An epiphany can mean several things: an “Aha!” moment after relentless searching and study, the first time you see something (or someone) in its natural form, or the Christian feast commemorating the visit and adoration of the Christ Child by the three wise men.
As a child, I imagined I was a Wise Girl (not a mafia chick or Wonder Woman’s best friend), an astrologer from the east guided by a bright star towards Bethlehem. I wondered what special gift I could give Jesus and his parents in addition to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh presented by the Magi.
Yesterday, on the feast of the Epiphany, I remembered the “Aha!” moment of a year ago.
I prayed and prayed and prayed some more that God would take away my depression.
I was in church, kneeling, bawling my eyes out (typical behavior at that time).
“If you never take away this depression,” I said to God, “then I can never know what my real gifts are. I can’t offer the world anything until you take this bloody thing away!”
The reading that day was 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10, the text where Paul appeals to God three times to remove the thorn from his flesh. I didn’t like what the Lord said back to Paul, but it made sense:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul goes on to say, “So I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”
The message I heard from the heavens that day on my knees was this: “Look, dear child, I know your depression and whacky moods really suck, but can’t you see how they also add to your empathetic and introspective nature? I’m sorry, but the constant PMS-like symptoms keep you humble, faithful, and compassionate towards others that suffer. So learn to deal with them.”
In other words, I pleaded with God to take away the blindfold so that I could paint a masterpiece in my lifetime. But not only did he not restore my sight, he insisted that any masterpiece I might produce on this side of death could only be created in my blindness.
In my 35 years as a Catholic I had heard this passage many times before and listened to countless interpretations of it–the purpose of suffering, the role of humility, and so on. But never did I attach it to my depression.
“If this is a gift,” I yelled back to God, “then I want to return it! Now!”
But the divine creator doesn’t operate like a customer service representative. There are no merchandise exchanges, or 30-day guarantees up where he hangs out. What you get is what you get.
Have you had any epiphany moments?