Journeys & Writings of Paul

Monday, April 1, 2013

In the darkness shines a faint light, small but powerful

It is now April. It has been about six weeks since my last post, but not because I have had a lack of things to say. There are many drafts that I started and stopped. There have been more drafts than that started in my mind that I didn't allow to leave the confines of my mind.

My journal has been experienceing the same kind of neglect, so don't take it too personally.

Writing is therapeutic for me, a sort of catharsis if you will. Everything is ok as long as I'm writing, even if nothing is ok.

I haven't been writing.

And things have been far from ok.

Well folks, to put it mildly, so far this year has been exceptionally hard. I have battled through so much in these past three months to make it to today, the first of April. I started off this year so hopeful, so optimistic. The realist in me is kicking myself in the butt, whispering, "See, that's what happens when you dare to hope." Or was that the depression speaking? Probably both. Yes, most likely both.

Depression sucks. I have battled with it off and on throughout my life, most of the time silently, not even acknowledging it myself. I thought if I ignored it, maybe it would go away. Maybe people wouldn't notice. Mostly I felt guilty and ashamed. A little proud as well. Or a lot proud. I have a fierce independent streak in me. But depression alone is awful. Depression on top of a host of other crappy curve balls that life throws and keeps throwing (which I won't even attempt to delve into here; ain't nobody got time for that!) feels like it will absolutely consume you from the inside out.

But it is freeing to realize that we can't do it alone. That we don't have to and we weren't meant to.

I have cried so much this year.

I cry relatively easily. I have a really tender, sensitive heart, but I began to realize that crying on an average of every other day was NOT normal. This was not like me.

Late one night, through chatting with a friend on Skype, I admitted to myself that my depression had come back. Just removing the denial of that fact was enough to lift a weight. I didn't have to try to fake it any longer, but rather could face this beast for what it was, like I have had to before. But depression is a dirty bastard. People who have never experienced what depression is have no idea what it is like. It is not this thing that can simply be shaken off. It is like something that crawls deep into your mind and plants itself there. Rationality goes out the window. For someone who is logical, this is terrifying.

I usually fight off emotion with logic, but that is another topic altogether. I have a systematic way of disecting what I am feeling and why. I am able to compartmentalize my feelings. I have been accused by a dear male friend of mine of being "like a guy" in this way, because often my truest feelings never reach the surface. Those must be excavated.

With depression, logic is useless. I am left defenseless, mainly because I can't answer my first question on that checklist: why do I feel this way?

Long story short, I am winning this battle. I am not defenseless, but I am already victorious. The war isn't over, and more battles will likely crop up throughout the rest of my life, but I have conquered so many of these battles before. Not without God though, and the love and support of people like my father who know what a bastard depression is and how powerful the love of God is.

There are those who believe that God does not want us to suffer and that there is no place for suffering. I don't believe that God wishes us to suffer, but I am confident that God uses it. I can't help but believe that there is a greater purpose in all of this. In hindsight I am thankful for the pain, because it has made me realize my dependence on God, God's love, grace, provision, and my own ability to be a light when all that surrounds is darkness.

P.S. I want to give a shout out to Abby Hertzler, whose book inspired me to finally put these words to the page through her book The Pen and the Pieces of Myself.