Out of the depths of depression

For today’s contributor, who at one point attempted suicide, the idea that God not only exists but is good and always present became so powerful to him that he was freed from mental darkness.

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When I was a young teen, I began to suffer from symptoms of depression, though at the time I didn’t know what was wrong. A gnawing sadness and loneliness characterized my thoughts. A few years later, things got so bad that I tried to end my life – unsuccessfully, as you can guess.

As my misery grew, I began to drink with school friends on the weekends, the chief goal being to get drunk as quickly as possible. I even started cutting classes and spent my days sitting in the cafeteria.

I had grown up attending the Christian Science Sunday School, and though I respected and appreciated the men and women in our church, I nevertheless developed a conviction that God did not exist. Sunday School taught me that God was good and only good, but it felt as though the power of the universe had nothing better to do than crush me completely, without mercy. Still, God was all I had learned of as help in the world, and I didn’t know of any other power that could rescue me from the tragedy of a ruined existence. So with whatever faith I did have, I was continually asking, begging, God to please help me.

That plea appeared to go unanswered. But at some point I felt impelled to read the textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy, and I went through it cover to cover at least a dozen times. I felt a compelling, irresistible sense of hope on every page as I read about the nature of God as good, and of each of us as God’s valued, pure, spiritual creation. This felt like pinpricks of light in the darkness, an outcome explained by this passage, which refers to God as Truth itself: “Truth has a healing effect, even when not fully understood” (p. 152).

One night, as I lay in bed marveling at the unusual quietness of the evening, I began to consider some of the things I’d recently read that were gaining traction in my thought. Two that stood out were this beautiful verse from the Bible, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalms 61:2), and a line from Science and Health: “The three great verities of Spirit, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, – Spirit possessing all power, filling all space, constituting all Science, – contradict forever the belief that matter can be actual” (pp. 109-110). I saw that God, the divine Spirit, made us not as defective mortals, but as the spiritual expression of His limitless love.

After a few minutes of pondering these ideas in the darkness, my thought suddenly became startlingly clear. It was as though, without realizing it, I had been held under water for a very long time, when all of a sudden I was unexpectedly released and shot to the surface. For two weeks after, all my waking moments were suffused with an awareness of God’s infinite presence. I felt genuine, boundless joy for the first time in years.

This was my first glimpse of the reality of God and His goodness, and through God’s continuing grace, it was not my last. All my troubles didn’t vanish instantly, but from that moment on I have never doubted God’s existence and power.

These ideas raised me up above the drowning wave and set me on a course of usefulness and spiritual discovery. They healed me of the crippling depression and gave me a reason to live. Where once I believed God couldn’t possibly exist, now I can’t imagine a life without the knowledge and awareness of God, of divine Truth and Love. When the need is great, God’s love is always greater.

Adapted from an article published in the Christian Science Sentinel’s online TeenConnect section, Dec. 7, 2017.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.