08 October, 2006

Predestination: Grieving versus Depression versus Predestination

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.

I protest.

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.

24 comments:

Milly said...

You know how I feel. I won’t toss in a Milly story I understand depression, members of my family experience it. Some take medication some don’t. I myself have dealt with it. We are Christians don’t let anyone tell you differently. Not even Kevin. You need to know that you are changing someone with your words they know that they aren’t alone in this world.

Kansas Bob said...

When my wife died I grieved (in some sense you never stop grieving - loss is loss) and felt desperately alone ... I'll never forget that feeling. People that talked about being lonely just didn't understand ... I was not lonely ... I was alone ... those who haven't walked through this valley don't get it.

Kevin, I agree with Milly. Your posts are so thoughtfully transparent ... they are changing lives. I appreciate you and pray God's best for you.

Andreia said...

Kevin
I am certainly no expert in depression but I have to say that the clarity with which you express yourself, hints to me at your complete and total sanity. The ability to clearly define where you are and to claim where you want to be is in my humble opinion is a huge blessing to those of us that can not as clearly state the feelings that you have expressed here.

My heart breaks for your loneliness. Your words echo what I have heard from my sister-in-law who became a widow at 38. I wish I could in a movie moment fix it all for you both.

codepoke said...

I'm not often scared to read the comments on a post. Thank you for accepting my rant so warmly.

I probably need to follow it up with an equally intense post on the wonderful things that brighten my life, because God really has been good to me these last three years. If I'm not as happy as I once may have been, I'm certainly much richer than I've ever been. I am tossed, but He remains.

If I do such a post, it will be entitled, "The Lesser Light to rule the night." It would be about the movie moments happening in the invisible places deep in Christ.

Thank you all.

Karen said...

I'm grieving many things, as well, Kevin, and I'm praying for you in this season.
I understand depression, as well.
You aren't alone, and we thank you for your transparency and vulnerability.

DugALug said...

CP,

There are many things I jest about, but grieving certainly isn't one of them.

All of these posts are great, but they pale compared to the issues of the heart.

Theology is a millstone that we choose to tie around our own necks and jump into the deepest of water. When we get too focused into the words and lose the 'spirit' of the message; we lose sight of God's true vision.

God knew this was mankind's problem and told us to 'consider the lillies of the field' or 'cast your cares upon Me.' We know God says to seek and we shall find, but I think He finds our disection of every jot and tiddle, an effort of futility because He wants us to know Him, not just about Him.

My prayers go out to you brother.

God Bless
Doug

Danny Kaye said...

CP, your heart comes through with every word, here.

You say that you are in trouble with Christians. I think not. In fact, the passage you quoted from Phil. 4 was not exactly written from the most glorious of lacations, such as New England in the Autumn. Paul was most likely feeling much of what you are feeling now: striving for contentedness yet struggling with wanting a "better" life circumstance.

Now, if I might be so bold, could I ask you a question that might pry into your personal life a little deeper than you would like? Yes? OK...

(This has nothing to do with your struggles with PD or NPD.) You are alone without a wife. You are not happy with that.
Are you going out on any dates? I know that a wife is not the total answer to Christian joy. But it is a tremendous help!

OK...forget the potential marriage issue for a sec. There must be single Christian women in your church. Going on a date is NOT a lifetime commitment. But it IS fun to date and get to know the sisters.

codepoke said...

Thank you, Karen. There is nothing that has befallen me except that which is common to man. I just whine uncommonly loudly.

My heart goes out for the couple things you've shared over at the Sword, too. I'm glad we're not alone together!

codepoke said...

Doug,

Theology is a millstone that we choose to tie around our own necks and jump into the deepest of water.

It certainly can be that. Be it can also be a life preserver. When I dive into theology, I am hoping to let a little of the granite out of my flotation device.

My prayers go out to you brother.

Thanks, brother.

codepoke said...

Hey, hey, DK!

Are you going out on any dates?

What's with the getting all practical? ;-D

It's a fair question. I tried my chances once a short while back, and made a friend, so that's a good thing. And the pastor's wife set me up the other week, so it looks like I will be going on my first date in 20+ years next week.

But it IS fun to date and get to know the sisters.

I've heard that. I have some doubts whether I'm wired that way, but let's see what's changed over the past 20 years.

Rich said...

Kevin,

The ache in you resonates. I never know what to say, but I hurt hearing you, so I'll hurt with you.

Hope that's okay.

Andreia said...

first date in 20+ years next week
Now that is a blog entry for sure!! Woo-hoo!

Lynne said...

I hardly know how to respond to this, when a brother shares his heart it is holy ground, and i am scared of giving a crass, shallow response. I do know what it is to be condemned by other christians for suffering -- I was in a home church when i was struggling through my abuse issues and I was told that I was hurting because of my lack of faith and that Jesus wouldn't have reacted the way I did in the same situation! (yeah, and these guys were calvinists too!)
God never leaves us totally comortless. If He has laid an aspect of His truth on your heart for this season, hold fast to it! We may argue over the nuances of predestination, and how one scripture interscects with another, but there is scriptural truth there (eg "you have not chosen me, but I have chosen you" or "none can pluck them from my hand") which is truth you can rest upon while God carries you through the pain of this present season.
Thank you for sharing this stuff, for keeping this discussion grounded in the reality of life. Ypou have touched all our hearts.

Danny Kaye said...

"Now that is a blog entry for sure!! Woo-hoo!"

My sentiments EXACTLY, Andreia!

Let's not let him off the hook easily, folks.

codepoke said...

Lynne and Rich,

Thank you. I'm sure you know how comforting it is not to be told you are crazy. :-) Or even to be told you are not crazy.

codepoke said...

Andreia and DK,

"Now that is a blog entry for sure!! Woo-hoo!"

My sentiments EXACTLY, Andreia!

Let's not let him off the hook easily, folks.


OK. You want searing honesty! Here's some searing honesty.

I have no clue what to say about a date. And you don't know what I mean by that. In 42 years of living, I never once told anyone anything about anything that ever happened on any of the handful of dates I ever had. Come to think of it, no one ever asked. There wasn't ever anyone who wanted to know.

So, when you guys say these things I get very confused. And when I get confused, I flee. Ya'll are friendly and supportive, though, so I am working now to overcome my turtle reflex. My assumption is that talking about a date is a bad thing, but I have no idea why I think that. Heck, just talking about talking about this, I feel myself turning beet red.

My immediate reaction was to flippantly announce that no post would ever ooze from my pen. Being's how I am probably the world's least instructed person in these matters, though, I will listen to wisdom instead.

Fire away!

(Assume that anyone I would see twice will know about this blog.)

Oloryn said...

I'll agree that there are too many who miss "weep with those who weep" or seem to think it's followed by "but rebuke them if they weep too long". I tend to they're among those who tend to speak before they really listen, but then I may be harping on my own emphasis.

You have all dealt with Calvinists before (whether you all consider me a Calvinist I'm not sure yet,) and you are defensive.

I can't speak for the others, but I don't think I'm defensive. I just, after 30 years of pondering the subject, don't agree with the Calvinist viewpoint on this. What you are doing in my case is challenging this concept-juggling mapper (see here for an explanation of the term 'mapper'. I don't agree with everything said there, but I've found the mapper/packer distinction useful) to drag what (I think useful, but I could always have just reinvented the wheel) insights I've picked up on this out where they might be useful to others.

On the dating issue, as a 50-year-old single guy (I'm not sure if that makes this a positive reference or a negative one), I'd recommend getting hold of a copy of Dr Henry Cloud's How to Get a Date Worth Keeping. He takes a surprisingly practical, yet spiritual look at dating. It's quite useful. And I'll agree with you about not posting about dates. My own current adventures in this area, while in desperate need of prayer cover, aren't something I'd post to something as public as a blog.

codepoke said...

Thanks for the link to the mapper/packer page, Oloryn. I think I see where they're headed, and hope to read the article at some point. The world really seems to need someone who can translate between the mapper and packers.

It looks like everyone has moved on from this post, so I'll probably get to quietly slink away on the whole subject of posting about dates. I'm pretty cool with posting personal stuff about myself (as one may have noticed,) but I have a really hard time talking about other people. I was raised to believe that it's always wrong, even if sometimes you have to do it for specific purposes.

Danny Kaye said...

"It looks like everyone has moved on from this post, so I'll probably get to quietly slink away on the whole subject of posting about dates."

(AHA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA...(*SNIFF*)...ha-ha-haaaaa-ha)
No we haven't! What? You think a link to my site (thanks by the way) is gonna distract us vultures from the real life issues, namely...your personal life?
I think not!

However...your wishes will be respected, at least by me. I understand that your date may read this blog, and that might get...um...awkward. Have you noticed how little I write about my wife? It's not because she isn't AWESOME! She is just a little more private than I am and doesn't like stuff about her where the entire world can see it.

(On a side note: I think that is what makes bloggers...bloggers. We don't mind putting ourselves out there for the world to see and know. The internet...and indeed blogs...have given us the forum to release our thoughts for the world to know. It's a good thing!)

blestwithsons said...

I think you're attitude about not posting about your dates is pure-d class, dude.

You rock.

Not that my feminine nosiness wouldn't just love all the details, mind you. But you are VERY wise to keep it private.

Just promise you'll let us know if you ever end up getting married?
Cause I think we'd all have two words for that...Road Trip!!!

blestwithsons said...

I always type the wrong "your". I know the right one - and type the wrong one. Sheesh.

codepoke said...

DK,

You think a link to my site (thanks by the way) is gonna distract us vultures from the real life issues, namely...your personal life?

Hmmm. Must resort to plan B.

Anyone have a plan B?

I think that is what makes bloggers...bloggers. We don't mind putting ourselves out there for the world to see and know.

Yeah. I confuse myself with this sometimes. I can be every bit as big an exhibitionist in real life, but only up to this mysterious point. I cannot tell you what that point is, but it takes a herd of mules to drag me past it when it comes.

codepoke said...

Thanks all, for confirming my last shred of sanity. I thought silence was the only wise answer, but my social skills are always suspect.

Have you ever had the experience of hearing someone say a word you don't know? So you mull it over in your head, and suddenly it occurs to you that it's "THAT" word. The one that you've read in a dozen books, but that (it suddenly occurs to you) you've never heard spoken before?

Actually, that happened to me 2 days ago. A manager at work kept talking about how "ka-lee'-wee-ul" we were.

The conversation started up in my head, "Kaleweul? She means that we are team-like. Team-like. Ummm. Hmmm. Collegial? Yeah, collegial. She's saying collegial like it's french. Is collegial french? Kolj. Klejeul. Kaleweul. Bizarre. Hmmm. I wonder what I've missed in the last 10 seconds. Oh, nothing. OK."

(FTR, I cannot find a dictionary that pronounces it her way. I will tell her next week. We're good enough friends for that.)

Anyway, that's what happens when you've read a word, and never heard it spoken before. You saw it in a book, decided how to pronounce it, and went on. Lo and behold, the rest of the world pronounces it wrong. And it's no use trying to change them. They're all so stubborn!

That's how it is with me and social skills. I'm constantly being told by other people that the rest of the world does "it" this way. Well, not so much any more, but my 30's were basically the decade of discovery for me - discovering that people were right; I really was wierd.

So, if everyone had said posting about a date on a blog was in any way tactful, I would have had some serious cogitation ahead of me.

Speaking of which, in one church I was in all the mothers accidently taught one of the little boys that "Yes" meant "No", and vice versa. It was one of those accidents that quickly was sealed in a lifelong pact.

Ever since that day, I don't even trust it when "everyone" agrees that I'm wrong.

Have I convinced ya'll that I'm completely off my rocker yet?

If not, stay tuned.

Milly said...

Have I convinced ya'll that I'm completely off my rocker yet?

You’re a quacking me up!
Hmmm it does make me wonder if we are all in a hospital and this is a psychotic belief that one of us has.