Response, Part I
Jan 14, 2012
I just received a beautiful comment from someone who goes by the handle anakinmcfly — see, already I like this person1 — who wrote to tell me that it’s possible to be gay and Christian. I’ve had comments like this before, but this one stood out because it showed respect where others had shown condescension, and true concern where others had shown self-righteousness.
So it deserves a response in kind, or as close as I can muster.
But one thing stood out to me – your depression, and how it’s one of the topics you talk most about. It would seem to be a warning sign that perhaps this is not how God means you to live your life. Jesus came that we may have freedom and have life abundantly (John 10:10). It suggests that if you were truly doing His will, you wouldn’t be living with the depression you currently are, and that perhaps this is a sign to reappraise things.
A.M. raises some very good points here. I agree only in a qualified way, as I will explain below.
I came to a similar conclusion several months ago. I had been reading Growth Into Manhood and generally feeling sorry for myself. After a real de profundis kind of night, I was sitting before my icon2 and praying: No, Lord, this can’t be right. This can’t be how you want me to feel.
It was already 1am, but I decided to sit there listening until he told me some way out: “I’m not going to bed,” I told him, “until I hear from you.”
I held out for 45 minutes — apparently I’m no great mystic — and then fell asleep. But the next day at Adoration I was able to identify two real problems, both linked to the depression I had been experiencing: a problem with sexual impurity, and a problem with isolation. In response to these, I made three resolutions: to join a support group, to make use of the Clean of Heart program, and to join a martial arts class.
I’m proud to say that, although it took a couple of weeks to get past the usual inertia, I followed through on all three. So that particular depression was, as A.M. suggests, a sign that I needed to reappraise things. It pointed to a real problem, and the Lord helped me take steps towards a real solution. I can’t tell you how grateful I am.
Some depressions are like that — pointing to a real problem in your life — and some are not. I’ve also had depressions that come from allowing poisonous thoughts to gain a foothold.
Thoughts of envy are sure to do the trick:
- Why aren’t you as athletic/gregarious/kind/etc. as that guy?
- Why don’t you have the relationship/wife-and-kids/set-of-talents that that guy has?
Thoughts of self-pity will do it, too:
- Why do I have to fight so hard for things that come naturally to other people?
- Why is my noticer stuck in the on position?
- Why can’t I just be normal?
When I give in to thoughts like these, I get depressed. And then I write about it, because the experience almost always teaches me something that I bet somebody can use, even if that someone is me a couple of months later. But this latter depression has nothing to do with my actual life, and everything to do with my state of mind.
I have a lot more to say, but this post is long enough, so in a concession to the age of internet-induced ADD, I’ll split it up a bit. Stay tuned.