My mom used to tell me that when God wants to make a point He repeats himself. Well, the Creator must know that I am quite dense, because in the last week, I have received a very clear message. Not one time. Not two times. But three times. The transcript goes something like this: “Really, you can trust me!”
I’ve mentioned on a few recent posts that I’ve been struggling with somewhat of a setback in that the “I wish I were dead” thoughts have been getting more frequent, and gradually mutating into a “I wonder how I could be dead” thoughts. I’ve been working with my doctor, yes, but one of the things I most respect about her is that she doesn’t jump to a medication adjustment. I have to rely on things that make me feel good–and supportive friends and family–until I hit a better place.
The good thing about being in this place of pain is that it cuts through the protective layer of your ego, and you listen, REALLY listen to the folks in your life who can offer a useful insight. (Not the ones, of course, who say visualize a twenty-dollar bill and it’s yours.)
Like my best friend from college. I trust her judgment more than just about anyone’s because she has known me for so long, and has been there–sometimes as a casualty–of my rollercoaster moods. She is very wise and extremely perceptive, so I was a bit taken aback when, as we chatted over coffee, she said, “You used to be so trusting of God when we were in college…. I guess I don’t see that so much now.”
“It was easier to be trusting of God back then,” I replied. “I didn’t have to support a family or endure a 90-minute temper tantrum from an eight-year-old. I knew that if my depression got bad enough I could always move back in with my mom, and attend the community college.”
The day after our coffee date a publicist sent me Eileen Flanagan’s book, “The Wisdom to Know the Difference,” and I heard, for a second time, what my college friend was trying to tell me: Eileen writes:
What gets in the way of wisdom? Fear is the biggest culprit….Fear can get in the way of compassion, gratitude, and seeing the goodness in other people, which in turn can make our relationships more difficult. Fear makes us cling to a picture of how we think things should be, making acceptance of what is almost impossible….In short, fear makes us go through life with our guard up, wasting energy that could be put to better use. In contrast, both serenity and courage are based on living with trust.
When I first became sick, I didn’t know I had “depression”. I just thought I was having one of life’s many existential emergencies. I would kneel and pray that God would take away my pain. But, it simply didn’t happen that way. Sometimes, I would give God an ultimatum: “You either take away this damn pain, or I’m turning my back on you fella”. I demanded “a” solution, an answer. One wasn’t forthcoming.
As time went on, something happened. I stopped trying to dictate so many of the terms of my recovery from depression. Instead, I just began to surrender myself. I began to see that God was bigger than my depression. It didn’t mean that I wouldn’t suffer now or in the future from it. But a light appeared through cracks in depression’s armor. There’s a sense of joyous relief that comes when we stop the war against depression. We lay down our burden.
So for now, I think I hear what God is saying–just as when I read the scripture passage, “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” on the pedestal of the Jesus statue at Johns Hopkins. It has something to do about trust and surrendering my fear.
For this moment, anyway.