Category Archives: depression

On the Reason for Curmudgeonness

[Originally posted on Lutheran Logomaniac]

Curmudgeon

I often wonder why I get so, uh, curmudgeonly during Christmas time. It is one of the two highest feast days of the Christian Church. The music and Scripture readings for the season are sublime. In every measurable way, it is a time of great joy and happiness. Family gather together. There is festiveness in the air. All in all, it is a good time.

But then I remember.

Nadia. Emmanuel. Mom. The many people whom I have buried over the years who are no longer with their families. The families who now are at a loss of what to do because of this emptiness.

To quote the hymn, “In the midst of earthly life, death has us surrounded.” Or to quote St. Paul, “the wages of sin is death.” Death has a way of messing up and just bringing down everything around us. Some years or season are greater reminders than this of others, but the sad reality is always there, always present, always trying so very hard to draw us into the pit of self-pity and despair.

That is why I get curmudgeonly.

But that is also why I don’t stay curmudgeonly.

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, to defeat death by taking it into Himself, and to wipe away the tears of grief which wet our faces year after year.

One hymn, perhaps more than any other for me, encapsulates this reality. I hope it brings you joy this season.

Oh, rejoice, ye Christians, loudly,
For your joy hath now begun;
Wondrous things our God hath done.
Tell abroad His goodness proudly,
Who our race hath honored thus
That He deigns to dwell with us.

Refrain

Joy, O joy, beyond all gladness,
Christ hath done away with sadness!
Hence, all sorrow and repining,
For the Son of Grace is shining!

See, my soul, thy Savior chooses
Weakness here and poverty,
In such love He comes to thee
Nor the hardest couch refuses;
All He suffers for thy good,
To redeem thee by His blood.

Refrain

Lord, how shall I thank Thee rightly?
I acknowledge that from Thee
Every blessing flows to me..
Let me not forget it lightly
But to Thee through all things cleave
So shall heart and mind receive:

Refrain

Jesus, guard and guide Thy members,
Fill Thy brethren with Thy grace,
Hear their prayers in every place.
Quicken now life’s faintest embers,
Grant all Christians, far and near,
Holy peace, a glad new Year!

Refrain

God’s richest peace to you this season. Merry Christmas in Jesus’ Name.

Pastor Todd Peperkorn

Seven Years

Seven years ago today I was ready to take my life. I’ve written about it many times (HERE, and HERE are the most recent).

I’m in a pretty good place, from a mental health point of view.  I have an excellent counselor, my medication seems to be pretty stable, and I have a loving and supportive family and church.  I haven’t found a father confessor that’s less than 100 miles from me yet, but otherwise I feel like all of the various pieces are as in place as they are likely to get.  For this I am very thankful.  

What always strikes me, as this day comes around, is how many there are who suffer with depression, despair, bipolar disorder, and so many other diseases and maladies both physical, emotional and spiritual.  Just yesterday I was contacted by three different people about their trials with mental illness.  I had only met one of them beforehand.  Sadly, these sorts of days are not that uncommon.

Our Lord’s death for our salvation was nearly 2000 years ago, and the world continues to be remade by His death and resurrection.  But it is still a sorry, broken world.  More than anything else, we need to hear and receive the healing balm of the Gospel, and we must continue to learn how to give of ourselves to one another.  I speak to myself as much as to my readers.

Know again, friends, that Christ is here for you.  He suffers for you, dies for you, and rises for you.  Rejoice in His salvation, no matter how dark the road may be.  You are never alone.

-DMR

(a.k.a. Pastor Todd Peperkorn)

 

The Forgotten Emmanuel

[originally posted on LutheranLogomaniac.com]

December 21st is the anniversary of when Kathryn and I lost our son, Emmanuel. It was 2009. And, of course, right before Christmas. Who has time to grieve when there is so much stuff to do?

While the death of Nadia always makes me wish others would remember such days, Emmanuel’s death always reminds me how quickly I myself can forget. Some grief we bury. Some pain is too close, too much to bear at the time.

For pastors, of course, the Christmas season is always a busy time of year. Sermons, bulletins, calls, Christmas programs, caroling, there are always a thousand things to pull us away from our Lord, and from anything else. Pastors don’t have a monopology on this time, either. Mothers, it seems to me, are always full of things that need doing. And holidays or Christmas breaks and the like, well, they may actually be more work for mom, not less. But the list could go on.

How do we allow the business of our lives to interfere from what the point of our lives is in the first place? I forget what is important. I forget even big things, like life and death. I get distracted or I distract myself. I run and hide. I flee from such all encompasing realities.

How many of us hide ourselves from our pain? How many walk around, hurting and wounded, in fear of being found out? How many flee at the thought of being weak?

I think that is why a name like Emmanuel is such an important one for Christians. God is with us. There is no “if” behind the name. God is with us IF we behave. God is with us IF we are good. God is with us UNTIL we die. No. It is a statement of fact. God is with us. Period. The words from Exodus come to mind:

“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (Exodus 2:23–25 ESV)

God heard. God remembered. God saw. God knew.

That is the God of the Bible. That is the God who comforts me, even in the face of my forgetfulness and death. That is the God who would come as a little child.

-Pastor Todd Peperkorn

 

Nativity Giorgione 1507

A Day

What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday was a day of great darkness and paranoia.  Anxiety, fear, anger even were the watchwords of today.  Today, it was completely different.  Yesterday I was embraced by my family and my congregation, and most especially by the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I don’t mean this in an abstract “think about Jesus” sort of way.  I mean by the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper.  Our Lord binds Himself to me, forgives all my uncleanness, and draws me into His loving embrace.

One of the strangest changes of my move to California has been the shift in my view toward shut-ins.  I had wonderful shut-ins in Kenosha.  But visiting always created great anxiety in me.  Here, I look forward to them in a way I never did before.  This is a gift I did not expect.  The Eucharist is the lifeblood of the church.  God continues to teach me this.

“O Taste and see how gracious the Lord is; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” Psalm 34:8

Be at peace, brothers and sisters.

-DMR

Hello, Old Friend

How I have missed you so. It has been so boring around here, without your chill wind that leaves me cold and empty. What would I do without your amazing way to turn everything good into evil? What would life be like without second guessing every decision, and turning everything I say and do against me.?

Do you remember that time when you almost had me convinced that you were all there is? Depression, you are really sneaky that way. It’s almost as if you want to be my god. I’m afraid that position has already been filled, but you’re welcome to root around for a while and see what dirt you can dig up. You are good at that, I’ll grant you.

I also really appreciate how you take all of those people closest to me and twist everything around. You have a real skill at making me question everything I hold to be true. That is just awesome.

So, welcome back. Please don’t take this wrong if I say I hope you don’t stay long.

-DMR

PS you know I’m being sarcastic, right? I want you to go away, now.

Speaking at the mother ship

I just returned from speaking at the Fort Wayne seminary.  The topic, of course, was clinical depression.  It was really a two part visit.  The first part was speaking to a deaconess practicum class, and the second part was doing a “fireside” chat in the Commons with about fifty students and (if they had one) their wives.

I always feel like it is returning to the mother ship when I go home.  No matter how much I like (or dislike) what is going on at the place, it is home in many respects for me.  I feel the same way about Seward.  I don’t really have many ties to Seward anymore, but it is still my school.

The visit itself was good.  I got to catch up with some friends, etc. More importantly, I was able to speak to about fifty members of the student body (and their wives) about depression.  It was basically the same schtick I have done elsewhere (if you want to order the talk, CLICK HERE).

What do you say to a group of men who are studying to be pastors about mental illness and depression?  There’s a lot to say but I tried to keep it to a description of depression, why pastors are at risk, and ways to address it (either preventatively or in the midst of it).  I don’t know if they liked it.  Can you “like” a talk about clinical depression?  But I believe it was and is important for them to hear, and pray that there are more opportunities to do the same.

What would you tell a soon-to-be-pastor about clinical depression?  Why?

 

 

Speaking at CTS

Thought I would let the dear readers know that I will be speaking at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne on

 

Tuesday

April 12, 2011

7:00 PM

In the Commons

 

Concordia Theological Seminary

6600 N. Clinton St.

Fort Wayne, Indiana

The topic will be depression and the Lutheran pastor.  You may go to the Facebook page for the event at

https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=194920890546386

 

Let me know if you are coming.  Thanks!

-DMR (aka Todd Peperkorn

 

 

 

 

 

IMPACT: I Trust When Dark My Road

(This is a copy of the  article on my church’s web site.)

 

Messiah Lutheran Church is pleased to announce its first speaker in the IMPACT series. The IMPACT series is a series of presentations available to the community in conjunction with our fiftieth anniversary.

Our first presentation is entitled, I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression.  Our speaker is Pastor Todd A. Peperkorn, pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church.  The title of the presentation comes from Pastor Peperkorn’s book of the same title, published in 2009.

Please consider joining us for this important topic.  It is free of charge.  You may follow updates on the IMPACT series through our Facebook page:

Messiah’s Facebook Page

You may also indicate if you will be attending by going to the Facebook event:

Facebook IMPACT event: I Trust When Dark My Road

We hope to see you there!