Archives For depression

I have to admit that lately my faith is like shifting sand, changed by the wind. I’m treading water just to keep from sinking. You’ll have noticed that I’ve not been around here much. Work has been extremely taxing, and I’m really fighting with my sleep apnea of late. The long and short of it is that, yes, fatigue colors one’s outlook. What was once a bright and rosy world, full of vivid colors and subtle shades of pastels is now much more drab, grainy, washed out. It’s like going from HD to the kinescope of the 50s. It’s a low res world for me at the moment, and I find myself easily distracted. Carried away by the flotsam and jetsom which crosses my path. You’ll have likely seen the following somewhere online; it describes my world now:  

Unable to quite focus the work I want to do, I need to do, I’ve been tinkering with wireless routers, breaking (and fixing) my Kindle, and watching entirely too much TV. I don’t quite know how to get off of this crazy train, but would appreciate your prayers. 

Thanks!

Had A Hard Year?

randomlychad  —  November 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

Remember Friends, that much beloved ’90’s sitcom which ran for a decade? Remember the theme song?

“When it hasn’t been your day, your month, or even your year?”

Ever had a year like that? Ever had a couple of years like that? Where you go from victory to falling flat on your face? I have.

I went on a spiritual retreat a couple of years ago, and it was both literally, and figuratively, a mountaintop experience. I felt closer to God than I ever had. Apprehended Him as Father–as my Father–in ways I never had before.

That was in Summer.

And then came the Fall.

I thought I was hearing from God about the direction my family and I should go. It seemed that confirmation was around every corner. But my wife, bless her, didn’t see it that way. I wanted something for her she didn’t want for herself.

You all know how well that works out…

Then I found something out about myself which only deepened my confusion, furthered my disillusionment. While in that season of questioning whether I hearing from God, a family member let it slip that I might have been molested as a toddler. Whether it actually happened or not, it’s plausible because other family stories surrounded the purported molester.

If had been thinking clearly, I would have drawn a parallel (understanding that I’m no prophet) between myself myself and Elijah, who suffered through a season of blackest doubt after his greatest victory (over the prophets of Baal). But I wasn’t. Instead, I retreated into myself–feeling maligned, misunderstood, unappreciated.

Instead of investing energies in getting well, getting whole, I engaged in an online correspondence with a woman not my wife. Because it was safe, because there were no stakes. No one to hold me accountable. All the while telling myself that she (my wife) didn’t need to know because there was nothing going on. But the funny thing is that “where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” The looking forward to responses, the refreshing of my inbox, became an addiction to fill the needy beast of affirmation beating in my chest.

I was looking for validation and acceptance, and was willing to accept a substitute. Of course, as is often the case, I made more of this correspondence than did the other party. When it came to an end, it felt like I’d lost a friend.

But it was a friend I’d never really had in the first place.

The lessons here, I think, are these:

1) Setbacks will often follow victories. Be prepared for them. Decide in advance what you’re going to do.

2) There is an enemy of our souls who knows our proclivities, knows how to make the blacks look white, who knows our stories, and how to punch our buttons. It is when we are the weakest that he will pounce (like a roaring lion) the hardest.

3) Take personal responsibility. The enemy can only use what’s been undisclosed to shame and condemn us. Once it’s exposed to the light, once it’s confessed, it’s no longer a weapon in his hands. He has a vested interest in us keeping secrets, telling us that if we tell we’ll be shunned. It’s a risk, but confession is worth it.

How about you? Is there anything festering in your life that you need to confess? You don’t need to do it here, but find someone in your life–a safe person–and let them know. Confession is good for the soul.

This post was occasioned by the Crash Synchroblog.

Apparently, I have been impacted by the death of beloved celebrities long before I knew what a celebrity was. You see, as a toddler I’m told I watched Bonanza with my parents. I wasn’t yet three years old when Dan Blocker (“Hoss”) died, and I’m told I cried. Many artists, actors, writers, performers have died since that day in May, 1973; I can’t say that I’ve again reacted with open weeping.

But I have felt profound sadness, even melancholy. When someone with whom I had spent many happy hours leaves this life behind I’m not untouched. The late Douglas Adams, with his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, made me laugh. Made me think. When he died–after a workout at the age of forty-nine, thirteen years ago this past May–it touched me more deeply than I would have supposed. I suppose it’s because I knew his work, had as I said above, spent many a happy hour reading of Arthur Dent’s galaxy-spanning adventures, busting a gut all the while.

Adams’s light had gone out.

I felt the same when I heard Robert Jordan had succumbed to cardiac amyloidosis in September of 2007. I had spent hours, days, months reading his Wheel of Time books. Though I didn’t know the man, it felt like an old friend had passed beyond mortal realms and into the undiscovered country (from whose borne no traveler returns).

I felt it again yesterday upon hearing the news of Robin Williams’s passing. I grew up watching Mork and Mindy, saw The World According to Garp in the theater, enjoyed Mrs. Doubtfire (“It was a run-by fruiting!”). Essentially, I had grown up with him. He was with me from childhood to marriage to childrearing. I was able to share his work with my children: Toys, Jumanji, the Night at the Museum movies.

Now his light, after a lifelong struggle with depression, has gone out of the world. I’m not going to disparage his struggles, but neither will I romanticize his death: suicide is never the answer, folks. Life is a gift, and is worth holding onto even thought it may appear all light has gone out of it. Because, even as dark as things may seem, there is at least the promise of dawn. Maybe I don’t understand at all clinical depression, and have never personally been deep down that dark rabbit hole. That’s as may be. I guess what I’m saying is: why now? After beating back his demons for 63 years, what made the man decide not to fight on (having slain those dragons before). What made him despair of living?

Maybe we’ll never know.

What I do know is that his legacy will live on through his work, and that he is being widely memorialized with words, and scenes, from his best know roles: Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, and Good Morning Vietnam. As iconic as those are, I’d like to leave you with this scene from 1984’s Moscow on the Hudson:

Good night, Robin Williams. When you said, in Bloomingdale’s, that you “vant to defecht” none of us knew that it would be this soon.

Pascal said that we all have a “God-shaped blank,” a hole in our souls. Problem is, we try to fill it with anything and everything but God. I’m not just writing of non-believers, but Christians, too. We don’t get a pass just because we’re saved. No, we still carry around “this body of death,” and as such will sometimes often try to cope, to fill the perceived holes in our souls, with things.

Instead of God.

C.S. Lewis (paraphrasing) said we much about with drink and sex–when all the splendors of heaven are available to us. It’s not that our passions are too strong; rather, they’re too weak. But Jesus said “blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed.” And that, I think, is the crux of it: like Abraham, we believe, but think we can take the short road to the good thing God has promised. Yet it seems there is no shortcut to righteousnes, for even Jesus “learned obedience through those things which he suffered.” If the Son of God Himself had to learn obedience, how much more ourselves?

Yet we don’t like pain (I don’t), and will try to cope, mask, cover it however we can: through food, entertainment, sex, porn, drugs, alcohol, etc. Problem is, we treat Jesus like just another bottle in the medicine cabinet: we try a little, and when it doesn’t work, we pull something else off the shelf. Proving that we’re no different than the wayward children of Israel (going after foreign gods).

We don’t know how to endure. We are a culture of now. If You, Sovereign Lord, aren’t going to come through, well then, we’ll just hedge our bets. Because You’re too slow, distant, implacable, invisible. You don’t know. You promise life, and by God we’re going to find it somewhere. You just don’t know.

Yet He does:

Jesus was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

And the beauty of His sacrifice is that we don’t have to anymore. We don’t have to sin: we have a new nature. Yet we still carry around this dead flesh, and that in a fallen world. “For the Spirit lusts against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit–the two are contrary to one another.”

“Who shall deliver us from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord.” Thanks be to God!

But do we really believe it? Do we live like we believe it? Most times I confess I do not. And so we come back around again…

Trying to fill those holes. Which is why, for me, the answer is no longer things. I’ve tried things: gone to conferences, tried liquor, stuffed my feelings with food.

None of them, not a single thing, ever gave me life. Life, hope, is only found in the nail-scarred hands of the One Who died for me. I’m done beating myself up for my failures, and giving them to Him. I’m also, in the interests of developing better strategies, surrendering my pride and going for counseling.

There are things I’ve held onto for too long. And I need help laying them down.

How about you: what do you do to cope? Where do you try to find life? Is there anything you need to lay down?

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Shawn Smucker co-wrote a great book, Refuse to Drown. It’s the story of a dad coming to grips with an awful choice, faith, and family in the midst of a terrible tragedy. The title, Refuse to Drown, is a metaphor about how that man, Tim Kreider, faced the circumstances which threatened to sink him: he refused to drown. He would not washed overboard, or swamped by the tides of life. His is a story of hope in the midst of terrible times. And this book is well worth yours. Because if Mr. Kreider–like Noah, Joseph, Jeremiah before him–can trust God through the hard times so can we all.

As it says in the Scriptures, “weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” And God is our morning–our perpetual morning. Especially when it’s dark, and we don’t understand. He will be the eye of our hurricane if we let Him. It’s a paradox I don’t understand, but surrender seems to be the only antidote to a life spiraling out of control. The more we try to control, the more things slip out of our hands. Kreider learned, in the most heart-wrenching way possible–that there were indeed things he couldn’t control. He couldn’t bargain his way out.

His only recourse was surrender.

He could well have surrendered to:

Drink

Sex

Drugs

But he chose to, despite his lack of understanding, and his inability to control (and protect), surrender to Christ. Let that be a lesson to us: surrender is the answer, but it’s all about Who we surrender to. We may cede our rights to all manner of things (some of which are listed above), but while those things medicate they don’t give us the one thing we’re all looking for:

LIFE.

Only God can do that–give us life.

———————

As I mentioned above, Shawn Smucker co-wrote this book with Mr. Kreider. I’ve read a number of his books, and I felt his deft touch on every page bringing the words of Kreider’s journal to life. There’s a vibrancy, a potency, and immediacy to the narrative as it unfolds. I as a reader felt as if I was there–down in the valleys, and back out again. This book will break, and re-make, your heart in the best way possible.

And all while pointing you to the Giver of Life. Which is why, in the post title above, I said this is not a book review. Because, ultimately, refusing to drown isn’t so much a book, as it is a way of life.

Get your copy: Refuse to Drown on Amazon You won’t be sorry.