Content notice: depression, suicidal ideation
Crushingly weary, my ankles sore and my back crackling with pain, I took myself to church at Hillsong after a long shift —after a long week—at work. I don’t know what propelled me to turn right instead of left out of the cafe and make my way toward the C at Franklin Ave instead of waiting for the bus that would have taken me to my soft bed, so I guess it must have something to do with God. Because somehow, I knew that I had—I just had—to get to church last Sunday.
See, I’ve been feeling pretty empty lately. I told my coworker that these days, I’m like tea running through leaves that have been strained too many time, rationed too many times, so instead of being strong and full of life and flavor, I’m weak and kind of bitter. I’m green tea that’s steeped too long.
I’m weary, just exhausted, and I feel like I have nothing left to give; I felt, even Sunday, like I had no energy for worship, no joy in the singing and the dancing and the celebrating.
But worship is simply stripped-bare soul meeting Creator, and its beauty is in the fact that He will meet you where you are. And Sunday, as I sat and worshipped, I felt Him meet me.
Crystallize this moment in amber, I prayed, because I want to remember, to reflect upon and cherish, that moment of wonder.
Wonder was the theme of the night, as the message Pastor Carl preached was called “Stay Wonderful.” I love a good clever sermon title, so I’m pretty fond of this one, which is about remaining filled with a sense of awe at God and his creation, namely, people and life.
I took more notes on the first part of the sermon (people are wonderful), but it’s the second half that’s struck a chord.
It’s the part that says “life is wonderful” that truly resonates with me.
You see, I’ve always thought that, as much as I’ve always been in such a rush to throw my life away. It’s a symptom of my depression that this thing I cherish so much—the mere fact of being alive—often became a burden on my shoulders, something to muddle through rather than exploring in joy.
I have memories, slightly vague, of being a child who was filled to the brim with this love of life. I thought it was so incredible, this chance we have to inhabit the earth for a few years, to love and grow and celebrate and emote. And somewhere along the way, my joy in life was tainted, soured, and suddenly I’m at a place where I don’t know how to function if I’m not suicidal.
I feel like that sentence bears explaining, so: my go-to solution to a problem, almost any problem, is death. If there’s interpersonal strife or I think I’m failing at work or I have writer’s block, I jump to thoughts of killing myself. It’s the path my brain has trod the most, and so it’s the path I inevitably take regardless of what else is going on.
So whether or not I’m actively dealing with suicidal thoughts, it’s my MO, the way I think; no matter where I am on the scale of not-depressed to hospitalization, if things go wrong, I dream of ending my life.
But life is wonderful, and keeping that sense of awe about life isn’t just something that I need to do as it’s part of God’s calling on my life; it’s something I need to do as it’s part of what helps me counteract and redirect the thoughts in my head.
Easier said than done, of course. I can’t just re-write the functions of my brain, forging brand-new paths from nowhere and hoping they’ll stick. I’m weak. I can’t do it.
This life is gonna be a long hard journey, my back bowed and aching with the weight of depression and cares, my feet blistering in agony, and I’m gonna need Him with me every step of the way to regain and retain my sense of wonder.
It’s a hard task, a high calling, a big thing to ask of anyone, and no human could do it, really.
Here’s the thing about my God. He is love beyond belief.
He created my flesh smooth and pleasing to His eye, and I took a blade and marred what he had loved. And though it cut him just as it cut me, He chose to love what he had made through what I had done to it. My fear has always been of ruining what He made.
He loves me regardless, and there’s nothing I can do to change that. Nothing. Absolutely not a damn thing, no matter what I or you or anyone may say to the contrary.
And my God, He is strength. He is power. He is the ability to do all and more, above and beyond.
So yeah. I can’t think of life as wonderful all the time.
He can. And through Him, so can I.
I may be weak,
is strong in my weakness.