Monday, January 19, 2009

Depressive Pondering Part II

As I was saying, I really think, at least for me, that depression comes when we get some type of glimpse of the wonders of God’s gift and then sense the loss of it. I know that doesn’t apply to everyone. I may have some genetic tendencies toward depression, but some people have such a serious genetic flaw in their brain’s biochemistry that they’re depressed without any need for an external catalysis. The Fall of Adam has left its mark on our emotions.

I think that my catalysis, this time, is simply the feeling of loss of growing older and seeing changes. It was very hard in September seeing three of my kids simultaneously move away for college. But then, the holidays seemed to stir it up again. I couldn’t figure out why at first. I mean, all three kids were home for a couple of weeks and one, Tyler, has moved back home for a while. But the sadness seems to form around the realization that even when they are home . . . it still will never be the same. They are adults now. They don’t need me to tuck them in. In some ways, having them home is unpleasant. They play music at 2 AM. They leave dirty dishes and laundry everywhere. In some ways I was ready for them to leave and that makes me even sadder.

I wish I could push a button and I would be 33 instead of 53. I wish my kids could all sit in my lap at one time again . . . without crushing me to death. But it will never be.

My last one at home, Ramsey, senses it too. He made an interesting statement at the coffee shop, right before they all moved out in the Fall. He had a very sad look on his face and said, “Our family, as we have known it . . . well, it’s officially over. That really makes me sad.”

This is what I’m talking about. A glimpse of something wonderful . . . the family life we’ve known . . . and then see it lost. That’s why I think depression is where our life line curves closes to reality, seeing the wonder of God and the loss of the Fall.

I really like the book of Ecclesiastes. I was always taught, as an Evangelical, to read it as the kind of thoughts you would have if you were a non-believer. I just read the book again and noticed the commentary (in my wife’s NIV) keeps saying, “This is how one would see the world if they were without God.” Of course, Christians are always supposed to be joyous. Look at the face of Evangelicalism . . . the TV Christians. They have these huge smiles on their faces like they slept with a freakin coat hanger in their phony mouths. A truly spiritual person would never say that life is meaningless or that all we should do is to eat, drink and be merry . . . or would they? Solomon even says, “Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.” (Chapter 7:3,4) Is there a possibility that that grief is a lost Christian discipline or art form?

But Solomon was the probably the wisest man the world has ever known. At his time, he was also the most spiritual. Who came up with the ideal that we suppose to be happy all the time?

The “be happy” or “power of positive thinking” attitude of the Olsteen camp is the “Opium of the Masses” that Marx was speaking of. It is an artificial numbing of the senses so we become more detached from reality . . . the wonder of God’s glorious gifts and our losses of them.

But what is the solution for our grief, Prozac? There’s a place for Prozac and the other SSRI drugs especially when combating the disabling sadness that reflects an error in brain processing.

I’ve spoken before about the fact that there is no resolution this side of total redemption of the universe. I mean, people think, “If only I could be more successful, then I would be happy.” I watched a program on the TV while I was in the gym one day. It was about successful men. One man was age 41 and was earning 85-100 million dollars a year as a hedge fund manager. He didn’t seem happy. He worked 80 hours a week and felt compelled to do better and better. I could dozen of other examples.

I’m certainly not advocating that Christians should sit in a state of perpetual sadness. No. Life would be miserable like that. But I do sense that when we are sad, we are most real and most in touch with life. There may even be a kind of joy . . . within sadness.


Justin said...

Ecclesiastes... my favorite book, right after Job. The most "real" of the books, IMHO. That along puts me off the "joy bus".

I have to wonder if Peter, in John 21, was depressed... maybe even until his visitation at Joppa.

Or maybe Elijah when Jezebel was looking to kill him.

Good stuff, MJ.

MJ said...

I agree about Peter and especially Elijah. It was intersting Elijah's first solution, rest and food.