I’m not a particularly optimistic person (understatement of the year). Depression hasn’t helped. But I’m trying out this idea of allowing the dark times to teach me about myself and also about God.
I’ve written about how I believe that God uses our depression to teach us about our hearts and how we should use depression as a tool to examine what we worship. I’ve also written about how even though Edward Welch’s book on depression argues that suffering should bring us closer to God – because our world is broken and we are broken, often the opposite is true.
All of these things are helpful. Welch’s perspective on depression is profoundly shaping and changing my own. BUT. What I really want to know is what to do about the depression. Continue reading
Last time, I waxed eloquent about God’s role in suffering (according to counselor and theologian Ed Welch) – God uses our suffering to teach us about our hearts. Welch also argues that suffering actually points us towards God – in two ways:
- We need God to endure our suffering.
- The life of God’s son, Jesus, helps us to understand our suffering.
Now silence that little voice in your head that might be saying, Okay, great, but I still have to believe in God to care about this perspective. I’m with you, friend. I’ve been there. But stick with me. Welch is simply saying that bad things can have a good purpose. And also that we shouldn’t expect life to be a bowl of cherries:
The cross says that life will not be easy. If Jesus serves, we will serve. If Jesus suffers, we, too, will experience hardships. . . Suffering is part of the path that leads to glory and beauty.
BUT. It seems to me that suffering doesn’t always do what it’s intended to do – it doesn’t always bring good, and it doesn’t always bring us closer to God. Continue reading
In an ideal world, I endure suffering with grace and dignity, clinging to the Lord, quietly strong in my faith, exuding peace and composure even when faced with the hardest things. I am a poster child for how faith can help weather difficult times.
In reality, my suffering is ugly. I’m mean. I struggle with doubt and say sarcastic things to God and about God. I shut myself off from people and I shut people out. I scream and hit and cry angry tears. Sometimes I just feel numb. Sometimes I drink too much. Sometimes I eat too much. Sometimes I don’t eat enough. One thing is true – I’m no Mother Teresa.
But one other important thing is also true.
I’m willing to keep fighting, and I want to learn to do it better. Continue reading
When I first started calling the Christian faith my own, I had a long list of objections, questions, and doubts. One of these was how to reconcile my understanding and personal experience of depression with what I was learning about Christianity. I (mistakenly) believed that if my faith was strong enough, or my “quiet times with God” profound enough, or my sense of identity secure enough, I wouldn’t struggle with depression.
I thought that Christians equated depression with weakness – or, even worse, with sin.
But I have known depression for years – decades. I have struggled with volatile emotions and hopelessness, fought the demons that insisted life wasn’t worth living and tempted me to cut into my own skin. I wrote in sixth-grade handwriting in a spiral-bound notebook, This can’t be normal. What I’m feeling is too much. I don’t know how to live like this.
I know depression. I know its ugliness, its self-centeredness, its reality of hopelessness and despair. I know emotions that are explosive and debilitating.
I first hurt myself when I was thirteen. Continue reading