What to do when LIFE happens
I just posted this on my Conquering Depression blog so I wanted to share it with my reading followers.
My wife, at diverse times, is convinced I am crazy.
Okay, so maybe my behavior, at diverse times, is consistent with her conclusion. For instance, it was mid February. Sherry and I had just returned from a much needed break, a trip to Orlando to relax and have fun and visit our dear friends Mark and Donna Sutton. On a Wednesday afternoon, Mark and I spent several hours brainstorming a devotion book to accompany “Hope Again”. In a rather alarming revelation, Mark told me he had gone to have a check up the day before and his doctor wanted to keep him overnight for a cardiac treadmill. But, Mark told them he had to keep his appointment with me! Wait a minute, I said. You refused a treadmill because you might have heart problems so you could meet with me?
No problem, he told me. I’ll go next week and have the treadmill. Now, where were we?
Back to mid February, the week after we returned. We left a warm, February sunshiny day and returned to a very rare event in Louisiana. On Monday a snow storm combined with an ice storm descended on our fair city. By late afternoon, almost six inches of snow had fallen. And, this is where my wife was convinced I was crazy.
You see, I was off a second week in a row and “life” had hit us with as much ferocity as the ice/snow storm. This is why I haven’t posted a blog in months! I was stressed out and tired and exhausted and spiritually weakened. Even a trip to Walt Disney World the week before had not lifted my spirits. Now, we were going to be snowed in for a couple of days with no chance of getting out on our icy roads. And, to make it worse, the satellite was covered in six inches of snow so no television! Thank goodness the internet still worked or my daughter would have imploded.
Just before lunch, I peeked out my front door. Huge flakes of snow were tumbling out of a gray sky. I stepped out into the cold and settled into one of my Micky Mouse rocking chairs on our front porch. As I sat down I realized these rockers were not used often enough. For I was enveloped in quiet. No cars barreled down the road. No construction workers banged and sawed in the distance on the new homes going up around the corner. It was ominously, creepily, deathly quiet!
Why did death have to enter into my mind? Because, Bruce, you are depressed. After weeks of trying to shore up my wife’s spirits as we dealt with her aging mother as she was slowly being smothered by dementia, I realized I was depressed. Not due to any particular decisions I had made. Not due to any aberrant behavior. Not due to sliding back into my “stinking thinking” of the past. No, Life was happening and when Life and Circumstances push me into Survival Mode, if I don’t pull out of it, I will get depressed. I am aware of this. I KNOW this. I look for the warning signs and when I see Depression sinking its claws into my flesh, I kickstart my Plan and get to work.
Part of my Plan is to turn off the Tech and to retreat from distractions so I can be still and listen for God’s voice. As I sat there in that rocker draped in silence I merely watched as snow fell. It tumbled out of the gray sky in frisky, frolicking flakes. They danced on the still air. At times, the flakes would join into one big clump as if there were more fun in numbers. At times, a lone flake would slow its descent and weave and skate on the air until it managed to make its way under the eaves of my porch to land my knee. It would not last long. I wondered, if it could think what would cross through its frozen mind? Certainly not THAT song! But, would it even know where it had come to rest? Would it be aware of the brevity of its existence? Would it reflect on its journey from heaven to earth only to melt on the warm knee of a troubled human?
The flakes continued to fall and blanket the earth. The dirty brown driveway became a river of glistening white. The dead grass reclined beneath a quilt of newborn white. My wife’s camellia bush grabbed clumps of snow with its green leaves and the brilliantly bright red flowers glowed against their white capes. Soon, all was quiet and still to the point I could hear the snowflakes gentle susurration as they bumped against each other.
Be still and know that I am God. Be still, Bruce.
C. S. Lewis talks about a word that describes a transcendent moment in a person’s perception when everything around us converges into one incredible awesome revelation of the Divine. Numinous, he calls it. A numinous moment. I have had many in my life. I had one that morning. For as I watched the snow fall and cleanse the air and cleanse the earth, I realized God was cleaning my soul, stripping away the worry, the anxiety, the debris. He was saying, “Bruce, I am here. In the midst of your turmoil, I am peace. In the whirlpool of your sorrow, I am joy. Be still and KNOW me. Be still so I can speak to you through my creation, through my Holy Spirit, through my love. For, Bruce, as I wrap my arms around the world and make it new, I will wash you whiter than snow! Behold, I am making ALL things new!”
I had been on the porch about 30 minutes when Sherry stuck her head out of the door and looked at me in shock. “What are you doing sitting out here in a tee shirt and shorts? Are you crazy?” She asked.
No, I answered, I am at peace!
Two days later, as we ventured out of the neighborhood for the first time, I got a call from Mark Sutton. He had undergone his cardiac catheterization and now, he would have to undergo quintuple bypass surgery the next day! I will share more on that later, but for that moment in time, I was glad I had taken a few moments out of me day to be still and know that He is God! For Life was happening again to my dearest friend.