A few weeks, and the depression sparked by the kids’ return to school had reached an absolute breaking point. I couldn’t muster the interest for anything, had little appreciation for life, and generally wanted to sink into what we have long and lovingly deemed “the couch vortex,” where I could dwell on how truly miserable I was. After a lifetime of struggles with depression, I had thought I’d finally kicked the issue as my relationship with God deepened. And then this. I was stumped, and of course, as with most depressed people, perfectly content to give up. And then, as only the best spouses do, B called me on it.
“You don’t have anything good to say any more. What about appreciating your life a little?”
And as only the most miserable of spouses do, I threw myself into indignation. Except there wasn’t much to wallow around in there, because B was absolutely right. Negativity flowed from my mouth, founted in my mind and heart. How had that happened? Well, it happened because I turned the tap on, that’s how. I chose to focus on the faults, the downsides, the cracks.
I apologized. I turned the tap off. I opened up the fountain of positive response. And for a good week, I sounded like the most fake Pollyanna on the planet. My dear friend couldn’t help but laugh at the smirk on my face every time I said that my day was great. And B urged me not to lie.
But the thing was, it wasn’t a lie. It was just a change in perspective, a choice to see the good in each moment instead of dwelling on the bad. The Bible is all for this: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). Sure, it means that I might ignore the bad. But what’s so wrong with that? Focusing on the bad makes me look down or back. Focusing on the good focuses on the now, and in the case of the silver lining, keeps me from dwelling on what went wrong and instead begs me to ask what I learned for moving forward. And most incredibly–though not surprisingly–my joy spread through the house, to B, to my friend, to others.
Along these lines, I was brought to tears this Sunday by Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Rise.” In the past, I had considered it a song of God’s strength. But in light of my recent change, I read it differently.
There’s a peace I’ve come to know / Though my heart and flesh may fail / There’s an anchor for my soul / I can say “It is well”
Jesus has overcome / And the grave is overwhelmed / The victory is won / He is risen from the dead
[Chorus:] And I will rise when He calls my name / No more sorrow, no more pain / I will rise on eagles’ wings / Before my God fall on my knees / And rise / I will rise
There is a definite peace in saying, “It is well.” Because it is. Because no matter what grave I’m lying in–or couch vortex–Jesus rose from the dead, and His power means that I can as well. I can rise. I can let go of the sadness, the sorrow, the negativity. I can fall–but only before God–and then rise, again and again. Even with a smirk. And often, after a week, without a smirk. With genuine appreciation for what I have, for what I can learn. Not that it is easy; that couch calls to me still. But it is a choice, whether I want to admit it or not.
This week, I will continue to choose to focus on the true, the noble, the right, the pure, the lovely, the admirable. When I am down, I will think of God’s sacrifice, of the power He demonstrated, and rise. In doing so, I not only experience new life, but I share it as well.
What will you think on this week, and how will that influence those around you?