(It looks like it's going to be kind of a big heavy one. Lots of thoughts... not a lot of funny. Sorry.)
"Throw up your hands like you just don't caaare!"
So, this counselor I went to 4 years ago... (the one who gave me Buddha's Brain)...
It seems valuable to me to mention that this guy was a Christian pastor. He had left the pastoral ministry because he felt he could help more people through professional counseling and psychiatry.
He and I had the same foundational beliefs. We also shared the feeling that somehow the popular/common understanding of Christianity Practically Applied was MISSING SOMETHING when it came to meeting the needs of the fragile and emotionally strained.
Not that the faith or the scripture was lacking, but that we... the culture of "Christianity/Church People" were missing something.
Something had dropped from our vocabulary.
Even with the appropriate tools of truth right in front of us, we weren't using the tools rightly. Somehow, somewhere along the line, in parsing out truth, we had thrown a baby or two out with the bath water. BATH WATER YOU SAAAY?? Picture time!!!
"No! No! Not the baby!"
This has created a great and painful gap in what popular Christianity offers to the modern world.
Even though many prominent figures in the Bible (King David, Paul?) struggled with depression, you have to really dig for clear answers on how to cope with this stuff in a practical way.
--- If we're depressed, we need a way to talk about ourselves that doesn't sound like virulent self-hatred (which is how a harsh retelling of our sin nature sounds to someone who already feels like killing themselves because they are convinced they're disgusting and hopeless).
--- If we're struggling with insomnia, we need TOOLS that go beyond, "Just ask Jesus for peace & rest." Because, while God is involved in our lives, it's pretty clear he doesn't micro-manage the details on the daily. He is in charge of the end, but he leaves it to us to walk the journey.
--- If we're desperately thinking, "I cannot do this daily routine of mine for one more freaking day! It's too much!" then simply answering, "It's what God calls me to" can sting rather than soothe.
--- If you Google "Bible verses related to anxiety", you'll probably get: "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition present your requests to God." Anyone who actually struggles with anxiety will read that and... well... probably have a panic attack.
What if I do all that and God doesn't answer?
What does his silence mean for me... or tell me about him?
How should I pray? Like... outloud? Alone? Does emotion matter? Does length matter?
Does repetition help or does that show a lack of faith, since God heard me the first time?
What should I ask? For it to go away? To understand? To be free? To cope? To die? I give up.
This is all so unclear!
How can I just NOT be anxious? I'm not being anxious on purpose! It's physiological! And so it goes.
You know what hurting people do when they can't get answers and tools they need?
They find it wherever they can... they find it somewhere else.
Why else do you think so many people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol and food and addictions of all stripes?
So we have a choice: Let hurting hearts find rest with Buddha's Brain (an excellent book)... Or... rattle the bushes of our own sweet faith for the pearls of wisdom we've lost along the way.
It's there! It's there in our own tradition.... but it needs to be revived and revitalized and rediscovered and reapplied.
OK.... so from here on out, I'll try to focus more on ideas and solutions and less on open questions.
In other news... I'm really antsy about pressing "Post". Anxiety and fear usually keep me from being so open about things I actually care about in such a broad format. It's easier to be confident if you never put yourself far enough out there to get criticized. It's easier to hide behind light topics and pretty pictures than it is to express ideas which people love to hate. I'm not gonna lie, I'm kind of a wreck, but I'm trying to let calm and peace rule. I'm trying to overwhelm fear with a thankful heart that I have learned these lessons and they are true even if others disagree.
Ok, I was REALLY REALLY anxious about posting... I took it down altogether. Tinkered with re-writing. Finally just asked my husband to read it and tell me if I sounded like a loon. He said it's good to go... so here we go... finally, at 9:00 at night!