It’s 3am and I can’t sleep. This is not unusual as I am in the midst of a depressive episode. Part of my experience of depression is “the hole” I fall into. The current cycle started over a week ago. Since its beginning, I have spoken at three different venues. At each of them I have brought a message of hope and encouragement. Though I am struggling personally, the gift that God has given me is shining as brightly as ever. I take pleasure in that, even as my other pleasures fall away. I have been amazed to see God lift so many people up through the gift I’ve been given, even while I personally am struggling.
I don’t understand why it is this way for me. However, I see the pattern in human history. Artists that I admire bring beauty but they suffer. Writers tell the truth but they struggle. Prophets speak of judgement and of hope but they pay a price. Not that I’m in their company but is this what it means to have a gift like the one I have? Is this mental malady the price tag? Can’t I have the gift and forego the pain? Is the answer to that question, NO?
During many of my depressive episodes, I have experienced joy. When the gift is energized by the Spirit, I feel an amazing sense of fulfillment. When the gift is on full power and God is doing great things in the lives of God’s people, I feel a rush just to be a part of that. On the one hand, I feel terrible: I don’t sleep, I withdraw, I am sullen, I overeat. On the other hand, when the gift is at work I am transported and lifted to another plane but I can’t hold on to that feeling.
When the gift is not in use (which is about 98% of the time) and I’m going through a depressive episode, I feel lost. I don’t find joy in my daily work. It feels meaningless and empty. I force myself to get up and go to the job. I hang on and wait for the episode to end. I know it will. It’s just a matter of when. I up my meds and move through it as best I can. One of the points of grace that I come back to again and again is that God uses his flawed servant, even when depression is hitting me hard.