A call to come and die. I have received it. Not well at first but now I carry this calling with me wherever I go. I can’t recall a time I didn’t believe in the creator of the universe and the holy Trinity or a time that Jesus hadn’t died for my sins. But I can remember when there was no understanding of what being a follower of Christ meant for me. Not the full weight of it. I though it meant Jesus and I were buddies and that He was supposed to make things better if I was good. I thought being a Christian was supposed to make me happy. Or at least that being happy was part of being Christian.
I started therapy at five. I can’t remember why. I am sure my mother could tell you. She told me once people wanted to take me away. I remember being isolated from my friends in middle school by being put in a hospital school where I got more care and no one my age to play or learn with. I remember special rooms to take tests and do homework in… alone. I felt like a freak most of the time. Like I wasn’t supposed to be with the normal children, I might make them broken too. I was ashamed of what was happening to me. I wasn’t keeping up, I wasn’t coping well and I could sense that was not how people wanted me.
Even with tutors I couldn’t get better than D-‘s and people just told me I needed to try harder. What a defeating piece of advice for someone who was exhausted and frustrated and nervous all the time. I pulled my hair out, I didn’t feel anyone cared enough about me to care if I showered, brushed my hair or got proper amounts of sleep… so I didn’t. I didn’t have the energy and I sort of hoped I would die before I had to again. Getting out of bed and going to school was all I had in me and most days I am not sure where the strength came from. I mimicked what other’s were doing and just hoped no one noticed me. Normally they didn’t. When they did I wasn’t sure what to do.
How could they expect me to get a good math grade when I was living on a few hours of sleep and wondering how far I could run before anyone noticed? Maybe I could lie down in a ditch and wait to starve to death after school. It wasn’t realistic but it made it hard to memorize procedures. I dug open cutting wounds under my jeans to keep me awake and stared straight ahead until the bell rang and I could be one class closer to going back to my room at home. When I got home I just curled into a ball and tried to stave of the feeling the Universe was slowly crushing me to death. I don’t think my parents understood how difficult simple requests like cleaning my room or taking out the trash was. I can either try not to hurt myself or do that Mom! Ugh.
As you can probably tell, this wasn’t a very joyous way of thinking. I agree. And the way I understood being a follow of Christ didn’t fit in with this constant desire to perish. I was depressed. Everyone had an idea on how to fix me. No one told me that I was fine just the way I was.
I was content, I was reading my Bible, I was prayingpraying and I was putting others before myself. I wasn’t happy, not even with therapy and meds. I can’t remember the age. But I was in the hospital again for cutting or heavy suicidal thoughts again. My father cried. I was nearing adulthood now. In a few years I would be leaving the family home. and the doctors thought I was a danger to myself. He told me in a few words he was crying because He couldn’t keep me safe. Something hit me. I cried too. Not just for my beloved earthly father but because I felt my Heavenly father weep with my daddy. I had to fit depression into my faith. I said I was committed to Jesus, but I was commited to my way of following Him. It was time to try His.
My favorite color is black. Black like the tomb for three days. Black like good Friday. If it wasn’t for Jesus in the blackness His ressurection (which is EVERYTHING) would have been meaningless. He was always reigning forever, but His victorious brush with death has added me to that equation. His body lay in the dark alone, much like I am often in the dark alone…. and He proved to me in those three days that there is no where He won’t go for me. Even the grave. I love Psalm 139. Not only because it shows He made me with love but also for 7-12 which prove He is steadfast even when I am full of death.
Where can I go from your Spirit?Where can I flee from your presence?If I go up to the heavens, you are there;if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,even there your hand will guide me,your right hand will hold me fast.If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide meand the light become night around me,”even the darkness will not be dark to you;the night will shine like the day,for darkness is as light to you.
He knew I was depressed. He knew the chemicals in my head didn’t always balance enough to let me enjoy life. He knew I was isolated even when I wasn’t. I made my bed in the depths, in Sheol, and He was there. I didn’t need happiness for Him to put me to work. I needed Him. I needed Him. As I focused on Him my depression lessened. I didn’t have a character defect, I didn’t suffer from a spiritual disorder and I wasn’t making a choice to sit in it. I was choosing Him and He was choosing to let me remain depressed for long seasons to use me. He sometimes choose to bless me to go years without it to help me grow. I became concerned with being Holy and not happy and I found Joy. Even when my thoughts turned against me, even when I spent a little too long admiring the sharp end of a steak knife I had Joy. I was new, I had won the war. I was just stuck in a battle still. In the darkness, in the tomb there is hope. I can sit in the tomb for as long as I need to now. I know what happens after awhile. I imagine sitting by His wrapped body with no way to tell how much time was passing when I am depressed. I can choose to be hopeless, or I can choose to cling to the fact that I get to see Him get back up. I can desperately cling to the knowledge that He does get back up. I can look forward to Him sitting up and embracing me for waiting patiently for His timing. I can trust in the tomb.
I am sure Jesus’ followers felt like I used to before Easter Sunday. I can’t imagine Peter who betrayed his BFF and never got a chanch to make things right did very well over the three days Jesus laid in the Grave. But I don’t think even the worst days (and he had plenty) after He once again met Jesus on the lake could have left him hopeless. I laid my life down. I give it all to Christ. Living like that.. makes it so hard to dwell on the turmoil that stirs within me. If I am ready to die for Christ, I am ready to live for Him. On His terms. Even with depression. On His beautiful, frustrating, miraculous and heavy terms. The terms picking up my cross and to follow Jesus with all my breaths. No matter what.