Seems there’s a flow to the discussion on depression just now. I have never had clinical depression—which from my recall of psychology study was defined as six months or more of treatment—but I have had two bouts of significant, earth-standing depression, both of which required work in all three areas: pharmacological, counselling and prayer intervention. One of these bouts was brought on by grief and twice during this bout I seriously considered suicide.
Recently, I had the good fortune to engage in conversation with an emotionally-mature woman—one who is transcendently emotionally-intelligent, in fact—who has battled depression and anxiety-related conditions for years.
Let me say before I commence this, that this woman, her husband and their kids are a sheer inspiration-of-courage to me. What might seem a normal family on the outside is one that struggles for its very existence, almost every day!
There are some real intellectual problems we create when we think that all depression can be ‘healed’ i.e. miraculously... and this below cannot be an all-inclusive list; for one, I’m no expert. And, again, this subject is so vast only true scholars would approach it in its entirety.
Unwinding the Past – An Impossible Task
To think that all peoples’ pasts can be miraculously healed is an understatement, and a negation, of the issue of sin in our world—sin beyond our own sin to the broken world we live in and the generational cursing that’s affecting all our lives.
It is utterly simplistic to think that the dysfunctions of the past can right themselves in order that people would be free of their pasts in this way. It is love for our families of origin that makes us feel grossly sad and mortified—and not to mention, ashamed and guilty—at the continuing dysfunctions as they occur, or even in memory of them. It’s love that twists us into knots. It’s because we care!
Some people’s pasts cannot be undone; they only get to a place of acceptance—however powerful God is found in that. Acceptance is a wonderful miracle of healing in itself! Indeed, it’s the most potent because it’s process-driven. With God and our courage, over a length of time, we did it (or we’re doing it—for those who must continue the fight until the bitter end!).
At any point, everyone has baggage. I’m sure it is God’s design (post-the-Fall) that we endure these loads for Jesus, running our race as consistently and faithfully as we can.
God doesn’t expect perfection.
Unwinding our Biology – Dealing with What God Gave Us
God not only gave us these miraculously-wonderful bodies and minds, with hearts to love, but he also allowed us to be afflicted with many things from inabilities and handicaps to weaknesses and impairments. Of course, from the faith perspective, we can credit the Fall for this.
This is something that we have to accept too: that we will all have certain weaknesses to compensate for.
I’ve only singled out two issues here. There are more. The issues related to depression and other mental and emotional illnesses and disorders are vast and complex.
There is no ‘pat’ answer that fits adequately across the board.
Part of any answer is including ‘the mystery of God,’ for there are so many things in this life that we will never understand, but at the same time, we can ‘enjoy’ them together. Is this not one intrinsic function of the Church—to relate these things openly in fellowship with one another?
Here’s to the compassion of Jesus that we read of, especially in Luke’s gospel. Jesus never estranges us in our afflictions. The Holy Spirit contends for us in our travail, continually.
Jesus is not part of an ‘exclusive’ God-head. God is inherently inclusive. God knows our struggles intimately and God feels deeper about these things than we can begin to imagine.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.