Beggar’s Fortune Part Six

Another essay on depression written long ago.

So many patients (and their doctors) believe they will always be depressed – so they stop fighting. Depression is not a lifelong illness for everyone, or even most. So fight back.

Here’s part six…

How could I sing about a God I wasn’t consistently sure existed, a God I was angry at and felt abandoned by?  How could I talk about the power of hope over poverty when I felt so hopeless and poor?

So I canceled my gigs at LifeFest and in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin and decided to stay off the road until what I believed lined up again with what I sing and say on stage. Everyone in my life believed it would someday. I didn’t know.

That weekend I went to church differently than I ever had before. For the first time in my life I walked in desperate

Spiritually poor.

Unable to make ends meet.

And through trying.

I didn’t shake hands with people. I hugged them. People I didn’t even know.

I didn’t say “good” when people asked me how I was doing. “I’m not good at all,” I’d say. “Please pray for me.”

I didn’t notice the squirmy kids around me. I sat on the edge of my seat sifting every sentence for answers, hope, anything at all to bring me back to life.

I didn’t just sing along. I sang to God through tears, through anger and doubt, sometimes on my knees with my face pressed into the back of a metal folding chair.  Sometimes words came out. Sometimes only groans.

Honestly, I’m a tiny bit embarrassed by it all now, but at the time I didn’t care what anybody thought. I wanted to be rescued, to see God, to be healed.  Desperately.

And when it was all over the darkness was gone.  To me, that was miraculous.

I was more than a week into the depression by this point and a pattern had clearly emerged: Every morning I woke up melancholy and descended into total despair over the next hour or so. I usually crumpled up somewhere and started crying sometime in the late afternoon when everything felt most hopeless.  And just before bed I enjoyed about an hour, maybe two, of being almost normal again. 

It was the same every day.  But not that day.

Someone once told me that small things in the physical world can be great acts of violence in the spiritual world.  Breathing. Singing. Praying. Hugging. They somehow push back the darkness, lay to waste the enemy like atom bombs lobbed from one dimension into the next.

All I know is that I walked away from church that morning certain I was loved by people and by God, that I was not crazy, that I was not a lost cause. Something pierced the darkness. When Penelope showed me what she colored in Sunday school I thought it was beautiful and I smiled. I smiled! When Becky held me I could feel it in my bones.  And the burrito I had for lunch tasted good – so good.

Sure, late the next day the darkness came to cover me up again, but those few hours of light got me through the next week of anguish.

“Never doubt in the darkness what God has told you in the light,” my older wiser friend would soon write to me.

After he did, I just kept trying to remember Sunday.

And breathing. Singing. Praying. Hugging. Fighting back.