Sunday, January 12, 2014

What I really want

There seem to be some mysteries in life. Things that I'm just not going to completely understand at this point. I might just barely understand them, if even that. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't like a few answers spelled out with mathematical clarity.

My small group at church decided to go through a book about the Holy Spirit. Not the Bible, though, just one of those books where a guy tries to express what he thinks the Bible says on the subject. Perhaps you already know my skepticism regarding Bible teachers. Well, that flared a bit. But it wasn't so much that specifically.

I was afraid the book would make me upset. And it did. I got a good cry in last night. Not even so much from what the book said as from what it reminded me of.

I remembered how I felt some church people around me had terribly failed me. Not on purpose. I presume most of them were trying to help, and I appreciate that.

But I remember being so far down, that spot where you are hanging on by your fingernails to life. When the thought of living for a whole day seemed way too long, so I'd stick with an hour or a moment. That point when I for positive sure was past any "pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" state - not that people or even one of my psychiatrists were past reminding me to do that.

But what help did people have? "Try reading your Bible more." "Maybe this is an attack of Satan" (actually, that one wasn't so bad because judgement was not implied). "Pray." "Be thankful." "Obey God." Those aren't bad advice exactly. Some of it is very good. And trust me, I did pray. And I was intentional about being thankful. So maybe only 5 things a day instead of one thing every 5 minutes, which I'm sure would be much more spiritual.

But this is what I wanted: I wanted to understand how God could be with me, how His joy could be with me when I longed for my pain to end. I wanted a God who could handle severe depression. Oh, and a God who didn't see severe depression as a moral failing or a lack of surrender to Him. I don't mean that He would think I was completely innocent of all sin; I just wanted Him to understand that I was just ill, at least for the most part.

Well, and here is what I have for you. I believe that my God can handle severe depression. I even think He can handle it without rushing down to scold me for "how stupid I had been to let myself go so far into depression." I think it is an illness. I know He was still with me then, even when I didn't feel it. So here is the thing: I don't understand it. I can't explain it theologically point by point (as if you wanted that anyway - but I sure did/do). I can't prove that mental illness is just another illness effected by our genetics, our environment, our choices, life circumstances, and who knows what else. All I know is that God really is great enough to be there for me when I'm severely depressed. But I sure wish I could reason it out!

Back to the book. I don't know where the author will go. Maybe I'll end up liking his teaching. Maybe I'll just doodle a lot to try to keep my brain from jumping on an angry tirade. Maybe he will have his ducks lined up. Maybe his ducks will be all over the place. From the first chapter and introduction, I'm pretty sure he was making some language assumptions that were incorrect (i.e., he seemed to assume that we didn't experience something because we use different words to describe it). But maybe he will get better. I'd better read the next chapter. I was going to read it tonight so that if it leads me to cry again I can get it over with.

Judgement is so easy. People judge each other so easily. I judge myself so easily, so the slightest judgement from others can feel unbearable for me. So sometimes I just have to mentally walk away. Tell myself, the author doesn't know my particular situation. There are factors he didn't recognize. His life experiences were different than mine. But I can only afford to mourn so much in response to people's unfair judgements. Then I have to move on. Because the clock moves on. And my life moves on.


  1. Very insightful post, Abigail. Yes, these are questions I've certainly wrestled with. Please remember that the book you are reading was written by a MAN. A flawed human being just like the rest of us. It is his opinion he is writing about. Not that there might not be some good Biblical thoughts in there, but, I think you know what I mean. It s very easy to condemn another person if we have never walked in their shoes. Also, we have no idea what is in their heart or mind. Just today, I read a Christian article (and reader comments) that were criticizing churches that have contemporary services with bands and colored lights, etc., basically saying it was more of a show rather than proper worship of God. Well, I go to one of those churches, and I help to make the stage designs and colored lights. I don't think there is anything wrong with those things if they are done for the right reasons: to bring glory to God. But it's easy to look at us and say we're just about putting on a show. Nothing could be further from the truth. BUT, these critics don't know US, they don't know our HEARTS, and they sure don't know what's in our MINDS.

    Oh Abigail, Jesus loves you so much and I hope that instead of feeling condemnation that you feel His peace and His love. Hugs.

    1. Thank you so much for your gentle, encouraging response, Sunny.