My Spiral Into Depression
I learned at CCEF “almost anything can be at the root of depression: a recent illness in which you get behind in your work, hormonal changes, a reversal of fortune, the consequences of simple negligence, guilt over a particular sin, self-pity arising from jealousy or a disadvantageous turn of events, bad feelings resulting from resentment, worry, etc….the important fact to remember is that a depression does not result directly from any of those factors, but rather comes from a cyclical process in which the initial problem is mishandled in such a way that it is enlarged in downward helixical spirals that eventually plunge one into despair.
Mine came about due to the death of a vision.
Disclaimer: Going to talk about my faith. If that sort of thing gets under your skin, stop now, you won’t hurt my feelings. 😉
May 4, 1980 7:48 PM I wrote this in the front cover of a little New Testament: “I made a commitment to God to live my life for him.”
Translation: Just like a marriage covenant between two people, as an adult I made an intentional choice to be in relationship with God himself. What had been a mish mash of confusing irrelevant “church talk” the first 20 years of my life, suddenly became a crystal clear intellectual decision I was free to accept or reject. Very much like someone wrestling whether to accept someone’s marriage proposal. I remember wrestling with the implications for 3 days, and finally said “Yes!”
Side note- this is why I am a big believer in NOT pressuring other people when it comes to the spiritual side of their lives. It’s not productive in our human relationships, and it’s definitely not productive when it comes to matters of faith and spiritual things.
Something definitely changed at that point. There was a new restlessness in my life. I remember looking at 50 different Christian Colleges, trying to decide whether to be a formally trained pastor, or a marriage and family counselor. Decided I wanted to be a bi-vocational pastor, so we moved from Iowa to New Jersey in 1985 (with two kids in tow), and enrolled @ CCEF, Carpenter by day, teacher/facilitator when I could. In 1990 we returned to the Midwest with a strong sense of purpose. I’d experienced 5 years of intense discipleship/mentoring in New Jersey and believed God had brought us home to pass on what I’d learned.
Things were great for the first 2 1/2 years, then began to butt heads with our local pastor. In hindsight, God set me up. Pastor and I had two completely different understandings for a healthy church. His was a more traditional model- Two different models..not wrong/ just different. I on the other hand craved deeper relationships that can’t be cultivated when you’re sitting in rows looking at the back of each others heads. I know I wore him out with our intense discussions. It finally came to a head in November of 1995. We left the church. The hardest decision of my life (till then) – 90% of my closest friendships were with those people. Someone told me later, it felt like a divorce- (it did).
I was confused. I was angry. (I’m not giving you all the details- this would get too long.)- I believed I would eventually be a co-pastor that church…instead, I was on the outside looking in.
The depression had probably started two years previous, and lingered another year. Things gradually got better by 1996. Here I sit 18 years later and there is still a bruise on my soul. Just this morning, as we’ve been organizing our office, I came across several magazines and books related to mentoring and discipleship- I pitched the magazines, and am selling some of the books on e-bay. I have no aspiration or intention of ever taking an active role in leadership in a local church. I’m no longer depressed 🙂 just broken- and there is a big difference.
Have you ever wrestled with depression? What triggered it? What brought you out of it? (if you’re out of it?) What good came from it (if any)?
Have you ever watched your life goal die? What was it and where are you at in the process now?