She told him she would never, ever pray with him again. Not until he asked—maybe even begged—her to. They’d been praying together every evening for months, but during the holiday season when she’d planned special devotional time as a family, he resisted. Organized religion had not been kind to him and he was wary of such things. She was hurt and angry. How dare he set this example for the children? Did he not respect her at all? She acted out of offense instead of compassion.
So she told him to forget it. They didn’t need him there distracting from the lesson. She said a few other things too. Like she would never pray with him again.
She waited for him to close the space between them. She wanted him to want this as much as she did. But days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Before she knew it, a year had gone by and they hadn’t prayed together one time.
It became easy to forget. He had never been comfortable with it anyway. Did it really matter all that much? She prayed fervently. For him. For them. For their life together. She supposed he prayed too. About what, she didn’t know, but surely he prayed for the same things she did.
When the depression came again, the space between them became a great, yawning chasm. Not only did she not know how to bridge that gap, there were days when she didn’t want to.
Then, one day, she was on a hike with a friend. This friend told her about how he and his wife prayed together in the mornings. And though they had been married for a while, this was new for them. He told how it was awakening in him a different kind of tenderness for his wife, making their love new in unexpected ways.
As her friend spoke, she felt God gently tugging on her heart. Remember? he asked. Why are you being so prideful? So stubborn?Don’t you know these things create a space all their own? A space so wide the way back to a heart is easily lost.
Suddenly, at the thought of praying with him again, her heart swelled with a new kind of tenderness. She couldn’t wait to see him, to tell him, to start anew.
They began to pray together again. Because she asked him to. And the darkness didn’t feel quite so lonely anymore. Each time she took his hand, their hearts were joined as one. Because when you pray for someone, your heart is tendered toward them. This is why our Lord tells us to pray for our enemies. But when you pray with someone, Jesus comes and stands in the gap between you and joins his heart with both of yours. You become one.
This is how to bridge the gap: Reach out, take his hand in one of yours.
And take the hand of Jesus in the other.
~Do you pray with your Beloved who has depression? I wonder what would happen to your heart if you did? I wonder what would happen to theirs? It may feel scary, risky, to do this. Do it anyway. And God, who sees your brave heart will be faithful.
~If praying is too hard right now, can you think of another way to join your heart intimately with the Beloved? Look into their eyes, hold hands, wash their feet. Try a new way to be together.
**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 I: When You Love Someone Who has Depression
Part II: West Virginia Morning: When You Love Someone with Depression, II
Part III: Good Friday
Part IV: Interview with Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Part V: When You Love Someone Who Has Depression: Stigma