Monday, July 6, 2009

Fight or Flight

Faced with life challenging situations, the natural order of things is usually either to stand and hold the line to the best of our ability, or we determine the challenge is beyond our ability to fight so we take flight either to regroup or retreat.

In the life of Christian faith, we stand, in a spiritual sense, by the strength of the ultimate victor [Christ] who conquered the very death and grave that is appointed to all mankind. If we count on the saving grace of the gospel, we know conceptually that the Creator of the universe has our back, and even if we begin to sense our battles are going against us, we cast our fate into God's hands and determine in our hearts to come away with the positive things that can be taken from the field - win or lose.

Taking value from life's dreadful episodes, requires a HARD look for the oft overlooked sparkle of those precious diamonds formed by trial. Some of life's most grievous chapters contain a bounty of greatness...if we can look for the gem instead of dwelling on the jam. Rejecting defeatism and refusing to quit can turn losers into winners. Even though I've lost my wife and had my family divided in half, I cannot afford to let my circumstances defeat me.

I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 53. I have probably lived at least two decades with an accumulating chronic depression. The classic behavioral symptoms were much less severe in my late 20's and early 30's, or maybe those symptoms just weren't as easy to pin-point considering all of the drugs I shoveled into my system since adolescence. I can't be sure if the beginnings of depression caused me to self medicate, or if my self-medication produced the depression. Either way, its a safe bet that unstable pharmaceuticals cooked up in some hippie's garage might have crippled normal brain function and hormone development during my post-adolescence. As a person struggling with depression, I'm really a "newb". I'm hardly in any position to give advice or dispense any sagacity in regards to psychology. However, I believe its safe to assume that a general skill set is essential if people in my situation even hope to maintain ground while fighting on two separate fronts simultaneously.

What I found to be an essential ally in my fight against depression, was the same aspect of my being that allowed Christian faith to come to me in the first place. CHOICE. And even though I couldn't effect my wife's choice to leave me and divide our family, I still had a choice in how I would respond to the situation. I determined that attempting the same patience and long suffering Christ shows me, was a good place to start.

In my prayers I intercede for my children and my wife. What she has decided to throw away by the power of the courts, I seek to keep sacred between myself and God. I realize that she will always be free to exercise her own will. Nevertheless, until she remarries, I am trying to keep in mind that God is the one who has the final say in our relationship and our family. I try with all my mind, heart, soul, and strength to trust whatever God's decision brings. Even if His decision is to let her go forever.

How I choose to respond to my depression is to take all negative thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5). I struggle against floods of emotion-fueled defeatism and pessimism, with sandbags of reason and truth. And when I find myself overwhelmed by too high a tide...I take respite in the healing that comes from prayer and the Spirit as well as a program of properly prescribed medication. After all, we are beings of spirit, mind, and body and in the same way the spirit affects the mind and body, the mind and body also affects the spirit. In a perfectly biblical world, we can imagine that all infirmities are cast out with prayer and trusting faith. But in reality, it is no less regrettable to apply the same medical principles that we would appropriate to diabetes or hypertension with hardly a Godward thought.

All in all, however, the most effective tool in having peace and joy in the midst of trials is my choice to delight myself in the Lord. I'm not always successful. But that is what discipleship is all about. Practice, practice, practice! Certainly grabbing hold of joy and peace while life's circumstances are drop-kicking your heart through a hedge of thorns isn't easy. Failure is to be expected, but ultimate defeat cannot occur if we start each new day with a decision to be delighted in our relationship with God. Being devoted to a God that shows love, grace, and who is far more obsessed with saving, than condemning...makes the morning far easier to face. The God of all creation numbers the hairs on our heads and takes notice of the small things that we are often blind to. While our days might be numbered, He has all time in the world at His disposal.

Its ironic how the sovereignty of our choices contain the power to either make us the most miserable putz on the planet, or an embodiment of His joy and glory.

No comments:

Post a Comment