Yesterday while I was driving Anders home from his sports class in Burbank we drove by a homeless man lying on the sidewalk. I was going slowly enough that I could really look at him. He was lying in the sun, his hands were swollen and his breathing was fast and shallow. He didn't look right. I turned the corner and decided to call the police and see if they could send out an ambulance. I didn't call 911 but called the station directly. I was put on hold and while I waited I drove around the block to keep an eye on him. When I drove by again I saw that a fire engine had pulled up and he was getting looked over by the firemen. An ambulance was already on the way. I hung up the phone and stopped the car for a minute and watched them check his pulse and then take his blood pressure. I was glad that he was getting help and I was glad that I went back around to check. If I hadn't I would have kept wondering what happened to him. I still do wonder and I hope that he got the help he needed.
I was able to talk to Anders about it and and his first question was "did he take too many drugs?" I told him that I didn't know but that he was getting help now.
I drove through McDonalds to pick up some early dinner because I didn't want to go home yet. That incident threw me for a loop and all of a sudden I was in a cloud of depression and sadness. I was totally taken aback by these feelings and I started to do some emotional inventory.
I realized that I make a specific effort to try and feel good. I hate feeling sad and depressed and yet I am very emotional by nature. I remember as a child scoffing at others fears and anxieties to try and suppress my own. It was and is easy to get lost in a book or a movie or other forms of entertainment to avoid sadness. It is easy to turn towards food or shopping or fantasy to make myself feel better. All to avoid the harshness and sadness that comes with living on this planet.
Life is not easy. As I look around I know this. My sweet Aunt is suffering through terminal cancer. I have friends and family who have lost babies. And others who have lost parents. In the last couple of days hurricane Sandy just devastated peoples lives and homes overnight. People are confused, angry, broken hearted and sad. War, deception, power hungry people, lies, pain, fear... This old world groans under the weight of these things.
As a Christian I have struggled through the disillusionment that came when I realized that my religion is not perfect. That my church is not perfect. That the people I have looked up to are not perfect.
There is something that I have come to know deep down in my soul in a way that holds my center together. God is love. He is the perfect one. He is the one who is constant, who doesn't change and doesn't sleep.
I have come to see the pattern throughout history of God loving through all of the choices that people make. Because He gave us the ability to choose. To choose Him or to not choose Him. He loves us so much that he lets us be free. He cares about each sorrow, each step and each tear.
Psalm 56:8 You keep track of my sorrows (wanderings). You have collected my tears in your bottle. You have recored each one in your book. NLT
God is the redeemer of people. He can turn our sorrow in to joy, our hopelessness into hope. I remember the truth that He spoke to my heart back when I was 15 and selfish and lost in the midst of bad choices. He said "I see you, and I LOVE you". It was quiet and kind and true. I knew it was God's voice and it changed my life.
This is where I have to go in my gloom. In my future pain and sadness, in my fear and doubt, in my bad choices and bad behavior. This is also where I have to go in my joys and triumphs. I am not grounded in people, places or ideologies. I am grounded in a love that is above all else.
That depression? It's gone. I know that I will be sad again. I will be overwhelmed again. I will get the blues, get hurt, have a bad day, lose someone I love, lose my temper, fall short in some way, disappoint and be disappointed.
I am thankful for that deep truth that has taken hold of my heart and that lifts my face up.
Psalm 3:3 "But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head."