by Judith Costello
The children were gone for six weeks during the summer and during their time away, I experienced "The Empty Nest Syndrome." I wasn't expecting it. I guess no one plans on the appearance of dark clouds. Yet sometimes they loom over us and rain down feelings of sadness, emptiness and even despair.
I had a lot of projects to do and I planned to make good use of my time while the kids were away. But after the first week it just felt wrong for them not to be at home. So much of my life has been focused on them. That's when my husband, Jurgen, gave me a wake-up call. He said, "Depression comes from a lack of faith. And this faithlessness is something everyone experiences at one time or another."
Jesus showed us what to do when our lives feel wrong. He showed us what to do when we feel despair or fear. He said, "Not My will, but Thy will be done." He entrusted those feelings into the Father's hands. He surrendered to God.
It occurred to me that my Mother used to say, "Offer up your sorrows," whenever I was troubled as a child. So I called her to talk about what those words meant to her. She reminded me of her mother, my children's great grandmother, Helen Aubry. Helen was born in 1882. During her life she lost two babies. One son died of a fever at age three. The other died at birth. Her little sister died while Helen was babysitting. She lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression. The losses she experienced were certainly the kind of thing that would bring on dark clouds. But Helen believed in offering up her suffering to God as a way to repair the damage caused by her sins. She believed we should stop rallying against suffering.
It is the struggle--the insistence by our ego that suffering is unfair--that actually causes the most pain. And indeed, if we view our lives with greater objectivity, we can see that the childish insistence, "I deserve better," is misplaced. We have all sinned and sinned greatly. Our lives and the beauty that is all around us, are not "deserved." They are a great and glorious gift from the Most Holy One.
Helen Aubry taught my Mom to believe that the answer to depression is faith. Faith teaches that God will guide us in using suffering as a way to become stronger, holier people. In reality, we are blessed by suffering. My husbandís call to pull myself out of the clouds and honor Godís ever-present gifts caused me to remember that my small suffering could make me stronger.
The answer to depression is faith. God is always there. He surrounds us with beauty and mystery while holding out His hands in readiness to accept our pain. We are not alone. To know this all we have to do is pay attention.
All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. --Romans 8:28
Be Not Afraid
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