Letting your guard down is necessary for growth, and things not faced cannot be changed. I know I’m probably repeating some 12 Steps ideas, but I’ve never followed them close enough to have gotten all the chips. I didn’t even get one when I participated in Celebrate Recovery. That’s the only recovery group I’ve been a part of.
As you know I’ve battled depression since the third grade, so it’s been almost a forty year struggle that is more manageable now than when stuff hit the fan in 2006. I think 2006 was the worst year of my life. I relive that year almost everyday. The shame, guilt and overwhelming despair coupled with that year is almost too much to bare. I think I could write an entire book about that year, but I wouldn’t know where to start, so I think an essay is good enough.
Good enough is a loaded phrase. The expectations we lay on ourselves and others leaves little room for grace and mercy much less the joy Annie talked about tonight, but somehow the joy of the LORD is our strength. 2020 was a year that still isn’t over. My brother and sister-in-law contracted Covid, and my sister-in-law was pregnant on top of it. Until today she had been on a ventilator over a week, but thankfully little Lilly is progressing very well. Thankfully too Crystal, my sister-in-law, had good news today as the medical professionals slowly wake her up from sedation. It’s going to be a long road to recovery as my brother Jeremy stated, and I pray for the joy of the LORD in their nuclear family as they continue in this horrible experience. Lilly is their fifth child, and it was a horrendous thought to contemplate them growing up without Crystal. The shear number of people praying for healing is astronomical because the only continent where people aren’t praying is Antarctica. There have been countless families in history where children grew up without a parent or parents, but the prayers being lifted for Crystal and Lilly have been unending. I don’t know why God heals some people and not others, but I suppose you could argue that death is a form of healing. We dread death, and some of that is a lack of faith in the One who conquered it, but going through it be it from any side is hard. We weren’t made for death, and I suppose that’s why depression is prevalent in our world because the world is not as it should be.
Eternity has been put in our hearts, so when death makes an appearance we resist. Even a thirty-something mother of five isn’t immune to a virus that’s killed hundreds of thousands of people. That’s a very sobering thought. There seems to be too many sobering thoughts sometimes, and words can fail us.
I’ve forever made sense of the world through words. I’ve also been a writer since the third grade, and my experiences have given me a plethora of things to write about. Having three brothers who are married with families of their own has also expanded my experience as we are very close, and we hold each other painfully accountable. There are things I’d never let my guard down about on a blog that those three know all too well. When you grow up with three brothers you love you don’t just become a band of brothers you become confidents that could rival a mafia family or the inner circle of a given administration in the Oval Office. Jesus and the twelve had to be similar.
You don’t come through painful battles like we’ve been through without someone getting beat down physically and verbally. And I love each one of them for it. We beat the hell out of each other to build the other up, and sometimes life does it for us. When they think I’m producing BS they will not hesitate to call me out on it and vice versa. We’ve seen each other at rock bottom. We’ve also seen each other on the mountain top. That’s what happens with brothers who like each other, and God forbid anyone come between us.
That’s the stuff of Divine providence that can remove depression when you know someone would take a bullet for you. Our culture has forgotten what real strength is, and when they say it’s my right to do what I want to do when I want to do it then they’ve completely miss the point.
We must get back to being willing to lay down our lives the way Jesus did. We must surrender everything to him because when we realize the Father literally loves the entire world only then will we be able to do what we should do. He laid out everything we need to know to follow him in the Bible, and it’s never gone well when any civilization has rejected that, and here we go again. Love God and love people is not rocket science.
Why can’t we get serious about doing that?
Maybe it’s that some don’t see Jesus as truly divine. I scanned a memoir excerpt earlier that said something about people feeling that Christianity was forced upon them. I’m almost fifty years old, and even if it was forced upon me I freely choose it now because I’m convinced Jesus is neither a liar or lunatic. He is LORD. He is who he says he is, and not even the death of his followers can stop that. A pandemic can’t stop it. Whether someone gets vaccinated or not doesn’t stop the purpose of God. Whether or not someone decides to become a follower of Jesus Christ doesn’t impede the purposes of an omnipotent God. When will we get that through our thick skulls?
Here’s a reminder from Scripture. If we don’t praise him the rocks will cry out. That’s not happening in my lifetime. Imagine if all seven billion of us turned in love toward the Father and each other. John 3.16 is the most wonderful verse in all of Scripture, yet we really don’t understand, much less practice it. We must lean into the love of God in every moment, and that doesn’t mean we condone everything everyone wants to do. Sometimes love confronts and punishes. Those who reject God’s word cannot live in fellowship with those who embrace it, and as much as I want all seven billion to accept the Bible I learn that the Bible itself says that’s not going to happen. I will not soften my theology to make way for what the Bible clearly calls sin. That’s how we got to where we are now. These words aren’t popular because the great sin now is judging others, but condemning sin is not judging. Condemning sin is a command we’ve been tasked with as pure children of God, not because we don’t sin, but because sin separates us from God. Satan’s work of deceiving is too good, and we are in a battle for the minds and hearts of our children who are buying into the lies of evil. We bought into the lies of evil when we were children, and now we see it growing in our children and grandchildren.
God is a good God, and he is the only God. He grieves when we put our hope in everything but him, and I’d argue that desperate times require desperate measures, but then again this all powerful and all knowing God we co-exist with isn’t wringing his hands in frustration because his children reject him. He’s watched that for thousands of years since the days of Adam and Eve.
In closing I want to write that this depression is removable in the power of the Father. Every obstacle I face is removable by him. If he doesn’t remove the obstacles that keep me from him there’s nothing I can do about that, but I know his strength is perfect in my weakness hence I can pray 24/7 come Spirit come.