I have blogged about depression before, and I am somewhat frustrated but not entirely surprised to find the Black Dog nipping at my heels again! In fact he isn't nipping at my heels, he has decided to come and sit firmly on my lap, shove his nose into my face and settle down for a nap... Last Thursday when I found myself unable to answer the phone, I knew that the depression which I had been battling against for probably just over a year had decided that enough was enough and I had to stop. So I stopped. I stopped, went to my GP and agreed with his assessment that I needed to be signed off.
Over the last few months I have struggled with feelings of despair, over the last few days with feelings of guilt, surely I should be working, surely people need me.... I have had to pull myself up short and ask myself when I developed a Messiah complex. With that came another realisation, the realisation of the truth that I need to drop my defences and allow God and others to offer me love and care. It is so easy to make yourself into an impenetrable fortress, especially when you have been hurt, it is also easy to lob verbal missiles from within that fortress, and to some extent I have had to admit that I had sectioned a part of myself off and was operating on two levels, by the grace of God I was able to minister, but on a personal level life was taking a toll because instead of allowing the hurt to take its course I had tried to pull myself together, prove I was OK and carry on. In short instead of living fully from my true self, I had been living from my ego, and the ego is very defensive. Christ comes calling us beyond ourselves, calling us to allow the Holy Spirit to pray in and through us, calling us to be open to holy, divine love, to allow the God of Love to re-create us.
As I was pondering that I began to reflect upon the Parble of the Lost Son, as the story unfolds and he has lost all that he tried to build in the "foreign land", when his resources were depleted and his friends were gone, when he found himself hungry and alone we are told that "he came to himself", and it was at that point that he set his sights on home.
I am grateful that I know the end of that parable, that I know that the son was received with joy and celebration, restored to his father and his home, but my he had to grapple with his ego to get there, he had to see himself as he was and to return in humility, Pride would have kept him with the pigs, so he laid pride aside and headed for home. In some senses I feel that, that is what I am doing, I am putting down my pride, laying aside my mask of coping, and turning in humility to the God who loves me with a deeper, wider and higher love than I can possibly ask for or imagine.
I need this time off, I need to rest and reflect, I need to stop trying to fix things and allow myself to feel the hurst and to grieve the losses of the last few years. I am brought back then to the Methodist Covenant prayer, a part of my tradition that is both powerful and challenging, but in it I find a comfort, that wherever I am God IS with me.
I am no longer my own, but yours Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.'
I am laid aside for now, but I am God's beloved, and as a friend reminded me recently, he delights in me, and all will be well.