Over the last few days I have been writing some free-form poetry. The poetry that I have been writing draws inspiration from the Psalms and is often a mixture of my thoughts, experiences, and emotions.
Here is one of my poems:
Christ is at the center of my life
He is my rock and my redeemer
In Him alone I have salvation
In Him alone I have hope
No longer shall I be bounded by the chains of this world
No longer will sin reign over my heart
No longer shall darkness plunge my soul into the abyss of evil
Joy has been returned to my soul
Where there was once darkness there is now light
Where there was once despair there is now hope
Released from the chains of depression, I have new life
Unshackled by sin and Satan, I have freedom
To Jesus and His love do I run
To Jesus and His forgiveness do I embrace
Thank you, Christ Jesus, for saving my soul and redeeming my spirit
To those who may not know, which is most of the people within my life, I have depression. This is a very personal issue that I’ve struggled with for years and have recently come into a better and healthier understanding of it. As an introvert, this is not easy for me to share. However, this is too important to me to not share, and I hope that anyone reading this who might be struggling with depression will have a better understanding of it and will seek help. You are not alone.
What exactly is depression? It is not an easy question. Depression is a consistent darkness that cannot be waved away with logic or happy thoughts. It strangles your life, saps your joy, and leaves you weeping alone in the wind. Your entire life could be a constant chain of success and accomplishments, and depression will hamper or wipe away any positive feelings in your heart.
In early December, after a couple weeks of harsh, self-inflicted negative emotions, I had the darkest day of my life. I had every rhyme and reason to be happy with the direction my life is going, but a dark cloud choked my heart, mind, and soul. It seemed, at that time, impossible to overcome. It was like a steep, rocky mountain that you must climb without any equipment.
I also recently took the Big Five personality test (https://www.truity.com/test/big-five-personality-test). My results did not surprise me. However, it still shocked me. I scored 83% in Neuroticism and 0% in extraversion. A full-blown depressed, anxious introvert without a shred of extraversion. Now, to be fair to myself, it is only a test. Nothing more.
The results of the test spiked my depression as I studied Neuroticism. (for some insight, this is a really good article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychiatry-the-people/201803/5-ways-turn-neuroticism-your-advantage). Several thoughts poured into my mind. Why was I born this way? Why must I struggle with depression? Why must I be so anxious for the silliest of reasons?
I read essays from fellow depressed Christian individuals (thank you, pal. You know who you are). I prayed to the Lord for answers. I read Scriptures in the hopes that I would seek new insight about my battle with myself. For a while, I was not sure what to think. But after continuing to think, pray, meditate on Scripture, and listen to praise music, several new ways of thinking emerged in my mind.
I came to the conclusion that I have two ways to think about the way I am moving forward. First, I could continue to lament about myself, question why I am the way I am, and stay trapped in the cloudy darkness of depression. Second, and alternatively, I could accept the way I am, thank God for creating me with this odd blend of personality traits, and look for ways to glorify God and use my gifts that come with being who I am.
I chose the second option. While I am not thankful for depression, I am thankful for the gifts that God has given me, like writing. I am thankful to God for creating me this way. I can experience a wide breadth of emotions from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, and through that I am able to see the world in a different way and (hopefully) convey powerful emotions in my writing.
What does this mean for me now going forward? This is still a learning process for me, but now, through the love of Christ and the support of friends, I have confidence in my future. I may have dark days now and again, but I no longer worry that it shall cripple me like it once did. No longer shall my depression hamper my soul and sap my joy.
True satisfaction and joy is found only in Christ. My depression is not my identity, and neither is my Neuroticism. Christ is my identity. He is my savior. Through Him and Him alone I have hope for the future. My soul is satisfied in Christ alone.
Thank you for reading my post about this. A month ago I would not have written this if it were not for the loving and caring support of those close to me. If you also struggle with depression, please seek help. You are welcome to reach out to me. You are not alone in this struggle.
The Lord of the Rings are both my favorite books and favorite movies. The story is gripping, the characters are fascinating, and the setting is detailed. In my opinion, it is the greatest work of fantasy ever created. There are plenty of other stories that are certainly worthy of being considered among the best, but the Lord of the Rings, and its story, has always resonated with me the most.
Here are two reasons why I love the story of the Lord of the Rings:
It is the perfect blend of tragedy and hope
All good stories need tension to keep its readers interested. Tolkein constantly subjected his characters into hopeless situations. Yet, even when the fellowship was broken up by the end of the first book, with Boromor dead, Merry and Pippin captured by Orcs, and Frodo and Sam going off on their own without the guidance and protection of Aragorn, they were never completely without hope. The chance to destroy the ring and rid the world of Sauron’s evil presence remained constant throughout the trilogy.
As such, the story is similar to real life. Life is filled with tragedy. Between wars, murders, kidnapping, and other unspeakable horrors, tragedy is all around us. For some people, sadly, life seems to be a tragedy with unfortunate and heartbreaking circumstances and events that they are powerless to avoid. Despite how painful life can be, there is always hope in Christ Jesus.
The characters are great and relatable
Consider Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. They are ordinary Hobbits who love the Shire and enjoy their everyday life of eating plenty of food and walking in beautiful lands. They never forgot their home, and they always longed to return to their kin.
As for Frodo and Sam specifically, I am reminded of David and Jonathan from the Bible. Their friendship remained strong even in dire circumstances, and it was the same for Frodo and Sam. Frodo and Sam, like David and Johnathan, serve as an example of a healthy relationship between close friends.
Aragorn is another compelling character. At the beginning of the story, he was a reserved Ranger who had turned his back on his royal background. By the end of the Return of the King, he was the King of Gondor, and he faced many trials before becoming the King.
King Theoden’s role is inspiring. He lost his son. His lands were pillaged and burned. He received no help from Gondor. Yet he fiercely defended his people at Helm’s Deep and later led the Rohirim on a suicidal mission to save Gondor.
And for a bonus third point that I totally did not think of after originally posting this
I normally do not care much for love stories and romance. I don't think there's anything wrong with them per se, but often times, especially in today's culture, romance is fueled by lust and sexual desires.
The love between Aragorn and Arwen was pure and sacrificial. It wasn't about lust or sexuality. Arwen gave up her own immortality in order to be with Aragorn. She could have lived a very long life, but instead, chose to live a short life span with someone that she truly loved.
There are plenty more reasons why I think that the Lord of the Rings is such a good story. But since this is a blog, I decided to limit myself to two main reasons. If you have never watched the Lord of the Rings or read the books, I encourage you to do so.
I love writing. From the time that I was a little boy to now as an adult, I’ve found writing to be exciting. I read many books, including The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and a variety of Star Wars books. Whenever I read a book, I thrust myself into its world and partake in its many adventures. Whenever I write, my imagination is sharpened and my thoughts are clarified.
Here are three reasons why I love writing:
It engages and entices my imagination.
Growing up I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy books. The Lord of the Rings and various Star Wars books were always my favorites. I frequently imagined myself as a side character in those stories who silently walked with Frodo to Mount Doom or helped the Jedi wipe out an unsuspecting army of droids.
Whenever I played with Star Wars action figures I always envisioned a massive battle between the Jedi and Sith. Now, as an adult, I use a pen and a notebook to create the vivid imagination swirling in my mind. Creative writing is an expression and extension of my imagination.
It allows me to gather my thoughts.
I often struggle to adequately convey my thoughts about a particular thought or issue when I’m having a conversation with someone. However, give me a laptop and an empty document file, and I’ll write an entire essay outlining and explaining my thoughts.
This is especially true whenever I watch a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. I may remain quiet for long after the movie, and if you ask me about the movie, I’ll likely give a simple answer. But, sooner or later, I’ll write down my thoughts about what I just witnessed, and the result of such writing is usually much more thorough than any verbal explanation that I may give.
Whenever I am faced with a particularly challenging issue in life, I almost always consult my trusty pen and paper (or laptop). I’ll write every single thought and emotion that I am dealing with at that moment. I usually discover new insights or different ways of thinking about an issue just by simply writing. Writing allows me to gather and convey my thoughts in an organized manner when talking about it usually dissatisfies me.
It is thrilling.
It is rewarding to me to sit down and write, especially when I finish a blog post or complete a chapter in the novel that I am currently writing. I often don’t realize how much I’ve written until I finished writing. I’m not the best writer and I have a lot of progress to make, but it feels like I’ve accomplished something worthwhile whenever I finish a writing task or project.
I love writing. It entices my imagination, gives me clarity, and excites me. How about you? Do you enjoy writing?