With no definitive answers and daily chronic pain, Mike has understandably been depressed. I alluded to this earlier in a post but deleted the actual word “depression” and chose “darkness” instead. But here it is: DEPRESSION. I realized that even in my mental health trained mind of total acceptance and promotion, there was a hesitation. Maybe because I cannot fully separate from my Asian American shame-based culture that would stigmatize it as weakness. Maybe because in my Christian circles I have heard acceptance in word but felt the real belief was that if one truly puts his hope in God then his soul should not be downcast. “Why so downcast, oh, my soul, (just) put your hope in God (dammit)?!” In fact, when a neighbor asked me, knowing we are “religious” (her words), if his faith had seemed to help him, I honestly answered that I didn’t see it. If anything, he seemed to be approaching God more in desperation, and I had yet to see any signs of comfort or peace. Later that night, I wondered was I too honest. What kind of testimony was that when I answer in such a way? However, I can’t fudge my faith stories just for the sake of making a nicely packaged testimony. But it bothered me.
That conversation did spark a lengthy, deeper one with Mike that evening. He does believe in God. He prays daily. But he feels there is silence, no answers to his prayers. It bothered me. The next morning, I realized that I was probably a lot like Job’s friends. His friends had good intentions. They sat in silence and mourning with the dude for days on end. Only the best of friends do that. But when they opened their mouths, they tried to figure out why Job was cursed. They thought it must be some sin that God was punishing Job for and were almost interrogating their brother in search of answers. There I was, doing the same exact thing to Mike. What is God trying to teach you? How do you think your picture of Him needs to change? How is He rebuilding you? What areas do you think need correction? Poor Mike. I wish God would have boomed down His big voice and shut me up like He did those friends.
That Sunday morning the praise team led the church through David Crowder Band’s “How He Loves Me.”
He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves
The last time I remember this song in church was when the 3 Tenors (Andy, Thaddeus, and Carlton) rocked it out in harmonious awesomeness. It was such a blessing not just to hear then, but to let the words minister their truth to us. This time, however, was a stark contrast. When the heavy weight of depression hunched Mike’s back over the pew in front, I felt my shoulders shake uncontrollably. Remember I hate crying in public? Had I not been holding back as much as I could, I would have been wailing like a banshee. Instead I let some tears roll because I knew that those beautiful words were mockingly untrue to him. Depression was masking his perspective so cruelly that those words were distant and cold. It killed me knowing that beauty could be twisted so awfully.
It bothered me.
In hard times, are we not to cling to God? Are we not to find His presence, in the midst of pain and suffering, the sole source of comfort and peace? Is it not the means of joy in the depths of heartache? Is it not what stands us apart? It bothered me that I wasn’t seeing this in my soul mate, my Mike. Even in my hardest times, aren’t I still singing His praises? Even if in a moment I can’t or don’t, that moment quickly and eventually passes for revealed purposes and grateful lessons learned. Mike was stuck in his moment, and it wasn’t passing. That bothered me.
It wasn’t a big booming voice, but thank goodness, God spoke. Stop being bothered because you don’t see what you want to see. Mike may not be going through this as you would or as YOU think he should. You may not understand, but guess Who does? That’s right. HE does. The garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus wept in sweat and blood (talk about physical manifestations of stress and depression!), was where words of God’s love could have seemed cruel. The moment didn’t just pass then and there. It went on…to Calvary and the cross. The distance from God was so cold and great that the Earth shook and literally became darkness. If Jesus has been there, then so can Mike.
This week I have noticed that the permanent crease in Mike’s face, the constantly clouded look, has had some reprieve. Maybe it’s the antidepressants, maybe it’s the sunshine and Spring weather, maybe it’s knowing he’ll be off work for a few months starting next week, maybe it’s the counseling, maybe it’s the prayers, maybe it’s all of the above. Regardless, I am thankful that there has been some lift in the emotional burden. We still have a long way to go in our journey to healing. I do believe that prayers are part of the answer so please keep them coming. I am thankful that we are not alone in this journey because of all of you (THANK YOU!!!) and mostly because He has gone before us in more ways than one.