Tag Archives: depression

The Moon Still Sets.

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The sky shone turquoise after the storm, aquamarine like the ocean, translucent clouds of sea foam drifting across the heavens. A hawk soared, high above the ground, and circled back to the woods beneath. Sunbeams danced like spotlights on the tops of trees. Below, a forest of tall maples ringed a field on three sides, silver leaves glinting in the bright sunlight, a thousand shining swords waving in triumph.

On the ground, boot prints in a sea of muck ran with trickles of water mingled with streams of blood. Bodies lay strewn about the field, army green and mud brown and blood red. One figure, on his knees in the mud, blood dripping from his forehead, stared blindly, mind rejecting what eyes were seeing.

Somewhere in the distance, a songbird chirped.

In a multitude of corners of the earth, death descends in a multitude of forms, and life or hope or both come to a screeching halt – and yet, the sun still shines. Hearts shatter and dreams fade, and yet people sail by, unaware and laughing. The moon still sets and the sun still rises. Brides still walk the aisles, and grooms still stand, smiling. Wedding bells still ring.

Death stalks, tragedy calls, faith withers away, and still, mercilessly, the planet spins, the seconds tick by, and the heartbeat of life never falters.

It all seems so cruel.

When we suffer, our lives are interrupted and altered, sometimes permanently. And while others might notice and whisper words of comfort and even shed tears of sympathy at our pain, eventually they return to their own lives. But it’s hard to understand; the world will never be the same. How can people behave as though it will?? That’s the pain of it.

Eventually, after we’re crushed and broken, wounded and scarred by the demons and daggers of disappointment and death, we come to understand that no one really can bear the pain of it for us. Words like “heartbreak” and “grief” become empty expressions, clichés that are tossed like chips in a casino to describe our pain. And yet, they don’t. Moreover, when those words are coupled with that cruelest of all words – “loneliness” – we experience the reason that tragedy disfigures our souls forever: we have to bear it alone.

And yet we don’t.

There is one who can bear it with us – has already born it for us – Jesus Christ. Now I realize that some – maybe many of my followers perhaps don’t subscribe to Christ – and I get that. Yet I can’t disguise the hope that we have who do believe: that Christ has taken away the sting of death – and yes, of life, too. People demand to know why bad things happen to good people. Why not? It’s a reasonable question. And yet the answer seems not to satisfy many. Yet I can’t change the answer nor can I give you a better one. The fact is, and the answer is, that we live in a fallen world. Sin has made a way for pain and heartache and death. So – how is that fair? If there’s a God, just what kind of person is he that he would allow any of this? Where is he in all of this?

On the cross. Or – he was. He died to take away the pain of life and the finality of death. What more could he do? But then he rose. And when he did, he replaced death with everlasting joy and peace and yes, that most elusive of all pursuits – happiness.

I remember once going to the funeral of a woman who had taken her own life. I didn’t know her well but I cried until my eyes were swollen shut; I couldn’t stop. I cried that she had had so much pain and so little hope that she had had no other answer than to end her life to stop the pain. When my father died, I barely cried at all. I cried briefly because I’ll miss him, but I’ll see him again; of that I have no doubt. In the meantime, he’s “in a better place” – another cliché that we throw around. No, actually, he’s in a place that is so far beyond “better” that no human being can even comprehend it. If we can imagine a world not wrecked by sin, it’s a start. No anger, no sadness, no fear, no envy, no malice, no bigotry, no pain, no desperation, no hopeless, no depression, no self-hatred, no despair, no war, no disease, no crime, no perversion, no unimaginable atrocity – no tears, no heartbreak, no death of any kind.

Erase all of that – and then imagine a place of beauty beyond anything we’ve ever seen. People who’ve visited heaven, who’ve died and been revived, describe heaven as a place having colors we’ve never seen, sound beyond our spectrum, music we can’t produce, and light that is brighter than any sun. But the best thing of all – from my viewpoint anyway – is that heaven is a place of new beginnings, a place where the mistakes we’ve made are erased and the wrongs we’ve done to others are healed, a place where we can start all over – and get it right!

Heaven is a place of do-overs.

In the midst of heart-wrenching pain, what does it hurt to believe – especially when there are those of us who can testify that we’ve never been disappointed by believing? What’s the risk? When you think about it, there isn’t any.

Just believe. It’s okay.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rejection – and His Nine Other Brothers

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Rejection. Burnout. Depression. Intimidation. Inferiority. Doubt. Apathy. Inadequacy. Fear. Failure. How many of these fun rides have you been on? At times it seems as if whenever we’re trying to accomplish something worthwhile, we get hit with one of these. Or all ten. And then come the voices . . .

“I was never meant to do this.”

“I’m just not good enough. I’ll never be good enough.”

“There’s too much competition.”

“Who even cares anyway?”

“What was I thinking??”

If we listen to these voices long enough, the only realistic option seems to be to drink the kool-aid and quit.

So – how do we overcome the demons that haunt our attempts to do that thing we were born to do? We’ve heard it all; that’s what makes it so hard. None of what we’ve heard really helps us get back on that horse and drive.

  1. “Thomas Edison failed ninety million times!” (How does that help me?)
  2. “Einstein couldn’t count simple change – and he overcame!” (Yeah, and he had an IQ of 250.)
  3. “You were born for this!” (Apparently so were 20 million other people.)
  4. “Winners never quit and quitters never win!” (Tell it to smokers.)
  5. “Just do it!” (I’m trying to do it!)
  6. “Trying is just an excuse not to do!” (I’m confused. Don’t try?)
  7. “What would Jesus do?” (A miracle?)

So – what really will help? What are the magic words that can banish rejection, inadequacy, depression and all their minions? I don’t have any idea. But I can tell you what you can do. And it’s not call up all your girls/buddies and blow up the town or call in sick for a week on a quick trip to the Bahamas or go into massive debt with shopping therapy. No. Here’s what works: stop and do something that will accomplish a goal quickly, something you’ll feel good about when it’s done, something that, whenever you look at it, will make you feel competent.

Recently, I experienced a less-than-encouraging response to something I’d written – and had spent an inordinate amount of time writing – and candidly, I was very discouraged. So after an appropriate period of mourning, I looked around the house and realized that the magic Home Improvement fairy hadn’t visited while I’d been busy at the keyboard tuning everything else out. It dawned on me that the pine tree branches hanging down way too low over the driveway weren’t going to spring up out of the way with snow piled on top of them. I also had the profound revelation that my snow plow guy and his truck might not appreciate that. At all. So I found a small electric saw, a step ladder and got up into that tree and began to cut wood. When I was finished, the tree looked great and I knew the plow guy would probably charge me less. But here’s the key thing: I felt better. And just maybe I could take another shot at writing. After all, if I can trim some branches from a tree, I can certainly write, right?

Perhaps for you it’s to clean out that closet that no one’s ventured into for a quarter century or cook a nice dinner for your family or clean up your computer files or take authority over the lawn. Whatever it is, give yourself a visual that will get your head out of the fog of depression and remind you of how capable you are.

Sometimes we just need a re-set. We need to get away from the disappointment of failed expectations and experience the success of doing something that proves we’re capable of accomplishment. Remember – oddly enough, that that validation will come as a result of work, not play. Playing at a time like that doesn’t really accomplish anything productive and so can end up just making us feel like procrastinators. And that’s not going to help. So – if you want to feel better about yourself, grab the mop or the mower and get to work.

I can’t explain it – it just works.