Have you met my friend?
He’s a peculiar chap. He keeps his own company. He likes to hibernate. He likes to make others cry, ponder and contemplate the worst. He likes to distort reality for fun and he likes to take over people’s brains, then lives. He hates being shut out and he hates it when he isn’t invited to the party. So he muscles in, unwanted. He rears his ugly head when he’s least welcome and he sure knows how to put a damper on everything.
Meet my friend: Depression. We’ve been friends for 13 years now so it’s a pretty long-term thing. We’ve had our ups and downs like every friendship does. We’ve been close and we’ve been distant. We get on best when he leaves me alone. But now and again I am thankful for him.
Why? Well I came to view him as a friend and not a foe a while ago. My dear friend Tanya recently blogged on dancing with the darkness (http://tanyamarlow.com/dancing-with-the-darkness/) and it really challenged me. I’ve found that when I accept that depression is in my life, and work with him, that I thrive the most. It is when I dance with the darkness that God uses him for his glory. He doesn’t come around so often now, but when he does it is a chance for me to turn to God and let him strengthen, uphold and sustain me.
Depression is not my identity. That right and honour belong to Christ alone. But he is a friend and here’s why:
1. He helps me begin to understand suffering, a little bit better. He helps me look for the meaning to life and he helps me to turn to the one who suffered in my place: Jesus.
2. He helps me begin to understand mental illness. He helps me to empathise as well as sympathise with those who are also struggling. He has taken me from the place of bewilderment and not understanding, to a place of being able to understand, empathise and say: “I know, I believe you, I understand” to the incredible number of wonderful people that I know who have a mental illness. He helps me to get alongside them and to weep when they weep.
3. He makes me vulnerable and humble. I know I can’t live my life alone. I have to accept help, encouragement and support. He lets me help others and learn to let them help me. He shows me through them what it is like to love and be loved despite the tears, the exhaustion, the mind games, the pain, the confusion and the hurting.
4. He makes me cling to the truth. He makes me ask why I’m alive. He makes me think much of Christ, little of myself, and makes me cry out to the Lord. He makes me dwell in the psalms, cry through the prayers of David, and claim the promises of God for myself.
5. He shows me that God cares.
6. He makes me more like Christ.
7. He teaches me to be thankful for the things that I might otherwise take for granted.
8. He teaches me how to rest (though this is the point that I tend to fight him most on!)
9. He knows when to say goodbye.
We have been distant of late. But when he does come back, I know it will be for a reason; and then he’ll make me cling to my bible and cherish the promise of that perfect final wedding day more dearly than ever.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
So thank you, God, for my friend. I may not always appreciate him and often I wish he wasn’t in my life. But I know you have great plans for me and that you use him to draw me closer and closer to you.
Please note: this is merely scratching the surface on a huge topic. If you suffer from depression, take heart. You are not alone, no matter how you feel. And whether you are a sufferer or a friend of a sufferer, then I recommend this article highly. http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/how-help-friend-fight-depression