Sunday, March 2, 2008

signs of depression.

[one is a lack of desire to do things you normally like to do. which is the reason I'm gonna use for why I couldn't possibly bring myself to finish my art project on time last Thursday. hoping I'll be able to finish it tonight.... I've heard that sunshine is a good weapon against depression so I took it outside to work on it. I'm gonna have a pretty bad sunburn now... and I still have a lot to do on it. so this is me taking a break, hhhh.]

A man I consider to be one of great knowledge and not a little bit of wisdom (there is a difference) told me once that it's a sign of depression to feel that you'd rather be dead than alive. If you've never been depressed or a part of my family, you might think that's a no-brainer, but hear me out. I'm a Christian. I can look forward to heaven when I leave this life. I hear it's nice. No death, no tears, face to face with the Savior, and all that. "This world has nothing for me."

But life is a gift. God gave it to me. I'm a wealthy American with way too many things and way too much money. I'm a Christian - I don't have to face this life with no hope of a future even when things look down at the moment.

I've been blessed with "endless mercies and ceaseless grace" simply due to the fact that I'm alive. Or so I'm told. But what if I don't see that as a blessing? "You should be glad you're alive!" is the line you hear sometimes after the disaster scene in movies. But what if I'm not?

Think about it for one second with me. Nothing satisfies but He who is in heaven. Nothing on earth is sure. Nothing in this life lasts. Nothing we're given apart from grace and salvation is worth living for... in fact, if we ever try, God's jealousy usually finds a way to take it from us.

I'm plagued by feelings of worthlessness. Finitude. Like there is so much sin in my life that my spiritual struggles and perceived progress amount to nothing. Like I never do anything right or worthy of praise or rest. "And you don't!" you reply. "That's the beauty of the gospel - you can't earn it. It's all God!" So I feel worthless because I AM. "Well, no. No, of course not. God thought you were worth something. He sent His Son to die for you and cover your sins so you could belong to Him." Okay. So the only reason I have worth is because of the price that He paid for me - infinitely more than I could ever be worth, but because He paid it, I am worth it. But I am a tiny speck in the span of the universe and of time. I'm not worth anything aside from that.

"Bless God for His goodness." Even when all is lost and nothing is well, He is good. Well, sure. I know that because of the fact that I'm not going to hell, where I deserve to be already. But if the only things I can hope for are in the life to come, what is the value of the life I'm in? "You are to be a light to the world, giving others the chance to hear the Good News too." I am a light. But no... I'm a dead bulb. I can't even generate the energy to light up. I need an outside Source. I'm back to feeling worthless.

If I say that I don't find joy in this life, you tell me to hope in my salvation, if nothing else. Salvation from separation from God. Salvation from eternal damnation. Salvation from my sin. I will never fully experience these things in this life. So if I hope in my salvation... am I not hoping for my death?

Am I depressed? Or am I taking it all to its logical conclusion? Am I missing some key element that will unlock this mystery for me?

Don't worry about me. I'm not going to *do* anything... I just think too much, hhh. In fact, these were my musings as the pastor was talking about craving Christ this morning, LOL.

Okay. Homework!

4 comments:

TOM said...

I haven't forgotten. I started to write about this tonight, but I don't think it's going to happen. I've been unwell the last couple days, actually crawling under the covers in the 10:00 hour or before (gasp!) and I'm gonna do it again tonight. Love you. Mayby if I chew on it long enough I'll have something worth saying! :)

learning beautiful said...

I forwarded the text of this post to the two guys who have led my care group this year, as I honestly want input and figured it would be good to ask them directly. Here's what the first said:

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Thank you for sharing your innermost musings with us, I appreciate you speaking honestly with us about how you are doing and what you are thinking and feeling right now.

I am glad to hear that you are not contemplating ending your life – that really is not an option that we should ever allow ourselves to consider.

You may be surprised to find that it is not abnormal to ask questions about your worth or your purpose in life and how you can enjoy living in the good of the “here and now” that God has for you.

This is really an age-old question that people from way before Aristotle and all the way past Voltaire have been asking, even if not in the same words. In fact, I’ve asked this question myself. The challenge with most of the answers that man has come up with, is that they are completely devoid of any real meaning and in the end cannot really satisfy but instead only seek to explain experience apart from God. And experience apart from an on-going relationship with God is truly bleak.

It is not surprising that often, through introspection, we find that we hold no answer to the meaning of life in our own humanity and that upon even closer inspection, we come to realize that in and of ourselves, we are small and relatively insignificant beings in comparison to the grand universe and vast expanse of time. But this is not what God intended. God created mankind as the pinnacle of His creation – the crown-jewel in His masterpiece that was meant to glorify Him and enjoy Him. Our worth does not lie in our abilities, not in our intellect, not physical prowess and not financial success. Our worth also does not lie in our relationships with other humans, how we look or even how we feel about ourselves. Our true identity was always meant to be found in God and our lives were intended to revolve around a constant union with God. The great tragedy is that mankind sinned against our Creator and our utmost joy (life in God) was cut off. Ironically, we were created perfectly for this earth (although not in its current state) and to walk with God in the cool of the garden. Now, because of our sin, life on this earth is difficult but all of the difficulty points mankind to one thing – our need for life with God – the one thing that can truly satisfy us.

As you are well aware, Jesus came to this earth so that we can be reconciled to God. But He did not come for future reconciliation alone – He came so that we might know God and enjoy our lives in God right now. God gave us life on the earth so that we might enjoy Him more and revel in His glory as we behold Him at work in every day life. You see, our joy is still meant to be found in relationship with God and we can actually enjoy this life as we find our worth in Him. This life was never meant to be about us and when it does become about us, it becomes dull for us. Our thirst for meaning and satisfaction and joy are meant to be quenched only by drinking deeply from the fountain of life that flows from God Himself.

So, in your musings, I would encourage you to turn from thinking of your own worth and instead to think of the great worth of God and that this great God has called you to Himself, to come boldly before the throne of grace to find mercy and help in your time of need. We must lay aside our doubts and learn to trust in God and His goodness – that He does indeed have good purposes for us and that we can enjoy Him now. It is good to hope for heaven and we should indeed long for heaven. But we were created to live for Christ and enjoy Him while we are on this earth too. It may sound silly, but we must actively pursue finding our joy in Christ in this life. We must fight for our own joy in God.

In your quest to find meaning and joy in this life, I would encourage you to fight yourself and fight the tendency to look for joy in yourself. Joy is found in being satisfied in God. And in the midst of your fighting, I would encourage you to pray and ask God to give you joy in Him, because this is something only He can do. But… He can do it – He can give you joy as you seek Him! I would also point you to Scripture to encourage your own soul and I recommend starting by meditating on Psalm 37:4-5 “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” From there, a few other scriptures that will be helpful are Psalm 34:8, Psalm 51:12, Psalm 90:14 Psalm 40:1-4 and Psalm 119.

Lastly, I would encourage you to download and read a book by John Piper called “When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy”. The free, online copy is here: http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/books_bwdd/bwdd_all.pdf but you can also buy the book in hard-copy from most Christian bookstores or online. It will not be an easy journey to find your joy in God but I know that it will be a worthwhile and rewarding one.

In the meanwhile, Julie and I will pray that God will give you the joy in Him that only He can supply. We would also enjoy talking with you more about what you’ve written. If you’re interested, just let me know on Friday and we can set something up then.

-Matt

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I don't really feel like he answered my question... but that could either be his misunderstanding or my own blindness to an issue within myself (highly possible). It felt to me like he danced around it and flirted with it a little bit, and then went on to something else. So I ask again... what am I missing?

TOM said...

Good grief! Don't have time to read the response from your friend right now....just wanted to let you know to check my xanga - I started to comment there. Love you!

tom said...

I just added to my xanga post (in case you've already looked at it once.)