We will soon be addressing some emotionally-charged issues. I want to share what I hope is some wisdom about discussing such matters.
I am a passionate guy. I have strong opinions and am no stranger to emotional arguments.
I understand what it feels like to be discussing a topic that is personal with someone who seemingly has no idea how to empathize with you. I have felt my blood boil.
Possibly nothing works me up more than well-intentioned Christians who insist the cure for depression is simple: give your worries over to God, put a smile on your face because you’re forgiven, and pick yourself up, hallelujah!
I’m immediately tempted to lash out with a variation of: “Gee, thanks, I wish I’d known that when I was six-years-old and couldn’t fall asleep at night for nearly a year straight because of the existential crisis I was having that I couldn’t understand and couldn’t control. Yeah, that panic and intense nausea would have gone right away if I’d just known all that because that never crossed my devoutly Christian parents’ minds as they tried everything they knew to help.”
That wouldn’t be a healthy response, but that’s the temptation because the thing I find frustrating is ignorance on the part of the one offering advice. Depression is so much more than just a sad attitude, and the fact that there are still people who believe that’s all it basically is can be incredibly irritating to those who struggle with the real thing.
But, despite this ignorance, the people who offer this frustrating advice do have a point: part of the problem of legitimate depression is the temptation to wallow in it, to in effect make the symptoms worse by throwing a pity party. Thus even the ignorant, in their ignorance, are still able to address part of the actual problem in a way that can be taken constructively if the recipient’s attitude is right.
I’m not trying to excuse inappropriate behavior but to emphasize that there are often critiques we desperately need to hear and receive even in the midst of words that are filled with ignorance. This is surely not always the case, but if words are offered in good intention I think it appropriate that we seriously consider whether there might be any truth to be mined before we automatically roll our eyes and dismiss everything we hear.
With that in mind, I want to attempt to the best of my abilities to spell out that in no way whatsoever do I intend my words to belittle or make light of the real suffering of any persons. I apologize profusely if anything I say is interpreted in such a manner.
There is no doubt, unfortunately, that many of my words will indeed be ignorant because we all speak of that which we very poorly understand. I mean no judgment nor guilt, but my hope is that kernels of truth and thus conviction may break through which contribute to improved mutual understanding and (God-willing) a closer alignment to our true human identity for all of us.