Archive for Depression

I imagine most, if not all, of you have had some contact with serious drugs, but have you seen them cause death? That’s where the shock hits home. Yes, it is that fast. No, he almost surely didn’t know the last hit was too much for him. Always, it’s a surprise ending. Never does anyone get to say goodbye.

I started writing this blog a while ago. It began in the shock over Glee actor Cory Monteith’s death. When his autopsy came out, there was the awful truth: heroin and alcohol did this. I remember how my eyes filled up for the unfinished life.

Unfortunately he’s only been one of many. The needle – and its ugly companions – has done its damage over and over again. It has not only made headlines, it has come much closer in my life. Two of my young friends nearly lost “life as we know it” to bath salts. And a dear friend of mine has lost her great-great nephew to some kind of drug overdose, or bad batch, or – no one really knows why, only that he is gone. His family struggles now with a grief beyond words or reason.

That is why I am dedicating this blog to that young man, Eric Oliver, who lost his life before he had a chance to enjoy being an adult. Because as tragic as the Cory Monteiths and the Amy Winehouses are, the person we all want to save is you, the one we love and care about, the one we live with, or work with, or see all the time in our daily lives.

My son came very close to dying from drugs in 2010. It was a terrifying time. And just think – I got off easy. My son lived, and he’s clean now. Eric’s family and loved ones are never going to have the consolation of saying that.

At the time my son told me, “The only person who can stop me from doing drugs is me.” If you’ve ever seen an intervention you know how badly the family wants to make a difference. But it’s true: only the user can stop the chaos. Amy Winehouse singing, “No, no, no,” is a chilling omen of how it would all end because she rejected help.

The Bible doesn’t say specifically, “Thou shalt not do heroin.” So why not take a few drugs? You’ve doubtless been told some sound reasons from society at large: you can get in trouble with the law; you can dim your thinking and derail your education. Those reasons may seem remote. After all, not everyone gets caught by law enforcement. Not everyone loses their way or has addictions take over his or her entire life.

Honesty – Not to Mom and Dad, to Yourself

For starters, when you take drugs, or overeat, or bury yourself in video games, you’re not being honest about what’s bugging you. In the reports about Cory Monteith’s death, drug counselors have said over and over that one month in rehab was not enough to reach down and confront the pain he covered with drugs. How very sad.

God is big on honesty. Jesus even said that He is the Truth (John 14:6). He also said that if we held onto his teaching,

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. – John 8:32

We need to leave behind drugs and other addictions because the hiding has to end – and drugs hide the truth about ourselves.

We’ve All Got Something Else to Do

Then, think about this:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. – Romans 12:2

This gives us two things to do. First, we’re to leave the “pattern” of the way the world (adults as well as teens) deals with life, fears, and worries when they chill out with drugs. And of course, we need to leave a lot of other bad patterns, too – hate, arrogance, anger, and revenge, for instance.

But people who only focus on thinking, “I can’t do this, or that, anymore,” don’t really succeed because their minds are still on that Thing I Shouldn’t Do. God didn’t want to leave us there. We’ve got something positive to do to lead us away from the old pattern: renew our minds thinking about the life God has for us. The way God thinks about the world turns our view upside down, and as we catch on, it’s going to transform us. We can trust God with our past and present hurts in a way we never knew existed before. We can be honest with God and with ourselves. And we can be healed.

I don’t need to tell you that people on drugs aren’t transforming themselves. That dulled and warped thinking and the increasingly sad and scary behavior isn’t a transformation that anybody wants. And it’s like quicksand. When someone finally realizes they’re in it, they’ve already been pulled way down.

The apostle Peter says to be self-controlled and alert (or, in older translations, be sober and vigilant). You can’t have that self-control and alertness when you’re on a mind and mood altering drug. It’s standing in the way of you being honest with yourself and becoming healed and transformed.

And Somewhere Else to Go

You might be saying, but sometimes I just want to run away. We all feel like that sometimes. Peter points to the One you can run to instead, and why:

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – I Peter 4:7

Jesus is ready for you to come. Click on the song: Arms of Love

You’ve got a place to go so much deeper than any drug. It’s not only a place of hiding; it’s a place to get help.

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. – Psalm 32:7

Don’t hide in drugs. Hide in Him.

Jun
25

Broken for Hope

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June has brought some emotional experiences with some special high school graduations and the departure of one of my dearest friends, Kristin. Kristin and I have been friends for some 18 years, but her family is heading south to Texas. We’ve been getting together over afternoon coffees and catching up on each others’ lives for a long time. Now we are headed to cyberspace in order to keep our friendship on track. Quite a difference from the in person meetings at Dunkin’ Donuts that always ended with a hug and a promise to get together again soon.

The last of the going away parties was combined with the high school graduation party for Kristin’s oldest daughter. There were some people there who I hadn’t seen in years. One was a close friend who had moved to the Midwest. She hadn’t seen me since 2006, when I had gotten divorced, and then only briefly. I told her the truth about how things had been these last six years, and it hasn’t been pretty. She didn’t know how I had fared. My son, who had gone through severe drug addiction and rehab, she remembered only as a young boy. There were so many stories to tell from these hard years.

When I got home that night, I felt the sorrow of all that had gone before and had not gone well. And I felt the burden of those things that still await God’s timing and God’s answers. The words of the song, “Revelation” by Third Day, really hit home:

My life has led me down the road that’s so uncertain
Now I am left alone and I am broken

Roads that never lead me home


“I am broken” resounded within me. All the experiences that had hurt and not yet healed had left me a broken person. Now I believe that I am someone God can heal and use; we all are. But the enormity of all that had gone before hit me so hard that night. Perhaps I had gone from patching up this disaster and that calamity without realizing the whole effect: I had become a broken person in desperate need of God’s help and rest an healing. I needed to understand where I really was before I could arise and act upon His answers.

This time I know that you are holding all the answers
I’m tired of losing hope and taking chances
On roads that never seem
To be the ones that bring me home

So I’m wondering, has this ever happened to you? Have the hurts piled up without your really knowing it? Have you realized the depth of the wound? Before I could bring everything to the Lord, I had to know what “everything” is. I think we all do.

The song verse above talks about losing hope in the plans we make that don’t have God’s blessing. Proverbs 13:12a tells us that a hope deferred makes the heart sick. But false hope is not God’s hope.

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him….” – Romans 4:18

Abraham had been promised a son, but not only a son. This is what had been said to him in Genesis 15:5

“[The Lord] took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Now this would have been quite a promise under any circumstances, but Abraham had before him a very broken situation to assess:

“Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.” – Romans 4:19

In other words, neither Abraham nor Sarah were young enough to have children any more. Not one child, let alone as many as the stars in the night sky. But he did not weaken in his faith:

“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” – Romans 4:20 & 21

Abraham’s promise was from God, and he knew God had the power to fix his broken situation. Do we believe God has that power for our own broken situations, or do we worry that we are going to live on, broken forever in this life? I know I could certainly remember His power more and practice remembering it more often than my past or present “breaks”.

This is how the song ends, too. “Revelation” is the singer’s prayer – not to dwell upon the past, not for the strength to do what I think needs to be done, not for me to find my own way, but to ask for the revelation of Jesus’ way.

Give me a revelation
Show me what to do
‘Cause I’ve been trying to find my way
I haven’t got a clue
Tell me should I stay here
Or do I need to move
Give me a revelation
I’ve got nothing without you
I’ve got nothing without you

Apr
23

God’s Voice of Truth

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It’s All the Same

Life isn’t any different. Some problems get solved, some are works in progress. The mornings are beautiful; housekeeping is not beautiful, as they always have been. Music still lifts my soul and paying bills does not. Nothing new there. And yet . . . .

Lately depression has been holding me in its sharp little claws like a scared kitten. “ The same, the same,” it whispers. “What you do and who you are or make yourself out to be will not matter. It is all the same, the same . . . .” And who can you be with when you’re such unscintillating company? “Ssseee, they are all busy with their happy lives,” the whisper hisses. “But for you, it is all the sssame . . . .”

The Starry Host

I was leaving a Bible study the other night and looked up to the night sky. As the church is located in a rural area, it’s especially nice to view the clearer, darker sky that I cannot see at home. It reminded me of a well-worn passage of my Bible:

“to whom will you compare Me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of His great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40:25 & 26

The Voice of Truth

Something utterly, dependably the same, as long as I’ve been looking up, and much, much longer: God overwhelmingly and indisputably controlling the universe. Always and ever the same, always and ever glorious, always and ever in love, always and ever in peace.

Not Only the Big Picture

And I am not careening randomly through this universe. The next verses seem to say, “You see how the universe is firmly taken care of. So, what do you think? Is God not able to reach down from the big picture into your life?”

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and His understanding no one can fathom.
Isaiah 40:27 & 28

When I can’t fathom what seems to be a bottomless pit with no life in it for me, God is saying, “No, look the other way. Look up! No one can fathom the starry host that he can see, and no one can fathom My understanding of events that he cannot see. Look for my power and strength and understanding that you cannot see yet.”

Then God shows His willingness to lift us up and keep us moving from where we are:

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Isaiah 40:29 & 30

My struggle to look up and trust in God’s strength reminded me of Voice of Truth, a modern song that talks about those voices in our minds that pull at us. The depression is “reminding me of all the times I tried before and failed.” But, thank God, “the voice of truth tells me a different story.” Please enjoy that song which I’ve included today, which I especially like because this version has many pictures of the heavens that God has created and cared for.

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