Saturday, March 24, 2007

Depressed and Lifted

When I worked in the church as a minister and preacher, I battled cycles of despondency that became almost predictable in their timing.

At times, my emotional life felt like a roller coaster.

I can recall feeling as if it would be easier to extract eye teeth than to come up with even one more word to speak to my church!

Those feelings were difficult and, at times, scary.

Over the past 13 years I have experienced this sort of episodic depression only rarely.

My most recent awareness of these feelings surfaced about a month ago.

I don't know all of the reasons. I expect the press of our unrelenting need for funding, the growing pains of our expanding organization, the number of fairly high intensity projects now on the drawing boards and the dramatic increase in the need in our community all combine in a way that wears me out!

While I have never been certain about all the causes behind such experiences and feelings, I am clear about their remedy:

People and the energy flowing from them.

Tuesday of this week turned out to be a "break through" day for me. I found my life for my work again--a literal surge of new energy, but even more a sort of clearing away the fog from my soul.

How?

I sat and listened, really listened to five guys who live on the street.

Earlier that same day I reconnected with a fellow I hadn't seen in about 8 years. He had been locked up in prison until just about a month ago. Our reunion was invigorating. He was so glad to be home.

It is the connection to this reality, the reality and beauty of people--the human enterprise--that lifts me when I struggle with my work.

People always provide that for me.

How about you?

5 comments:

Deborah Gohrke said...

Connection to people does it for me too! But I've noticed something that I don't really understand.

I often "connect" more genuinely, more meaningfully, with strangers than I am able to connect with people with whom I have an on-going relationship in my "real" world. And people who have, by appearances, the least to offer, are the ones from whom I often recieve the most. It's those unexpected moments of connection that so genuine they make me believe that something sacred is happening. It feels sacred.

The connections made with people who are dying and know it, or people who's world has just been stunned, or people who are in survival mode, a stranger on the street, a waiter in a restaurant, can be so intense that it can seem unreal. But actually they are more real than what we think of as real - what we think of as real is often a padded version of reality - constructed to dimminish the intensity of...what. Instead of connecting with others (and ourselves) we distance ourselves - we protect ourselves with layers of stuff to ..to what I don't know...but we don't seem to be very comfortable with connection that isn't filtered through layers of self-protection and distancing--in the process things and maintaining pretensions become more important than people...so much so we can be isolated not just from people, but ourselves. Isolated from the pain of others..and our own pain. Maybe thats it. Fear of pain...but that's where connection has the biggest pay-off - ulitmately love and joy. Sharing someone's pain...and it is the only way I can deal with my pain. Paradoxically - I'm stopping now cause I'm digging a hole that is deeper than I want to go and its starting to feel a little spacey.

In a rambling mood! Your blog today must have hit a nerve. All I really wanted to relate was, I know what you mean.

Hope all is well with you!

krister said...

I appreciate this post, Larry. I've struggled with episodic depression in the past and can relate to what you've experienced. My wife was concerned that working as a chaplain in Oak Cliff would trigger some of those feelings this past summer. I wasn't too concerned, and ironically, though I was spending a lot of time in the midst of suffering, I thrived on the relationality involved in being with families, patients, and staff. I can identify with Deborah's remark that these connections are often stronger for me with strangers than with close friends. It has been a few years since my last episode, and I attribute much of my intellectual and emotional vitality to establishing stronger relationships with people. I appreciate your unique ability to balance the pastoral and prophetic roles so delicately. This post is revelatory in that regard. Peace.

Lynn said...

Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty in this post Larry. I can so relate to what you have said. I can only imagine the difficulty of balancing all the administrative business with what your heart is truly about and that is people. I thank God that you are not about programs but you are about having relationships with people and helping them to have better lives.

Marilynn said...

Yes, I absolutely relate to getting a 'charge', jolt of energy and renewal via connecting with people. It always works to remind me of who I AM and who you are! Especially when I'm feeling ragged and small up against all in the world that doesn't express and reflect the LOVE and Abundance that GOD created for us ALL.

Thanks for being 'gut' honest and sharing once again the Truth of our human need to connect with other humans. Being fully present with another, re-aligns our divine Christ-nature so we can continue our creation of the Kingdom of Heaven!

We are blessed this day, together!

Brady said...

Thanks for the post. I'm in one of those funks you mentioned. "People" help me get into them, and "people" help me to get out of them.

If I can see what's going on as part of a bigger plan… Seeing a couple of victories here and there… It's pretty mysterious.

Thanks again.