My Darkness, His Light — Depression, Part 2
My counselor was a disturbingly chipper man with bright, blue eyes and a smile. I did not want a smile. I did not want chipper. I did not know what I wanted!
He led me up the stairs to a room on the second floor of the counseling center and invited me to sit in a chair. Then, he asked me why I was there. So, I told him. I was depressed. And, before I knew it, I was telling this total stranger everything. It just poured out of me, venom and pain and tears and all. Do you know how easy it is to just dump all of your emotions on a total stranger? Very easy! Poor guy! I started feeling sorry for him. Because as I dumped, I felt better! Maybe this thing could work. Problem was, as I was dumping, there was nothing filling up the ensuing emptiness!
He asked me a simple question, “What is the lie?”
I sat there floored. You mean I had been living a lie? No, not living a lie. I had been deceived by a lie. Not just one, but many of them. In the weeks that followed, we dissected each lie and replaced it with the truth. And, here is the most important point to take home. Who is the father of lies? Satan. Who wants to destroy me? Satan.
And so I began the long road to recovery. As I mentioned last post, I developed a tool called the LifeFilter. For me, the biggest problem was in saying “yes” to every oppotunity around me. I did not know how to say “no”. In fact, if I said “no” then someone would possible not LIKE me! I might DISAPPOINT them. And then, I might make them MAD and so on and so on. Not only that, they might not let me RESCUE them. Boy, was I screwed up! I had to learn how to say “no”.
One day, I was watching the pool guys clean out my pool filter. The filter had layers of material starting with large pebbles and decreasing in size. Each level of the filter was finer and more discriminating and caught smaller and smaller particles until the water was pure.
I came up with my own filters — questions I would ask myself beginning with the largest “pebble” and moving to the most “discriminating” level. If the request someone made of me passed through all five questions, then I would say “yes”. The first time my pastor asked me to do something, I pulled out a business card sized laminated piece of cardboard and starting reading the questions. I looked up at him and this is what I said, “Right now, I would have to say ‘no’. But, if you would allow me to pray about this for a few days and talk to my wife and family, I might change my mind.” Mark’s mouth fell open. His eyes widened. “You never tell me ‘no’!”
I shrugged. “From now on, I have no choice. If you want a quick answer it will always be no.”
And so, a few months later, we sat at lunch contemplating writing a book on depression. As I mentioned, we would emphasize the nature of depression as an ILLNESS, not a lack of faith.
After arriving at the 30 day format, we outlined the book and began working on a book proposal. We thought if we could nail down the first week, we could begin contacting a publisher. At this point, Mark had one book published and I had my collection of children’s plays. So, technically we were published authors. But, we did not have an agent. We did not have a working relationship with a good publisher. We were shooting in the dark!
By that summer, we had the outline for the book worked out and started writing on the first week. I remember sitting at my dining room table on Halloween working on my part of week one while handing out candy to trick or treaters. By the first week of November, we had our book proposal. Now what?
Mark had an inspiration. Five years before, we had both attended a writer’s conference in New Orleans. It was the third year in a row we had gone to this conference and we had met some editors. One editor, Len Goss, had almost accepted one of my manuscripts for a book. But, it had died in committee. See why I hate committees?
Mark had made a commitment to put on a marriage seminar in Nashville, Tennessee the third week in November. And, he had learned that Len Goss had become the chief acquisition editor for Broadman & Holman headquartered in Nashville. I was also off the week before the seminar so Mark contacted Len and asked if we could have lunch with him. No mention of the book, just lunch. Len agreed and so we flew up to Nashville.
I had insisted on putting the book proposal in a clear plastic folder so the title would be visible, a trick I had read about on the internet. We met Len for lunch and went to a restaurant with a buffet. Mark and I had worked out our strategy on presenting the book because Len was unaware of this real reason for our visit. Mostly, this meant for me to let Mark do the talking.
We got in line at the buffet and Len reached our table first. I had placed the book proposal on the table. I followed and sat down, keeping my mouth firmly closed awaiting Mark’s arrival from getting his food. Len picked up the folder. My heart raced and I almost threw up. He looked at the title through the clear plastic.
“What is this?” he asked.
“A book proposal. Mark and I want to write a book on depression. He’ll do the spiritual part and I’ll cover the medical.” I managed to say with a very dry mouth and thick tongue.
Len was quiet as he studied the folder. He gently placed it on the table and frowned. “Someone I care deeply about has been fighting depression. Did you know there are no good books out there on depression for Christians? They all just seem to say ‘have more faith’. I think we’ll take the book.” He started eating.
Mark arrived and sat down and started into his presentation and I kept trying to interrupt. Finally, Mark looked at me and I said, “Len said he wants the book.”
Now, it wasn’t that easy from that point on. We had to go before the committee. We had to fight for the inclusion of our LifeFilters as tear out cards in the back of the book and this was almost a deal breaker. But, finally, two years after that meeting, “Conquering Depression: A Thirty Day Plan to Finding Happiness” hit the bookshelves. And, although it has never been a best seller, it has been as “consistent back list seller”. Most importantly, although Mark and I have made very little off the book in the last ten years, it has been amazing how many lives the book has saved.
Yes, I said how many lives the book has saved!
You see, as dark and constricting and suffocating and horrendously painful my depression was; as hard as it is to keep it at bay; as hard as it has been to fight to keep the book going; I never imagined God would use my pain and suffering to help others, much less save their lives. In my darkness, God showed His light! Now, I can truly praise God for my depression. For, it made me stronger and deepened my faith and brought me closer to my Savior. And, through my travails, God has used those pains and sufferings to help others.
In the third post, I’ll share some of the stories of those who were helped by this book. Check out our website at www.conqueringdepression.com .