As I prepared to go to work today I decided that I would listen to The Sisters CD that I found the other day after a year of it being missing. Usually nothing is odd about my decision to listen to music. In fact, I love music. I’ve loved music before I can even remember. Music has always been part of my life. Music is where I find God. Unfortunately, when I am depressed it is very hard for me to listen to music. If you ever want to know how I’m feeling ask me if I have listened to The Martins or The Sisters recently and if I haven’t you know that my depression is acting up. What is so surprising about my decision today is that my depression has been really difficult the past couple of days. In the past week I can count on one hand how many times I have left the house. I left twice for work and once to have lunch with a friend. The rest of the time I was in bed watching Netflix, playing games, or sleeping. Yesterday I was sick, but I think a lot of it had to do with the depression. It hasn’t been this bad in a while and sometimes I don’t know how to handle it.
I don’t tend to discuss my depression with a lot of people because depression is so misunderstood in the church. Only my close friends whom I trust know how bad it is. So why am I writing about it in a blog? Well the answer comes from my music session today. I came to a realization about God and his people and I thought maybe if someone was reading this who is hurting they could be encouraged. So here it goes…
I was listening to The Sisters and one of the songs is entitled, “You Always Answer Me.” I have listened to this CD so much that I can usually sing the songs without thinking about what I am actually singing, but today I couldn’t just sing the words. In fact, I felt like a hypocrite singing the words because I don’t believe the words to be true. Here are some of the lyrics that stood out to me:
“You always answer me, right in my hour of need. Not always how I think you should, but always for my good. You always answer me… It seemed the heavens were unopened when I called upon your name, even so come quickly Lord in earnest hope I pray but my lowly expectations for your plans, they were no match, though broken when you finally came, you gave more than I asked…And how I know your will is that you’ve always been true to your word, you’ve always heard and led this willing one. So be it unto me according to thy word, according to thy way, thy will be done.”
Wow, powerful words. The song is singing about how God answers our prayers even when we don’t think he does. My issue is with the line, “Not always how I think you should, but always for my good.” Everything within me wants to scream, no you don’t God. Everything that happens does not end up for my good. What it is, is a bunch of garbage that piles up in my soul and makes me want to die. How can that be good? (For those of you who do not realize the freedom to express yourself to God, let me tell you that you are allowed to feel whatever your feeling. I am proof of that. I am thinking these thoughts, saying these thoughts and writing these thoughts about God and I am still here. But if you need more evidence, I encourage you to find a Bible and look in the middle of that big book and find the book called Psalms. I am not the only one who has been angry at God and willing to tell him how I feel. The Psalms are fool of angry words. So take a deep breath. God is a big god, he can handle my words, plus he already knows what I am thinking so I would just be lying if I pretended to be okay.)
So why do I sing the songs that I don’t believe? The answer is simple: Because I know the lyrics to be true. What I am learning in this life is that there is a difference between KNOWING what is true and BELIEVING what is true. I KNOW that God loves me and works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). BUT I DON’T BELIEVE IT. In my heart of hearts I don’t believe that the things in my life are going to work out for good. How can they? Do I think that losing my ministers license is for my good? Of course not. (Oh my bad, spoiler alert. For those of you who are looking forward to my ordination as a Nazarene pastor and maybe wanted me to be on staff, the jig is up…I don’t have my ministers license anymore.) Do you think that having my talents denied over and over and over again is for my good? NO! There is a huge list of things that I could list off that make me hate my life and hate me, but I will only list these two because they are the ones I am dealing with right now.
So, how do I live? I don’t know. That is a very good question that I have been asking for months now. How do I begin to BELIEVE what I KNOW to be true? I honestly don’t know the full answer, but what I realized today is that I need to keep singing. Sometimes the enemy, Satan, can convince us that we are a lost cause if we do not always believe what God has said, but that is a lie. Satan is the father of all lies and will tell us anything to make us feel like we cannot come to God. BUT IT ISN’T TRUE! What is true is that Jesus Christ is our mediator to God and we can come to him any time. I NEED to continue singing the songs that speak God’s truth because one day the wall around my heart will break and I will finally BELIEVE what I am singing.
When singing doesn’t work, what I need to do is to read the BIBLE. It is so hard. I know. But here’s the thing, the Bible is God’s love letter to all people. The overall theme is God’s love for us. Over and over humanity fails to understand and trust God that he is indeed love, but then God moves and proves himself. I guess I’m not alone in questioning God’s goodness. In fact, the reason Adam and Eve sinned in the garden was because the serpent made them believe that God wasn’t as good as he said. They believed the lie and the rest is history. The beautiful part of their story is that God did not leave them in their sin and shame. He provided clothes for them and ultimately provided Jesus to bridge the way for humanity to be reunited with him. God never left them alone and I am realizing that he has never left me alone either.
Singing about truth and reading the Bible are just two ways that help me remember who I am in Christ and who God is. There are several other ways in which I am searching for healing. I realize that I CANNOT walk this journey alone, so I have asked friends to walk with me. I have an awesome COUNSELOR that I see almost every week and she helps me with the thoughts that I have and also gives me MEDICINE. J I am an advocate for medicine. If your body needs medicine to function properly, then use it. It is just another way God can bring healing and there is nothing wrong with it. I also am privileged to live in a community that offers many avenues for healing to occur. I participate in HEALING PRAYER SESSIONS where my friends and a leader come together with me and we talk and pray about issues and invite Jesus to heal my woundedness. It is an amazing experience. HEALING is a process. God knows how much we can handle at a time, so I will continue to seek healing until he returns or calls me home. One day I may be healed from my depression, but that is not the point of the healing prayers. Depression for me may very well be a chemical imbalance that needs to be stabilized with medicine. If it isn’t a chemical imbalance then I know one day it will go away, but that is not the goal of my healing prayer sessions. The goal is for the healing of my heart. I need to be healed from the lies that I have believed for so long. Healing is so much more than taking care of the outward symptoms, it’s about restoration with the one true God and becoming content in the love he has for us.
So here I am. Human. Broken. I am here speaking the hard truth about life, hoping that someone reading this will find comfort and know that they are not alone. In your deepest, darkest hour you don’t need to believe what God says, you just need to know what he says, so that you can hold onto the truth until you have the ability to believe it. God won’t leave you hanging long. (I once again say that knowing the truth, but not believing it). He is close and will never leave you.
Contrary to what Christians might say or believe, humans DO NOT have to have ‘it all’ together before coming to Christ. Look at God’s love letter. The majority of the most devote followers of Christ were at their worst when Christ redeemed them. Examples: The criminal on the cross next to Jesus, Saul on the road to Damascus, Peter after denying he knew Jesus. The list goes on and on. I count myself fortunate to be part of the rough crowd that Jesus called to him. I am a redeemed child of God, which is the truth. One day I look forward to believing it with my whole heart.