I debated whether or not to even write this post, because it involves the “G” word. God. My blog is just floating out there somewhere in the vastness that is the internet. I could be anyone and say anything. But I finally decided that if this was going to be a blog about my experiences, my trials, and my triumphs, it would be a lie if I didn’t include God. You see, if it weren’t for God, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. Not just in the “God created everything” sense, but in a more recently applicable sense, too. If it weren’t for my knowledge of the existence and love of God, and my understanding that death isn’t the end, I would have killed myself a long time ago. Or last week if I had never gotten around to it before that. So since I am here to write this blog, I am going to write about God. Take it or leave it.
Over the years, I have gotten better and better at praying. You’d think that was an easy thing. After all, it’s mostly just a list of ‘gimme’s coupled with a list of ‘thanks for’s. But I’ve learned to see it as a conversation with God. And the more consistently I see it that way, the more consistently I actually develop a closer relationship with Him through my prayers. You see, I can actually feel Him there. And I can receive answers from Him. Most of the time. But sometimes something blocks my signal.
I think I’ll use the tunnel analogy again, because I think it’s especially applicable here. When you start into a tunnel while on a cell phone, reception becomes spotty and is quickly lost. That’s what it’s like when you start into a depression tunnel. And for me, I never know if it’s going to be a tunnel with a sunshiney end or one with a dead end that I’ll have to crawl back out of. Both kinds of tunnels block your signal every bit as effectively as a granite mountain kind of tunnel blocks a cell phone signal. Except God can still hear you. You just can’t always hear Him.
When you’ve gotten used to having Him around, it’s a pretty horrible feeling to suddenly be cut off from Him. Especially when you didn’t do anything to intentionally block the signal. And the signal gets blocked right when you need Him the most. It’s awful. But that also happens to be the way it is. It’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cool day. You’re just right. Then when the sun goes down and the temperatures drop to below freezing, and you really need it most, the blanket is snatched away. And you’re like, “What the… WHERE IS MY BLANKET!!!!??!?! BLANKET I NEED YOU!!!” But it doesn’t come back.
Now there is something really important that you need to know about these signal blocked, blanketless times when you’re praying and praying and not getting any answers. He is still there! He still cares! In fact, it may be that He is closer to you during those hard times than any others. It just doesn’t feel like it. Weird, I know. But keep praying. If you look and listen really, really closely, you still probably won’t see or hear anything. But occasionally you can catch a glimpse of an answer to a prayer here and there. He’s often answering your prayers and you’re just missing it. But whichever kind of tunnel it is, you’ll eventually come back out.
In my current tunnel, I seem to be starting to get signal again. But it’s funny, it seems like that subzero night, desperate need of blanket and signal has mostly passed. I don’t know if losing the signal starts the depression or if the depression starts and then I lose the signal. And I don’t know if I feel better because I have signal again or if I have signal again because I feel better. I could chicken and egg this forever, but what I do know is that I feel better when I can see and hear God working in my life. What I don’t know is why He seems to go away.
To get some insight, I started looking on lds.org for articles on depression. There are plenty. But every one I’ve read so far recommends smiling a lot and liking yourself more. “I’m in a tunnel with no end in sight. Do you really think SMILING is going to help?!” That’s how I feel about those articles. I think articles on depression should acknowledge the suckiness that is life when you’re stuck in it! I think that they should validate the suck! Because otherwise, they don’t feel applicable. And if they don’t feel applicable, they don’t help. I really and truly think that when you’re stuck in the suck, you need to try to remember that life wasn’t always like this. Because then you might be able to convince at least a tiny part of yourself that life won’t be like this for the rest of forever. But that’s usually about all the self-help I can handle. Once you get out of the suck, then you can read happy pretty articles about learning to like yourself. You might even learn to apply them.
I wish I had an answer to the “Why does God sometimes seem to go away?” question. But I don’t. I intend to ask Him when I get back up there if I haven’t figured it out by then. My guess is that it’s something like cancer. There is no super-specific-meaningful-beautiful-rainbowey answer. It’s just a part of your individual journey and something you had to experience to be you. To see how you would react. It’s like Abraham. God knew all along that Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac. He knew Abraham’s heart. But Abraham had to prove his loyalty to himself. God knows us so deeply and individually that He knows how we are likely to react. He’s just giving us a chance to prove it to ourselves. And don’t worry. If you don’t get it right the first time you head down a depression tunnel, odds are you’ll get another tunnel to try it out on.