Though clinical depression is a distinct physical problem, it is definitely fueled by emotional issues. One of these issues, for me, is a nagging sense of never being able to fit in. Of never feeling comfortable in my surroundings or within my social/family group. This is partly due to the fact that I’ve learned how to be annoying ingratiating (i.e – a stereotypical and severe people pleaser), but it also comes from the fact that, well, I don’t exactly fit in anywhere. Now, I realize that everyone struggles with this to one extent or another, but experience up to this point as often affirmed my place outside the circle.
1. Politics – “Christian = Republican.”
I have a secret: I’ve never voted straight Republican. Ever. In fact, my politics are so “radical” as to prompt me to support gun control, more funding for libraries and tighter environmental restrictions on manufacturing.
I have another secret: I’ve never voted straight Democratic. Ever. In fact, my politics are so “conservative” as to prompt me to support pro-life legislation, especially in regards to minors.
A third secret: I tend toward a sort of Libertarian philosophy. The less government the better. This doesn’t mean I agree with all the tenants of Libertarianism, but it does mean that I try very hard to vote my conscience based on a Biblical worldview. This is what I believe a responsible Christian citizen of any government must do.
2. Christianity – “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.”
This cliche drives me absolutely bonkers. Do I have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Yes, I do. But I most definitely have a religion, which is defined as:
a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs…a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects
I’m willing to bet that you have a religion, too.
We Christians, particularly those of us within the Protestant vein, have got to stop being afraid of this word. We’re so jumpy about appearing “Catholic” (the worst possible thing in the world that we could be perceived as, of course) that we distance ourselves from the sacred. We downgrade our interaction with God to something common and ordinary. Prayer becomes nothing more than chatting with Buddy Jesus. Bible study revolves around proving political ideology rather than opening our ears to hear what God has to say.
Isn’t there some sort of midway point between this lax attitude and that of intense formality? Isn’t it possible to know Christ as Best Friend but also as Supreme King? There has to be. Perhaps if we were more willing to explore the part of the definition highlighting “devotional and ritual observances,” we would find it.
(As a side note, I have begun to occasionally make the Sign of the Cross when I pray. Also, if I had the money, I would want to buy this prayer shawl).
3. Marriage – “Women need love. Men need respect.”
Women and men require love. Men and women require respect.
I would not feel that my husband loved me at all if he didn’t respect my thoughts and feelings. It means a great deal to me that we discuss things, whether its finances, politics, theology or what to have for dinner. Even if he completely disagrees with me, I highly value the fact that he considers it important to ask me what I think. Knowing Chris as I do, I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t feel respected if I didn’t take the time to do little “lovely” things like leave him notes or make him breakfast.
I don’t know much about marriage, but I know that it’s not an either/or.
4. The sexes – “Men are visual, women are emotional/relational.”
I acknowledge that there is a large slice of truth here. However, I’m a visual creature. God did give me eyes, right? I like it when my man dresses up all fine and puts on that cologne I love. This whole visual thing goes farther than just human appearance, though. There are times when we both pause to appreciate the beauty of a sunset or sigh with contentment at the sight of a clean house.
Chris is quite emotional. That doesn’t make him a weakling. In fact, it is my opinion that he’s all the stronger for knowing exactly how he feels and being comfortable enough to express it. He’s like David, the Warrior Poet. This is an area in which I have a lot to learn from my husband.
What I’m trying to say here is that I’m weary of attempting to fit myself into these narrow, predefined boxes. It doesn’t work. If I’m going to be outside the circle, I want to be content with that position. It means…well, I guess it means that I think for myself. Maybe it’s good to be neither this nor that, but to instead be…me.
For all the posts in the What Depression Means to Me series, go here.