One year ago, I went through a funk. It was a mild case of depression. Nothing was satisfying. I quit doing the things I do to bring joy to my life. I was not sleeping. I had little to no energy. I was going through the motions of work, church, and family obligations.
I can name the events that occurred that led to this. One Sunday in January, I had the unsettling honor of being in the birthing room with a mother whose child died during childbirth. I was able to hold the lifeless child and look on his face. The next week, my cousin was killed in a car accident. After traveling from Maryland to Texas for the funeral, my mother suffered a stroke.
I have been around death and the various details in a number of ways for most of my life. I have been in hospital rooms and living rooms with people as they took their last breath. I have planned and preached funerals. I have talked with and counseled families and friends as they deal with grief. I have walked through the grief of losing my brother.
But there was something about those three events occurring within a 10 day stretch that shook me in a way I have not been shaken before.
And I turned inward. I isolated. I didn’t talk. I hid behind the word “fine.” I was basically entering into the Walking Dead phenomenon, only without the entertainment of the actual TV show.
And this went on for months. After a powerful sermon at the church I attend, I decided to take a chance and reach out for help. I wrote a card detailing my despair and emptiness and actually signed my name to it. It was difficult spelling out the letters in my name on that card.
Someone called me. We talked. We prayed. I decided to go speak to a trusted spiritual advisor. His name is Randy. I told him I was unsettled. He asked me why. I detailed the events of the previous weeks and months.
He responded with a simple question: “You know what I’m going to tell you, don’t you?”
My answer: “You’re going to tell me to go sit with it.”
“Yes. Go sit with it.”
“Go sit with it” ranks right up there with “Do the next right thing.”
Randy is a well-respected, educated, wise, insightful, spiritual man. He thinks before he speaks. He does not let words fall out of his mouth carelessly.
But all he had for me was, “Go sit with it.”
I wanted advice. I wanted healing. I wanted the words that formed the magic solution to cure all that ailed me. I didn’t want to go sit with it.
But that was his counsel. What does it mean?
It means that there are seasons in life when we will be unsettled. We cannot avoid it or prevent it. We also can’t pretend like it’s not happening. We can’t simply sweep it under the rug or hide it in the closet. We must go through it.
It means that there are some issues that cannot be solved simply. They must be experienced and endured.
It means that sometimes we need to be silent in order to hear God. We need to be still to be aware of God’s presence. We may not always get the answers we want, but at many points in our lives we do not need answers. We need presence.
It means that I have to accept that I cannot solve everyone’s problems. I cannot be the hero for everyone in my life. And that is not what I am supposed to be anyway.
It means that I need to recognize how I participate in the suffering of the world. And how I can partner and walk alongside others as they participate, as well.
There was no magical solution. There was no simple solution. There wasn’t even a moment when everything got back to normal.
But every morning brought a new day.
And sometimes, that is all we can hope for.