My daughter Anna (not quite 10) was diagnosed with severe clinical depression about a year ago. I remember one day back then when she really snapped. She was talking about wanting to just die, she did not want to live anymore. I remember looking into her eyes and seeing the darkness there. It was real, it was palpable. I felt it was more than just her….it felt like a spiritual attack. She felt the same. It was not long after that that she was diagnosed and put on medication.
Once on the meds, we saw a dramatic improvement in just a week. While she still had difficult days, the darkness seemed to be gone.
It came back a vengeance Wednesday night. My oldest daughter Maggie found her trying to cut herself on her arms with a pair of scissors. She was beside herself in tears, yelling and screaming. Saying that voices were telling her to end her life. We prayed over her hard. We wanted her to pray but she said that saying the name of Jesus hurt her too much, she could not say it out loud. She insisted that she was beyond saving and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Again, it seemed to be both clinical and spiritual in nature. We did not give up and after about an hour she was asleep and slept through the night with us.
Wednesday morning, she was in a better place but we took her to the hospital all the same. While she was calm, she still expressed her feelings had not changed. She also said she wanted help. The staff at the hospital was glad to hear that. It took them forever to find a bed in a child psych facility for more proper evaluation. Late that night she was admitted to a facility in Westwood. We have a family meeting there later today when we will hear what the next steps will be.
If there is one thing I have been learning it is that I do not have a lot of control over anything. Her depression is clinical, not environmental at its root. I know that if she makes up her mind to cut or take her life, I cannot stop her. I know that I am not able to heal her myself. It is beyond me. I do not pull the strings.
But I know Who does, and that He loves me and Anna, and that is holding me together.
When we try living like we have a lot of control over our lives, we get into trouble. Doing so ultimately leads to frustration, anger, and disappointment. My role in this is to be a loving father to her, and a reflection of God’s strength and love to my wife and other two daughters.
That doesn’t make this any less hard, less real, or less serious. Nor does it mean I do not have a part to play in her recovery and care. But it does make it look a lot different. I will end my post with another letter from Fénelon that has been an encouragement to me today.
Again, thank you for your prayers.
Fénelon, Let Go: Letter 2
Concerning our friend, I pray that God will give him a simplicity of trust that will bring him peace. When we are careful to instantly let go of all needless worries and restless thoughts (that is, self-centered thoughts, rather than loving, outgoing ones), then we shall find ourselves on plateaus of peace even in the midst of the straight and narrow. We shall find ourselves walking in the freedom and innocent peace of the children of God, not lacking wholesome relationships either toward God or man.
I willingly apply to myself the same advice that I give to others, for I am convinced that I must seek my own peace in the same direction. Even now my soul is suffering, but I am aware that it is the life of self which causes us pain: that which is dead does not suffer. If we were really dead, and our life hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3), we would no longer struggle with those pains in spirit that now afflict us. So we must learn to bear all sufferings with composure, even those which come upon us through no fault of our own. But we must beware of that restlessness of spirit which might be our own fault. We can add to our God-given cross by agitated resistance and an unwillingness to suffer. This is simply an evidence of the remaining life of self.
A cross which comes from God ought to be welcomed without any concern for self. And when you accept your cross this way, even though it is painful, you will find that you can bear it in peace. But when you receive your cross unwillingly, you will find it to be doubly severe. The resistance within is harder to bear than the cross itself! But if you recognize the hand of God, and make no opposition to His Will, you will have peace in the midst of affliction. Happy indeed are they who can bear their sufferings with this simple peace and perfect submission to the will of God! Nothing so shortens and soothes suffering as this spirit of non-resistance.
But usually we want to drive a bargain with God. We would at least like to suggest some limits so that we can see an end to our sufferings. We don’t realize how we are thwarting the purposes of God when we take this attitude. Because the stubborn clinging to life which makes the cross necessary in the first place, also tends us to reject that cross—at least in part. So we have to go over the same ground again and again.
We end up suffering greatly, but to very little purpose. May the Lord deliver us from falling into that state of soul in which crosses are of no benefit to us. God loves a cheerful giver, according to St. Paul in Second Corinthians 9:7. Ah! What must be His love for those who, in cheerful and absolute abandonment, give themselves completely to be crucified with Christ!