Good Friday: When You Love Someone with Depression, III


Before I open my eyes this morning I hear the rain lapping at the roof. The sky is gray and filled with endless weeping. Holy week has been a series of storms and I am tired. Good Friday—day of suffering and day of hope, day of darkness and light, day of grief and day of joy. Day of the cross.

Last night, for Maundy Thursday service, I shared a brief homily about the mandatum novum—the new command Jesus gave his disciples the night of the Last Supper: You also should love one another. All the while I was aware of my own gaping lack thereof.

I lost my temper early in the week. On Palm Sunday, I stood in our living room and let anger course through me and out of me and fall like a dagger into his heart. When you love someone who has depression everything becomes about them. Every decision is seen through the gray cloud of how they will be affected; problem-solving narrows down to two choices—black or white, and there is little discussion not met with predictions of certain disaster. Depression makes the world very small and possibility impossible. This would appear to be a selfish thing if the one suffering was choosing this way, but they are not aware of the blinders they wear. To gently suggest alternative ways of thinking, ways of seeing—this can become a heavy burden after a time.

I buckled under the weight. And in the doing so added those heavy stones of regret and shame. Love felt far away.

For Jesus, love was not only a feeling. It meant action. It meant putting hand to the plow of love and planting its seeds. Jesus loved by caring for the unloved—by eating with outcasts and sinners, by healing the untouchables and challenging legalism. He stretched the boundaries of what we know of love.

Love one another.

He called it a new command, but it wasn’t new, was it? He had already told them that the greatest commandment was to love—both God and neighbor. But this word, this word translated as “new” in the scripture? It means, “new as respect to form or substance; fresh, uncommon, unprecedented…”

Was Jesus telling us to find new ways to show love? Creative ways, ways that make people sit up and notice? Was he saying, “don’t stop with the usual, I’m calling for more than candy and flowers here. Any little way you can show love … do it.” Choose love when your heart feels least like doing so. Choose love. Get to know your heart intimately and let love be the antidote to every bit of ugly that beats through it. Return hate with love, let love extinguish anger, fight oppression with love, when your heart recoils in disgust, reach out in love.

To love someone with depression means to choose love.

How? It sounds so easy, and some days it is, but other days? That choice is a millstone around my neck. In my devotional this morning I read an essay by Watchman Nee who said, “The secret of deliverance from sin is not to do something but to rest on what God has done.” Because I believe the Easter story, I can do this. When I rest in the work of the cross, I am free. It is because of this freedom that I can then act out of love. But surrender comes first. I realize that my actions are an extension of the grace given by God. I am free to ask forgiveness, I am free to reach across the great expanse depression creates and choose love.


~I need reminded regularly of the bigger picture of God’s love. Read the Good Friday story. Jesus showed love, even from the cross. (“Father, forgive them … ”) Say a prayer of thanks for the redemption he bought.

~What is one way you can choose love today? Think of a new way to show love to the person with depression in your life—a way that cannot be overlooked, one that demands special thought and effort on your part.

~Are you praying scripture?

~Begin to notice when your loved one’s thinking is black and white. Gently suggest alternative ways of seeing things that might open his or her eyes.

**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
Part Two: When You Love Someone Who Has Depression, II

The Joy of Dying

On Good Friday we all sleep in. After breakfast, I take them for haircuts and we buy new shirts for Easter. We go out for lunch and as I study my full plate, I am wounded. It’s been an upside down Lent with none of my usual disciplines and this full plate on Good Friday feels like betrayal.
The women followed him all the way from Galilee. The Gospel of Luke tells us that when he hung on the cross, the women stood at a distance, watching these things.
They did not let the horror that was taking place before them cause them to avert their eyes. And yet…my eyes shift with the smallest of distractions.
How can I yet forget his love so easily?
When we return home, I need to step away from this world that clutches at my heart and wraps around it like ivy—weaving it blind. We go into the woods and here I can breathe. It’s the silence of the tomb but this quiet works its resurrection. And this is the joy of dying—this expectation of a new birth. 
We wait with bated breath.

With my sandy, the

Playdates: The Last Supper

Good Friday looms gray and the sky roars. We awaken to pounding rain, the house shakes with thunder. I press my forehead to the window and look up into white skies, draw breath at swaying trees.

Surely the Kingdom is breaking through…lamenting the memory that bleeds deep into the earth on this day.

It is also the first day of spring break. The boys stand beside me and stare at the rain. They know. There will be no wildflower hike today. No badminton or a day trip to one of the state parks. It’s an inside day.

By noon the rain has slowed to a soft drizzle so I pile them in the van, grab my Bible and we go searching for a holy moment in this soggy day. I’ve wanted to see since I heard the testimony from a dead man—his dear friend spoke of how his deceased friend brought a small group to this place…how it moved them all.

But it seemed odd to look for life in the place where the dead sleeps. So I never went. But today, I need life-giving moments. I need to remember. And I want them to too.

So we drive to the cemetery.

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I get the key to the mausoleum from the office and the caretaker asks, have you been here before? Have you seen it?

No, I say. This is the first time.

He smiles and says he hopes we enjoy. It’s life sized, you know.

We drive up the narrow ribbon, squeeze in between the dead and my boys are quiet. I wonder to myself, have they ever been to a cemetery before? And the answer is no and for a moment, I shiver at God’s great mercy.

The flowers have been placed and they roll out endlessly before us and there are sculpture gardens in between and I say, it’s pretty, isn’t it? But the place we are going is in the very back of the cemetery and I park and we get out and they still don’t have words.

I unlock the door and we enter slow, peek around the corner.

They want to know why there are names on the walls. And, what does it mean if there is a birth date, but no date of death? They speak in hushed tones, as if the dead will wake, and they run fingers over names carved in stone.

We have arrived and when they see it, their questions are stilled. We sit in the chapel and let the memory fall over us. For, we do remember this night. We remember it in hearts and veins and synapses. It is part of our story.

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We stand in front of the table and study the faces and breathe deep. A sculpture, a piece of art cannot capture it all. But it helps.

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Close your eyes, I say, and listen.

They do and I read the scripture. And we hold hands and pray. When we leave, the sun has come out. I lock the doors. We drive around and look at the other sculptures. Until it starts to rain again.

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When I return the key I ask the man about the artist. He doesn’t know the name. I think he is deceased now. It’s been part of our gardens since the 1960s, he says. He first made one for a church in St. Louis. We had to have one, so we commissioned him to make another. In 1964 it was featured in the World’s Fair in New York.

But he didn’t know the name.

We are quiet the rest of the day. And the rain keeps falling.

How about you? How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. And come tell us about it.


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Poetry on the Move

April is National Poetry Month.

As we approach resurrection day, I must admit, poetry has breathed new life into my writing. It allows me to hear differently…to listen to the song of the wind and rain, to breathe the voice of trees, to still at the silence that is not silence but becomes birdsong and brush rustle when soul is subdued.
I have always loved poetry. But my interest was rekindled at this season in my life by this lady, whom I call my poetry teacher. Such grace she gave my early efforts.

Tweetspeak poetry is celebrating too. Other poetry friends are here, here, and here.
Poke around their places and you’ll find beauty.
You can sign up to receive a poem a day in your inbox right here.
A neat thing is happening in West Virginia to celebrate poetry and art.  Mountain Line Transit in Morgantown, beginning March 24th, decorated their bus interiors with the words and works of local poets and artists. To see some of the selections, visit here. I haven’t ridden a city bus for a while, but I may have to make a trip up to Morgantown for just such a treat.
And now, my offering:
Uncommon Currency
uncommon currency–
I rake my
knuckles across this
coarse exchange;
dip face into
no stones do
I hold
in my hand.
the looking-
glass was broken,
scaly eyes
earth shaken, when
you made
the transaction.
Cha-ching. you
have been
cheated; the scales
two-things, you
grace and
and I am on
my knees.
bought for a
price. that’s

A post from the archives today. This exchange with my youngest son still takes my breath away…

The Friday of Lamentation

Today is the day of the feast. My heart is ready. I have spread the banquet. My love is here. I rejoice on this Friday of Lamentation, because I know how the story ends. But my heart is tender, nonetheless.
Last night, we read Matthew’s account of Jesus’ prayers in the Garden and His arrest. I explained to the boys what Nisan 15 was, and how we know that on the night of Jesus’ arrest, there was a full moon. We parted the curtains and stared in awe at the same moon that witnessed the events of that night.

How do you think they felt when they saw Him taken away?
Quiet. Somber. Downcast eyes.
And then later, a flood of tears.
Why do you cry? I asked.
I don’t know, he said.
More tears, trembling, gasping tears.
I wrapped him in my arms.
Whispered softly in his ear: It’s Jesus.
There’s so much love, he said.
I know.

I know.

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