This isn’t a thanksgiving post, especially since the day has already passed (LOL). But with that said, given the week that we’ve had preparing for and welcoming, enduring or escaping family, we all have a fresh reminder that family is a trip, right? I’ve heard it said that there’s the family we’re born into and the family that we choose. That is, our friends. No family is perfect – even those we choose. And every family comes in one of many shapes and sizes.
Even the family that we’re born into doesn’t always look like the self-contained nuclear family of black and white TV. Like me, many people are raised by a village and your “family” may share some of your DNA or none at all. In my own, bloodlines never mattered and thankfully, they still don’t. But…people are still people (who be peoplin’) and so those bruises and breaks still come along with them. It’s an unfortunate truth that those who are closest to you can hurt you the most. It’s something from which we can never be immune. We are often compelled to make choices around how we handle the hurt and those who do the hurting. The same is true about the bruises and breaks that we inflict on ourselves.
When I think of my experience with mental illness, and depression specifically, it seems to me to be a very selfish disease. Not selfish in the sense of being stingy, but instead, self-centered. Depression is a disease that takes our natural pre-occupation with ourselves and both perverts and expands it to the point that it can be nearly impossible to see through or around it to the other manifold aspects of life. With depression, you are always on your mind. And most often, it’s our most unflattering aspects that are the focus.
Maybe it’s the time you excused yourself from an important meeting to go to the ‘potty’ instead of the very adult restroom on your floor. Or maybe it’s the time when you spent an entire day at work and happy hour afterward with spinach between your two front teeth. Or, more seriously, the day someone you thought you knew
became a predator and labeled you prey.
Somehow, whether silly or severe, each thought or memory that darts through your brain all have a common and well-traveled pathway. Those tinted visions of ineptitude, a lack of sophistication, clumsiness, gullibility, and whatever else that speeds through your brain all lead to one destination and that’s … rejection.
I find that regardless of who started the assault, because I am with myself more than anyone, the heaviest beatings come from my own hand. And believe me, no-one’s dagger is sharper than my own. Because depression underscores and magnifies the negative and is so self-focused, it can feel nearly impossible to do anything, but reject ourselves. I mean, what other conclusion could there be?
The self-rejection in my life made me want to hide from the rest of the world. I couldn’t let anyone truly get close to me, because if they did, they would see what I see and, ultimately, reject me. What other choice could there be?
One of the things that is so remarkable to me about this faith thing is that I have never felt rejected by God. It has certainly crossed my mind that God should reject me. But I’ve never had the sense, once I started talking to God (a.k.a praying), that God would ever echo the sentiments that I had about myself.
Even as I complained and mocked myself, I never had the sense that God would agree. I didn’t feel it or see some cosmic co-sign in the heavens. Most days, I saw and felt very little beyond depression’s walls. But after learning about God’s character, I now have a visual to go with that stillness.
It’s a facial expression that, hopefully, we’ve all seen in the eyes of someone who really loves us. It’s a look of concern. A head tilted, angled as if to hear me better. A hand holding both cheeks and chin and brows furrowed, signaling the seriousness of the thoughts in the brain above it. And a sadness creeping into loving eyes. When I think of the days where I struggle and depression riddles my every thought, I see Jesus listening intently and then whispering, ‘My daughter, I long for you to always see yourself the way that I see you. But I’m here and ready to remind you again and again for as long as it takes.’
What about you? Do you have a visual in your mind that reflects who you know or believe God to be? Leave a comment or shoot me an email at email@example.com.