Those of you who know me and/or have read my blog in the past know that I struggle with on-going depression. For the majority of my adult life (since I was 21 or 22 years old), I’ve struggled with it. I’ve taken meds. I’ve seen doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists (and yes, there is a difference between the last two). I’ve been hospitalized as an inpatient and as an outpatient. I’ve gone to several therapists and counselors, stringing out over several years. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I will most likely struggle with depression in some way for the rest of my life. Does this mean I’ve given up hope? No. It means that I’ve accepted it and am learning how to live and cope with it.
So as one might imagine, when I see things like this video1 which basically say that it’s a matter of my outlook on life, I struggle again. I wonder to myself, “Is it as ‘simple’ as he says?” I’d never heard of Tony Robbins (a motivational speaker) before seeing this video a few days ago posted on a Facebook friend’s wall. Based on my new-found knowledge of Tony, I asked myself, “Just because he’s apparently a successful businessman, does that make him an expert?” Somehow, I think not. (No offense, Tony, if you happen to ever read this.) Granted, I don’t think he meant for this to be a cure-all for people who have been diagnosed with depression. But, he does mention that he no longer gets depressed because he changed his habits. He says he used to be depressed all the time. He changed his way of thinking. He mentions doing it for something greater than yourself. (Prior to hearing who he mentions, I immediately thought of the Lord.)
Additionally, I recently saw this motivational video2 by Steve Harvey. (Many know him from Family Feud. He also has a national radio program and has been successful in other ways.) There’s another version of the video that shows him on the set of Family Feud, sharing something with the studio audience. Basically, he claims that in order to be successful, you have to jump. You have to take a risk. I agree. Risks have to be taken. I ask myself this, “How can (if indeed it can) ‘jumping’ help me overcome depression?”
But it’s not just these two videos or even the articles and video that I mentioned on Friday that have me thinking. My own pastor has been talking about “Decisions” this year. Our biggest decision that I believe any of us will ever make is the decision to follow Christ. Outside of that, the decision to continue following Him often leads many believers to Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” My pastor puts emphasis on the first use of the word “all.” If we truly want success in life, we need to strive to trust God with ALL of our heart… not just part of it.
Today, the pastor took it a step further. He said when we seek direction from the Lord, “a lack of clarity is a wonderful thing.” That may not make any sense whatsoever, if we’re seeking direction. But, let me tell you how he explained it. He read a story from Brennan Manning’s book, Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God. (I did a little bit of research, and it seems to be a story that’s been told several times.) John Kavanaugh, a Jesuit priest, travelled to India from the United States to visit Mother Teresa and asked her to pray for him to have clarity. Here is how she replied…
She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”
My pastor went on to share three things that a lack of clarity will create for us: 1) intimacy with God, 2) leaps in our faith, 3)paralysis (meaning we have to stop and rest… as Psalm 46:10a says, “Cease striving and know that I am God;” or in another translation, “Be still, and know that I am God”). I guess all of this particularly ‘hit home’ with me because I’ve been telling God I trust Him, but I have also been praying for clarity… using that specific word in a prayer I voiced just within the past 24 hours before I went to church services this morning.
It’s almost as if we’re waiting for something to come into focus (clarity). And, until we put on the proper lenses (completely trust), we will continue to fret, worry, and wander around aimlessly.