Anger, Sadness, Depression, and my Christian Faith
I read my Bible often, almost every day.
I am almost completely unproductive at work, almost every day.
I love being around my family and friends.
I stay at work for hours, even when I don’t have to.
I bring joy to our relationships.
I cause incredible moments of pain and silence.
I trust that Jesus makes all things new.
I believe that my life will never be better.
I help others to live in the light of life.
I would gladly walk quietly off into a never-ending night.
Jesus wants me to control my thoughts.
Without drugs my thoughts veer into terribly destructive valleys.
The grace of Jesus is sufficient for all my needs.
I need medication to sufficiently give grace to my family like they need.
That’s where I’m stuck.
Right after getting the news that I needed to be medicated in order to function like a healthy, contributing member of society, I began reading everything I could to help me grasp my situation. While the range of responses drifted along a scale, I noticed two camps beginning to form.
You are a delinquent Christian! Surrender, Submit, Stop Sinning, and the Lord will heal you!!
The old legalist in me felt this and readily agreed. Depression is a thing of the mind. Right thinking will produce right living. Likewise, wrong living produces wrong thinking. If I return to the Lord, surrender to Him, repent, and take refuge in His grace and glory, He will heal me.
Some of that is true. That full last sentence is true and most of that paragraph rings true. But I’m afraid it is woefully out of context. I am starting to wonder, and maybe realize, that God’s healing of me may have nothing to do with moments of depression. His healing may very well mean that I live for the rest of my life with a propensity to drift into a deep sadness. God’s interaction with my mental health is not primarily dependent on my submission to Him.
Oh my sweet friend, Jesus loves you (Kum Ba Yah)! In your weakness He is strong!! Embrace your depression, take all the drugs, go to all the therapies, and display your depression before the world.
The Jesus hippy in me feels like he found a sun dried wool blanket as he wraps himself up snug and sits by a spruce fire in the foggy morning. I love this! This makes it pretty clear that there really isn’t anything wrong with me. The sovereignty of God is on display in me. This broken man is exactly who God wants the world to see. I’ll take the drugs, I’ll do the work to control my behavior, and I’ll embrace the fact that I am who I am and I’ll never be anything other than who I am now.
The problem with this one is that, at some point, I will no longer be who I am now. That brings me a smidge of hope. I don’t want to be who I am right now forever, though I really don’t want to be any different than I am right now.
To be a little more clear, I know that I must live a life of submission to Jesus. I know that living a life of rebellion and hedonism will bring a load of pain and cold into my world. I also know that God is not ashamed of me (or any of you for that matter) in my broken state, weakness, and sickness.
The hard thing for me to wrestle with is this…
What does it mean to be healthy?
Does it mean to be happy, mostly, and be sad sometimes?
Does it mean that being melancholic and sad are symptoms of something wrong?
What if, as I am now, is as healthy as I will ever be, and as healthy as Jesus wants me to be? What if the redemptive work, the work for which Jesus is absolutely sufficient, is not a work for my happiness, but is instead a work for His glory. What if I’m supposed to trust that He will give me a family who will love me deeply in all of this, regardless of how hard it is for them sometimes? What if I’m supposed to trust that He will give me a job that provides for my shelter, food, and some fun things despite my almost crippling avolition.
To be sure, I don’t have many answers. This I believe:
God is real.
I am a Christian.
I am loved.
I am depressed.
I am ashamed.