By Amber Kinloch
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone.”Isaiah 9:1
I’ve been struggling of late as I’ve confronted certain sins and been struck full force with the realization of how attached I am to them. Over and over again, I find myself lapsing back into the same old sins while I never put up a fight against temptation or lift a finger to help myself grow in virtue.
That’s when the fog of melancholy settles over me. It’s a sign that I’m counting too much on myself. I need God’s help and I need to make a more sincere effort. I need to strive for the heights like the saints instead of settling for staying afloat. But I just don’t want to. I don’t want to give up my sins, and I don’t want to trust God, to give Him everything in the radical way He’s asking me to.
This cycle of sin, temptation, and weakness is vicious. It’s like being caught in a whirlpool. If you don’t get out, you will be sucked down.
Amidst all this, one thing keeps returning to me: my past experience with depression. I remember that period of time and the darkness that choked me daily. I remember the times I grappled with suicidal thoughts, and I think, “I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t have survived what I did.”
And it’s true.
A long time passed before I told anyone I was depressed. I didn’t tell anyone when I was having a bad day. Only once did I admit that I was grappling with suicidal thoughts, and only then because I felt my emotions were truly out of my control.
I had all this support close at hand, and I shunned it. My presence here is clearly all due to God’s grace.
A lot of people shy away from suffering. They don’t want to talk about it, or they have to put an artificially happy spin on it. Perhaps the memory of it is still too raw and painful to face. Maybe they feel that thinking or talking about it will just induce more suffering or be a near occasion of sin for others.
Still, too often, I think we miss the gift in pondering past suffering. Looking back, thinking how I shouldn’t be here, I am encouraged, not discouraged.
I know I am a better person than I was a few years back. I am still struggling, but I know with certainty that I cared less for God back then. And yet even at that point, He helped and sustained me. Will He not continue to do so?
I shouldn’t be here, but I am. This is the mark depression has left on me: hope.
What about you? Has your suffering left any wounds that have healed into marks of hope?
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.
Amber, I too, share your suffering. I continue to struggle with the same sin that I’ve struggled with most of my life, in one form or another, Pride.
The viscous cycle you described had also gripped me in the past to the same point, where I thought I had no options. I attempted suicide. Thanks be to God, I am still here. But I too, am not that person who despaired, lost hope. It was through God’s mercy & grace that I came back to him, the one who never gives up on us, even when we give up on him. He welcomes us back into his loving comfort and consoles us. Walks with us, and, if necessary, carries us. He teaches us to unite our suffering to him and to turn our suffering into joy.
As I look back to what my life was like then, and what my life is like now, I too gain strength and comfort that no matter what trials & tribulations I may have to endure (crosses to bear) I know that I have a friend who has suffered immensely more than I and I can take comfort in him. The Anima Christi prayer is my go to prayer when I begin to feel disheartened and discouraged.
May our loving, merciful, and compassionate God continue to Bless you and keep you safe.
Your brother in Christ,