Through a series of peculiar events, I am serving as a delegate to the 2010 LCMS Convention in Houston, Texas. You may follow my general thoughts about it here. One event today kind of served as a trigger for me that I thought would be worth reflection upon here.
Since my illness, I have been less comfortable around large crowds, loud noises, and kind of close in, packed situations. Tonight I had opportunity to go to an awesome baseball game where the Cardinals whooped the Astros 8-0. (GO CARDS!) The game was good. It was fun. I love baseball and so much about it and the culture which surrounds it. But at the end of the game when we were getting up to leave, the people around us looked at us funny. I couldn’t figure out why no one was getting up. The game was over, and the home team got trounced. Don’t these people ever leave?
It turns out that this Friday they were have a fireworks display after the game.
Now those of you who have been reading this for a while might remember that fireworks are one of those triggers for me. You can read more about it here. So when I heard that they were having fireworks, it was as if 15000 people all sorta crowded in around me asking, “So, Todd, are you going to stay?” I kinda freaked out, and left rather abruptly.
I’m fine. Just so we’re clear.
This little mini-event reminded me of how certain things can serve as triggers. Sights, sounds, smells. There are some things that I haven’t been able to really enjoy since I was on disability, because I associate them with my illness. Golf and woodworking both come to mind.
I think all of us have these events or things that trigger certain memories or feelings. What are yours? How do you address them? Do they derail you, or is it just a passing feeling that improves over time?
A part of what helps me in these situations is being able to externalize them. If I can recognize what is going on, that allows me to maintain a modicum of control and perspective on the whole matter. For those of you who are into E.Q. type stuff, this would fall under self-awareness. This process has allowed me to move forward through such events and not allow them to paralyze me.
What think ye? Is this common or a peculiar Peperkornism?
Lutherans are often portrayed as being a “Lent” sort of people. Somber, slow chorales. A generally dark disposition. Anyone who looks too cheerful and happy must be a charismatic or something. Yet, if anyone is too sad or (ahem) depressed, they must not know Jesus loves them. Sometimes it’s hard being Lutheran
Yet in comes the season of Advent! Advent, which it’s joyous and hopeful hymnody, yet penitential character, seems to me to reflect perfectly the paradox which is Lutheranism, and dare I say Christianity itself. We receive the Gifts now, but they are not here in their fulness. We look for the coming of the Savior, but we do so with both repentance and joy. Our readings for the season do not reflect simply a period of pre-Christmas. Rather, they focus on Jesus entrance into Jerusalem to die, his return in glory, and the preparation of repentance preached by John and all the prophets.
So as a Lutheran pastor who suffers from clinical depression, I find a great deal of joy in the season. In a chemically toned down sort of way, of course. The season reflects perfectly what it means for me to be a Christian today. I am torn between rejoicing in God’s gifts now and wanting it all to be over so we can get to the good stuff.
For most people suffering from depression, we are entering into the darkest period. It is winter, so less sunlight. It is the “holiday” season, so we have extended interaction with family, and all the conflict which inevitably ensues. For pastors, this is the start of the 3-4 busiest months of the year in terms of preaching and catechesis. EVERYTHING happens from December to early April. I always feel like I should get a medal after Easter.
Yet there is hope in this season. It stands in stark contrast to the fake and plastic joy of our culture. The hope which Christ offers is real, not contrived. There is an end, there is joy now, and Christ Himself is coming.
Be at peace, brothers and sisters. Our Lord is coming. Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus!
Beginning this afternoon, I am being interview on Issues Etc for a three-part series on the book, I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression. I will post the links to them as they are available online, but in the meantime, please make a point of listening live if you are able!
Here’s the Link:
Great new blog. Check it out.
Well, we just hit 61 readers who are subscribed to Dark My Road. Yeah for us! This blog has been tremendously helpful to me over the last year and a half, almost two years. I’m always amazed at finding people who read this site and relate. It just doesn’t seem that profound to me, but there is so little talk about mental illness in Lutheranism, that I guess it shouldn’t surprise me.
So who are you, gentle readers? If you’re up to it, tell us a little about yourself in the comments here, what else you would like to see, and where you go for comfort in the midst of the dark road.
Thanks for speaking up!