Disclaimer: I’m not saying that God gave me depression by sharing the following Pauline semantic.
7…Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the LORD to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.2 Corinthians 12.7-8
I don’t understand why Paul boasted about his thorn in the flesh, but I suppose I’ve somewhat boasted about my mental illness by writing about it for the whole world to read. I do it because it’s therapeutic, and when I was able to write long-hand I would fill journals like I write here, and yes months could go by when not a word was written.
My daughter begins her last year of high school in the fall, and she just returned from Europe on a school trip, so the feels are all over the place. I started to write yesterday when I got in from work, but I trashed the beginning because I wasn’t at all happy with the flow of my creation. I got up this morning, made coffee, put my boot on my left foot that needs to be operated on, put my right shoe on, drink some coffee, and then I headed to a wonderful para-church organization my family has been connected with for years to make coffee for the workshop participants.
Weakness is palpable isn’t it? It’s palpable 24/7 because there’s not an experience it doesn’t affect. My weakness is depression and angry outbursts. Amy’s is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Caralyn’s is body image and a eating disorder. Another friend’s is alcoholism. Each one of us battles the sinful nature, and Scripture is clear that not one of us is without sin, but when you add something like depression to the equation leaning upon the saving power of the Holy Spirit becomes even more important. I truly hate having depression. If I could go back to the third grade when I first noticed signs of this mental illness what would I do to change the outcome? First of all I’d like to say something I say every single week. Hindsight is 20/20. God bless the person who created that phrase. We cannot undo the past. I’m not sure why the Father hasn’t removed depression from my life because I have asked him to countless times. I’m sure part of it is what he told Paul 2000 years ago. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
As I contemplate my battle with depression right now I begin to think about the toll it has taken on my wife Carey and my daughter Chloe. Mental illness of any kind makes you narcissistic. I have not been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I am aware of what other people feel and think, and I strive to put myself in their shoes. I’m still married after 23 years, and we are still in love. I have a relationship with Chloe, and I pray daily for her as I pray that my illness has minimal effect on her. We have lived in the same house since 2006, and we have been intentional about keeping her at the same school. Actually we have hit the ball out of the park in that regard because the school she goes to has PreK through high school, and she started there in PreK. We have taken a proper vacation nearly every summer, and we are preparing now to go to the same condo we’ve gone to in Florida summer after summer. I’m proud of that. One of our favorite things to do is play paddle ball on the beach. Here’s a picture of that. I could literally play this for hours.
Satan will stop nothing short of orchestrating events to make each one of us think the whole world is lost. He’s worst than the meanest mean girl or member of La Cosa Nostra. He not only will destroy a friendship, but he’ll make the offer you “can’t” refuse look like the thing you can’t live without. Never stop questioning what culture puts in front of you because more than likely it’s a lie. Take care of your mental health, and when boundaries need to be drawn don’t hesitate to draw them. There’s a verse I love in Jesus Loves Me I’ve posted many times.
Jesus take this heart of mine. Make it pure and wholely thine. Thou has bled and died for me. I will hence forth live for thee.Jesus Loves Me
That song verse along with Give Me Jesus when Vince Gill croons it melt my heart and draw me near into the embrace of Abba Father.
Grief and suffering strike when we least expect it, but joy and happiness can be found in Jesus Christ wherever we are in any circumstance. Jesus wants redemption and reconciliation for the entire world, but Satan is working night and day for division and destruction. He is the father of lies, and he uses angels, demons and human beings to advance his agenda. He wants to take as many with him to the last day when Jesus will reveal himself again to the naked eye. On that day those who call Jesus LORD will be saved, and those who do not will perish. I will not perish, even in my unfair battle with depression, because like Paul I choose the Lamb of God as my eternal advocate.
I have sinned grievously. I will sin again, but the blood of Christ covers my transgression, and because of that unmerited favor I strive everyday not to sin. I long for the the New Earth where sin and depression will not be part of my experience.
That reality will be the ultimate Father’s Day, and all things will be as the Father longed for them to be in the Garden of Eden before mankind began disobeying him.