It's not about me
Sometimes I just don’t feel like it. The “it” can be anything. Off and on I struggle with depression. Other than the actual depression, the worst thing is that for the most part I have always had jobs or been involved in things where you had to be “up”. In advertising, you have to be up. In teaching, you have to be up. In performing, you have to be up. Or, at least, you have to appear that way.
This effort of trying to look like everything was fine became a habit. It was how I dealt with something that was very controlling. This habit overflowed into every part of my life. If I sat in church (or played in the praise band) I had to be up. It was deception, birthed in my pride and fear.
I say fear, because I didn’t want anyone to know. The church is not very good at handling emotional illness. In fact, there are two kinds of people the church struggles with (let’s be honest): sinners and depressed people. They don’t like sinners making a mess and just want them to go away, and they don’t like people moping around. Maybe I am only speaking from my own experience, and yours is different.
I would sit through praise and preaching, and maybe even feel convicted at times. Still, I “just didn’t feel like it.” But then I began to realize that my sin, my emotional problems, and lots of other things were all tied up together. I was a broken person who had hurt many others and been hurt. God wasn’t interested in me pretending everything was ok. He wanted to shatter my pride and crush my selfishness so that I could see, really see, Him.
When I really began to look upon Jesus, it wasn’t about dancing and jumping and laughing and lifting my hands. It was about opening my eyes to what he had given up. It was about seeing agony and pain and suffering in someone who didn’t deserve any of it, but was doing it for me. It was seeing the God of everything, who had created me with an imaginative thought and nothing else (along with the rest of reality), and realizing I was so far away. I was overcome. This was not just being concerned about what someone might think of me, and it made my anxiety attacks look pretty tame. This was true fear.
I encountered God, and then His mercy, grace and love. I was weak. So weak I couldn’t even fall down. I could do nothing. And Jesus said, “That’s the point. But I have already done everything for you.” He came right into my darkest, most depressed place and faced it all for me. He did it by showing me who He really was, bloody and scary and powerful and completely beyond me, and then overpowering me with a love that none of us can even begin to describe.
Is everything fixed now? Well, my fear is gone. I am not ashamed of myself anymore. I don’t have anxiety attacks. But I still get depressed sometimes. On occasion I still get overcome by heaviness when everyone else is singing praise songs. I want to cry in the middle of dancing. But I stay thankful. Jesus stands, sits, walks, kneels right next to me. Always. That is strength, knowing I am not alone. And when you get down to it, what is it any of us really have, other than the love of Jesus?
The church I grew up in we didn’t believe in any kinds of symbols or icons, not even a cross. Anything like that was considered idolatrous. But we did have an organ—the center and focus of worship! Yes, I’m being waggish. (And so much so I am using a word like “waggish".)
But as a kid, the organ seemed pretty magical. There were buttons and sliders and stuff. We had one at home, but it didn’t seem as gloriously sacred as the one at church. The leslie speaker was right in front of the pulpit, centered and alter-like in appearance. This was surely the sound of God’s voice.
I always thought that organ had a bit of a somber or sad tone to it. Even in a lively little gospel chorus, there seemed a tinge of melancholy. Maybe that’s why I liked it, and liked to play it. There are a bunch of processed organ sounds in this song. I guess that was what I was trying to say with all this!