Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

I remember when I hated working with depressed clients. I’d usually give their file to one of the other counsellors. Why? In short, clients with depression don’t get better - at least not for a long, long time. Oh, they change alright, but better? Mmm, that’s not a word that I would have used - not back then.

I liked working with clients who in 6 or 10 sessions were on their way and would likely not return.

And then something happened.

I’d lived 46 years with crippling arthritis. The drug patches and other opiates barely touched the pain. My wife helped me into and out of bed. She’d help me get dressed and undressed. I was running an Out Patient Counselling Clinic with all the associated staffing and client issues. 12 hour days and 6 day weeks were the norm. And then - I simply couldn’t do it any more. I had to quit. I’d never been defeated by anything before. I’d been roaring through life at a furious pace, overcoming all challenges. And then - I had to quit. I had to give up. I had to admit defeat.

You know when you meet someone you’re asked, “So what do you do?”

Of course you know.

I was a Christian. I didn’t define my life by who I was or what I did. My identity was in Christ alone. “Oh God I’m sorry for how dishonest I was with myself.”

“So what do you do?”

Yes indeed. What did I do. “Ah, I don’t do anything. I’m a man who does nothing.”

My own depression arrived during the early morning hours. I rose before anyone else and wondered from room to room in the house just trying to not cry. Don’t forget, I’ve been trained in treating people with depression. I’ve got a Graduate Degree worth of training in how to work with the mentally ill. I’d listened to hundreds and hundreds of stories from clients with depression. I knew what it was like to struggle with depression. And then I got my own. “Ohhhh, so THIS is what they’ve been talking about.”

“Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18

Depending on where you’re at in your walk with God, you will either know of people who were or are crushed to the point of wondering if God really is a God of love, and you’re thinking, “How could anyone question the ways of God, or His love for them?”

OR

You will be or have been one of those people who have been crushed to the point where you wondered or still wonder, “Who is this God whose love for me once seemed so certain?”

The first group sing rousing songs of victory around the fire at camp.
Those in the latter group remember how it felt when they too sang those songs.

It’s been over ten years now since my depression arrived. I’m off meds and honestly? I’m symptom free. I hope however that I never forget.

And for what it’s worth? I love working with people who are struggling with depression. In fact, they’re my favourites. We may not always get better, but we are changed - fundamentally and forever.

Happy Holy Days - and may the comfort of His presence allow for you to experience a Merry and Joyous Christmas.
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1 comment:

Ginx said...

It's a sad thing when we get to a point when our bodies fail us. My mom is struggling with a terminal illness and one thing she told me stuck. She said she never understood people who said they were in so much pain they wanted to die until she got chemo. Now she knows, there is a point where there is so much pain that death seems like a relief.

It's a strange relationship between physical pain and emotional pain. I imagine having to quit your job because of physical pain certainly didn't help your mental state. I know the feeling of plodding through the house not knowing what to do with yourself, but I have the luxury of doing it pain free and with the knowledge that I am surrounded by loved ones.

I'm glad you're still alive and kicking, also glad to hear you're off meds.