Thursday, June 16, 2011

Depression the awful blessing part 1

We have all heard a story like this: I was going along as usual, and then I was diagnosed with _______.  And even though _______ is awful, it really helped me see some things more clearly!

It’s true, terminal illness (or even the threat of it) can help us gain a better perspective.  Sometimes when something shakes our nice little house of “normal,” it opens our eyes to things that were right there all along.  Maybe we were just too comfortable to see it.

Depression is one of those things.  It is an awful trial, and something that ought to be fought against with every available weapon; yet, it can help a person see some things more clearly. 

Truth, even when it is harsh and painful, is good for the soul.

In the weeks to come I will be talking about several of these things; things I think I see more clearly, truth I feel more acutely thanks to the awful blessing of depression. 

Fellow sufferers, please share your own!

Just listen to your heart!

 “Is the glass half-full or half empty?” Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

If you had asked me that question a few years ago, I would have probably said something like this:

“What glass? Oh, you mean that pretty glass over there?  Well, it is actually 3/4full if you look at it right, and there is probably some really awesome reason for the ¼ empty part that we just don’t know yet.”

I think, rather than an optimist, I might have been called Care Bear.  Cheer Bear, in fact, always keeping things on the sunny side, never understanding people who didn’t see life from my happy perspective.   I was quite at home in this world, and pretty sure there was nothing that a good attitude and a little hard work couldn’t fix. 

Today, I will admit, that kind of unfounded optimism could rightly be called crazy.  I have tasted suffering, I have felt the weight of mortality.  I see, I feel, that the world is fallen.  I am no longer comfortable in this sad place, in these filthy rags, in this fragile body.

Of course there’s the problem.  What is true, what is just a feeling, what is a chemical quirk?  Where, Oh where is the solid ground?  Apparently it is not, as I had assumed, in my own head.

Thanks to the awful blessing of depression, I no longer trust my mere perspective.  Cheer Bear’s silly optimism is missing something.  The view from the pit is also missing something.  They’re both wrong; they’re both right.

Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:1-2

One of the hardest and best awful lessons that have come from my trips to the pit is a mistrust of my own self.  I feel intensely the need to cling to something, to Someone.  Thanks be to God for the gift of His Word; for Jesus Himself who shines through my cloudy perspective and holds me close to Him as he burns the fog away.

You are the Rock that is higher than I.  Let me take refuge in you.  Help me to see things rightly; let Your Word clarify that which is still cloudy and confusing.  Sort out the evil and the good; kill the evil and grow the good.  It is too much for me to sort out, too much for me to fix.  Yet Your love, Your blood covers me even before it is all sorted out.  Keep me safe inside Your grace.  Amen.

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