For those of us who struggle with depression life is a lot like a roller coaster ride. We have our highs where we feel on top of the world quickly followed by drastic falls, twist, and turns that scare us to death and turn our lives upside down. But roller coaster ride never last long; life sometimes last much longer than we’d like. Personally, there’s been many times where I just want off the ride. I’m tired of being scared. I’m sick of the feeling that comes when life is crashing down. Some love it. They even thrive on it and conquer it. Not me.
Anyway, I’ve been feeling like that lately. Out of nowhere a song came to my mind that I haven’t heard in years. The song is called Moments. It was released and performed by Emerson Drive back in 2006. Wikipedia describes the song this way.
“Moments” is a ballad in which the narrator, a young man, plots to die by suicide by jumping off a bridge. While on the bridge, he notices an older, homeless man, to whom he gives money, figuring that he “wouldn’t need it anyway”. Upon receiving the money, the homeless man tells of his past, saying that he “hasn’t always been this way”, and that he has had his “Moments, days in the sun / Moments [he] was second to none”. Upon hearing the story, the young man then ponders his own life, wondering if anyone will miss him, should he decide to take his own life. He remembers his own “Moments, days in the sun.” The young man then walks away from the bridge, imagining the older man telling his friends about his moments, including “that cool night on the East Street bridge / When a young man almost ended it / I was right there, wasn’t scared a bit / And I helped to pull him through”.
While in the depths of depression feeling overwhelmed by the voices of inadequacies, this song is a ray of sunshine in the midst of the abyss of depression. I think we’ve all had them: little moments where we’ve shined through and made a difference. For those with depression, such moments are brief and quickly over shadowed by the darker voices in our head, but it may be these little moments that can pull us through our valleys of despair.
So today I want to reflect on my little moments.
When I look at the people around me, I really don’t feel like I have anything to brag about. Others have more and have done more than I have, but when I consider what I came from, I can find a few accomplishments to hang onto.
I was a troubled child by anyone’s standards. I was born while my father was in prison, parents divorce when I was about 3 years old, and I had a turbulent upbringing. By the time I graduated high school I had transferred schools 21 times. I had lived on the streets, I had been to jail, detention centers, and plethora of other state run facilities. So my first accomplishment was just that: I graduated high school.
It may not sound like much, but considering how far I was behind all the other students, I don’t think anyone expected me to graduate. The best anyone thought I would do was get my GED, and that was almost the route I took. To get caught up, I had to take classes at night and I barely passed with a GPA of 1.56, but I did graduate. I also graduated boot camp in the Army and went on to join the Marine Corps after High School.
It was in the Marines that I had my second moment of accomplishment: I got sober. I’m not sure when all the drugs and drinking started, but I know it was elementary school because I remember getting caught drinking on school grounds. By the time I was in high school I was using drugs intravenously. The government footed the bill for the most intensive recovery program the military had to offer. It was about 6 weeks of hospitalization followed by other counseling and equipping. I have not drank, smoked cigarettes, or used drugs sense. That was over 30 years ago.
Before leaving the Marines, I had become a Christian and was on my way to college. I will always be grateful for colleges that take chances on admitting people like me. On paper I certainly wouldn’t have looked at all promising. My high school transcripts were laughable, I couldn’t pass the ACT or SAT, and I even did miserable on the test that the college required of all who failed the ACT. I remember scoring in the 4 percentile on the reading and writing test. I could read and write–barely. It took me four and a half years to get a four year degree, but I graduated. Not only did I graduate, but I graduated Summa Cum Laude. I had gone four years in a row with straight A’s.
Another moment of accomplishment has to be finding a good woman to be my wife. We both remember the day when my mother asked my fiancée “Are you sure you want to do this (referring to marrying me), he gets very depressed.” Perhaps this is a bigger accomplishment on her part, but she has stuck with me. She’s had to endure not only my depression, but also that which gets passed down to the children. It’s been twenty-seven years. We may be as different as night and day, but I believe she is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If it were not for her and my mother, I don’t think I would still be going.
My education is in ministry. That’s what I felt called to do since I was in the Marines, and I poured myself into it. But after over a decade of attempts I have to admit my own defeat. I’ve been fired twice and other times I left before getting fired. No real fault; they just wanted somebody else. But even a failed preacher has some moments of success. I have to wonder if God doesn’t send out little messengers during those moments when we are at our lowest just to give us a glimmer of hope to keep gowing.
I worked for one church several years before exepectedly being ask to leave. I was devastated. After the congregation was notified, I went home. I was called by someone I had been studying with at previous congregation. He was a new Christian back then and trying to overcome his addiction to prescription drugs. We studied the Bible together, but we also talked about beating addiction. I’ve done the same for several people over the years with little success. When things fell through at that congregation I moved on. I had not spoken to the young man in years, and when he called I hardly remembered his name. But he had traveled several hundred miles to see me that day. He was now off the drugs, married, enjoying a new job and a new life. He had no idea I was being fired. He just wanted to come over and personally thank me for my encouragement and influence.
A few years later, at another low point I was called by a young woman who had looked me up to ask if I would officiate at her wedding. I remember the girl very well from the three years I had served as her youth minister. We had spent a lot of time together. I remember first going to her house to encourage her and her sister to attend church. I left that church as she was getting ready to go to college. We had not spoken much over the years but she was very certain who she wanted to do her wedding. I had no idea that she considered me so influential.
Most recently I was given a Father’s Day card by the girls in the children’s home I work for. It was a little homemade card that one of the girls made and it was signed by everyone with typical sentiments. But one girl added her own note which really made my day special. Working at a children’s home can be difficult and frustrating. I think everyone who has worked with these children starts with the best of intentions, but things rarely live up to our expectations. Quite often the children do not understand our intentions and end up forming resentments towards us instead of the positive feelings we hope for. No matter how hard we try to display kindness and compassion there are always times that demand firmness. I think all of us wonder what kind of impact we are having. Well, this note was a major source of encouragement for me.
I am sure there are many other moments I will feel embarrassed for not including. But these are just a few that come to mind. I think we all have them. It’s just nice to think about them as a reminder while traveling through the valleys.