It was a forced friendship from the beginning.
Boldly, she announced that every single Wednesday she would be coming to my house. I could see her resolve. I was scared, and I started to squirm. Every Wednesday? Generally, I leave this thing kind of open ended, “penciled in,” if you will. In other words, I rarely do firm “commitments;” after all, what if I decide I need to change my mind? Somehow, she must have known my propensity at changing plans and calling in sick.
Then, the unyielding pit-bull proceed to clamp down on me even harder and told me that the only way I could cancel is if I had a doctor’s appointment (and even then, I’m sure I would have needed an officially-documented doctor’s excuse). “Ok, are you my principal now?”
Starting to hyperventilate.
Then, if I were to refuse to answer the door (pretending that I wasn’t home, even though my van was in the driveway) she would sit in my driveway for an hour and pray for me (then I would have to feel guilty).
I timidly opened the door every Wednesday, and she walked in.
Chances are you know someone who is struggling with depression. If not, talk to more people. Trust me, they’re everywhere. They may be living under your own roof or sitting in the pew next to you.
“What can we do when a loved one is wrestling with depression,” you ask?
We just want to run onto the scene and “fix them.” Give us a list so we can check it off and instantly transform this unpleasant forecast to sunny days. If only it were that easy.
I’m persuaded that the best thing we can do is sometimes nothing more than to just sit and be with them. Maybe there’s no formula, just the power of presence. What if the most profound, life-giving thing about us is our transformed and transforming presence?
Jesus entered into our darkness. Love opened the door and walked into our world so we could walk into the light. He was present with us in order to lead us to redemption. Light in the darkness.
It is fun times being friends on sunny days. It is an uncomfortable position to enter into broken places where the sun refuses to shine and the shadows incessantly come out to play.
However, as followers of Jesus this is exactly where we are called – to be present with people in their suffering. “Go into all the world.” “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” You have something that everybody needs – light (not the light of our own deceptive morality, but the light from heaven, the light of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself). However, the light cannot be seen if it does not make itself available.
Jesus was not a fair-weather friend. He spent His time with the crazy, smelly, hopeless, hurting, most-ragamuffin-down-and-out people you have ever seen.
He walked in. So must we.
Give them your tears, not your speeches. By definition, a depressed person is often plagued with an uninvited irrationality about them. In other words, their minds (at least in that state) don’t have the full capacity to rightly think and reason. Thus, words and speeches are frequently of no avail. It’s not that they don’t want to hear and believe; it’s that they can’t.
Thus, maybe all your friend (or child, or neighbor, or spouse, or parent) needs is your “sanctified and sanctifying” presence with them.
Those who feel like they are suffocating from the weight of darkness may be unable to move towards your advances in friendship. An almost certain accompaniment with any legitimate depression is the tendency to withdraw from relationships (even from those people whom we love and respect the most dearly).
Do not take this personally. I literally have hid under tables so my friends could not see I am home (it would have worked if I would have had a larger table cloth). Nonetheless, please don’t be offended when a depressed person doesn’t return a text or phone call (or doesn’t answer the door). Trust me; this (hurt feelings or anger at the depressed person) is exactly what Satan wants from you. He wants you to be offended by the cold shoulder and run from your friend. Christ, on the other hand, wants you to realize this is not a battle against flesh and blood. He wants you to take up the sword and fight for your friend (even if the other person is sleeping in their own tears, or hiding in their own shame and fear, while you are fighting).
I was reminded this week to see things through spiritual eyes. There are demons tormenting the depressed to the point where they feel as if they are suffocating. Their thoughts devour them by day and ravage them by night. The Enemy has been heaping coals upon their soul, and they cower because they feel the breath of the beast. Give them a breath of fresh air by bringing the fragrance of the Gospel, the smell of redemption. After all, recently, all they have felt is death.
There are friends who have brought me meals, watched my kids, sent cards, brought me coffee, and texted me prayers. I’ve even had friends pray over my house with oil and sneak prayer cloths under my pillow (to my Baptist readers, I know this freaks you girls out!)
You may need to go all stalker-mode and sit outside their door and pray. Be a pit-bull for Jesus and clamp down hard on them with the love of Christ.
Your friend may not answer the door or act excited to hang out with you, but go through the door anyway.
Open the door of grace. Chances are, your friend has been opening many doors searching for a way out of this winter, but all they have experienced are doors of doubt and defeat slammed in their face.
Make yourself available. Go over uninvited. Walk in. Climb through the window, chimney, whatever you gotta do. Just make sure the neighbor doesn’t own a rifle.