What is the relevance of spiritual faith to a depressed person?
My short answer would be that it absolutely necessary for recovery, but that it is also a two- edged sword.
The purpose of this chapter I will be primarily talking about Christianity. I will also talk about the role of twelve step groups a little later in the chapter.
I must point out that I am a Christian and have been so for the greater part of my adult life. I was not brought up in a church going Christian family, although I think that my father believed in God. In some sense, I might have been a Christian as a young boy, although I didn’t verbalize the prayer of salvation because I had never heard it and wouldn’t have known what it meant. As kids growing up the nineteen fifties and early sixties, we were blessed that the public school system was favourable towards prayer and the daily reading of Bible stories. As all my elementary school teachers included these two routines following the playing of Oh Canada, the Canadian national anthem, I assumed that it was mandatory for my elementary grade teachers to lead us in the Lord’s prayer and to read to us from a book containing Bible stories.
I now think that because of these two spiritual exercises practised by the public school system I came to believe in God. In reality, I cannot remember a time where I doubted God’s existence. I was probably not a saved, born again Christian, but could definitely be considered to be a believer. This does not mean that I always tried to walk out the Christian lifestyle. There were many times in my life when I didn’t.
I didn’t officially get ‘saved’ as it is termed in Christianity until I was twenty-seven years old. This occurred only because an ardent local minister came to my mobile home to witness to me. Ironically, this was not the first occasion would someone tried to lead me to the Lord.
Around two years earlier, a young Christian couple came to my apartment to share the Good News of the Gospel with me. During this occasion I was not receptive at all to hearing about Jesus. I only recall that the man who tried to witness to be me was called Hugh and for years after I felt sorry for the way I treated these young evangelists.
Hugh, if by some miracle, you have been reading this blog post or listen to my podcast show, I want to sincerely apologize for my behavior that evening. I just want you to know that you planted a seed and that I became a born-again Christian two years after you witnessed to me.
This has entirely nothing to do with today’s topic, but I just looked up at the calendar on my desktop computer to see that I am writing my first draft of this blog on July 14, 2017. On this day or date, I should say, that in 1966, I was at the Winnipeg Arena watching the Rolling Stones in concert. I can recall that my ticket cost fourteen dollars, the Rolling Stones only played for twenty-five minutes, with sound transmission coming through their woefully inadequate Vox amplifiers and that the girls screaming from the audience almost drowned out The Rolling Stones’s music.
Now back to my original topic, depression and spirituality. My whole thesis is that the depressed person has to one degree or another lost hope. The answer, of course, is to regain the lost hope or possibly experience hope for the first time. That’s where Christianity comes in. The Gospel message offers the guarantee that if we have truly given our life to the Lord, when we get to heaven we will enjoy an eternal and wonderful life.
There are certain theological streams that seem to contend that this is about the only promise that Christians can count upon and that this only occurs after physical death and the end of our earthly life.
Although this hope can be very comforting, I was also looking for hope during my earthly lifetime. I was never quite satisfied with a Christian theology that implies that our life on earth was just to be tolerated as we attempted to live a holy life, but that for the real reward, we would have to wait for heaven.
Episode 5 of Chaos:
Roger had a regular morning routine. On weekdays he would turn on his phone and wait for a call from the school division giving him a substitute teaching assignment for the day. Roger did not really want to accept an assignment today. He had just finished a three day assignment teaching English at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate. Roger had a good time teaching there as the class was reading and discussing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. Although Roger had thoroughly enjoyed his time at Murdoch MacKay, he was getting older and felt like he needed a day off.
He also felt guilty when he spent too many days away from his writing. Roger wrote fiction novels and found that the writing process was very therapeutic for him. He decided that he would decline any teaching assignments for today and would spend the day working on his current writing project, a novel titled Winter Dreams.
Roger’s morning routine seldom varied. He would get up and boil some water for his Valentus coffee. Roger would then fill up a large glass with water. The glass that he used to wash down his medications was actually a large holder for flowers that he had purchased at Dollarama.
As he got older Roger appeared to be taking more and more medications. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was in his late teens. His psychiatrist prescribed a cocktail of antidepressants. While drinking his coffee and taking his meds Roger would listen to one of his many Holy Bible audiobooks.
Roger had been a Christian since his late twenties. When he first got saved he was really just buying fire insurance. Roger simply did not want to go to hell. For almost three decades he really didn’t have an intimate relationship with the Lord. When Roger was in his early fifties he was introduced to Charismatic and Pentecostal theology through a co-worker. Since then he had been baptised in the Holy Spirit and received some of the spiritual gifts notably prophetic visions and words of knowledge.
Lloyd Roberts was just waking up from a short nap he had after supper. As be reached for his pack of cigarettes, Lloyd could still remember the dream he had. He was in that zone where he was just coming out of the dream state, but was not yet fully awake. Lloyd was used to having many dreams while he slept, but there was something different about the ones that he had been having lately. His most recent dreams all seemed to have some spiritual or religious theme to them.
A few minutes ago, Rick had seen Jesus in his dream holding a little lamb in his arms. The other night he dreamed that he was sitting in a quiet peaceful location by a stream. When he turned his head he could see a man who looked like Jesus waving for him to come over to where he was standing. Lloyd scratched hic head before putting on his baseball cap with the Ford logo on it. He had started to notice a bald spot near the top of his head and thought that if he covered it up he wouldn’t have to think about it. What he was now thinking about was the significance of his dreams. His daughter, Sasha had been a Christian for awhile now, but Lloyd was wondering what kind of influence her new boyfriend was having on her beliefs. Lloyd expected Sasha would be home in a little while. He would ask her what she made of his dreams.
Lloyd had recently attained employment as a residential care worker at The Main Street mission. He found that of the many jobs that he had worked over the years this was probably one of the few that he actually enjoyed. Lloyd liked the street people that he got to know and was starting to feel that his life was finally starting to have some meaning.
Rick was beginning to mature as he entered his mid forties. The incident that happened at the rock festival had shaken Lloyd up. It now occurred to him that he had some serious responsibilities as a parent.