Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lent for Depressed People

Last year I wrote this as a Facebook Post.... I'm posting it here again this year for posterity. ;) Posterity. haha.

It’s Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. For the average American it means hurling beads and partying into the night. For those of us who observe the liturgical calendar of the church, it’s the day before the season of Lent begins. We party into the night eating up all our soon-to-be-forbidden foods… goodbye sugar in my coffee! I’ll miss you so. 

Lent: it’s a gloomy season when we reflect on the brokenness of the world and the corrosive, degrading, cancerous rust of sin within ourselves. Last year Lent arrived, for me, on the heels of an epic nervous breakdown. Postpartum depression had wrecked me. My mental health was shattered. I had descended into a nearly catatonic state of dark joyless exhaustion with life… and then Lent came. I was supposed to give up something and reflect on the aching imperfection of the world. Just when I thought I couldn’t go lower, Lent came to crush me a little further down. It was too much.

This year Lent finds me in a new place. After a year of healing, I’m feeling whole. I have a spirit of expectation and hope for this season… but I remember the desperation I felt last year. So I wanted to write a word to those who might be entering this season with depression in the mix.

1 - Lent reminds us we’re not perfect. Take advantage of that. Don’t worry about fixing you. God adores you where you are. Isn’t that the whole point? Weak and small and quavering, you are richly adored and accepted. You don’t have to stand up. You don’t have to struggle. All mercy is available to you just the way you are. Give yourself grace.

2 - Lent reminds us of our need. You’re already in a place with a lot of need. You don’t need to manufacture it through fasting like “the happy people.” Rather than giving something up, practice asking for help and accepting love. Acknowledge your need by reaching out for the loving hands that are ready to support you.

2 - Lent is a time of reflection… so reflect on hope. Take it as an opportunity to meditate on the coming of Christ’s light. Hope is on the way. Easter is coming. You’re not alone. You are not forgotten. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3). Meditate on the hope that Jesus promises will come to us even when we are in a place of darkness.

I think I could keep going… but let’s keep it simple. Three points are enough for today.

Take this as a season of peace, not sorrow; a season of hope, not despair; a season for loving yourself even while you may feel broken, because that’s how the God of the universe loves you. The Light will come no matter how dark the darkness.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

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