I recently finished this book. There are some profound things in here. I have always admired Lincoln because I believe we are very similar. He also has given me hope. If I, someone with depression, could achieve something an iota of what he achieved while suffering, I would consider my life great. Probably the most profound thing was found on page 156. The author, Joshua Wolf Shenk, states, (bolded, mine):
Many popular philosophies propose that suffering can be beaten simply, quickly, and clearly. Popular biography often expresses the same view. Many writers, faced with unhappiness of a heroic figure, make sure to find some crucible in which that bad feeling melted into something new. Lincoln’s melancholy doesn’t lend itself to such a narrative. No point exists after which the melancholy dissolved…Whatever greatness Lincoln achieved cannot be explained as a triumph over personal suffering. Rather it must be accounted for as an outgrowth of the same system that produced that suffering. This is not a story of transformation but one of integration. Lincoln didn’t do great work because he solved the problem of his melancholy. The problems of his melancholy was all the more fuel for the fire of his great work.
This was not something I heard for the first time, but an idea that has been rolling over into my head these past few months (and maybe even years): Can I live a successful life with depression? Or do I continually feel I need to eradicate depression from my life before I can live?
Well the truth is that I already am. That is, I already am living with depression. I have no choice at this point. This was made even more real to me after listening to Greg Boyd’s sermon (I listened to the pod cast since I missed the service.) It was entitled “Communion in the Wilderness.” Based on Luke 22:7-20, the Communion Supper, Boyd talked about the space in between when we take communion and when we finally arrive in heaven. He called it the Wilderness, like the Israelites experienced before they arrived in the Promised Land. He had a member of the church, Scott, come up and talk about his experience with MD (muscular dystrophy). Scott talked about how his whole life people would “pray over him” for healing, but he was never healed. In fact, his MD just worsened. Now Scott has come to the point where he has accepted his MD and when people ask if they can pray for him, he kindly says, “Thanks, but I don’t believe that is what God has for me at this point.”
Wow! Like Scott, I have been told in so many words that my life would be so much more amazing if I was healed, in my case, from depression. NO kidding??!!!?? I have always struggled thinking I have lack of faith because I continue to suffer. Like Scott, I often felt people were saying it was MY fault that I wasn’t healed.
On the other hand, am I just giving in to this depression because I am too weak to fight it?
Because of what GOd has been saying to me personally and through this book, this sermon and through the words of many people who, like me, haven’t found supernatural healing, I have come to believe this: It is okay that I suffer from depression; and that I may have to take meds my whole life. Each time my depression gets better , I often think, this will be the last time. But now I am starting to think, each time I go through another depression, I will come out a stronger person. And without my depression, I wouldn’t be the sensitive, bright, caring person that I am.
Not saying, I wouldn’t take away my suffering or that of others’ in a heartbeat. But what choice have I right now, except to live in and through what has been given to me? And who knows, maybe like Lincoln, I will accomplish something great, and my depression will be a part of that.