Deal with it – Guest blog by Chloe Lynch

You need to deal with this. It’s not fair on your husband, your family or the church, he said.

For a moment, time stood still as I stared.  Had he completely misunderstood what I’d finally managed to say?  Wasn’t this older Christian supposed to be able to make sense of this, to encourage me, to speak wisdom into this brokenness?

Then, as I breathed out, time speeded up again.  The ache of the emptiness was stronger now.  I’d opened my heart in vulnerability and the message sent back to me was that this was my fault.  Christians, it now seemed, should not be depressed; it is not fair on these around them.  So, swallowing hard and fighting back the ever-threatening tears, I did the British thing: upper lip stiff, I changed the subject.

Later that day, I cried.  Two and a half hours of tears.  I know because I journalled it.  That whole time there were voices in my mind, accusing me, telling me that I was a failure and that everything I did was wrong.  I was too young, too female and too rubbish ever to do the things that God had whispered over my life years before.  How, the thoughts taunted me, did I think I could one day become a church leader if I couldn’t even hold my own life together?

You see, my friend had told me that all he had said to me about ‘dealing with’ my already two-year-old depression was to help me to operate in God’s call.  And I don’t doubt that he honestly believed that, and I have never questioned that his motive in this was good.  I know he spoke out of love.

But he also spoke out of naïveté.  He spoke out of a belief that depression is weakness, the conviction that all you have to do is pull yourself together and snap out of it.  He spoke, I suspect, out of a hope that it might prove this simple.

Yet it was not this simple.  I don’t suppose depression ever is.  As it happened, that depressive episode lasted another two years; in fact, the darkest days were, at this point, still to come.  Nevertheless, the darkness did not last forever.  There was hope, though I could not see it then.

And, one day, despite being too young, too female and too depressed, God did give me a church to lead.

A church of precious, vibrant people living joys and brokenness much like mine.

A church of troubled saints who need to know that Christians can be depressed or sick or lonely or self-harming without being told that it is not fair on those around them.

A church of the beautiful broken who need those who will speak a different word over their wounds than was spoken over mine.

This is the call he gave me, a call which took this depression of mine and redeemed it, a call which reminds me that even what is meant for evil can, in his hands, be turned to good.  He has done it for me and he will do it for you.

And so, to him alone, to the One who redeems all things, be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations forever and ever.  Yes and Amen.

Chloe is a church leader and PhD student who blogs on life and leadership at http://theartofsteering.wordpress.com.

2 thoughts on “Deal with it – Guest blog by Chloe Lynch

  1. Pingback: You need to deal with this… « The Art of Steering

  2. S

    Strange coincidence that! Just yesterday someone told me the precise same thing, ” you need to deal with this, sort yourself out”. It was a cold, dismissive comment and one that left me feeling more alone and sad than I have felt for a while now. It wasn’t the first time either. Sometimes I find that people just don’t get what depression is about and how it can affect a person’s mind, body and spirit. I do appreciate that it is exhausting for those nearest to someone with depression and that it is not unreasonable to expect that they want things back to normal asap. Equally, I find the underlying implication of phrases such as “your problem”, “you need to fix it” “your sin caused it” (yes, the last one is a particularly popular one among our modern day lovers of the law) to me, is one of ignorance, condemnation, fear, and perhaps a touch of helplessness when someone just can’t figure out how to ‘fix’ someone with depression!

    Yes, I long to be depression-free.
    I long for physical health too and some form of normalcy back in my life.
    I long to be able to be and do all that God has created me for.
    I long, I long, I long……

    And yet, the past two years of depression, ill health and the limitations that go along with this combination have forced me to learn how to be still before God. Something I didn’t manage without guilt when I had health and was depression free.

    I know first hand what it is like to sit in darkness with the Lord alone as my light.

    I know what it is like to be comforted by Him when there is none to be found within or without.

    I think I can identify with the sense of wretchedness that out-castes experience with each breath of their existence.

    I know first-hand what the acceptance and love of Christ looks like for such an out-caste and how that balm soothes oozing, open sores.

    And to echo what you said, he is redeeming it.

    Bit by bit.

    He is redeeming it by the encounters he arranges with broken, hurting people who long for that same balm. With a rearranging of priorities, should’s ought’s and must’s. Through gentle challenges of keeping suffering in the context of the cross and the resurrection. Through a ministry of presence rather than simply a symptom managing ‘solution’.

    So, this time in the rather dark, narrow and long tunnel of depression is not self-indulgent waste that is unfair on everyone. It is part of my transformation into a nearer likeness of my Lord, creator, sustainer, saviour. This time is precious as it is painful because I’m learning what love really looks like. It is teaching me kingdom lessons that I could never learn when I was what I understand to be “healthy”.

    So, I think that I’ll let God do the sorting out; I just need to be willing, which I am even if often impatient!

    Yes, I’d much rather be sorted out by the One who designed me, in his own image. After all, I am his.

    Reply

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