Today is Easter. In my faith, it’s a day created for celebration. Celebration of a death meant to save, and celebration of a resurrection. It’s an important day; without Easter, there’s really no Christianity. Because without Easter, without Christ’s resurrection, well…his movement dies, as does our belief.
So today, today is a day for celebrating. And the weather here in New York played nice: it’s glorious and warm and clear blue skies and simply ideal.
It’s a beautiful day on a hundred different levels. I should be rejoicing. I should be dancing, laughing, smiling until my cheeks are sore.
Instead I’m sitting on my couch in semi-darkness, wondering where my happiness got chased off to. Wondering where my celebrating spirit is hiding.
It’s not that I don’t believe, don’t have faith. I do, honestly and truly, as wild as it might seem, believe that 2,000 years ago a man died on a cross, and that man was God, and that man rose from the dead, and his sacrifice eradicates sin from me and confirms me to an eternity of heavenly celebration.
I believe that somehow, for some reason, God created me, fashioned me with his power, and smiled upon me, loving what He had made. In the core, secretest part of my heart, I do believe that I am loved by a powerful, eternal being who created all.
And yet. And yet that belief, the knowledge of that love, it doesn’t erase my suffering. It doesn’t cancel out my depression. My faith is incredible and sustaining on so many levels; yet it doesn’t cure my mind of this disease that ravages it.
And so on this day of celebration, I grieve. I grieve not because I have any reason to, not because there is anything lacking in my life or faith; I merely grieve because that is how my brain is wired.
I grieve because sorrow feels ever-present, choking hope from me. As much of a stubborn optimist as I naturally am, depression seeks to cancel that out, seeks to strangle me into a pessimistic person, and sometimes succeeds. So no matter what, I don’t have hope for this life.
If you’re getting down to the meat of it, it’s this: I don’t see a way into lasting happiness. I can’t imagine a future in which this weariness doesn’t claw at my throat, in which the certainty of failure doesn’t hold my hand and match me step for step. I struggle to believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, mortally speaking.
In recent days, I’ve reminded myself, time and again, of the meaning of my tattoo: that He is here. That His presence is undeniable. It doesn’t mean He’s here to walk me out of the darkness, necessarily. It simply means He is with me in the waiting, in the torment, in the grieving.
At a Good Friday service at my church, Hillsong NYC, our pastor Carl Lentz spoke for just a few minutes about the six hours between Christ’s nailing to the cross and the moment He gave up His life. He reminded us that for those six hours, Jesus hung in an agony of physical pain and probably mental anguish and doubt. But he persevered. At any moment he could have given it up, shrugged and used His power to get off the cross.
But He didn’t.
He hung there for those six torturous hours.
I’m in my own six hours. They’ve lasted months if not years and I don’t see an end anytime soon. That doesn’t mean there is no end; relief could come tomorrow for all I know, and I could be released from this depressive episode’s clutches.
Or not. Or the six hours could be the rest of my life on Earth.
And that thought…it sucks. It really sucks. It’s a reason to grieve, and so I’m grieving, because I have little sense of hope of ever being released from this torture that is depression; from this craving to cut, this desire for death.
At the same time…He is here. He is with me. He hung on for six agonizing hours. And he is with me in this darkness.
I was taught growing up that Christ was tempted in all the ways we are, that He suffered all the ways we do. I take comfort in choosing to believe that maybe this means he also despaired. He lost hope. He lost the light.
But He didn’t lose his mission, his faith, his belief in His Father’s presence.
I’m gonna strive to live like that. Live like Christ did for those six hours, even if that’s the rest of my life.
Depression eats hope. And faith, faith takes your hand and walks you through the tunnel.
He is here. With me, in depression.