Out of all the things that were posted last night and today, in regard to the death of Robin Williams, that is the quote that brought me to tears. I'm not sure why on the surface of it. It's from a movie. Spoken by a fictional character. And the line refers to the fact that the genie is now free of his lamp. Poignant? Yes. It made me cry when I saw the movie years ago and it made me cry again last night. But for two very different reasons...
April Fiet made this comment yesterday on twitter, "I was 17 when the darkness closed in. I cried for the light to return. I wasn't sad. I was trapped."
Do you know how it feels to have the darkness close in? Kind of like slowly passing out. The darkness starts at the periphery, at the edge, and takes your sight from you. It slips up from behind and beside you slowly taking you under. And you are powerless to stop it. Those last three words though are the ones that hit me in the gut, effectively knocking all the air right out of me. "I was trapped." Because yes, that's exactly what depression feels like. You feel like you are in a cage you can't escape. Icy hands around your throat. Around your heart. Squeezing all your joy, all your faith, all your life cruelly out of you.
These next three paragraphs come from Living at the Edge, where I spoke a little about my battle with depression...
Why has the church so sanitized Christianity that we can't be real with each other? That we can't be honest when asked how we are. It seems the church has become so afraid of tainting their witness (ugh) or more accurately their reputation, that we can't and won't tell the truth. We're afraid to be judged and found unacceptable. The church is afraid of our brokenness. Jesus has been made into a sad caricature of who He really is. Our pie in the sky savior who makes everything perfect and all people happy and problem free. Or the uncaring King of the hill who expects perfection and bullies us until we fall in line, defeated and broken. Smiles plastered on our faces as we sink deeper into the darkness.
Those of us battling depression, addiction, anger, bitterness, or insert your poison of choice, have no place in the church. We are the marginalized. We find ourselves living on the fringes. Outcasts hoping for Grace to find its way to us. We've been forced to find community outside the traditional walls of the church. Where we're not afraid to say the hard things because we know we will be accepted. Where we know we will be loved. Where we know we will be cared for. Where we know we can speak our truth.
Life sucks right now. I'm living at the edge of depression. I want, no, I need that drink, that line, that pill. I'm pissed off. I'm drowning in this sea of bitterness. I want to feel the release as the blade makes it's mark. I want to lose myself so I don't have to feel anything. Yet, I long to be known. I long to be seen. I long to be validated.
There's no amount of prayer or confession of sin that will make that right. That's where the church and Christians in general get this all wrong. When you say I haven't prayed enough or searched deep and long enough for that unconfessed sin, you throw gasoline on the fire smoldering just under my skin. You feed the voices that tell me I have no worth. The voices that tell me I am not loved. The voices that tell me God has no use for me. The voices that tell me the world would be better off without me.
You tell me I'm selfish but that couldn't be further from the truth. I wear this mask of happiness to spare those around me the despair that I am feeling.
You tell me I have a choice. There are times my choice includes the urge to drive my car off the bridge spanning the Tennessee River. And if I make that choice, I will go to hell. But when I feel that way, that hell seems an easier choice than the hell on earth I am living.
You tell me to cast my cares on the Lord. That I must not have enough faith.
You tell me my depression is from the devil. That I need to rebuke the oppression or possession of the demons.
You tell me to pray for healing. When healing doesn't happen I wonder why God won't help me. Why he has abandoned me. Why my prayers fall on deaf ears.
You question my salvation.
You judge me when I need compassion and understanding. When I need help. Not theology.
You judge me...
When all of our hope has slipped through our fingers, when we have nothing else to hold on to, all we want is to be free. Because the end of hope really is where hell begins. And none of us want to live a life in hell. We need you to accept that life is not black and white. That there are no simple answers. That we can't pray this away. We need you to understand that until you walk a mile in our shoes, you really have no idea what you are talking about.
We need you to walk alongside us, to love us without judgment. To walk with us for help. We need to know that we are not alone...
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it's not.
The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone."