This piece was adapted from a piece I wrote for Scot McKnight’s blog. You can find the original here http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/7/1/standing-in-the-rain-by-kelly-edmiston/ and is dedicated to all those who have or are currently struggling with depression. May you reach out today and find someone with an “axe.” We were not meant to do this life alone.
I sit on a bench this warm summer day, watching as the sun glistens on the lake making crystals dance in a glorious ballet. The sparkle is so bright that I have to shield my eyes from its splendor. I hear the wind whistle through the trees, rustling the branches just enough to spill leaves onto the lake below. The leaves disrupt the calm of the water and cause small waves to cascade back and forth from bank to bank. The birds begin to chirp as I sway to nature’s rhythmic song.
Suddenly, I am interrupted. Plop. Plop. Plop. Then Pit. Pat. Pit. Pat. Pit. Pat. The falling rain makes deep and wide circular formations in the lake. An intoxicating freshness fills the air. Familiar with nature’s song, I graciously anticipate getting soaked by the fresh raindrops.
I look up and see an old oak tree, its branches extending far and wide over the little bench where I’m sitting. From afar, I can see the rain over there. But I am over here, under the branches of the oak, left dry. Bone dry.
This is how I’d describe burnout and depression. When we get bone dry. Many of us know the experience of sitting in the rain but not feeling it’s touch.
I do not pretend to fully understand the battle of clinical depression, having only struggled with circumstantial depression and anxiety. But I am aware that depression prevents people from experiencing the rain in the same way the branches over my little bench kept me dry.
The images used to describe depression give voice to its inescapable characteristics. It has been called a time-defying sadness. And depression has been likened to a cloud that follows its victim wherever they go.
To these images, I add branches. With every broken relationship, ugly comment and insurmountable failure the branches reach farther out and grow thicker until all you see and all you know is the branches and the bench.
These branches-this depression- recently consumed one of our beloved community pastors. He pastored a church of thousands in an affluent suburb and in his more than 40-year career became known nationwide as an influential leader in his denomination. He was a father, grandfather, husband and friend to many.
Maybe this man who took his own life got stuck under the branches. Maybe they closed in on him until he could not move. Maybe they were branches of loneliness, fear and exhaustion. Maybe they were branches of critics and fans.
Quite possibly, he was just tired of fighting. Fighting branches can be exhausting, especially when you long for the rain.
I wish this man asked for help one more time. I wish a friend had come barreling through the branches, axe in hand, and carried him from the bench against his will. Into the rain.
So when the branches get thick and threaten to close in, call for help. Your story is not over.
Call a friend or family member and tell them how you feel. Do it today.
Reach out to your local church or counseling center for therapy and/or medication.
And join me. I’ll be standing in the rain.