Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Struggle With The Black Dog

I'm writing from a top bunk in The Eagles Nest at an incredible and beloved place... Falls Creek... the largest Youth encampment in the world... a place where the exchange of death for life is a regular occurrence. It is also a place of renewal.

I am awake because I am pondering the question our wise Youth Minister, Mike Duncan, laid on us before calling it a day. After showing a dramatic video inactment of a timeless illustration, he asked, "What is your cage?" Great question.

I don't like to think of myself as being caged, but the reality is that I have been for now over three years. It's not that I've wanted to be caged. I didn't just say one day, "I think today would be a good day to be caged." Honestly, I hadn't thought about my condition in terms of being caged... until tonight.

My cage (the thing that has immobilized me, tormented me, bled out my joy, and provoked me to doubt everything but salvation) has been what Churchill referred to as "The Black Dog" of depression. There... I said it! Big D has been doing a number on me. If you're reading this, and now think less of a pastor whose confession is suddenly transparent, I pity you. I didn't go looking for the Black Dog, it tracked me down and, like a wolf circling its prey, pounced on me at the most opportune time.

It has been dark where I have been, but I am glad to say that I'm emerging from the darkness. I probably still have a ways to go, but I am rattling the cage! Christ in me, the hope if Glory, is my strength.

I do not know what the future holds for me or for the good people that call me pastor, but I do know Who holds our future. A because of Him, I can now see the Black Dog beginning to tuck his tail and hear his growl being replaced by a whimper.


Shannon said...

Many blessings to you for your transparency! I know that reaches so many more people that believers claiming to be perfect. I have struggled with much of the same a few times in my life and anxiety a thousand times more. What works for me is to meditate on the Word Phil 4:6 and not let my peace be robbed! Joyce Meyer has a book called "7 Things That Steal Your Joy" and I highly recommend it! Prayers for you!

Anonymous said...

Hey Brett,
I think more pastors struggle with things like depression than we might know. I suffer from PTSD... And I think I've finally come to understand why that is. Back in 92' when I joined the Army, I really thought that I was going to be all that I could be. Serve a noble cause and make a difference in the world. I went through basic, jump school, ranger school, air assault school and was told that I was a high speed heart breaker and life taker who was doing the right thing for God and country, then immediately shipped out to combat (Somalia Africa). I was there for three months, and was unable to help a single starving person, but I did see men die and it is possible that I myself took two lives while in combat (I never verified it, but I shot and men fell down). After Somalia, I came back to the states and we trained. In the Rangers, you don't have a job like other positions in the military... you train every day for combat... Then I was sent to Bosnia, where we the U.S. of A. sided with the Muslim's against the orthodox Christians. Bosnia was brutal, and again I saw men die. My last combat tour was in Colombia. We spent almost 6 months in the jungles, working with the state dept., and the DEA destroying fields and providing security for the Colombian military, and depending on who you talked to, security for illegal drug running. And again, I saw men die and may have taken the lives of others. After I got out of the military the PTSD, depression, and other things started... and I didn't know why. I had served my country honorably... no one spat on me, or called me names (most people didn't even know what I did). It wasn't until just recently that I started to understand why that might be... It's because we didn't liberate anyone. We didn't make anyone's life better. We didn't bring freedom to any nation or people. We didn't win any wars like WWI or WWII... all we did was continue and prop up the walls of corruption and greed. I guess the reason I'm even telling you this is to reaffirm that there is forgiveness and freedom in Christ. I still have nightmares, and I still have trouble with being depressed and angry... but if not for the Lord, I would probably be dead or in prison.
My prayers and thoughts are with you brother.

Dawn said...

Thank you for sharing that. And let me say I'm impressed you posted such a long blog from your iphone!