Friday, February 18, 2011

The Centrality of Us

I spent much of today in a claustrophobic bubble with a film over my eyes. It's back.

January of 2010 (and remember, this was before I found Christ) I plummeted into a five-month long depression with bits of hyper-normalcy. I felt unlike I had ever felt before - like I was manically depressed. Depressed to the nth degree - to the point of not being able to sit still. I was so full of anguish and terror and awful thoughts. I talked to doctors and they said that people with mental illnesses often get triggered by the changes of weather, strangely enough, like warm weather inserting itself into the end of Winter. Lately, it's been mild and in the upper 30s and 40s. And with that change has come the panic, the depression, the terror. Yes, it is all happening again.

I spent much of the day looking inward, asking inward questions (even to God), like, "Will I always be like this now? Is this a yearly thing now? Why?"

I spent much of the day in a mixture between numbness and hyper depression.

I was at a job site with a client and I went to buy a soda and the sales person gave it to me for free since I worked with the client and said I could have it as an I.O.U. I grinned and said thank you.

And that simple exchange, believe it or not, pushed me out of the bubble and I entered the real world, feeling like the real me for the first time that day.

Why am I telling you this? How does it relate to God and Christianity? I promised myself when I started this blog that it would not simply turn into a daily whining of my depressions and mood changes. I will tell you how it has to do with God.

I was driving home listening to my favorite radio program, Live the Promise, and I wish you could have seen my facial expression while I drove and listened.

My eyebrows were arched, eyes wide, jaw slack. I hung on every word. David Bryant was the guest and a most passionate one at that! The topic was simple: celebrating and worshiping Jesus Christ.

Mr. Bryant used two words that hit me like a semi: centrality vs. supremacy of our devotion to Christ. He described how, in today's culture, we make Christianity into a very need-based religion. We pray and pray and ask Jesus/God to help us with this or that. We focus on what we need. Don't get me wrong; it is not wrong to pray for help in life. Jesus wants us to find solace and comfort in Him. He wants to be our Savior. But does the definition of that only look like us asking Jesus for things? He is our Savior only if He gives us what we want? That is the centrality
of Christianity. We are centered around what we need.

Supremacy is when we live for Christ. We recognize Jesus as our Lord and Savior and live our lives accountable to Him. Mr. Bryant told a parable: take an empty bottle to the ocean and fill it up with water. That is centrality. You are focused on the water (Jesus) filling up the bottle (you). But supremacy is when you throw the bottle (you) out into the ocean (Jesus) and the bottle fills quickly and thus begins to descend further and further into the mystery of the ocean, surrounded by it, infused by it.

I know about centrality, though on a more psychological level.

I've always been what I call self-centric. And yes, that could mean selfish in some circles. Because I've been depressed all of my life, in and out of hospitals at times, in and out of therapist offices, dipping and jumping, all over the board, I have spent a lot of time navel-gazing.

As a young adolescent, my mother and I would lie on her bed and I would tear up and look into her chocolate eyes and ask, "Mom, why am I like this?"

You can imagine this would pain a parent to hear. She wrapped her arms around me and said she didn't know, but she would help me find out.

She died before we found out.

I still don't know. And so I look at the Ultimate Parent: God, why am I like this?


Lately, I've pondered why I haven't felt a strong connection to God/Jesus. Husband and I pray every night together. We pray long monologues where we release our vulnerabilities and celebrations. We pray for people and we ask for blessings upon us. As I think of it now, I realize that most of my praying is self-centric. I feel ashamed about that.

And yet I know that Jesus wants to help us. I know He does. He wants to our Helper, our Comforter. But what can we give Him? What can I give Him? How do I know when I am fully giving myself to Him? I feel so confused.

One thing I realized is that, in the past, I've only trusted myself to give me what I need. I've been hurt so much that I decided to protect myself. I wouldn't let anyone have the chance to hurt me again. So I gave myself what I needed - or tried to.

Now that I'm a Christian, I'm seeing that I need to give all that up. I have to give my life to Christ. I have to trust in Him and His will.

I write that and look at it and wonder, how in the world do I know when I'm doing it? All I know now is that I don't feel as close to Jesus as I think I could.

Granted, I am a new believer. I shouldn't ask to see the entire world when I am just learning about my own city. I shouldn't get down on myself for not feeling as close to Jesus as I could. I will get there, I'm sure.


When I received the free soda today, simply smiling and saying thank you broke me out of that bubble. I left my navel-gazing world and entered God's world. And, of course, I immediately felt the life re-enter me. I stepped into the person I am on most days, when I am not in the mire and dire of depression.

I don't have a simple, clean closure for this entry. This is a work-in-progress. I've known my whole life that I've been too self-centric and yet I can't seem to stop. It's been a constant battle. I'm ashamed of it and the more ashamed I become, the more I think about it and, thus, the more self-centric I become. That hideous circle.

So I guess I'll end this by saying that I am on a quest to know Jesus more personally. I want to know what I can give Him.

This scares me. Giving means being vulnerable.

Vulnerable means being hurt.

But if anyone will heal this broken heart, it's Jesus.

Bless all us broken people.

Bless you.

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