Friday, November 29, 2013
Dealing with Depression
I went thru a very rough patch in November when this “11″ setting on my depression meter stayed there for most of a month. I didn’t think I could take much more. I shared my story with a good friend and elder at my church.WOW! That is quite the confession there - full of good points and bad points. One hesitates to dive in because it seems like a critical word will make the depression worse and an encouraging word is a means of fueling and rewarding the depression. Not to mention depression colors perception pretty severely. That's a problem with depression, that's why it is often a matter for professionals and not something the Christian community can handle.
“You? Depressed? No, you couldn’t be. You’re the most upbeat person I know.”
Well, what can I say? I wear a really good mask. I tried again with another friend and elder, pulling him out of a Sunday service to pray for me right then. He did, but didn’t ask any questions or offer any encouragement. It was pray, then head back into the sanctuary. I headed home.
Three more elders, three more “I’ll pray for you” responses, then nothing. I spoke to our senior pastor, telling him I even had suicidal thoughts (fleeting; but still) in my despair. I stood there crying as I shared what had been going on in my life and how it had stripped me of just about everything. Our pastor told me he was proud of me for hanging in there. Excuse me. Did you hear what I just said? I despair of life so very much I thought about ending it all. That was my unspoken thought. Surely he’ll call me this week to get together for coffee and talk about this some more. No call. No coffee. No talk. No care.
So why does Smokey, an adamant non-Christian, “get it” when it comes to love, but most every Christian I know doesn’t? Why is it that when I am struggling, like I am right now, I can’t get my brothers and sisters in Christ to show love without a court order, but those like Smokey and other employees and customers I work with will show love in their words and deeds? How is it that those in whom Love Himself lives bottle up love and refuse to give it while those who do not know Love are very free with their love? I really don’t get it. I am ready to quit Christians, or at least quit hoping Christians will do what Jesus commanded and love each other. Christians don’t get it. Agnostics and atheists do. Something is really screwy here.
Am I wrong? Am I placing too much emphasis on love? Should I really expect my Christian friends to show me love with their words and actions? And when they don’t, do I have the right to ask them why not? Maybe love is outdated. Maybe I’m living in a fantasy world, thinking that when I am hurting I can expect others to come alongside of me and not leave. Perhaps wanting someone to say “I love you” is a wrong desire. I don’t know. I know I love others because Jesus tells me to, and because Love lives in me and I can do no less. Is it fair for me to question whether Love really lives in those who refuse to love?
On the other hand - he has a point. The Christian community generally is a pretty cold place. Everybody seems to be more concerned about themselves than about the other. But then as we discuss here pretty much endlessly, the Evangelical church with its consumeristic focus and appeal is designed to have precisely such people in the pews.
Do I guess the question is how does on respond to Dunn? The only thing I can think of is honesty. "Jeff, you're my Cristian brother, but depression is outside of my expertise and ability to help you with directly. Do you have professional help? Can I assist you in getting that help? Is there anything else I can help you with? I am there for you." I think chances are Dunn will not find that adequately loving, but I think that would be the depression talking not reality.
action depression love