The world is a big, scary place to go. Bills and money, illness and injury, grief and mourning all await the adventurer through life. I don't know anyone who really wants to go there alone.
Be the world is more than that.
The world is also beautiful fall days, moonbathed nights, work worth doing. It's the joy of eating when you're hungry, resting when you're tired, and sprinting when life overflows from your heart. I don't know anyone who really wants to go there alone, either.
I know I don't.
Life was never meant to be lived alone.
Facing every day life without a wife is a gray experience. It's not black, but it's not color either. Some days it's a nice sepia, but I grieve the color anyway. I grieve the intimate company.
Still, marriage is asked to fill the gap of loneliness too completely. A good wife could restore a lot of that which is broken in my life, but not everything. There are areas of a man's life that a wife cannot touch, and they are hurting too. To fill those areas needs a church, and not just a congregation. To fill those areas needs a brotherhood banded together and pulling somewhere with all our combined might. A brotherhood must do what men do when they're grunting with heartfelt strain.
(And that, BTW, is the source of the whining about the church being feminized. The problem is not sissy songs, but emasculating leaders. When a pastor thrusts his fingers into every man's work, he is the one doing the emasculating, not women and not songs. And then these pastors complain that the other men won't step up and do something.)
These griefs are there every morning when I wake, and they attend me until I close my eyes, after which they meet me in my dreams. I'm writing this because today they are especially stout, but even at their best they never sleep.
Even the thrill-seekingest teenage boy knows that a day of extreme roller coasters alone is wasted. Life is a beautiful thing, filled with thrills and joys, but if you cannot even enjoy amusement alone, how so the rest of it? I'm living it alone.
So I grieve.
So I am in trouble with Christians.
Phil 4:4 & 8
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. ...
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Depression is alternately called a disease or a sin. If you are taking the "steps" to cure it, then it's a disease. But, if you are "wallowing" in it, then it's a sin. And in this way, that which is almost too much for me to bear is made by well-meaning brothers and sisters into a blockage between me and my God, too. In one swift motion, my grief is transformed into a distrust of God, into a filth before Him, into a thing of which I must repent before I can come peacefully into His presence.
But how to I repent of hurting?
Do they think I weep for the pleasure of it? Maybe I do this because it's what I've always dreamt of of doing with a beautiful Saturday afternoon? Or maybe that I'm just too lazy to "get over it." Pity parties are usually called sin, and always shameful. Weeping is usually sin, and usually shameful.
Grief, though it last for years, is honest.
I "get out." I "have fun." I have goals, and I strive for them, and achieve them. I live. I'm active in my church.
And I grieve.
I grieve for a mate, and I grieve for brothers. Neither alone would end my grieving. I accept the providence of God, and I praise Him for the many mercies He bestows on me during this time. I am blessed and covered by the One Who loves me more than a brother or a wife. I rejoice, too, in those gifts. But even as I rejoice, I rejoice alone, and a joy unshared is only half a joy. I'm standing in line for that roller coaster of a lifetime, and it just isn't what it was meant to be.
And then caring people need to fix me.
As if things weren't bad enough.
How, praytell, do they hope to fix pain? They tell me that my brain chemistry is altered, and that I no longer am seeing the world as it really is. I no longer see the bright side, because I've "got the depression." They counsel me to open my eyes wider, and to see all the things God has done. They promise me I'll snap out of it if I do. And if I don't snap out of it, then they tell me to go to a doctor. He has drugs that will restore my brain chemistry so that I can see the bright side of a well-digger's bottom!
Not this child. If I have to look at a well-digger's bottom, I want it to be dark, thank you very much.
There is a place and a wisdom in chemical therapy. I praise the Lord that He has provided it, but some fine objective observers assure me that I am not there yet.
And I still grieve. And I have for years.
And saints still try to fix me.
If the scripture counsels a brother to fix those who mourn, I have not seen it. I have seen a that brother should comfort those who mourn, and that he should weep with those who weep, but not that he should correct him. There's a place for wise counsel and caring comfort, but much that I've heard is best placed in intimate relationship to that well-digger's bottom.
You can't go too wrong weeping with those who weep - and stopping there.
This is all woven together with my search for a new understanding of predestination.
I'm sure the many ways grief and predestination might relate to each other are pretty obvious. My grief is known to God. Is it predestined? A large cause of it is my own fault and my own sin. Predestined? If I could make such massive mistakes in my life, what might I do next? Throw away my salvation? Is that possible, or not? Do I trust myself with my salvation if I might lose it? (No, I don't. You could sell tickets to my meltdown right now if I really believed my salvation were in my hands.) But, if I took up my salvation, then what is to stop me from laying it down? But where is the glory to God if my salvation is just handed to me, and I have no part in it? (That's not a question I have, but one that others ask of me.)
Hence, this series.
I am at a loss for words to tell everyone that I am not trying to convince you all to plant TULIPs in your hearts, but you are still here, so I will try.
You have all dealt with Calvinists before (whether you all consider me a Calvinist I'm not sure yet,) and you are defensive. I understand that. They/we have a world-wide reputation for intractability. I have been there, and been that. I repent in absentia to all those saints with whom I argued, but never heard.
I will post again on Eph 1 here shortly. If it leaks through that I have beliefs on the subject, please don't assume that this means that I am not listening.
Right now, today, where I am, the thought that God is more than "just hoping" good things for me is a lifeline. That He planned these gray days into my life, and that He ordained them for my good, is a salvation in itself. To suddenly find a God Who has delegated my fate into my hands seems a terrifying thing. So, when I ask everyone with what comfort Paul intends to bless the Ephesians, I am asking what comfort I should find in God if His eternal purpose is not what I thought it was. How should I get up in the morning if I know God has entrusted my fate into the hands of a moron who has already failed Him for 42 years?
I am asking these things for all the reasons I have repeated so many times in the last couple weeks. I am asking because everyone else believes I'm wrong, and that makes an impression on me. I am also asking, though, because trusting God for that which He has not promised is foolish, and I want to be wise. I want my decisions to be made with the correct facts about God before my eyes. If I trust too much to God's sovereignty, I want to know about it.
Facts change decisions, and decisions matter, because decisions lead to works. Right decisions lead to right works, and right works carry weight. Don't imagine that because I believe that God predestines, I believe I am fated and therefore need not work. On the contrary, I believe that I am fated to work, privileged to labor, and that one of the first labors is to find out what the work is.
So, here I am searching.
And that is the difference between grieving and depression.