Have you ever had a bad case of the flu with a migraine headache on top?
You know, the kind where you ache all over, have no energy to walk to the next room, and wonder when the world got so bright that the light seems blinding? Your one wish is to stay in bed with dark curtains on the windows for a week or so with no intrusions.
Imagine going outside in such a immobilizing state, or even worse, going to church! This is how depression feels sometimes. This is how I felt this past weekend. People don’t know when I am in a depressive state which is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is not having to justify how I feel or why I am feeling depressed when Christians are suppose to be full of joy, unaffected by the world around them. “Just snap out of it!” is the usual response from outsiders, which of course, only adds to the feelings of hopelessness. If I could ‘just snap out of it,’ do you think I would stay in such a miserable state?
The curse, though, is when people do not know I am in a depression, my statements and behaviors can seem offensive and even snobbish. For the most part, I am the smiling social sort interacting with those around me. Depression makes me want to isolate and escape to a far away place where no one can find me.
This past Saturday, I knew if I went to the service, I would feel better worshiping the Lord. I just had to get past the crowd of people so I could be alone in my thoughts. After all, my mindset was to go to feed my own needs instead of serving others, which is a chief purpose of being in the church. I believed Jesus would let me keep to myself just this once.
Well, Jesus had other plans. There was a need for communion servers and a friend pleaded with me to help out. I gave every excuse I had from not being able to carry the juice with my unsteady gait to lacking the dexterity to pass small cups. I ran out of excuses before she ran out of pleas. Fine, I would just get the plate of wafers, stand up front and say, “the Body of Christ”. My heart wouldn’t be in it, but God knew how bad I was feeling, so He would understand, right?
As I sat in the congregation waiting for the call for communion servers, I had a talk with my Father in my heart. Why can’t I just sit here and meditate on You? What if I fall walking up there? What if I dump the wafers? My hands are so shaky, Lord… I can’t do this!
He turned my attention to the words Pastor Vernon as reciting from Psalm 139
: For you created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb… My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place…
It was God’s turn to talk; I know your hands shake, I know your balance is unsteady… I know you are in a depression… I know you, Shelly. Remember, I made you just the way I wanted you. Trust me.
There was no sense arguing with Him so I stopped whining and went to the table. Of course, I was so nervous, my hands were shaking and the lid noisily clanked as I removed it from the tray. I knew everyone could hear and see me, and my pride was being bruised. The bruising escalated when I was shaking so much, I couldn’t hold the tray still. I could’ve served Keanu Reeves and never had realized it because I was so focused on me. Nothing else but me.
Suddenly, the focus went to Jesus. I saw a young man walking with the use of crutches coming toward me. His smile melted my heart as I watched him put his own flesh aside to come to the Lord’s table. While every single person in line was a child of God, this man was somehow different. I thanked God for the man’s obedience and strength and how this man reminded me it is all about Jesus. In his use of crutches, I saw Jesus. I don’t know how, but Christ’s power and grace was illuminated in his limitations.
As I walked back to put my tray away, God showed me why he had me serve with my hands shaking… so people would be reminded what communion is truly about. I forgot about my cerebral palsy, I even forgot about my depression. Somehow, the Light became a balm, soothing me within.