(Every Friday we’ll leave the topic oriented post, and instead post some personal comments.)
Whenever I feel like I’m walking through waist deep Jello, I know what that means. Depression, a condition I’ve struggled with all my adult life, is making yet another appearance.
I first met this behemoth when I was in my late teens. During my last year in high school for no discernable cause, I found myself sleepy, hopeless, unfathomably sad and unable to muster the slightest amount of energy, physical or emotional. At first I chalked it up to moodiness, Satan or a bad tuna sandwich, but over the years I’ve come to see it’s a predictable, common and stubborn condition. Sometimes it’s cause is clear – a recent loss, high stress, etc. – but more often than not, when I’m depressed there’s not one single logical reason for it. I simply wake up feeling utterly hopeless, inexcusably useless, and above all, eternally useless. In the middle of depressive episodes nothing seems to matter, and no well-intended words of good cheer can penetrate the shroud. It’s a solitary, illogical misery, and when it hits, there’s nothing to do but ride it out.
It’s all over me today. I’ve got a trip to Latin America coming up next week – six days of speaking at conferences and churches through an interpreter and, really, a wonderful opportunity. I’m looking forward to it, and yet — when depression hits, every good opportunity looks like a Goliath waiting for the kill. If you’ve been there you know what I mean. Not only is the sluggish sadness overwhelming, but it’s usually accompanied by irrational but noisy voices, telling you that there’s no use in you even trying to do what needs to be done, because it will never be good enough and you’ll let everyone down. No evidence is necessary – depression finds you guilty of worthlessness without any evidence apart from your own insecurities. Fascinating, when you step back and analyze it.
I know I’m far from alone in this battle. Millions of Americans suffer from depression regularly, to differing degrees, and strides have been made towards treating and managing this beast. In the midst of it, I’m reminded that the value of my life was never determined by how well I perform, but by the premium God has placed on me. Likewise, should there miraculously be any good performance coming from me, it will only be because of God’s gifting and anointing, two things no rational man wants to take credit for if he values his hide! And I find comfort remembering that.
So maybe you and I need our weak points – those things in life that humble and slow us – to keep us aware of our dependence on Him, and our ultimate value apart from our performance of whatever work we’re given to do. Maybe, as David said, it’s good for us to experience occasional affliction. Maybe the day will brighten up if only I let it.
Meanwhile, Jello’s all I see. Sure appreciate your prayers. It’s getting’ deep. Hope you have a terrific weekend, along with a blessed and even boisterous July 4th.