The word is often muttered quietly in conversations; an awkward confession made between close friends, mumbled for fear of being overheard, heart racing and palms sweating at the thought of losing a friend because it’s not something anyone should have to deal with, it isn’t something you want to deal with yourself – let alone have your friends along for the rollercoaster ride that goes too often into the dungeon below despair and gets stuck there.
There it stays. In those quiet conversations, but barely spoken of again except for in general terms. If you’ve had depression, you know the questions… You’ve probably been asked them. “How are you going with your… you know… mental health?” or “How are your moods lately?” and you respond accordingly, with as much depth as you can muster, “yeah, it’s okay. How’s your week been?” and on the conversation goes.
Slowly but surely this dark dirty word is making its transition from quiet conversations, to the front of our churches. We’re talking. We’re trying. We’re asking what God has to do with this. We’re wondering how He can help us in this. Maybe, we’re daring to ask, how we can serve Him in this. These conversations matter, because the church matters as the people of God – standing broken, but united and cleansed by the blood of Christ.
If you ask my youth group, most of them can tell you that Romans 8 is my favourite chapter of the Bible. A lot of them can probably tell you bits and pieces of it because I’ve spouted them out so many times in conversations. I never really explain why, though. The attachment isn’t merely because it is a great chapter. It’s a conversation that sticks me to the chapter so tightly.
“No matter how you feel,” a friend told me as we sat and talked in hush tones at the front of the church building, “there isn’t any condemnation for you. You’re in Christ. If you forget everything else, never forget that.” and his words have stick with me because they weren’t merely his words – they were God’s words. It was a conversation about self harm in which he spoke those words. It was the first conversation I had in those long months of darkness in which I let God shed any light.
Today at church, depression was the topic of the day. The sermons were about it and the songs expressed the darkness of depression but the ever present heartbeat of hope even as we face the depth of despair. Today, God moved. Today, He spoke. Today, I am certain, His people felt just that little bit free to rest in grace and to rest in community with each other and with God because we are all so broken. Whether or not we are familiar with hushed conversations of disclosing depression and the awkward questions that follow, we are all so so broken.
I don’t have any solutions.
But I look forward to more conversations, and I cannot wait for the day when depression is gone and our tears are all wiped away by the God who is Love, but until then, together we walk – bruised and broken – but together, by the grace of God and with His strength.