I want to keep somewhat to this idea of posting “heavy & light”, a heavy one then a light one. So the next post will be from the quote by Plumb. [think it might dovetail to this quite nicely]
I’ve heard recently from several places on depression. People speaking of being depressed &/or suicidal. This is another post that’s been “marinating” for a while. I guess I should start by saying that off & on for much of my life [most of it to this point] I haven’t really been glad to be here. You know, alive, on the planet. I’ve hidden this… though mostly from myself. I never wanted to be alone. Seems so funny to type that now. Since I recharge alone, walking/ hiking in the woods. Standing in the “Art of God”, just me & Him. I wanted to die, I even planned at times how. Yet nothing could touch “the black summer”. It seemed everything crumbled.
My best friend & I had it out. The “stay as far from me as you possibly can” kind. A few other friends made some bad choices. So I didn’t see them much, either. I left the ministry I thought would be my “path god had chosen for me”. Left the church I was going to. Didn’t bother looking for a new one. [I would be gone for 5 years… before finding the awesome & much needed community I call my church home: LWCC] I sank to my absolute lowest. I spent the whole summer wanting, fantasizing, daydreaming, praying for, & even a little planning of my death. To borrow from Gandalf: “[it] seems like a life age ago.”
I hardly recognize this part of myself. Forgive my swearing here, I’m just trying to let you see it for what it was. I literally went to bed. The last thing I prayed before trying to sleep was: “God, I’m going to close my eyes now. Please don’t let me ever open them again.” I’d wake up the next morning & the first thing out of my mouth was: “damn, I’m still here.” All summer long. I don’t know which is sadder, my feeling alone or the fact that I still had people who loved me. I just didn’t “see” them. As the summer wore on, I began to really talk to God. Not the kind of talk you really want to admit to, either. At one point I said to Him: “I think I get it now. Why you won’t kill me. You don’t want to be any closer to me than you already are. Is that it? Do I repulse you? Am I a joke to you? Do you hate me? There’s no reason for me to BE here! So why am I taking up space?”
Nothing. [cue crickets]
So one day, about Sept. or Oct. of that year, I gave God an ultimatum. This is not a grand idea. You really never know what God is gonna do. This is true when everything is going well. To borrow from the talk Pastor Aaron gave this morning, See, I blamed my best friend for everything between us. It was 100% his fault. This, of course, is great for me because then all I can do is pray about it, the REAL work is on him. I think this is why we blame others. So we can tell ourselves that we are waiting for others to change so we can be doing better. He, of course had the same thought. “It’s 100% B’s fault.” So we DID agree on something, not that it was helpful.
Anyway, I sat down, one Sat. morning. I had the whole day. Nothing on “the books”. And I told God off.
[pick your fav. “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer” “Not the brightest bulb on the tree” “a few fries short of a happy meal”, huh?]
“I’m going to sit here. Not eat anything or drink anything, or speak… just sit here till you do something, God. Come down here & say something! Kick me in the face! Something…anything.” Little tip, don’t give God a completely open invite. Something... anything. …really? ANYTHING?
I sat there for about an hour. Nothing, nadda. I don’t know if God “gets smart with you”… he kinda has to, at times, with me. This, as you no doubt have guessed, is one of them. Now, I should preface this with the fact that I did not truly “see God”. My physical/biological ears did not “hear him”. Maybe I should tell you that I have an amazing imagination. So to my mind this is how it played out:
Jesus “walked” out from behind a tree & sat down next to me. And he said: “So… your gonna shut up & let me talk? This IS new.” He had love in his eyes & body language. “Brian, you are right. You are a victim, here. …however, what you fail to see is… you… are also… a perpetrator. Your friend has taken the place in your heart… where only I can handle being. He cannot do what you need. Only I can. So… now that it’s all gone. Now that HE’S gone. …Where… would you like me… to be?” It took a while for me to say anything. The problem with God is that you cannot play the “your not perfect, either” card. This sucks. With every other relationship you or I have, if something goes wrong it’s probably both sides’ fault. To at least some degree. Not true with God. If there is a problem, it’s 100% your [my] fault. Since God is perfect. The nice thing is God doesn’t rub this in your face. I don’t know if I can say I felt worse. [I already felt so low I needed a step ladder to climb up to the bottom.] I felt convicted. You know the little kid response,” I know… your right.” Which isn’t really what God was after. Repentance & how do we fix this? Was more the “order of the day.” So we went there. As much as I could. I wanted to heal. Which is the only way we really begin the process. We have to want it, bad enough to move. [guess that’s why I really like Switchfoot’s song: Dare You to Move] I had another lesson to learn, though. It began to feel so magical. As I “hung out” with God. So much so that a week later I did everything as “carbon copy” as I humanly could. To “recreate” the magic I had with God the previous week. To “get back there”. It didn’t work. Felt alone again. Depressed again… “so that was a one time gig, huh? You can stand me for a few hours on one Sat. only. And then you have to recuperate from being with horrible old me.” I got up from that spot, & I began to walk to my car, head held low. When I got a whisper inside. “go over this way” So I did. I took a slight deviation from my path & I suddenly began to get back to “that place” I had been the week before. Yet it didn’t feel the same. Similar, yet different somehow. So the next instruction was: “I don’t do repeats. I don’t want copies, or reruns. I don’t want to have the same relationship with you that I have with anyone else. I’m unique, & I made you the same. Unique. So we will not do the same thing, ever.”
After this I began my Saturday solitudes. My own “church”. It’s still not the same thing as [or an adequate substitute for] going to church. It did begin my great rebuild. I thought depression was over… it wasn’t. However, this has been the darkest depression I have suffered through. It was during this “rebuild” that my earliest poems began to take form. That my relationship with God began it’s journey to the next level. Where I began to be prepared to be given the strength to look at my whole life. To face the dark pages of my story…. & live to tell the tale. [which would come dangerously close to being my undoing]
A little footnote. My friend & I are friends again. Most of the friends I thought I’d lost are on good terms with me again. My friend that I had it out with was my best high school friend. A spiritual friend. We got together. We talked. He looked at me at one point & said: “how can you forgive me?” All I could say was: “why don’t you ask God how He can forgive me. When you get my answer…I think you’ll have yours.” My friend also played the “it’s not fair” card. [sigh]…”you believe the Bible, right? You believe Jesus died for us right? [an affirmative nod, both times] …if life wasn’t fair to it’s author, honey, …what do you think your odds really are?…not good.”
He told me he was sorry that all of it happened. I looked at him & said: “you not going to believe this, but I’m not sorry. I’m glad. I wouldn’t volunteer for it. Yet my relationship with God would not be what it is, if you & I hadn’t ‘had it out’. I needed you to get out of God’s way.” We had gotten back together & talked & had come 180 degrees around. Now we were saying to each other “it’s 100% my fault.” The truth? We were right…both times. It was OUR fault. Problems between humans usually are 100% both parties fault. I can only fix me [& I’m not all that good at it]. Telling myself it’s your fault is just a way to be lazy, blind, or hide from what is wrong with me. The only way to change you…the only way to change the world… is for me…to change me.
[To, again, borrow from Mr. Finch: “Told you I’d tell you the truth…didn’t say you’d like it.”]
May His grace drip from your fingers,