Peace in uncertainty

English: The Lord's Supper. Christ standing at...
English: The Lord’s Supper. Christ standing at an Orthodox altar, giving the Eucharist to the Twelve Apostles. Frescoes in the upper church of Spaso-Preobrazhenski cathedral. Valaam Monastery Русский: Алтарная апсида верхнего храма Спасо-Преображенского собора Валаамского монастыря. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lately, I’ve been finding myself wondering when things will go back to normal, only to find that I can’t remember what normal is. I remember that I haven’t always suffered from depression – at least not in the same way – but I can’t tell you what I was like before. So how will I know if I’m better?

It doesn’t help that the current me doesn’t make much sense. I’ve barely been able to stand going to church this year. I can’t tell if it’s the sermons or the process or the people. I enjoyed it during the early part of last year – before I took ill. I don’t remember what it was like during the fall and winter. But I do know that it’s been a pain since my pastor began the new year with his ‘State of the Church’ address. Every once in a while, I wake up on Sunday with the motivation to go to church, and every once in a while, I don’t feel miserable during the sermon. I don’t know if it’s the topic or the preacher or me.

Sunday School is a different matter. I’ve never been fond of sitting in small groups talking about my feelings and my relationship with God. To put it bluntly, I don’t really care about those stuff. But it’s been worse lately. I just haven’t been able to make myself do it. The idea of going there makes me feel sick. I avoided small group Bible study through the fall and spring semesters, but I still attended Sunday School. Lately I’ve found it impossible. As I sit waiting for it to start, I feel worse and worse until I just have to leave. In the best case scenario, I sit apart from the group with a book or game so that I can listen if I want to, but I don’t participate. But it’s usually the case that by the time the clock strikes 11, I’ve worn out my resolve.

I’ve considered the possible causes: from the nature of the teaching (which is theologically sound, but very mushy), to the people (I’ve never met a sweeter group of people). What I think is that it’s usually a combination of three things:

a. I don’t care for the mushiness: I’ve never been fond of feelings. They’re uncomfortable, untrustworthy things and they play games with you. In much of what I do, I try to give my feelings as little influence as possible. Some things don’t disturb me. Talking about the love of God, for instance, is something you cannot do without using emotion-invoking pictures. But I get really upset when it feels like emotions are intruding where they have no business.

b. I don’t care about the topic: I love church – as long as we’re talking about God. I don’t care what we say about him. I’ll talk about his greatness or his nature or praise him and I’ve feel great doing it. But once we start talking about How God loves us or our relationship with him or what we should do as Christians, I get restless. I know those things are necessary, so I can stand a certain amount of it, but only in the right emotional state. And my emotional state hasn’t been right in a good while. And that’s why the third explanation is the most important

c. I just don’t feel well: a and b have always been true about me. I manage them as best as I can. But when I don’t feel like moving or speaking or doing anything, breaking into groups to talk about how God is working in our lives is just plain terrifying. The thought of it makes me want to be anywhere else.

So, as Sunday approaches, as it does every week, I find myself thinking of ways to motivate myself. So far, I’ve been doing well. I’ve probably missed only two or three Sundays in the last two months. I’ve used everything from ‘they might have pancakes’ to ‘Today might be the Lord’s Supper’ and ‘Maybe I’ll like the sermon’. But I sometimes feel hopeless. I used to love going to church; now I just dread it. How will I live like this if things don’t return to normal?

And what is normal?

I now remember how I get through times like this. I have someone who finds the answers to all the problems that plague me. I just lay them at his feet. And remembering that makes me feel better. Maybe I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but it doesn’t matter because I have my God. And I have peace, I don’t find any other way.


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I’m Tracy

5 thoughts on “Peace in uncertainty”

  1. I think I know how you feel. I have suffered from depression for decades. Sometimes churches are also not the most accepting of places. Even when they pray for one, it sometimes adds to the burden: “We’ve prayed for you; you are healed; now walk in your healing.” And if that doesn’t help: “It’s you fault you don’t feel better; you don’t have enough faith.” None of which helps. God is the only certainty; but sometimes our feelings get in the way of that too. Then we need to rely, not on our faith, but on God’s faithfulness. That’s when I find I need a prayer friend who’s just an sms/text away who will remind me of Matthew 12:.

    “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; ​​​​​​​​and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” That’s encougaement for those of us who are “bruised reeds” or “smouldering wicks”.

    The other thing that helps me is to fight back:So I belong to an email based prayer group of which about 60% have serious “issues”: alcoholic husbands, divorce, unmarried mothers, depression, etc. Our job may be menial in comparison with those called to evangelise the nations, but God has ENTRUSTED it to us, and so He values us.

    1. “We’ve prayed for you; you are healed” The day the ministers say that to me is the day I find a new church. What God do they worship that they get to order around? And what planet do they live on where you get whatever you ask for?

  2. I’ve only been depressed a few weeks of my life (and ache for you dealing with it day after day), but have had more weeks than I can count of having to drag myself to church. For me the best argument to get up is that they won’t have a pianist if I don’t show up. That always does the trick; but I still look forward to the super snowy weeks when we cancel the whole thing!
    Two thoughts: do you have someone who understand depression helping you get out of it? My mom and husband will always have to take pills to keep from being overwhelmed because they didn’t get the help they needed when young. There are studies showing when people in their 20s get the help they need, they often recover completely; the longer you wait the smaller that possibility grows.
    The other thing is to go to church, like me, because you are needed. Get your spiritual food elsewhere and go to minister. It IS possible for a church to be so bad it sucks the life out of its helpers, but your description doesn’t sound like that. It just sounds like it’s heavily weighted to the touchy-feely types. They could probably use a cool head like yours. If they refuse, that could be a sign to find another place to minister 🙂

    1. You’re right. They don’t focus very much on head knowledge, for some reason. If they did for even a 30 minutes, it would help a lot. That’s probably why I liked last year so much. Our pastor was going through our core beliefs in the sermon. So we got to talk about Soteriology and the Trinity and stuff like that. Knowing this stuff is important. You don’t bring people to Christ by talking about how wonderful he’s been to you.

      Ok, maybe you do – but only if they don’t care about facts. I suppose I can ask if we can do something of the sort. We spend every Sunday learning that God saves us and sin is bad and to put God first. It won’t kill us if they teach about the nature of God, Christianity and the church. I feel like we’re a bunch of ignorant sheep following God without understanding why and how that works.

      If this continues, I’ll probably switch churches, but I bet most are like this.

  3. LOL! There are a few denominations that focus strongly on the intellect, but they have some serious problems in the reverse. Actually, from the stats I’ve seen, we head-heavy people are in a serious minority compared to the heart-based types. But a good church should have room for all kinds and it couldn’t hurt to find someone with the power to change things to talk to about your needs.
    Lord knows, I want more out of a Bible study group than just personal experiences. If they’re going to have a group like that, be honest and call it a support group and then start a real Bible study!
    May God bless you as you seek Him and His people 🙂

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