I have a history of some pretty deep depression. I preached a message in November (Belay On!) where I shared a little about that and how it has been a pretty long time since I’ve felt that deep sadness that borders on hopeless despair. I used to fall into that darkness a couple times a year. It would keep me up all night. It would make my wife very anxious because there was nothing that she could say or do to bring me out of that deep darkness.
Now, it has been a few years since I have been to that place. Staci has taken notice that it has really been a long while since we’ve been there. I’ve grown. I’ve learned a lot…
I began to notice some “triggers” and I have learned to navigate my life in a way that has helped to avoid falling into that depth of darkness. I’ve navigated close to that darkness. Close enough to hear the whispers that enter my head and try to take me deeper. I’ve learned not to fall in anymore.
The closest I’ve been was this past December. Funny how all of that works…just a couple weeks after I preached a message on how I had been delivered, to some degree, from those dark places and how I am learning to better navigate those treacherous waters. This past December when the whispers got too loud, I began to write down the words I was hearing. I was actually in a meeting when I began writing them down. I was sitting between two friends, one was my boss and the other was a very perceptive colleague. For that reason, I wrote the words VERY lightly, in pencil, on my paper in front of me so nobody would be able to read them but me.
I found that writing the words down helped me to realize how ridiculous they were. Once they were out of my head onto the paper in front of me I was able to measure the whispers with the reality of who I am in Christ and the promises and the covenant He has made with me. Seeing those words on paper helped me to see them for the lies they were. When they were just thoughts, ideas, voices, they captured my imagination and drew me into the darkness. When they became printed words on paper, they lost their power…they lost my imagination. The tangible, written words became a reality that I had to deal with and because I have begun to own who I am in Christ and accept His grace, mercy, and love I saw the foolishness of those tangible, written words. The old me would have entered into a scary, dark place and not emerged for awhile, potentially days. However, the new me was able to shed some tears on the way to lunch and be a fully functioning human being at lunch with my colleagues.
What is my point?
I guess part of my point is that I am currently experiencing some depression. Not the deep darkness I’ve had in the past, but still some depression. I had a job that I loved. It had incredible eternal significance. I felt as though I was making an impact far beyond myself…impacting generations of people, families, communities across North America. Unfortunately, due to a tough budget year, my position was eliminated. Depression.
I’ve heard some people say that depression is a sin. If we had strong enough faith, we would not feel anxious or depressed. I guess I don’t have a problem with that like I used to. Some may not like it that I am okay to surrender to the point that depression may be a sin resulting from
a lack of faith. That used to bring the guilt and the shame rolling over me. It doesn’t anymore because I realize that everything we do is wrong to some degree. I am inherently sinful. I was born into sin and it is, therefore, in my nature to mess things up. One of the most Godly men I know once said “I don’t think I’ve ever had a truly pure motive for anything.” Coming from Vic…that was HUGE!
Some say we shouldn’t be depressed or anxious. They are right. We shouldn’t be a lot of things…like judgmental or self-righteous. 😉 But we are.
The real question is, where do we turn when we are depressed, or addicted, or impure, or immoral, or deceitful, or anything else we “shouldn’t be”?
Ourselves? THAT’S not a good place to turn!
Other things that are empty? Even our friends or family? If Staci couldn’t bring me out of that darkness…then no human could. She is the most wonderful, loving, grace-filled, merciful, caring, empathetic, compassionate person I know! People are important in helping us…but they cannot bring us out of that place.
Where do we turn? There is only One who is able to shine light in THAT darkness, help us navigate, and keep that darkness at bay. And He never fails. He will never leave me or forsake me. Never has. Never will!