I have a friend. I haven’t seen her for a while now. She tends to come and go as she pleases. Every so often, she will drop in, stay a while and leave when she thinks she’s kept me company for long enough. Whenever she’s around, my days need to be re-organized. Hers is a quiet sort of demanding.
Most people don’t understand her. If I’m honest, neither do I. Most people are also afraid of her. I don’t think that I am anymore. But if I was, it would only be the slightest amount. You see, she’s quite gentle. Her footsteps are light. So light, in fact, that I usually don’t notice her arrival until she’s settled comfortably in my home. That’s how she arrived this time, anyway. Perhaps it’s her unpredictability and mysteriousness that frightens people.
She has her reasons for visiting, I know. I actually think she has a direct line to God and He’s the one who usually tells her when to come. Some people see her as an unwelcome intruder, and some days when she’s around, I think so too. But she never comes without at least a few gifts for me. So I’m learning not to resist her presence.
When she’s here, my capacity for work is diminished; I need more sleep and I have trouble concentrating on certain tasks. This means that I need to be mindful of my energy and be careful in what I choose to do or not do. It also means that I am brought face to face with my limitations and weaknesses, which makes me re-examine where my identity and value lie. These are some of the gifts she brings.
When she’s around, I also feel a certain pervasive sadness. This means I need to find what is life-giving and make space for those things. I cry more easily. The sadness is one way she helps me to enter into the grief of the world. I might feel alone, but in actuality, I am sharing in the experience of humanity. Her presence means that I must make room for rest and renewal. She invites me to press closer into the bosom of Christ, who is the God of all comfort. These, too, are the gifts she brings.
The greatest gift from her, I think, is humility. She humbles me like nothing else. From her, I am reminded that my limited capacity is not only a good thing, it’s perfect. And that my value comes from being a beloved creature of the Creator.
What is her name, you might ask? Some call her Depression. But today, I’d like you to meet my friend.
[This post was originally published on April 13, 2010 on Olive’s burnout blog under the title “(un)Expected Visitor.” We thought our readers here would be blessed by it.]