It’s been one of those blue kind of weeks. Maybe it’s because I’m coming down off of one of those mountaintop experiences of a ten day prayer retreat. Maybe it’s because my husband is out of the country and I miss talking with him about something heavy weighing on my mind. Maybe it’s because my dog misses my husband too and in his grief has upchucked on the living room carpet – nah, that doesn’t make me sad, it just annoys me. But it certainly isn’t the kind of thing that pulls you out of a blue mood.
There’s a myth in some Christian circles that says that once you’ve “given your life to Jesus,” you are home free. You should never have a bad day again. If you do have a bad day, it must be because you don’t truly trust Jesus or you’re not praying right, or there’s something else wrong with you and your relationship with God.
I think it’s a pretty dangerous myth. It’s the kind of thing that can kill when people who have serious health issues are assured they can just “pray” their way out of it.
And it just is not the reality of life with Jesus reflected in the Bible. Paul had plenty of bad days and sad times even after committing himself to Christ’s work. This is the guy who said “Rejoice in the Lord always!” from a prison cell. Yes, he knows that we rejoice in Christ who can turn all things to good, but he also speaks freely of his struggles and suffering, as well as that of the people of Philippi.
What there is to rejoice about is that even his lowest days can somehow glorify God. While that may be a blessing, he clearly expressed moments of deep sadness. And he’s in good company, like Jesus looking over Jerusalem or praying just before his arrest. Sadness is a part of being human.
Sometimes I catch myself saying to my son, ”Don’t be sad!” My wise husband never lets me get away with it. If sad is what my child is feeling, then it’s not my job to tell him to feel otherwise. My son has been especially sweet this week when he has seen me being mopey. He never says, ”Don’t be sad!” But he might try to cheer me up, or he might just sit and be mopey with me for a little while.
I think that’s where God has been in my sadness this week—sitting right there with me. It has not been my most productive week, but God hasn’t pushed me to be productive. God hasn’t pushed me to be much of anything. “There is time. Whenever you’re ready….”
And so tonight I am ready to write this. And tomorrow there will be something more. And soon I will be smiling and laughing again – because that’s part of being human too. And then God and I will throw a party or something – because God is sitting with me when I’m happy too. Now that’s something to rejoice about!
How do you deal with the letdown after a mountaintop experience? Do you ever catch yourself saying “Don’t be sad!” to the people you love? Has anyone said it to you lately? If so, how did it make you feel? Can you imagine God sitting next to you in your sadness and in your joy? Or do you picture God’s presence another way?
Feeling sad for a little while is typical when times are hard, but depression is a serious medical condition. If you feel sad for a long time or even just want to know more about depression so you can be on the lookout for signs, the Mayo Clinic offers this guide to symptoms for adults, children and older adults.