There's one place where I can always be sure that God is with me, whether I feel His presence or not. It's not the kind of place you would normally associate with the presence of God, like an altar rail in a cathedral or a quiet refuge in the woods. It's the floor, where I end up when there's nowhere left to go.
That's where I was on the morning I thought God and I had gone our separate ways. There, on a hotel room floor, I realized we were at an impasse. Tired of the struggle and too drained to cry, I silently called it quits.
It was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time.
I did not sense God's presence in that room. Truth is, I didn't sense His existence anywhere in the universe. I had committed what to some Christians would be a heresy: I gave in to the depression that I had not identified yet. Eventually, I would look depression square in the face, acknowledge it, thank God for it, and begin to embrace it. Only then would I be able to get the medical help I needed and allow God to expose the causes of my despair so the healing process could begin.
Feeling out of step with the rest of the world is enough to drive anyone to the floor in misery. But when carpet time characterizes a lifestyle rather than an occasional bout of the blues, it's time to admit to a larger problem. Christians find this especially difficult, because we're supposed to have not only the righteousness and peace that eludes us but also an inordinate amount of joy. So we deny our depression, allowing it to fester below the surface of our lives where it does its silent damage. If we as much as hint that we're depressed, well-meaning believers-who clearly never experienced clinical depression-tell us to snap out of it or pray against it or fight it like crazy. Not bad advice, but totally useless, because there's no snap or prayer or fight left in us. It's like telling a paralytic to get moving.
By giving in to depression, I did not resign myself to it. I simply quit fighting it, even though I had no idea whether any good would come of giving up the fight. Frankly, I didn't care. I had reached a "whatever" place. And although I did not say that word to God, He took my "whatever" attitude as a code word for the words I could not utter: I've reached the end of me. I don't care what happens to me anymore. Only He pulled rank and put a postscript in my mouth, granting Himself permission to heal me: P.S. Oh, and God, go ahead and do whatever You want to with me. He had been right there with me on the floor, listening to my heart all along.
If your inability to fit in has caused you to despair, you may think your depression has separated you from God. It has not. And that's biblical. Like the apostle Paul, I am convinced that "neither death, nor life ... nor depth"-nor depression-"nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Lord, if it means that I can become whole again, keep me close to the floor, where my inability to speak allows You unhindered access to my heart.