
Yeah. Were you seeing somebody at this point? Were you in therapy? What was the situation? Did you have somebody that you could be completely honest with?

Chris Morris (09:15.074)
Um, on and off, I’ll be honest with you, Kathi. I had a couple really, really bad experiences with counselors where they were actually adding to my trauma rather than helping me process. So in the, the darkest times, part of my problem was that I wasn’t seeking professional help.

Kathi (09:18.721)

Chris Morris (09:39.902)
and my reasoning somewhat made sense. I had someone who told me that my Christianity was a crutch and I was gonna be depressed as long as I continued to believe in God.

Kathi (09:50.094)

Chris Morris (09:51.742)
Right. So I looked at that and went, well, I don’t need that. And that’s not a wrong statement, but, but I did need counseling.

Kathi (09:56.957)
Right. No, it’s not a wrong statement. But two things, yeah, two things can be true at the same time. That was a wrong statement, but you still needed help. But that was not the help you needed, yeah. I find, yeah.

Chris Morris (10:05.951)

Chris Morris (10:09.79)
Yes, exactly. Right. So part of this too, look like my wife saying, I think you need to get into counseling again. Well, you remember the last time that happened? Yes, I do. But I still think you need to get into counseling again.

Kathi (10:20.599)

Kathi (10:26.829)
Yeah, and what I’ve learned is the first counselor isn’t always the right counselor. That sometimes it’s the second and third, but that has to be really hard when you are struggling so deeply to be persistent in that. I mean, you must have needed your wife’s support even more at that point. I don’t know. How did you, were you able to find somebody or is that still an ongoing struggle for you?

Chris Morris (10:34.485)

Chris Morris (10:57.934)
So after my suicide attempt, there were some things that happened in the psych ward that maybe we’ll get to, maybe we won’t. But there were some shifts that happened in the deepest part of my soul when I was in the psych ward. And I recognized that everything my wife had been saying to me about needing to find support and needing to produce change in my life and needing to have healthy habits.

Kathi (11:05.016)

Chris Morris (11:25.278)
All of those things did indeed have to happen or I was gonna end up in the same place again.

Kathi (11:30.805)
Right, right. And I will say, I, you know, just for my own mental health journey, I’ve done some online therapy. And one of the best things that I heard was, you know, you can, you know, you can be matched with somebody. And I wasn’t necessarily matched with a Christian. But it was somebody who

Kathi (12:00.719)
and believed that my faith was an important part of who I was.

And so that was a beautiful statement to me. I found the right counselor because I’ve been struggling with some situational depression and needed to see somebody for a few months and to have that option and be told, no, we honor who you are, including your faith was huge for me. We need to go to a commercial. I wanna come back.

Chris Morris (12:10.08)

Kathi (12:36.197)
And I want to ask you, Chris, about

How do you ask for the help that you need when you’re in that, or can you? And so I wanna explore that topic with you because some of us are coming alongside somebody, but some of us are the ones who are suffering. And I wanna ask you, you know, where, how did you get to the point where you could ask or maybe you didn’t? So I wanna go into more of your story there. We’re gonna take a quick break and we’ll be right back.

Guys, we’re here with author Chris Morris. His book is resilient and redeemed. Chris, can you give me the subtitle to your book?

Chris Morris (13:21.902)
Sure, it is lessons about suicidality and depression from the psych ward.

Kathi (13:28.421)
Yeah, okay. So you talked a little bit about that some things fundamentally changed for you while you were in the psych ward. You know, were you able to ask for help? Or was the suicide attempt? Was that the ask? I don’t know. I’m probably asking the wrong questions here, but I would love to hear your answer.

Chris Morris (13:53.362)
I don’t think you’re asking the wrong questions. I mean, how do you dive into, so how was the suicide attempt? That’s not an easy question. But that, cause that sort of sounds like how was the stake, but.

Kathi (13:59.089)
Yeah, how is-

Kathi (14:04.673)
Right, and I only left because you’re here and you’re with us and you’re you know You’re reaching out your hand back out to people who they are struggling and there are so many families who are dealing with this situation right now So how did you get the help you need? Did it have to come to it had to come to the psych ward? Didn’t it for you?

Chris Morris (14:27.942)
It really did. I was very stubborn and convinced that I was handling things okay. And the circumstances behind my suicide attempt and what happened when I was in the psych ward sort of laid the foundation for a different direction for me. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Kathi (14:46.983)

Chris Morris (14:48.138)
We immediately before my suicide attempt, we were as a family downstairs, having a good time watching some television show. And I had this random thought pop into my head that said, things are never going to get better. You should just go take those pills right now. And I didn’t process that. I was sort of so stunned that it came that I just sort of went with it. And I went upstairs, grabbed a bunch of pills.

and tried to kill myself by suicide. And, you know, I needed, when I came into a better place, I realized I need to make sure that the next time that thought pops into my head, because it’s gonna come again, I need to be prepared to manage that better. And what that looked like for me was needing to have

transparent relationships with three or four people who I know will be able to, at a moment’s notice, sort of drop everything and help me reframe things. I have that now in my life. Finding a counselor, I have that now in my life. And then the thing that shifted for me in the in the psych ward was a spiritual reorientation. I’m going to tell you a quick story here.

Kathi (15:53.713)

Kathi (16:11.353)
Yeah, please, yes.

Chris Morris (16:13.822)
So I was sitting in the psych ward watching a cinematic masterpiece, something like Rambo 17. Yes, yes, life changing stuff. And I felt this quickening in my spirit, like God wanted to say something to me. I didn’t know exactly what he might want to say to post-suicidal psych ward Chris. But anyway, couldn’t say it well.

Kathi (16:21.285)
Something with deep meaning to you. Yes, go ahead. Right.

Chris Morris (16:39.562)
while sliced along was blowing up the world. So I went into my room, and I sat down and I just waited. And I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me almost like an audible voice. It wasn’t but almost like that clear. Chris, I still love you. And I and I and I argued with him. You don’t understand who I am and what I’ve gone through and how dark things are. I don’t even love me. You can’t love me. And I was ready for an argument.

You know, it’s never a good thing when you think you’re going to argue and win with God, but that’s a side point. Instead of engaging me in that, the Lord just repeated himself. He said, no, Chris, I still love you. And it hit different for me the second time. And it’s like something shifted in my spirit in a really deep way. If the creator of the universe who knows better than anyone else exactly how messed up I am.

Kathi (17:09.485)
Right. Yes.

Chris Morris (17:37.13)
is still willing to engage with me and still see something worthwhile that maybe I ought to as well. So that’s sort of part one of the restoration of my soul. Part two came the next day, my pastor came and visited me. I I’ve had a lot of gaslighting in my life from pastor so I was super nervous. I almost didn’t show up. Because I’m like I

I don’t think I can handle one more person tearing me down one more time. I’m already in a psych ward. I can’t, but it can get worse.

Kathi (18:07.53)
Right. Oh, absolutely. Yes.

Chris Morris (18:10.682)
And we small talk for a little bit, you know, how’s the food? It’s fine. Are you enjoying yourself? What? He didn’t ask that question. I’m kidding.

Kathi (18:19.67)
I was like, oh, he needs some training. OK, good. He did not ask that question.

Chris Morris (18:24.063)
No, we just small talk for a while. And then I saw his posture change. And in my, and internally I went, Oh no, here it comes. Here’s where he’s going to tear me down. But he didn’t. Instead he said, Chris, we can’t have this happen again. God’s not done with you yet. And our church needs you. And those two things helped me understand not only is not only was he affirming what

Kathi (18:30.243)

Chris Morris (18:49.482)
had happened through the Holy Spirit the other day, but he was telling me, you have a home and we miss you in this home.

Kathi (18:57.789)
To know, to say, we want to know you more deeply, and you’re needed is huge, is huge. And that’s what you needed to hear, is what you’re telling me, is that you were wanted and you were needed. And yeah, I think sometimes we forget.

Chris Morris (18:58.21)
deeply transformative.

Chris Morris (19:06.733)

Chris Morris (19:17.002)

Kathi (19:22.941)
to show up for our friends, for the people that we love in that way and say the simple things. And you talked about your three or four friends. I call that my short sucker list. If I’m, it doesn’t matter where I’m at, at 2.30 in the morning, I’ve got a handful of friends who won’t ask a question, but will show up and just, you know, because they know I need them. And we all need that.

that short list in our lives. Chris, there are people who are listening right now who are going to deal with, they know somebody who is hurting right now. What do they need to tell that person that they love so deeply, who are struggling so much, that they are needed and they’re wanted? What else did you need to hear?

Chris Morris (20:21.654)
I’m gonna go someplace weird to give you an answer to this question. I’m going to go to the book of Job and his friends. No, normally when Pete, when you talk about Job’s friends, you think about, well, once they open their mouth, all sorts of stuff, we’ll use the word stuff. I could use other words, all sorts of stuff tumbled out of their mouth. That was really unhelpful and really harmful and really hurtful. But the first thing they did.

Kathi (20:23.709)
Please, please.

Kathi (20:27.946)

Kathi (20:39.94)


Kathi (20:46.809)

Chris Morris (20:52.338)
is amazing. And it’s the best thing that anyone could have done for Job in the midst of his tremendous, terrible, unbelievably awful circumstances. They came and they sat with him and they mourned with him for a week and they didn’t say anything. They offered him the ministry of presence.

And I think that is something that so many hurting people desperately need. That’s something that I desperately needed and still need sometimes for someone to come alongside. What that looks like sometimes is this menu situation really stinks. I don’t have an answer for you, but I’m here for you. I’m here to listen. If you want, if you want, I can grab some pizza and we can watch a movie. You know, I just want to be with you.

Kathi (21:39.61)

Chris Morris (21:48.978)
and acknowledge that what you’re going through is hard, and that there aren’t easy answers for it. And that’s important because a lot of times as Christians, we feel like we have to defend God for the circumstances that our friends find themselves in. And that never goes well.

Kathi (22:05.533)
Mmm. Ah.

It’s so true. And we all want to be that person who says the magic thing that makes it all better. And there is no magic thing. There’s nothing. There’s nothing we can say to, you know, you look at Job’s circumstances. He lost his family. He lost, you know, he lost everything. There was nothing to be said, but you’re right, that ministry of presence to just say, you are worth spending time with, you are worth.

Chris Morris (22:19.447)

Kathi (22:37.329)
loving you are worth mourning with it. You know, I feel like, you know, we have, as I think Americans, we have. And sometimes as Christians, we don’t have the right rituals around these really hard things. We don’t know how to show up.

Chris Morris (22:59.159)

Kathi (23:02.373)
And to realize, you know, it took me until my 50s to realize that, you know, when my friend’s parent dies, even if I didn’t know the parent, I show up and mourn with them. I’ve lost nothing, but the person I love has lost so much. And I don’t know why it took me so long to really understand and realize that.

I think just because you show up for people that you know who died, but to come alongside, I guess it was in my 40s that I figured that out. But I hate that you’ve gone through this. And I love that you’re reaching a hand back to help others to say, people are going to go through this. And we need to figure out how to be present for them.

Chris Morris (23:46.626)

Kathi (23:58.237)
Um, Chris, I would love your most practical advice for the person who loves somebody who’s going through this. What, what is the, is there, you know, is it the suicide hotline? Is it grief grocery? Like, what is your most practical advice?

for somebody who’s going through this when you need to show up for a friend. I love the ministry of presence. Is there something really practical we could do as well?

Chris Morris (24:35.81)
That’s a tough question because every person is sort of wired a little bit differently. Um, I, I think it comes back to some of what we’ve already talked about. The idea of communicating as.

directly and as clearly as possible. Hey, I’m for you and I love you, not because of the specifics of how you’re built necessarily. Like I don’t love you only because I think you’re well put together right now. I love you because of who you fundamentally are and no circumstances are gonna change that. My…

Kathi (25:14.547)

Chris Morris (25:23.638)
My friend Mary says it this way, no matter what, I’m always on Team Chris. And I love that language of being on Team Chris.

Kathi (25:29.249)
Yes, I love that.

Kathi (25:34.173)
Team Chris, oh, 100%. Let me ask you one last question. You went through this and how do people show up for the people you love when you’re in this crisis? How did you want people to show up for your wife, for your family?

Chris Morris (25:58.638)
Don’t worry. You know, I’ll be honest.

Chris Morris (26:06.238)
My wife carried the lion’s share of the load through the darkest times that I had. And for her, it was…

you know, simple things like not saying how can I help, but people showing up with a mop and a brush and saying I’m, I’m going to clean your house because I know that having a clean house is important to you. Or show it or just bringing a meal, not being on a meal train, but just unexpectedly doing something and showing up. I think those were the moments that were really meaningful for my wife, Barbara.

Kathi (26:37.625)

Kathi (26:43.087)

Kathi (26:47.929)
and just saying it’s here. Okay, awesome. And Chris, how are you doing today? How’s Barbara doing today? How’s your family?

Chris Morris (27:00.362)
We’re in good shape. Still healing, but we’re in good shape. Yeah, healthier than we’ve been in a long time.

Kathi (27:03.042)

Kathi (27:07.033)
I’m so grateful to hear it. You guys, the book is Resilient and Redeemed by Chris Morris. And I’m going to encourage you to pick it up. I don’t normally say, could you go pick this up? But here’s what I know. If your family is not currently going through something like this, we just thank God. But there’s a family you love who is. And…

Chris Morris (27:09.014)
Me too.

Kathi (27:36.325)
Chris is gonna give you some spiritual applications and practical application and how do we maneuver and how do we love well through all of this. Chris, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Chris Morris (27:51.658)
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Kathi (27:54.209)
And guys, we’re gonna put the resources for how to stay in touch with Chris. If this is something that you or somebody you love is dealing with, he has an email list that I would love for you to get on and we’ll have the link to the book in our show notes as well. I know it’s a good, I’ve read the book, I love the book, and I can highly recommend. Well friends, you have been listening to Clutterfree Academy, I’m Kathi Lipp.

Go create the clutter free life you’ve always wanted to live.