𝘖𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘩𝘴 𝘐 𝘤𝘳𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶, 𝘖 𝘓𝘖𝘙𝘋. 𝘓𝘰𝘳𝘥, 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘮𝘺 𝘷𝘰𝘪𝘤𝘦! 𝘓𝘦𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘴 𝘣𝘦 𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘷𝘰𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘺 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴! 𝘐𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶, 𝘖 𝘓𝘖𝘙𝘋, 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘬 𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴, 𝘓𝘰𝘳𝘥, 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥? 𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘺𝘰𝘶, 𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘣𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥. 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘪𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘖𝘙𝘋, 𝘮𝘺 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘭 𝘸𝘢𝘪𝘵𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘐 𝘩𝘰𝘱𝘦; 𝘮𝘺 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘭 𝘸𝘢𝘪𝘵𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘸𝘢𝘵𝘤𝘩 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘸𝘢𝘵𝘤𝘩 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘖 𝘐𝘴𝘳𝘢𝘦𝘭, 𝘩𝘰𝘱𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘖𝘙𝘋! 𝘍𝘰𝘳 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘖𝘙𝘋 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘧𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘩𝘪𝘮 𝘪𝘴 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘥𝘦𝘦𝘮. 𝘐𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘳𝘦𝘥𝘦𝘦𝘮 𝘐𝘴𝘳𝘢𝘦𝘭 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘪𝘵𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴. -Psalm 130
Like so many, I have lived with bouts of anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, nobody talked about it; it was a completely taboo subject. Emotional or mental disorders were a sign of weakness and of brokenness, so I kept silent. I spent years living with the fear and anger that seemed to come from out of nowhere. Living with the constant feeling of not being good enough. Living in darkness that at times would refuse to go away. Being a class clown and a funny guy so no one would see the pain. Distancing myself from others so they would not see the real me.
Then, one day it all came crashing down. My façade started to crack. The darkness seemed to physically close in on me. The twin demons of depression and anxiety had engulfed me. Bette found me on the floor unable to tell her why or how I got there. I lay broken and crushed after decades of denial. My illness took over. I was lost. The darkness had won.
Or so I thought.
The light was still there; I just didn’t see it. But with help from Bette, my doctor, my counselor/spiritual adviser, and the Holy Spirit, the darkness started to recede. My depression is still there but with prayer, medication, and counseling, it is managed and I can continue in hope. I also believe that it is part of my calling as a pastor to be open and honest about my struggle so others can see that there is hope. There is help. I hope that one day the stigma of mental illness falls away so others do not have to suffer so much.
“Mighty God, in Jesus Christ you deal with forces that trouble our minds and set us against ourselves. Give peace to those who are cast down, beset by anxiety, or torn by inner conflict. By your great might, drive from us the powers that shake confidence and shatter love. Bring us into the light of your truth, and give us your strong assurance that we are your beloved children in Jesus Christ our Lord.”