It's been about a year since I went through counseling, which means it's been about a year since I realized just how weak I really am.
Beginning in my teenage years and continuing on through my twenties, I had become aware (and all too familiar) with some of my depressive tendencies. I couldn't really explain it; some days were just hard from the beginning, and little things (thoughts, experiences, conversations) could all be triggers that would send me off in a downward direction. Within moments, I could lose all hope as feelings of despair would just snowball out of control. I felt like I was drowning in my own skin, and I never saw it coming.
Like I said, I'd known this about myself for years. I tried to modify my behavior, tried to "buck up" and will myself out of the hole. I'd remind myself that all hope wasn't lost, that God cared about me, that I was fortunate. This only brought guilt and shame as I felt terrible for not seeing the goodness all around me. I was wasting my life. I was letting everyone down, including God; including myself. Try as I might, I couldn't figure out how to whip myself into shape, but I did learn to excel at whipping myself.
At some point last year, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. I'm 30 years old. If this hasn't gone away - or even gotten better - all by itself in 30 years, it's probably not going to. I need some help.
I've been happy to talk about this with folks face to face, but I haven't really mentioned it publicly. It's kind of hard to do that because I'm telling everyone (for eternity, in the case of the internet) of my weaknesses, of my inabilities to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. To have to come off my high horse and admit that I cannot do much on my own. To admit that I had been guilty of carrying some huge misconceptions about a God I claimed to know personally. To admit that in fact, I'd put myself on the kingly throne. That I needed others to tell me who I was, to validate my existence, and to give my life meaning. That I found my identity in how well I performed at the things I did.
I could go on, but you get the point.
And so it was that, inwardly humiliated and ashamed, I contacted some friends for some recommendations for Christian counselors. A couple of weeks later I found myself sitting in "the chair" in a comfy office here in Athens, somewhat shocked in disbelief that I was, in fact, "in counseling." So much for my rugged individualism. All the "vision" I thought I'd possessed; all the great philosophical ideas; all the grand notions of "the world as it should be according to Jason," done. The end had come.
And then began anew as I dug more deeply into the scriptures than I ever had before. I was hungry for the word of God; I needed it. I read (for what felt like the first time) what God really thought of me. Not what I thought he thought of me, but what he actually said. I realized that my performance was not what he wanted. He's got infinite resources, so my work was no so important that he was depending on it. My heart... now that's what he wanted. And I wanted him to have that, to really have it. I began to reorganize my priorities, to try and find balance in my life. To learn to say "no" sometimes. To embrace the real freedom that Jesus died for instead of just suiting up in a different kind of chain.
I am still doing this a year later. At times it has been incredibly painful to "relearn" how to live my life, and it's something I'm still wrestling with. I'm still living with the consequences of the decisions I've made in the past (they don't go away, by the way). I'm still making mistakes with new consequences. There are no shortcuts; there is no easy. There is, however, forward.
On the day I finally accepted that I was not capable of saving myself, my whole life changed direction. I miss Rebuilt Records sometimes. I miss putting out records. It's hard to watch many of my friends doing greater and greater things with their art while I'm not. Now I have to fight feeling "washed up" and "useless" when I talk to other artists. What used to make me seem interesting to others ("Oh, you run a record label? Wow!" or "You hang out with all these cool artists? That's so awesome!") evaporated in a millisecond (and rightfully so). And while the human part of me still continues to wrestle with my need to receive someone's seal of approval, through it all, I'm more and more assured that the road ahead of me is a good one to walk.
For many years I was angry at God for the way I was made. I'll never know why I am wired this way, and I also know there will never be a time in which I "conquer" the depression that seems to be always around the corner. I'll just have to stay alert, to continue to push forward towards God's truth in scripture, and to always be willing to admit (as I did a year ago) that I am not capable of saving myself.
So now you know. And if you happen to look at my life and see goodness there, you'll know I had nothing to do with it. Thanks for reading this ridiculously long post.
"8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."- 2 Corinthians 12:8-10