Oh, Death

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t feel invincible. I don’t feel like a young immortal, for I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I have drank from the cup of bitter darkness. I have loved and lost, and I live still. I am not afraid of my own death, though I wouldn’t call myself ready. I want to hear “Well done good and faithful servant.”, but truly I will never deserve those words. I’m told it’s unusual for one of my age to be so well acquainted with the end. Talking with a coworker: “I mean, my Grandma died, but nobody, like, my age.” I’m told it’s unusual, but some days I’m not so sure. The people around me don’t mostly seem to have lived otherwise…He lost his little sister to Heroin while high school aged, he lost his to cancer, her best friend died in sixth grade, he lost a fellow soldier, she lost her baby, the life inside of her, he lost his older brother to suicide, he lost his mom. Maybe it is good to come to know harsh reality young. The people who have are different, deeper. Though I don’t know if the depth is worth the blackness that crawls into the souls of some. For myself, I’ve always held that I would rather know truth than ignorant bliss no matter what the cost.

Death isn’t the worst. “Let the dead bury their own dead.” What is worst is those in the living death of depression. I hate depression. I hate the attacks of the evil one, and I hate the empty look it brings to the eyes of those I love. I hate that I cannot rescue them. I hate that depression is something that has to be slogged through, in many ways alone, over months and years. It is imperfection, a flaw in the world caused by sin, as with all the other flaws. They say it’s a “chemical imbalance”, which is all fine and good, but few want their brains to be tampered with. Happy pills may work, but they aren’t always the answer. Maybe it is because I push deeper, because I want to be more than shallow and surface that I see it so much.

There’s a darkness too deep to be healed in a heartbeat, there’s a lostness that I can’t rescue people from. God. Only God can. Yet he seems so silent. There’s a truth deeper than devotional books and three point sermons…sometimes I hear it in the hymns. Depression isolates, it blinds, but really everyone is going through the same things at one level or another. It’s scary, I listen to the people, I talk to a lot of people, and the same lines echo over and over again. “The world would be better off without me.” “I don’t make promises I cannot keep.” “I don’t think I can win this fight.” “I am worthless.” Bandaid fixes don’t work. Rich Mullins said he was told “God loves you man,” in his dark days, and his response was one I’ve heard repeatedly too. “Big deal. God loves everybody…that just proves He ain’t got no taste.” What words are you supposed to use to refute that?

Sometimes there are no words. We are ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and so much– so complex and yet so simple–in the in between. I won’t apologize for writing about death so much lately. I know it makes some people uncomfortable, but it is important to speak on. Maybe soon I will talk about life or some such thing to add variety, but for today I’ve rambled on long enough, so I’ll end, quoting Rich Mullins once more.

“I can hear the wild wind howling, and I can feel it in my bones.

And I know that the howling will take me Home.”




Categories: My Life, rants | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Oh, Death

  1. When I read part of your post earlier, I had a reply all typed out in my head. But, as so often happens, much of it has slipped away ‘er I ever got a chance to sit down and actually type.

    “Shadows and dust, Maximus, shadows and dust. ”

    Well, yes and no. These flesh and bone temples we inhabit are but dust, but our souls are so much more then shadow.

    “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days…”

    Do we believe that, really grasp it in our heart of hearts, or is it only a nice romantic thought that we sing about? If this earth we inhabit does ” dissolve like snow” our souls will still live on. And on. Forever. Somewhere. Death is only a door, blah blah, I know you’ve heard it all, but again, do you, do I really get it? If I did, why would I care that I have a tooth that needs pulled? (It’s a very nice tooth and has served me very well…) Why are we so obsessed with these physical bodies? We spend so much time and money trying to preserve them, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t, but do we spend as much time working on our souls? Or rather, listening to God, so He can work on them?

    But, I’m not sure if my words here are even helpful to what you are dealing with…it seems to me that everyone wants to believe God loves them, yes, everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die to themselves. And no one wants to believe that those thoughts in their head, that tell them they are worthless are anything more then thoughts in their head. But, my Bible tells me that Satan is just as real as God, that he is a destroyer, a devourer. He condemns and torments and I really think his favorite tactic is to convince us he’s not really there at all. I don’t have anything original to say, only that they need to know that God is rooting for them, He is only waiting for them to reach up so he can reach down and pull them out of their despair. Not that all their pain will be gone, but that with time and understanding even that pain can have tinges of joy. A prelude to the time when joy will be full and complete and forever.

  2. Depression isolates, it blinds, but really everyone is going through the same things at one level or another.” I think you touch on an important point here. Not everyone is depressed (though an awful lot of us will face that at some point in our lives, some of us more often than others) but depression is just one expression of a sin broken world. If your statement was “Sin isolates, it blinds” we see what everything gets back too. Whether it is greed, lust, pride, or depression, all sin is bound up with isolation (ultimately, from God) and blindness (ultimately, to the truth of God.)

    Pondering the question Rich Mullins puts so well you ask (perhaps rhetorically), “What words are you supposed to use to refute that?” The answer, of course, is that we usually don’t use words to answer such. Hurting people are quite aware that words come easy, at the mere flapping of our jaws. Talk is cheap as the old saying goes. For this reason hurting people are often better ministered by what is taught through our loving deeds rather than the clever words we might muster to refute. It can be that the best answer to such people is to accept their raging at the world and God without argument and answer them by the love we show them.

    As someone who loves to answer people with words, this is obviously a problem for me. But I am not speaking from my strengths, rather from what I have observed as true.


    Your talk of hymns made me think of William Cowper. He is someone I ponder from time to time. He wrote some powerful hymns, but also had a very tormented life, filled with depression and suicidal tendencies. I don’t think he is the sort of person who fits in the nice boxes Christians have–but he is real. Besides his hymns he also wrote some poetry, and one he penned after a suicide attempt and a fit of insanity. I find it rather powerful and haunting:

    Hatred and vengeance, my eternal portion,
    Scarce can endure delay of execution,
    Wait, with impatient readiness, to seize my
    Soul in a moment.

    Damned below Judas: more abhorred than he was,
    Who for a few pence sold his holy master.
    Twice betrayed Jesus me, the last delinquent,
    Deems the profanest.

    Man disavows, and Deity disowns me:
    Hell might afford my miseries a shelter;
    Therefore hell keeps her ever-hungry mouths all
    Bolted against me.
    Hard lot! encompassed with a thousand dangers;

    Weary, faint, trembling with a thousand terrors,
    I’m called, if vanquished, to receive a sentence
    Worse than Abiram’s.

    Him the vindictive rod of angry justice
    Sent quick and howling to the centre headlong;
    I, fed with judgment, in a fleshly tomb, am
    Buried above ground.

    Well….that pretty well expresses the frame of mind we are contemplating. That is not a very cheery way to end a comment so I will balance it out with another Ellie Holcomb song which it seems I haven’t shared before (I did a quick check of previous comments). If you did hear it elsewhere you can still consider it a good balance for one William Cowper 🙂

    “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7

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