Tending the Temple

More Than “Mental Health”

A week before Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain ended their own lives, I wrote a piece that touched on the topic of suicide, inspired in part by my son. He tells me the reason he is on his phone late at night texting is because some of his friends are suicidal and reaching out to him.

A generation ago we might have said he must be exaggerating or overstating it. But I know better than to brush it off as teen drama. This past fall, an accomplished young musician in the marching band at a neighboring high school took his own life while his parents waited for him to take the field with his peers for Senior Night at the last home football game. When my kid says suicide, I take it serious. Deadly serious.

Out of curiosity, I ask my son why they are suicidal. He says it’s because everyone’s family sucks.

“Everyone’s?” I ask, probing. I wonder if “everyone” includes him. His family. Our family.

“Everyone’s,” he says, his tone communicating the answer I don’t really want to hear.

But I know he’s not wrong. I was a teenager once, too. Everyone’s family does kinda suck when you’re 15.

I want to tell them all that if it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t leave the nest. It’s nature’s way.

But if it’s nature’s way, why is it now causing kids to consider ending their lives before they’ve even begun? What has changed? I’m sure every one of us thinks we have “the answer” to that question. There’s a lot about modern life that’s anything but “nature’s way,” and I’m sure that’s the most significant contributing factor.

There’s a lot to unpack in that brief exchange I have with a boy who will be 15 next week. It challenges me, as a parent, to rethink my assumptions about what causes teen suicide, and to contemplate my contribution to the problem, as a somewhat reluctant adult. Nothing about our little family is the ideal for which I had hoped when I was his age. I did not expect to be a working mom, not even part time, and I certainly didn’t expect to be divorced. Like many young women who struggle on and off with depression, I had what I now know was a fantasy – that becoming an adult, marrying the love of my life, owning a home, making a living from my passion, and having a family of my own would somehow “cure” me. I’m still waiting for all of those things, except the family part.

I wonder how many of my son’s friends have parents who had similar fantasies when they were our children’s age. It’s a safe bet that half of them are, like me, divorced, a bit disillusioned, and struggling with depression themselves. Is it any wonder our kids are feeling the anger and especially fear that accompanies this battle, no matter what family member is on the line of scrimmage?

Like other parents, especially mothers who do battle with depression, I carry a lot of guilt about how it has affected my kids. Certainly it’s one of many factors contributing to the divorce that has left them without a dad in their home every night. I grieve that more than anything, even though I also have peace about it.

I carry guilt about the time I spend working, and I carry guilt about the time I spend NOT working and thinking I should be. I feel like I’m constantly running late for something or playing catch-up, or lagging behind, or neglecting a relationship or responsibility. Letting someone down is a persistent fear that is realized regularly. I feel guilty about spending money on the kids, I feel guilty about spending money on myself, and I feel guilty about not practicing good self-care if I put my kids or my bills before myself. I feel guilty when I lose my temper and lash out, and I feel guilty when I’m too lenient.

I work hard to keep the outside of my home looking nice; you might never guess how cluttered it is inside. The shutters are faded and the trim needs repainting, but the lawn is immaculate and the flower beds are weeded. Never mind that the bathrooms haven’t been cleaned in months. It’s a perfect analogy for my personhood. I make myself modestly presentable and well-groomed in public, but under the surface my emotions are all over the place, like so much unopened mail and old school papers piled on the kitchen counter, too overwhelming to be sorted, addressed, or put in their place.

Having let go of my former fantasy about adulthood, I’m tempted to replace it with another. If only I could be living life pursuing my creative talents, or had a partner to help me raise my children, or someone to clean my house … I could go on, but I stop myself because I recognize it for what it is.

I think this is why Kate Spade’s and Anthony Bourdain’s deaths have hit home for me.

Anthony overcame great difficulties, published a book that changed his life, and pursued a life of adventure and brought it to millions like me who had got to experience it through him. Kate found great success in creative expression, and seemed like the kind of person who had achieved balance and joy; the kind of working mom I aspire to be, creating, setting an example for her child. I thought her smiles were genuine.

And they probably were. You can have genuine smiles and still have genuine mental pain when no one is looking.

The public me smiles when she says hello; it is a family trait passed down from my grandmother, who was the oldest child and worked in her family store from the time she was very young. Putting on a public face is in my blood. Even during her last years in a nursing home that was hell for her, Grammy put on her lipstick most days. She wasn’t trying to “fake it till you make it.” She did it because it was who she genuinely was. It is also who I am. My smiles are as real as my private tears, I promise.

So I don’t doubt that Kate Spade’s effervescent persona was real. It’s a confirmation of what I know to be true – that we humans are not all or nothing, but a mix of the dark and the light, and that financial or creative success does not make us any less vulnerable to the ravages of distorted thinking that accompanies depression. If anything, it apparently makes us more vulnerable as the gap between our outer and inner selves widens. As much as I’m nervous about publicly sharing my darker side, it keeps the gap narrow, and keeps me from feeling like a fake.

Let me just pause here and say that I’m so tired of us crying “mental health” and sharing suicide hotline numbers every time a notable person ends their life. It’s like “thoughts and prayers” after a mass shooting. It feels like an empty reaction. Yes, our mental health resources suck. I can say this from my own personal experiences. Although the therapists I’ve seen in the last 20 years have been exceptional, both kind and helpful, they are not accessible. My current therapist squeezes me in once a month. When I was in crisis enough that I found the courage and resolve to finally ask for help, I had to wait three weeks for my first appointment. Three weeks. Not three hours, or three days. And I won’t tell you how much I had to pay before my insurance kicked in.

He recommended a specialist for evaluation of some of my mood issues, and they don’t take my insurance at all. I’m managing well right now, so I’ve decided not to spend $300 for the evaluation and $100 for follow-ups at this time. This is, in part, because I have past experiences with pharmaceutical therapies, and the side effects were worse than the depression. The fact that I was willing to entertain drugs at all was simply a sign of how much emotional pain I was in. I’m grateful the pain has passed for the moment.

And I’m one of the lucky ones. If the pain comes back, I have money in my savings account to cover the cost. If I didn’t, I have parents who could help me financially. I have a flexible job that allows me to set my own schedule and practice good self-care when I’m having a dark day. I have an ex who supports our children financially and emotionally, and we have an extended family who help us both be the best parents we can be in these less than ideal circumstances. I have a beautiful, if cluttered, home in a neighborhood with excellent schools and neighbors who genuinely care for one another. I have friends and a good church community and creative outlets and good physical health and the ability to get out in the sunlight and hike 15 miles in a day, which seems to be the most effective treatment I’ve found. My children are well-adjusted, healthy, and smart.

My biggest problem is between my ears – my brain and its distorted thinking. And fortunately, I’ve learned some strategies over the last 42 years that help me manage that brain, some days better than others.

Many, many people have it way worse than me in any number of ways. These days we use the word “privilege” to describe that, and I count my blessings every day without judging myself or feeling guilty that I have what others do not. Gratitude is one of my “strategies.” If anything, being mindful of my privilege helps me to be less judgmental of others. We could do with a little less judgment, because it’s not helping anyone. But for the grace of God, there go I.

“Mental health” is not a solution to the problem. Oh, how I wish it were. That’s not to disregard the miracles that can happen when mental health is squarely addressed. I know more than one person with bipolar whose life changed when they finally got a diagnosis and proper medication. But for far more people, there is no magic pill, which is part of why they are so despondent and without hope. I count myself in that group at times, which is why I get irritated when people cry “mental health” as so much emotional cover when faced with the reality that some people might be beyond “fixing” because they don’t have any easily diagnosable “condition,” other than being human.

I don’t want to be fixed.

I just want the pressure to “get better” to end.

I want to be OK, just as I am.

I want someone to take care of me, but only long enough so that I can get some rest. Any longer and I’ll lose the dignity and self-esteem that comes from being able to support myself. I want a just a temporary reprieve from my responsibilities.

I don’t want to be told what I should do. I want mercy and grace. Not from God, but from the people with whom I share this planet, especially the ones closest to me.

That’s probably what Kate and Anthony wanted too, and the boy in the high school marching band. And the kids who are texting my son. And my son. And you.

And, I want affordable access to effective mental health resources, too.

Is this too much to ask?

I want resilience. I want the ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other on a bad day. Actually, I have that; otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. I want thicker skin so the haters won’t hurt me. Judgers gonna judge, you know? But I don’t want to stop feeling. I don’t want to be numbed out. I want courage; I want to experience the highs and lows of life without dreading them, the way I voluntarily ride a roller coaster knowing it will be over before I get used to it, allowing the ups and downs to make me feel more alive instead of terrified to live.

And everything I want for myself, I want for others, and I have no idea how we make that happen. I take some comfort in knowing I work for an organization that provides financial support to a group dedicated to improving resilience for children who’ve experienced trauma. But I want resilience for all of us, children and adults, especially the adults who are responsible for the children. I want us to be able to bounce back, to dust ourselves off, to embrace the pain as a teacher, not a foe. I want us to share that pain, not stigmatize it, so that others, especially the children, will know they are not alone.

Because you’re not alone. You may feel alone, but feelings aren’t facts. My kid is answering texts at midnight to make sure someone’s kid knows they are not alone. Someone is on the other end of the line at that suicide hotline everyone is posting right now. I’ve never called it, but I’m pretty sure they will not tell you what you should do. Maybe they just listen. Maybe they ask you a question to help you let it all out. Maybe they just say, I am here with you.

Whatever they do or say, they believe your life, my life, all life, is worth continuing.

Because it is. Life, all life, is useful. You have the power, just by being yourself, sometimes even your darker self, to have a positive impact on someone else. When someone shares their failures and shame with me, I can’t tell you how honored, and relieved, and encouraged, and less alone I feel. When we give to others what we want most, it comes back to us. I believe this to my core. It’s why I write, why I sing, why I love, why I take the risk of sharing that yes, I too struggle with depression and it is not pretty. If it makes a difference to just one person, it has worth. If sharing my pain helps one person feel less isolated, it’s had a purpose.

So, let’s have the courage to change the things we can and start with being genuine. Restrain our penchant for judgement, and extend compassion. Check on our friends, especially the strong ones. The successful ones who seem to have it all together. Give what we most need. If you don’t know what that is, it’s simply this – your presence. Your presence matters.

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All the Zero Days

Hike Your Own Hike

(A letter to my teenage son, who stays up far too late on his phone because his suicidal friends reach out to him for a listening ear, and who will be leaving home for a week of co-ed music camp with his girlfriend this summer)

Some might say it’s just a trite trail axiom. Others might say it’s a way of life, or the only way to live.

I would say we don’t get much say in the matter. It’s not like we can hike someone else’s hike through life, as much as we might sometimes want to. Certainly no one else can walk our walk for us, although every once in a while someone else might be kind enough to help us carry our burdens for a stretch while we continue trudging along, slowly putting one foot in front of the other.

But ultimately, only you can hike your hike. Only you can live your life. No one else can do it for you. You get no choice in the matter.

Being told we have no choice pisses us off. Anger is a normal biological response to a stimuli, meant to fuel our desire to act in our own best interest and survive. When we get angry enough, we fight. But anger is a mask for fear, so sometimes, we flight. In our own best interest, we run away.

Sometimes, we do both.

That, I think, is what causes suicide. The fear we experience when we’re told we have no choice about the cards we’ve been dealt toxically mixes with the rage that fuels our desire to take action, to rebel. We throw down our hand in disgust, and refuse to play. “I do, too, fucking have a choice, and I choose to fucking end it!” And in an act of great paradox, we win the argument and lose the war.

Obviously there’s a lot more to suicide than that. There’s also the immeasurable burden of emotional or physical pain that one carries, often (but not always) amplified by chemical dependency, biochemical disorders, abuse, or trauma. The desire for relief outweighs even the strongest instinct to survive if the pain, even if brief, is intense enough.

Fear tells us the pain won’t ever stop. If the pain does stop, fear tells us it will be back, that it will keep coming back, that it will get worse, that it will kill us.

That we have no choice.

Fuck that, we say. Pain can’t kill me if I do the job first. To someone in pain, this makes all the sense in the world. So in a moment of simultaneous fight and flight, we end it.

I have a friend living with terminal cancer. Living with, not dying of; the words we use matter. He fights the cancer, hard. He carries pain that most of us can’t even fathom. I would have given up long ago. I don’t know how he keeps going, knowing that eventually the cancer will win.

Except here’s the thing. It’s not really the cancer that’s terminal. It’s life. The cancer will lose and die when my friend’s earthly body dies. The cancer will contribute to its own demise by continuing to spread and take over its host. But it’s not cancer that’s terminal, it’s life itself; we all die, whether we have cancer or heart disease or diabetes or addiction or happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or live a perfectly chaste and continent existence for more than a century. With death, as with life, we have no say in the matter.

But like cancer, we may be contributing to our own demise.

And that is a choice.

So it stands to reason – if how we choose to live can impact how we die, then how we choose to live can impact how we live, as well.

We can choose how we hike our own hike.

Hike your own hike means making choices in your own best interest, even if they are not the choices others would have you make. So first and foremost, make choices in your own best interest, not someone else’s. But keep in mind that cancer, acting out of unbridled self-interest, is contributing to its own demise.

Hiking your own hike means making choices knowing you will have to live with those choices, and with their consequences, and that sometimes your choices will be ineffective and flat out wrong, and the consequences will hurt and could do great harm. But choosing not to choose and habitually allowing others to make choices for you is also doing yourself harm. Do not purposely choose to do harm to yourself or others; that is not in your best interest.

Choose to give yourself adequate time to consider what actually is in your best interest. The easy choice is often not the best. The hard choice is just as often not the best, either. Learn to discern by giving yourself permission to make mistakes. If you have to make the same mistake more than once, forgive yourself and accept that many lessons take repetition to achieve mastery. Practice, however, does not make perfect. Practice makes better, until you are consistently doing your best. And that is something of which you can be proud, even if you are not perfect.

Remember that life is still terminal even when you consistently make the best choices. In those moments when the burdens of regret and shame from your mistakes and failures feel heavy, remember those feelings are the privilege of the living. The honors student killed in the car accident, the man in his 30s whose heart unexpectedly stopped beating, the mom in her 40s who went to bed, had a brain aneurysm and never woke up, the music teacher who lost her life while riding her bike no longer have the luxury of carrying the burden that comes with the gift of making choices. So choose to write the song, or eat the chocolate cake, or sleep late, or climb the mountain.

Choose the job that pays less but gives you the time to hike your own hike. Call in late to work and put the phone on mute, and take the time to write the love letter to your child. Be grateful every time you pay for the roof over your head even if you can’t afford to buy a new car. Remember that you can only hike your own hike with help from a higher power, which most often comes in the form of other people, even people we don’t like, sometimes people we detest. No one hikes alone, even if we hike solo; at the very least someone else made the boots we wear.

Don’t use “learning” as a justification for knowingly making a mistake. Don’t deliberately make the choice that leads to regret or shame. Growth and strength come from the discipline of making effective choices repeatedly. Progress comes from choosing to walk, and choosing to rest, each when the time is right. Listen to your gut, especially in that rare (and it is rare) instance when you don’t have time for deliberation and discernment. Listen to your heart, because that’s where your higher power lives, and where that power will speak to you. If you have time, ask other people to share their experience so you can learn from their mistakes rather than making your own. In this way you avoid picking up the burden of shame while helping to lessen theirs.

And if someone (for example, your well-intentioned mother) gives you advice for which you did not ask, consider that perhaps the shame and regret of their choices is heavy, and it’s their way of trying to set it down. Let them. Take a good look at what it is that burdens them. You don’t have to pick up what they set down before you. Like you, they are hiking their own hike. Let them.

Holey Heart

This Too Shall Pass

I struggle with depression. It’s been an on-again, off-again companion since I was about ten. Sometimes it is triggered by a situation or a disappointment, other times it appears to be hormonal or the result of physical or emotional exhaustion. Anger and hunger make it worse. It has never completely overwhelmed me; after all, I’m still alive to write this reflection. But it has yet to permanently go away; as many times as I’ve gotten a temporary reprieve, it is only ever temporary.

I was 20 the first time I sought help; I made an appointment with a counselor in college, I had to wait two weeks even though I was on fire inside, and by the time I was to see her, I felt better. I didn’t seek help again until a few years later, when something dramatically painful happened that I couldn’t ignore. Therapy helped a little. Pharmaceuticals were not worth the side effects. Marriage and pregnancy and motherhood brought steeper peaks and valleys. But eventually I found a spiritual solution that works for me if I do the work. It doesn’t stop the depression entirely, but keeps it from overtaking my life, and for that I am grateful. Today when it rears its ugly head, I have some strategies for coping, and it usually passes quickly.

I’m not sharing this from a place of self-pity or sympathy-seeking. I was in the thick of it when I started writing this piece a few days ago. I’ve been in a pretty dark place for about a year, sometimes deep within the cave of sadness and despondency, but most of the time at the mouth of the cave, desperately listening for God. I know other people (maybe you?) are too.

I’m writing this because it needs to be written. This weekend’s readings were all about depression. Elijah in the cave, Paul mourning his Hebrew heritage, Peter sinking when he tried to walk on water – each of these stories has a special message for the person who struggles with depression like I do.

Scripture scholars have written some wonderful commentaries about Elijah’s well-documented depression, and some less-than-wonderful “bible-based” depression advice, too. The basic gist goes something like this – Elijah suffered from depression because he lost his focus on God, and right after he’d had a great spiritual victory, no less! He got out of the depression by doing God’s will. So it stands to reason, if you put God first, you won’t get depressed. And if you ARE depressed, it’s because you aren’t putting God first, you miserable sinner. So go beat yourself up some more – that should cure you!

This weekend’s selection from Elijah’s depression story takes place just after he begged God to take his life, because he couldn’t see the point of going on. Yes, he had just experienced a spiritual victory, but demonstrating God’s power and showing up the king’s worthless gods had done nothing to convert Ahab or his horrid wife Jezebel. Sometimes our best is not good enough, and that will trigger anyone to get depressed, even a prophet. Why bother?

If you’ve never entertained suicidal thoughts, this will probably make no sense to you. You probably just shake it off and move on. Someone with depression can’t do that. It’s not a matter of will power. I ask you to kindly suspend your judgement and desire to fix it with advice while I tell you what it’s like for me. It’s a place of utter hopelessness, of being overwhelmed by my imperfections, inadequacies, insecurities, and failures. Ironically, it is especially poignant after an exceptionally good day, because I know it’s only temporary. It’s being unable to see past my shortcomings enough to believe that I am or ever will be deserving of love, affection, companionship, or understanding, no matter what I accomplish or what fleeting joy I might have felt yesterday. It’s a desperate desire for complete and total reprieve from the compulsion or expectation to do my best, because mostly I’m just tired of trying.

But it is not surrender. No, it is the ultimate act of self-centered rebellion. It is the place where fight meets flight. For me, this awful place will be my destination, sooner or later, if I don’t accept myself or reality, or if I entertain the voices of self-pity and resentment. Some people respond to these voices with drugs or alcohol. I respond in other less obvious ways that can be just as deadly, but slower. Yes, I do believe in demons because I have experienced them, first hand.

God didn’t take Elijah’s life, nor did God lecture his servant. He sent the prophet to a cave. That’s where we who experience depression often go when we need to hear the “still small voice.” But first, while we are in our caves, we have to experience what God is NOT – the storms, the wind, the earthquake, the fire. God is not destruction, of course. God is the quiet, still knowing that all manner of things will be well. But not everyone can weather the illusion of destruction that God is not. Light eternal shine upon them, for they rest from their labors.

This stuff is not something I like sharing. It’s something I’m deeply ashamed of. Which is why I share it. If I share it, I diminish its power. I’m afraid that if you know about my bouts of depression, I will scare you away, or that you won’t want to have anything to do with such a person. Like I have a contagious disease or something. Or worse, you’ll try to comfort me so that you can feel more comfortable. (FYI, when someone is depressed, they don’t need someone giving them advice or telling them how wonderful they are or how great life is or how much they need to get help. They need to be held. If not physically, then in prayer. If you have to say something, say I love you. Say I’m here. That’s it.) I have this completely ridiculous belief that I have to be sweet and happy and pleasant all the time or you won’t love me. Which is crap. I know some pretty miserable people, and their shitty moods don’t stop me from loving them; if anything, I love them more, because I know what it’s like to feel that way.

I have a really great life in the best country in the world. I’m healthy, and my kids are healthy, and I have friends who care about me and the absolute best parents anyone could ask for (unless you’re disgusted by potty humor). I have a job, a house, two cars, no debt, and food in the pantry. Life is good. But those feelings creep in, and it’s all I can do to keep them from dominating the space in my head.

I do whatever it takes to get them to stop. I’ve learned that strenuous physical activity and being outside in the sun does what prescriptions can’t. (For me, that is. There is nothing wrong with seeking pharmaceutical help!) I’ve learned to take these feelings one day at a time, because there’s a better than even chance they will be gone tomorrow as capriciously as they arrived today. I listen for the still small voice in everything. Everything. If I can just hear God, I will know I’m not alone.

Depression feeds off isolation. The cave is a necessary part of the process, but Elijah didn’t stay there. Ultimately he went back into the world and even found a helper in ministry. We can’t battle depression in isolation. Community is essential to keep it at bay.

Community is what Paul spoke of in this weekend’s epistle to the Romans. Paul often spoke of a thorn in his side; some “wound” that kept his pride at bay. I don’t know if that is what he was hinting at when he confessed, “I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.” Paul went on to describe the cause of his sorrow – being cut off from his beloved Hebrew community. Paul sacrificed his whole life, including his relationship with a proud culture and heritage, for a relationship with Christ, and he was apparently not always happy about the trade.

This, too, I can relate to. Depression has spurred me to seek help, and I’ve found it in a place that works for me. I’ve found help in a spiritual (but not religious) path toward acceptance. I can feel God changing me, but sometimes these changes have required me to let go of behaviors and friendships I miss very much. I’ve even had to let go of aspects of my religious faith, certain teachings that may be well-intended but actually compound my guilt and shame to the point of debilitation. God didn’t die on a cross to create a bunch of new rules to strangle the people He saved.

When we grow closer to God, we often have to let go of relationships and attitudes which served us well but are no longer compatible with the new life God gives. If that kind of letting go took such tremendous faith for a spiritual giant like Paul, why would it be any easier for me?

Grief is not exactly the same thing as depression. Grief is a natural healing process. Depression is what happens when we don’t grieve. In my case, I often avoid the pain of going through the grief process and wake up to find I’m in a full blown semi-suicidal depression. Like Paul, I have to feel the loss, write about it, talk about it, and make the decision to accept the loss, whether it’s a death, a divorce, a friendship, an unmet expectation, or a stage of life that has come to an end.

Sometimes the grief over what “might have been” or what “should or could have been” is even worse than a loss of what really was – it is much more difficult to let go of a fantasy because you can’t let go of what you never truly had in the first place. The Hebrews were “supposed” to be the chosen people, those who were predestined to receive to first fruits of God’s blessing. It broke Paul’s heart that it didn’t work out that way. It’s ok to feel heartbreak. In fact, not feeling it will push that pain deeper, where it will fester and poison us slowly. Paul teaches me to feel my feelings, or suffer long term pain that leads nowhere but a slow death.

One of my feelings that almost always accompanies loss is fear. Isn’t it ironic that fear – of loss, of death, of losing myself to the apparent overwhelming demands of life – actually causes the very thing of which I’m so afraid? Enter Simon Peter, who had just enough faith to jump out of the boat in the middle of the storm, but not enough to walk to Jesus. Sometimes I wonder if we who strive to live lives of faith and service aren’t especially susceptible to the sinking that happens when we take a leap of faith. Many of us are conditioned to believe if we have enough faith, we will be protected from pain – like some kind of emotional prosperity theology. We throw ourselves into storms, in the name of faith. But believing in God doesn’t make us invincible. Having faith doesn’t inoculate us from losing our faith, either.

“Why did you doubt?” This is what Jesus asked Peter, not as a parent scolding a child, but as a healer who wants to get to the root of the problem. Why do I doubt? It’s not a rhetorical question, and my answer may be different than yours.

I doubt because I know I’m not capable on my own. I’m just not. Faith in myself will fail me every time. I can’t. God can. I gonna let him. It’s a mantra I can say any time I jump out of the boat.

When Jesus asked Peter why he doubted, it wasn’t about walking on water. Peter’s doubt happened before he ever got out of the boat. “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water,” Peter said. Lord, if it is you. Jesus indulged Peter’s doubt and commanded him to come out on the water. But if Peter had had faith, he would never have said, “Lord, if it is you.”

I don’t ever have to jump out of the boat. I don’t have to “fight” the depression demons; it’s a losing battle anyway. I can wait on my God and let my God do the fighting. I can rest. I can eat. I can call someone or text someone and ask for prayers. I can go to the people who hold me in silence at the mouth of the cave and let me cry cleansing tears.

The walking on water gospel story is not about keeping our eyes in Christ in the midst of the storm and expecting ourselves to do the impossible. It’s about accepting our own humanity and our limitations. It’s about knowing He’s there with us in the storm, hunkering down, trusting He will come to us, and having the faith to wait.

This too shall pass.