on fighting fire with fire

just some observations and real talk to share this morning. 

I don’t know if there’s anything better than having 14 roommates. I love it with my whole heart. last night most of them hiked up to North Knob, which is the peak the campers do on their Day 5 hike, and shot off fireworks for like four hours. which is illegal, sure, but this has got to be what life to the full really is all about. that and staying up until 3am working on a John Deere puzzle and talking not so much about theology, but about Jesus and about the kingdom work that really goes on at this place. Because it’s crazy, really, if you think about it, that I get to do this job withthese people.

One of my favorite things to do right now is go outside with my guitar and play some really simple worship song. right now I’m stuck on two songs off this live album that will reagan and united pursuit band put out, and they’re literally just singing scripture and prayers over and over again. so I hiked up to the barbeque hill this morning and sat there for the better part of an hour just playing my guitar, mostly this song called “Nothing I Hold Onto” and it’s one of those songs that just repeats itself, but it goes:

I lean not on my own understanding
My life is in the hands of the maker of Heaven
I give it all to You, God
Trusting that You’ll make something beautiful out of me.  

And I just…meant that with everything in me when I was singing it up on the hill this morning. This place, it’s just…something else. And I am getting smacked in the face with truth and lessons and grace and authentic community and just so much Jesus. THis is what life to the full feels like, and I am in a little slice of heaven with so much to share. 

This whole depression thing, it’s been a strugglebus. I guess it’s been about three years now. Three really long years with…not a whole lot of answers. I’ve developed this learned helplessness, something like “you know, if God was really going to heal me, surely would have done it by now.”

Which led me to believe that He wasn’t going to heal me. 
Which led me to believe that He couldn’t.
(“these are my confessions…” Usher, anyone?)

But seriously, when I try to look back at how I ended up in that place, I could almost draw you a map and pinpoint where I went off track. The main problem (Peter Elbaum, if you even start to say “I told you so”…) was that instead of spending Sunday mornings at my church that I love or Monday nights at club or Wednesday night at small group, I was down the street at the Unitarian Universalist church doing fieldwork research for my Religious Ethnography class, which ended up being yes, really interesting…but also really damaging. I went a whole semester without really being fed much truth…instead I was being fed this really seductive, rewritten, misconstrued and mangled version of the truth that actually had no truth at all. So aside from how much it temporarily (praise Jesus!) jacked up my thinking about redemption and salvation, it was ridiculously eye opening and I’m doing my thesis work on whether or not universalism fits Geert’z model of religion, and then from there debating whether or not that invalidates that definition altogether (and ohhh I think it does). Sorry for that nerd moment.

So did I learn a lot from that? Heck yeah. Did I have to do a lot of damage repair? Absolutely. And standing on the other side of all that, it made me run harder after Jesus. And made me appreciate Young Life so much more. And helped me understand UU’ism and gosh, let’s talk about deception. Funny story though, I told them in my entrance interview that I had “a lot of experience working with high schoolers” and so I was then put in charge of a Universalist youth program for three months. Let’s talk about a conflict of interest, people. 

So, all that to say, I hadn’t exactly been taking very good care of myself with that over this past semester for a lot of reasons (messy medicine + being so disconnected from the vine + confusing process philosophy with Truth), and so somewhere along the way I strayed off from the Lord and had some idea that I was never going to experience full healing, that this thorn in the flesh was never going to be taken from me, and so I stopped asking for it to be. And it wasn’t long before I stopped going to God in petition for anything at all. And that’s how I drove into camp on day one of this internship as a barely functioning shell of a person and it didn’t take long for my boss and intern leaders and the other interns to see that I was running on empty.And at once, I became the paralytic on the mat with the friends who busted a hole in some stranger’s roof to get me back where I needed to be, at the feet of the Healer.  And the faith of my friends here, it is healing me. My boss in the office more or less told me that figuring out antidepressants and doctor stuff and getting better was more important to her than my job in the office and has blessed me with an attitude of “whatever you need, that’s what we’ll do.”

So I went and saw a new psychiatrist last week, more or less preparing to add this guy to the list of therapists and doctors and counselors who have disappointed me, and long story short, he was 1) the spitting image of that little indian guy in eat, pray, love, and 2) a Christian. Surprise! He gave me a new medication to try and more importantly, kicked my tail about my lack of prayer life, which is what I needed. And that was what, 8 days ago? And it is unreal how much better I feel already. The darkness, it is lifting, and I have a newly affirmed hope in the day in which it will leave and not return. And I have been thirsting for the Word and for truth and the Lord like never before. So praise the Lord for that. Literally. Because it was through Him and Him only that this is all on its way out. 

And with that, I think that as much as the Lord wants to heal me from depression, that is equally met with Satan’s desire for it to overstay its welcome indefinitely. I was talking to Agape in the living room last night just about still feeling guilty about some things I’m working through, and went upstairs feeling really defeated and useless and just…weak. And I got in bed and it’s like a switch flipped in my head, and it was like…those thoughts, those things, they’re not the truth. Guilt and shame and fear, those things are not from the Lord. He did not give me a spirit of timidity, but of power and of love and self-discipline. And it doesn’t always feel like that, but it’s what the Word of God promises. The Word promises that. That’s not just some flippant thought that was thrown around, the God who had enough integrity to speak creation into being promises us that. We live in a world in which the enemy resides, that is scary real to me. What’s that Donald Miller quote…that it isn’t so much the aim of the devil to lure us into evil than to distract us with meaninglessness? And all this time, I’ve known the truth all along, but…I don’t know, I was so distracted that I just couldn’t hear it. 

And then one day last week I decided to start listening again.