It has been a long week. Jimbo Thompson’s funeral was huge. Every pew, folding chair, choir loft, folks standing in the narthex, and standing in the nave of the church as well. Sitting in my office this morning I tried to do some centered breathing and prayer. I find this helpful when I get stressed. I can develop my concentration if I will choose a single object of awareness. It is usually conceptual, like a prayer, an idea (forgiveness) or something that is always present like the sensations of the body. These are important ways of dealing with stress according to Stephen Levine.
As I contemplated Jimbo’s death I thought of how many millions of people in America suffer from depression. Depression is more than a “blue Monday.” Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks and disappointments. It has been described in different ways, for some it is a feeling of “impending doom” or some have described it as the sensation of “living in a black hole.” People that suffer from depression just can’t “snap out of it.” Depression is an illness and should be treated as such.
In every church that I have served in some 20 years of ministry I have dealt with persons that were experiencing major depressive episodes in their lives. I knew, because, they told me. However, there were countless others who never shared their feelings of depression with me. Some people think that just because you are a Christian, or become one that all of your problems will disappear. That’s mot how it works. In Hebrews chapter 11 we read of the great men and women of faith. Individuals that accomplished great things for God’s kingdom, but if you drop back towards the end of that chapter you read about some other folks whose experiences were much different. Rather than reading about mighty acts of valor we read where some were; tortured, stoned to death, cut in half, murdered with swords, wore skins of sheep and goats. They lived in caves, and holes. If any group of people had reason to be depressed these did. Christianity does not insulate you from the reality of the world. I know what its like to think things won’t get better. I have been depressed, and I can tell you it does get better. Life can and will be thrilling, adventure filled, exciting, sumptuous, exhilarating, satisfying, filling and joyful just to name a few adjectives. Talk to someone and share how you feel. Go see your doctor, she or he is trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression. Your, doctor can refer you to a specialist if need be. If you have a faith community talk with the person who oversees your community. People want to help, and can help but you have to be willing to ask and receive. In the words of Little Orphan Annie, “The sun will come out tomorrow, you can bet your bottom dollar.” Yes, the sun will shine again.