viral depression-itis (an e-mail of explanation to my longsuffering husband)

I guess I feel I owe you an explanation on things. I know you’re not expecting one and that’s a sign of your maturity; nevertheless I feel prompted to write now, and I don’t have anyone else to whom to write, either for their sake or mine.

Do you remember in Maine when I was compelled to give up social media once and for all, and I told you how it made me feel sad?  

On Saturday of this past weekend, with a flood of emotion and physical pain, it was shown to me – at least in part – why this covetousness in me is such a problem, why it is ruining my life. I didn’t receive it at first as conviction because I turned it totally inward and used it as an opportunity to indulge in my self-pitying flesh (Galatians 5:13). My pride was hurt.

But now I see that this is real and true conviction because without any seeking on my behalf, God has mixed this reality with the knowledge in my mind and heart and spun the whole thing around to face Himself. And in the past 48 hours (having spiritual realizations like this while teaching bible study is an interesting experience), I have been left with a choice — a choice that, I admit, I am avoiding making because I know that the longer I let it sit untouched, the less important I think it will seem.

The choice before me is whether or not to be willing to repent. That sounds silly — I am aware. Who wouldn’t want to just leave something like this behind and begin again?

But my discomfort and lack of ease comes because the stakes are really high in this choice. This is boiling down to “deny myself” in the deepest way — to deny myself the things that up until now I’ve assumed were ways that god had made me; to deny myself all the ways of thinking I have ever known, that have gotten me anywhere I’ve ever been. And these past two days have seemed to be a “trial period” of sorts where god is gently showing me what life is going to have to be like if I decide to lay this down – and it is not a slow deconstruction, but complete obliteration. And it sucks.

And I’m ashamed to admit it (save for the one biblical phrase of “counting the cost” that has given me some mild consolation), but I’m considering my options. If I don’t or can’t or won’t lay it down, I know what that means for me spiritually: a dead end. But like the rich young ruler, I am saddened by the loss that is before me otherwise. It feels like saying goodbye to my very closest friend knowing that she’s going to have to die and I’m going to be the one to kill her. Which just proves the very thing I most recently taught on: we will always have a soft spot for our own flesh.

I think I feel resentment toward you and the church in times like these because it is such an added pressure for me to deal with such things. It’s kind of similar to how I felt when we were thinking of moving in here with your parents. I knew that subjecting ourselves to close proximity was going to bring about confrontation and revealing of bad habits, which I, naturally, wanted to avoid. (But really, who would ever go looking for confrontation like that?). Being in ministry, for better or worse (like marriage?), is making me feel manipulated in this decision, like I might choose to “go through the motions” of repenting without actually submitting to the desire to do so, just for the sake of “doing the right thing”. I sense that maybe these things are not real and instead just perceptions that I could probably be relieved from by praying, but still, this is me writing about my experience and so, it is what it is.

I am shuffling around despondent and unsure of what to live for because, I just found out (news flash!), I’m not secretly perfect as I had hoped maybe I was deep down. Instead I am quite evil and was on a path to continue ruining my life, just as I had been doing before I had even heard of this Jesus fellow.  For all these years, I had thought that I was getting away with keeping my cake safe and eating it, too.

Something you told me when we first got married was that you thought we were a good pair because we both liked to do “hard things.” And I do — or at least I used to. Hard things, to me, are defined by vertical feet, or miles, or levels of exhaustion. Hard things are defined by sweat and grit and preparation and, ultimately, victory. Hard things, however, are not defined by barely getting out of bed in the morning, or by falling to my knees in despair over a pair of arguing toddlers, or by getting up the energy to eat a proper meal.  What do you think?

There’s not a note here upon which to resolve, as I’m not quite sure in which key I am writing: hopeful or hopeless? Hormonal or genuine? Sorry or self-justified? Is it the headache of the viral meningitis talking, or the burning unanswered questions of viral depression-itis?

I do know that I’m forgiven, both by you and also by the Lord, and I am thankful that such extended grace is prevalent in my life. And I trust that this is just another spin of the sanctification rotisserie, for you and for me both. But I don’t want to be strangers in the same bed, orbiting minds. And I don’t want to be mad at you anymore for being the better person, the more mature person, the one winning the Christian race to which I have you pegged.

I was wrong, I’m sorry, and I love you. And this is what’s going on with me. How’s your heart? 

Maybe I’ll just come out to the living room to talk?

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1 Response to viral depression-itis (an e-mail of explanation to my longsuffering husband)

  1. Melissa says:

    Thank you for being so bold in sharing your walk with us. I find comfort in your words as they are authentic. We all struggle and it is good to share these struggles, we are not alone in them.
    Love you!

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