Today I’m honored to guest blog from an old friend. I’m posting a bio below. But please read the post first. I think a lot of you will relate to the writing and the topic. It’s one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time.
He asked me to write an article for his website. If he only knew, he wouldn’t ask. I knew what I wanted to say, but didn’t have the courage to tell the truth.
What came to mind was my first appointment with a therapist about 30 years ago. At the end of our session, he wrote something on a yellow sticky note, and told me to put it on my refrigerator. It said, “I’m doing the best I can. That’s good enough.” Immediately I said, “Nonsense! I’m doing the best I can, and it’s never good enough.” “But it has to be,” he replied, “because it’s all you can do.”
For the last nine months, I’ve been sinking into increasing depression and despair. I’m eating less, drinking more, and find it difficult to pray. I’ve stopped teaching my class, cancelled my relationships with the two women I mentored, and hardly ever write. I’m still connected to my family, but only have one truly honest relationship – a friend who knows most of what’s going on and refuses to give up on me, believing when I can’t.
It’s not that I don’t care anymore, yet my ability to move forward has all but ceased, and I feel like it’s my fault. I certainly have no business leading anyone else spiritually. Why would I want to lead anyone into this darkness?
And yet it isn’t totally dark inside me. There is still a sense of ministry as I care for a crabby, difficult old lady 36 hours a week, offering her the patience and compassion I don’t feel for myself. The satisfaction I have in cooking healthy meals for my family still thrives. Twice a week I go to church and the gym. In other words, I haven’t given up on life. But my self-esteem lies liquid on the floor, the vision I once had is vacant, and I can’t escape. Self-destruction and self-fulfillment co-exist. It’s not the end, but……I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t good. It certainly isn’t “good enough.”
What isn’t missing is my awareness of God’s presence. God hasn’t left nor have I left God. The Bible says nothing can separate us from the love of God, and God promises to never leave us. That is my one solace in this turmoil. But what is my purpose right now?
Simon Peter comes to mind – a spiritual loose cannon. He was predictably irresponsible, a class-act idiot, saying and doing the dumbest things. If he had been one of my disciples, I would have fired him. Actually, if I had known what he was like, I wouldn’t have chosen him in the first place. He failed Jesus so many times. Peter finally gave up trying and went back to fishing after abandoning Jesus on the worst day of his life.
And yet Jesus came to him personally where he was – even after all that – and told Peter to feed and care for His sheep. How do you feed someone when you have nothing to give? How do you care for someone when you are doing a terrible job of caring for yourself? Makes me think of the TV show, “Mission Impossible” – “Your mission, should you choose to accept it,….” What if I can’t accept what seems to be impossible? Certainly God wouldn’t say, “You’re doing the best you can. That’s good enough.”
That damn yellow sticky note. Even if I don’t believe it’s true, what if my mission from God today is to get up and go to work, cook a good dinner for my family, and treat that crabby old lady with kindness, even if I don’t feel like it? God, you know I’m already doing those things.
And God said, “Read the yellow sticky note.”
Our guest blogger today was Joy Wilson. Joy Wilson is the author of Uncensored Prayer: The Spiritual Practice of Wrestling With God (Civitas Press, 2011). She blogs at Solacetree.
Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.
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