When the alarm goes off in the morning, she hears him sigh deeply beside her. It’s the sigh that reaches through the long span of the ages, the sigh of Adam waking from dreams of the Garden in his later years. It’s the sigh of brokenness, the loathing to open the eyes, the dread of what the day may hold. They haven’t even gotten out of bed yet and already defeat sits heavy on her chest.
Right then, she has a choice. And too often she has chosen the way of anger, of bitterness and frustration, of sorrow.
But today, because spring is coming on and she can hear the robins singing lustily outside the window, today she makes another choice.
Before she opens her eyes, she whispers the words tucked into her heart.
“Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I’ll lift up my soul.” (Psalm 143:7-8)
The words are wooden, lifeless, remote. There, on the edge of sleep they do not have a body to animate their meaning. She lifts the covers, swings her legs around and plants her feet on the floor. She knows the way to bring the words to life. It’s the only thing that works for her lately. She moves quietly down the stairs and sits by the bay. She watches the first fingers of light stroke the earth tenderly. Already, she feels the Spirit move within her. She fingers the oniony pages that breathe life until she finds what she is looking for.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8)
Ten minutes. That’s all it took. But some days the weight of those ten minutes is too heavy to move her out of bed.
“The Christian must not only accept suffering,” says Thomas Merton, “he must make it holy. Nothing so easily becomes unholy as suffering.”
Only faith in God can consecrate suffering, he says. Suffering by itself is evil, but when we seek God within it, we are able to receive more abundantly the mercy and grace of God.
Why is this so hard to do? To deliberately hand over this pain? Because it feels like it is not hers to give. She is a bystander, an observer. At first blush, these seem to claim the passive role. Hasn’t she already begged for action? Hasn’t she bumped up against that wall time and time again?
But this darkness covers the entire household. She watches helplessly as it enfolds her children, inking out the light of the early years. And she knows she must be the one who acts. So she begins. She declares war on the dark. She fights it with light, with Words of Light. She knows the light is more powerful than the dark. It only requires a flint.
She resolves to let beauty be that spark. Whenever the dark threatens, this is where she will go. Into beauty and light.
~look up some Bible verses that strengthen your resolve and fill your heart with light.
~try to commit at least one of these verses to memory so that you can make it your prayer first thing in the morning–even before opening your eyes.
~find the thing that moves your thoughts to a better place. For me, it’s watching the sky flood with light first thing in the morning. It might be music, or gardening, or a puppy. Seek out quiet moments to invest here. And let your soul be strengthened.
**This Friday series contains reflections on loving someone who has Depression. If you are in this place, or know someone who is, I hope you’ll join me in this journey. These words cannot replace medical or psychological treatment, but I hope they will be a source of encouragement.
Part One: When You Love Someone Who Has Depression