This was a big clue for me.
After our Lenten fast was over and we had a few dollars to spend, we made this board so I could get some of the things in my head out where the family could benefit from it.
During the spring and summer, I filled it. Religiously. With all the lists and quotes and gratitudes I could think of. The boys added to it a little. They knew what was coming up. They looked and stopped asking, "What's for dinner?" It worked well.
It's been empty for a month.
Q: How do you know you're falling? Sinking into the past? Operating out of a former reality instead of moving into the next one? Stalling out in the mire of grief, unanswerable questions, and pain?
A: When you drop the things that are most like you. I didn't weed the beds, didn't check the grades, didn't journal, didn't read. I didn't organize the family's calendar, finances, meals, activities. I could only do what was in front of me, with strong sighs and weak resolve.
There's the weight loss, the bad dreams, the emptiness; all signs of depression. And when it lingers into the second and third months you stop talking about it, hiding it because the friends have moved on and you probably should have too. When you asked me how I was and I said, "Hanging in there," it was as honest as I could be, a lid to prevent the deep well from bubbling up. Again.
I read this week that mourning is a maturing process. We push through it to recovery, acceptance. But depression doesn't move toward maturity. It leaves us stuck. And you can only tread water for so long before you sink.
The fourth chapter of James addresses it all. And, thanks be to God, he says, "It's expected. It's necessary."
The chapter begins with a fight for control, one that ballooned up into murderous proportions, where spirits were stunted, selfishness reigned. James knows that the only thing fit to follow the coarse is the curative. That the way to mend a heart is to exhume it. Let it out. Feel it. Be angry.
Sit in the "second storm" and let God realign the spirit he's looking for. James, like a loving older brother, holds our hand and says, "Here's how to do it."
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. JAMES 4:7-10Submit yourselves to God. Work with him. Hand in your victim badge. You're not entitled to feel belittled, betrayed, or beaten forever. He's not wasting this. Not for a minute.
Resist the devil. Use the wisdom from above that James already lined out..look it up. Put some distance between you and the thing that bubbled into destruction. Practice virtue. Make some breaks no matter how hard they might be.
Draw near to God. This is what the spiritual disciplines are for. I'm engaging the Discipline of the Present. But there's also solitude, fasting, study, gratitude. James would suggest controlling your tongue, caring for the poor, practicing peace.
Cleanse and purify. Because nothing wise will come unless we're first of all pure. He's said it before and he's saying it again, "Get rid of the double-mindedness." Are we believing the truth about ourselves or about others? Get the motives right. Let go of that vice you've got a death grip on. That selfish ambition is so yesterday.
Mourn. It's part of the cleansing. It's the only way to move from being that old kind of human to being new. Humility is the answer to strife.
This is how we get to humble, how we see ourselves through God's eyes, loved and lifted.
Yesterday: Grieve, mourn, wail.
Today: Cook. Plan. Think. Love.