The Black Dog

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So this week was tough. Dangerously tough. I was diagnosed with depression a few years ago. I got a few stories about things I’ve learned over the last few years with regards to it. But right now, I just wanted to say this week was hard. You see depression can be a fatal illness. So when I say “hard”… I ain’t kidding.

There’s been many times over the last few years that I’ve had suicidal thoughts. It’s one of the main characteristics of the illness. There’s no two ways about it, it sucks. It feels bad enough having to deal with the thought, but then you get even more distressed that you thought about it at all. Especially since I don’t want to do it. I just want to get better. It’s a really helpless and scary feeling. It’s quite difficult to react in a positive way. In your head you know it’s just emotion, but it feels impossible to get into a different head-space when you’re in the middle of it.

I’ve had to learn to be patient because I know from experience that the feeling and thought will pass. Where it used to be an everyday thing back when this little adventure started, it’s way less frequent now, thank God.

Paradoxically, having depression has taught me to separate myself from my emotions. I know what I believe, I got my Jesus, I know I’ve been given a future and a hope, and I will walk in it. So I don’t have to be a slave to my emotions. I am not just my emotions! Pity we humans typically have to learn things the hard way, right.

One of the most surprising things I’ve found is how many people suffer from this. I guarantee you that somebody you know has depression. I’m not talking about a one-off thing either. I mean they got the medication, they regularly see the psychiatrist and the psychologist. They’ve had major treatment and had to move through it. It manifests itself in different ways in different people. For me it’s more anxiety, like a cold feeling in your chest when you watch a scary movie. Frustrating. Depression has got to be a modern epidemic. There’s just too many people struggling with it.

A friend of mine challenged me today to answer “facts” with “truth” (thanks E-R). The fact is I have an illness and occasionally feel dangerously anxious and depressed. The truth is I am seated in heavenly places. The truth is through Jesus I am healed, whole, and walking in a glorious future. That is the hope Jesus offers. It ain’t just about some far off future where I can go to Heaven some day. It’s a relationship that comforts me when I’m anxious and flat-out saves my life when it’s worse. He talks to me. As I walk this walk I get better at recognising His voice. He encourages me. He lifts me up when I’m down. He goes before me into the unknown. He’s always had my back.

For those who have depression I wanted to say a two main things in this blog. First and foremost, Jesus will help you. He loves you and wants to help, no matter who you are or what you’ve done. Secondly, I want to help you. I know how much I need people around me that understand and care. Contrary to what you might think there are people out there that love you and want to see you do well. Ask some questions in the comments. Ask for prayer, or advice or… whatever. I started writing this blog for you. You do not have to do life on your own.

Nietzsche

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Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher whose thinking remains compelling to this day. Anyone familiar with his writings might find it a tad surprising a Christian like myself would find any value in his work. He was overtly anti-Christianity. I am by no means an expert on the guy, but there are a few of his writings that interest me.

He’s the the guy that said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (actual quote), and “God is dead.” He is arguably the father of Nihilism. As Nietzsche proposes, if we move past the idea of God, then nothing has any inherent importance and lacks meaning and purpose. Nietzsche goes further and says that if mankind can recover and master this crisis, we would inevitably become stronger/better.

Obviously at some point my views and Nietzsche’s differ markedly, but he was absolutely clear and merciless in showing that there can be no inherent meaning to life or objective truth outside of the existence of a Creator god. Morality is then completely arbitrary and based on the whims of man and those with the strength to seize it. Whereas it is often said “history is written by the victor”, Nietzsche may well say that “good and evil is written by the victor”.

Good” as a concept then becomes meaningless in a general sense. And so does “evil”. As a Christian I find the idea dangerous and frightening. Nietzsche would shake his head and urge me to move past this and chase my own personal happiness with strength. He would urge me to call that happiness “good”.

The words “good”, “evil”, “strength”, and “happiness” have specific definitions to both Nietzsche and myself. The definitions are borne straight out of our respective worldviews and can have completely opposite meanings to each other. Our different worldviews directly effect the people around us.

Take the word “strength”, for example. Is it stronger to chase your own happiness or to willingly prefer someone else’s happiness over your own? Is it “strength” when you get angry and do something about not getting what you think you are entitled to? Or is it strength to be patient? Is it strength to rebel, or be obedient? Are you stronger when you cheat, or do the right thing? Is it strength to be offended, or forgive?

The “Overman” or “Super-man” is an idea presented by Nietzsche. He saw it as the next step for man. You become the superman when you move past morality and become value-creators yourself. With the new Man of Steel movie out now it’s interesting to see the huge difference between the Superman on the big screen and that of Nietzsche’s version. The Man of Steel is a true hero, doing what he can to help at great personal risk. I wonder if Lex Luthor is a fan of Nietzsche and thought he himself was a superman?

Nietzsche seemed to admire Jesus strength as a kind of superman because he seemed to establish his own moral evaluations. But that’s pretty much the only thing he liked about Jesus. I admire Jesus strength because he endured great suffering for a people still cut off from his kingdom. Jesus thought we were worth it. He knew his father gave us inherent objective value. Sometimes I don’t even recognise my own worth. Then I remember what the Son did because the Father thought I was worth it.