I was thinking about it last night. Glen and I were chatting. Well, Glen was chatting and I was listening. (It’s nonsense that all Women talk and want to be Held whilst Men Build Stuff and Hide in their Man-Caves. Sometimes Guys want to Share whilst Women want to Sleep in Their Lady-Sheds).
Anyway. Glen’s was ranting about something random… why red skittles are better than green ones? No that was Sunday… (Stay with me people, I’m sure I’m going somewhere and if you don’t read, it’s just me and my crazy head). Ok, got it:
The night previous (he told me), he dreamt I’d had an affair with a hotel bell-boy who was – and I quote – ‘buff but dumb as a box of hammers’. So the aim of his rant was to make me feel guilty and then apologise for something I hadn’t even done. The fact that I was innocent made no difference. So, I skewered him with a red herring.
‘Honey’ (says I – always a bad sign),
‘Are you – Happy?’
Well. You’d have thought I’d professed undying love for ‘buff but dumb’. Husband stopped, mid-sentence, choked and then made a spluttering noise.
‘What sort of question is that?!’
‘Hap-py’. (Rolling it round like an exotic fruit). ‘Er – yeah. Think so. How about you?’
In truth, I’m not sure how I’d answer. I approach the word ‘happy’ like our cat investigates a stranger’s shoes. Interesting – and worth a sniff. But unfamiliar and possibly dangerous too. What are the ingredients? How do you know when you’ve got it? What happens if you get it and then lose it – or if someone takes it off you? No-one wants that. Or if you get too happy – is that a bad thing?
‘Happy’ is too easy. People off the TV, hugging and enjoying uncomplicated relationships with other people. Dogs romping through toilet rolls. Menstrual women, jumping out of airplanes. Dads getting Christmas socks.
Is ‘happy’ me? Doesn’t feel like it. Truth be told, I want it but I’m afraid of it too. Hope and joy are lovely – but they’re not safe. Best to seal off that aspiration and settle for “busy” or “plodding along.” Except that – as with so many things in life – I try to whitewash my temperament with my faith. I’m not grumpy – I’m biblical – and I roll out verses about “suffering” ,”persecution” and “cross-bearing” to prove it.
There’s no doubt that these things are a part of following Jesus, just as the Bible speaks of and to depressed Christians (of which I am one).
It’s easy for me to make Christianity in my own image. Jesus however, is not grumpy! He’s a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief. He suffers, cries and dies. And yet… He’s also full to overflowing with the Oil of Joy (Psalm 45:7) – the happiest person on the planet. He’s not throwing me a series of fiendish challenges just to see if I’ll break. He wants to bless me – in this life, as well as the next. To share the full measure of His eternal joy with us! (John 15:11)
So what should I do with my depression? Ignore it and sing a happy Psalm? Indulge it and murmur, “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen?”
Is there a third way? How can the joy of Jesus interact with the sorrows of our circumstances, and our psychologies?
Over to you…