Letters From A Devastated Artist (7)

“Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open? – Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Dear Depression,

It’s five o’clock somewhere, isn’t it?

And when you don’t have anywhere to turn, then dammit, bring on the medicine. I suppose I’m just tired, but then again I’m too numb to feel tired. I feel as though I’m floating in a black suffocating vortex of debilitating weariness. Except that floating is too ethereal and too pretty a word to describe the hell I’m feeling. I guess I do feel. At least enough to feel…hopeless.

Hopeless. Tired. Numb. Numb. Tired. Hopeless. (Repeat)

Oh, its only three o’clock?

God, am I not listening? Or are you silent? I feel I can’t talk or hear you. Am I so wrapped up in my selfish desires that I can’t hear you? Are you not talking, or am I not listening? I feel so desolate, so depressed, so alone. I want to be John – not David! Your beloved –  not a man after your own heart. A friend, not an artist. I don’t want this freakin’ “restore to me the joy of my salvation” crap. I want to sit next to you at supper and lean on your shoulder. But no!!! No!

It’s five o’clock somewhere, isn’t it? Isn’t it?

Is it true that the mystery of God’s presence can only be touched by a deep awareness of his absence? Is it really true that in the center of my longing for the absent God I discover his embrace? Is it true that absence makes the heart grow fonder? Is it true that filling my body with “the five o’clock medicine”, with chemicals, with too much food, too much excitement, too much sex (is that possible?), too much shopping, too much…of anything, will keep me from moving toward the mystery of your absence? Is it true that in listening carefully to my longings, I can hear God call out to me?

Is it true, like the Christian radio stations and books say, that every story has a happy ending? That you can have a terribly depressing experience in the first and second verse, but the third verse magically solves all the problems? Is it true that depression is just old fashioned sin, pure and simple? That I just need to “get right with God” and everything will be “my best life now” and that I really can “become a better me?” Is it true that the only reason I’m not healthy, rich and famous is because I haven’t “claimed it in Jesus name?”

Or does life just suck sometimes?

Is it Friday or Sunday? Sunday or Friday? Death or life? Life or death?

Is it simply coincidence that Jesus died around happy hour?


34 Responses to “Letters From A Devastated Artist (7)”

  1. I've tried so many things to fill that void of silence. Food, sex, video games, you name it. I'm honestly surprised I never tried drugs and haven't been drunk since college.

    I want to go on here and say so much but honestly I'm feeling a downward spiral to my day just thinking about all of it. Right now, I just don't want to focus on God's silence.

    This is a great post, Randy. It's encouraging to see someone who's obviously walked the road ahead of me.

  2. I am really loving these Randy. They are very encouraging! I love your Heart!

  3. I am really liking this series Randy, they are very encouraging. I love your Heart!

  4. I am really loving this series Randy, they are very encouraging. I love your Heart!

  5. Randy, glad I came to visit today. Eugene Peterson, one of the greatest poets of our time felt the same after his best work, The Message was completed. I'm glad others have unbearable pain and live between the folds of being friends with this reality. Your book, posts, tweets, comments and art help sustain me. Thank you.

  6. "Is it true that the mystery of God’s presence can only be touched by a deep awareness of his absence?"

    this is awesome… painful and beautiful all at the same time…

  7. Thanks again, Jason, for your candid and moving honesty.

  8. Thank, again, Rocco. I feel sort of like Erykah Badyu, with this post.

  9. Yes. It's a question to Henri Nouwen's writing…who knew a lot about depression himself.

  10. Life just sucks, doesn't it? We can't control other people, no matter how close they are to us or how much we want them to care. Sometimes we even feel that way about God. I have found, in my own experience, when I think God is silent, that is the time for me to scream at Him. And, I mean scream–as in releasing all my pent-up emotions. I wonder if those emotions are what is standing in the way of us hearing God. Seriously, God challenges us in Isaiah 1:18 to come and reason together with Him. So often, we want the arms of God around us comforting us in our pain without the hard answers He has for us. Answers that we really don't want to hear, but that will set us free. So, let it all hang out with God and ask Him to bring you to a place where you can hear what He has to say. In the midst of depression, keep haranguing God–He can take it.

  11. Randy you have struck a chord with so many people with this series, myself included. Thank you for openness and willingness to share this with us. It's a reminder that we are not in this life alone, there are others that experience the same things we do, and we don't have to go at it alone either.
    My heart is overwhelmed for all of the other commenters and those that are lurking and have yet to share here. But I know He hears our prayers and knows our hearts and for that I will continue to pray & seek. And sometimes yell too.

  12. Ha! Thanks, Michelle. we artists have to stick together. and more importantly, be honest with each other.

  13. So I caved again today Randy and raced to read the post while hiding behind my office monitor as tears well up again. So often my prayer for myself and for my loved ones is "restore to me the joy of my salvation". Life is hard. Sometimes I stop and think how the heck did my life take this turn? Why is it this way when my hearts desire is different? Life is beautiful. I see how those turns transform me into more of Him and less of me and how he is still very much in charge and walking this with me. Often so hard to see until you can see it in hind sight.

  14. Again, hang in there. Sometimes life doesn't suck as much as other times. Thanks!

  15. Wow!! You have certainly been there. Oh my!! Thanks, Deana.

    • yep – wouldn't relive that season to save my life. however, that was also the same year I first met a couple of mutual friends — and my life changed forever. Prior to meeting them, I had no idea there were others like me in the body of Christ. I'm not right sometimes. In a good way. It's like I have this purpetual party going on in my head. Meeting others like me who taught me that was a gift and not the curse that needed to be tamed like I once thought– blew me away. God does not leave a void.

  16. Then I'm very thankful!

  17. It is awesome (I guess) that some of the best things come from some of the worst times.

    • I'm on that same I guess boat with you. I had some wonderful friends who said — Hey, check out WOF,(I'd never heard of them before that) and Hey, have you heard of so and so… watch their videos.. it's only 5 years after the fact that I can see good. Two of the people I met during that time were also depressed and they spoke openly about it. I hung on to every word. And they – like me are on the other side today. so yeah, today I see the good. then? notsomuch. I had (and still have) a ton to learn. I wish I could have learned those things another way — but I had to deal with my scars, my fears, and my defense mechanisms.. We owe it to ourselves, and to eachother to keep it real because we never know who God will touch with that. —

  18. Jonathan Jones April 1, 2010 at 18:36

    I've read that C.H. Spurgeon was chronically depressed. He actually embraced it. He wouldn't sell as many books today.

    I think the beauty of liturgy and the church calendar is it takes you through the highs and lows of the Story. A better reflection of the way we actually live.

  19. Great observation,Jonathan. The rhythms of life are so vital to our emotional, spiritual, mental and physical health. I had heard that about Spurgeon as well. Thanks!

  20. Most of this week I've been in a different, lighter place than what is usual for what it the liturgical week is. That comes in part b/c last years week was so directly painful and dying that as my friends said then, "Seems you are going through a form of crucifixion and dying…" So this year, I've been rightly in a different place but also gun-shy of anything connected to the darkness of a Maundy or a "Good" Friday.

    That said, you have written it well what this moment, this few days provokes. Nicely done.

  21. Oh, Debbie. Words fail me as I read your post.Thank you.Thank you.

  22. Thanks, Kendall. You have written well also.

  23. Kathleen,Where is that documented? I would love to read more about Peterson's struggle.

  24. Yes. I vividly remember a time on the beach, alone, a few years ago, screaming words at God that I had been taught he would strike me dead for, and yet, I realized much later, he loves me in spite of myself.

    • been there. And yes, He does love us in spite of ourselves and life does just suck sometimes. I vividly remember that year for me. I burried 10 friends in 12 months, my boys school (which was my life) closed forever, my birthfather showed up on my doorstep homeless, jobbless, and peniless and I took him in only to have my mother disown me. Then there were the ministry job issues that I won't write about. I totally broke and threw the biggest temper tantrum with God — I remember the words — the hurt, the rage, the darkness and the hopelessness — at him… and I remember the Love. Amazing, strong, and continual. I had idols, and that needed to be dealt with before anything else could penetrate. I liken it to when Christ cleared the temple in Isreal and returned it to a house of prayer. That's what he did with me. Great post.

  25. All is well Randy. God is good. This series has just allowed me to do some cleansing and face some 'things' and heal. It's been really good. A real blessing. – @hisgirl77

  26. Randy, I just stumbled across this and will go back to read the others in the series. Over the last few years we have dealt with pancreatic cancer/lukemia/bonemarrow transplant/2 high profile,unjust job losses/two major moves/ and not one of those has had the horrific imapact that suicidal depression of our child has had. She went from always praising God to almost a year in a hospital and several visits since with no help. God is her help — He is ours too (and we need Him in this) and, fankly her only true help, but it is a long road and journey that is difficult to understand. God is there, but faith is challenged. I myself have dealt with depression — days that were way too dark and way too long and God met me in amazing ways. The thing is, it is only as I look back that I am able to see the undeniable, obvious presence that God was in the depth of my darkness. He held me, close. I am (believe it or not) now grateful for God's allowing me to go through this and for His work in and through it — for many reasons, not the least of which is my ability to understand and empathize with my daughter's experience. Sometimes it is hard to "remember" but God loves us more than (his) life itself and He is so present. May He reveal Himself in deep, intimate ways to you, to my daughter, to me and my family and to others who look to the Only One to be their light in the darkness. Blessings on you as you minister to others through your words and in sharing your life.

    • Debbie, one of my favorite passages in the Bible is Revelation 7:14-17: "…These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb…They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat…and God will wipe every tear from their eyes."

      God sees everything that we go through and He is making the way for us to overcome everything and have the life that Christ talked about in John 10:10. May your daughter, you, and your family (along with everyone else) experience the absoluteness of God's love. His love for us is greater than any evil that comes against us, and He will help learn to stand strong on His love!

  27. my favorite poetic hymn from my favorite historical manic depressive.
    Cowper would write about the melancholy blackness that surrounded him to the point he considered taking his own life. i love the line, Behind a bitter providence, He hides a shining face.
    Randy, these posts are so real and raw. thanks for being so very transparent.

    Light Shining Out of Darkness

    by William Cowper

    God moves in a mysterious way,
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants his footsteps in the sea,
    And rides upon the storm.

    Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never failing skill,
    He treasures up his bright designs,
    And works his sovereign will.

    Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
    The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy, and shall break
    In blessings on your head.

    Judge not the LORD by feeble sense,
    But trust him for his grace;
    Behind a frowning providence,
    He hides a smiling face.

    His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding ev’ry hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flow’r.

    Blind unbelief is sure to err,
    And scan his work in vain;
    GOD is his own interpreter,
    And he will make it plain.


  1. Tweets that mention Letters From A Devastated Artist (7) | RANDY ELROD | Creating Culture | Influencing Influencers -- Topsy.com - April 1, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kathleen Overby, Rocco Capra and Jason Wert, Randy Elrod. Randy Elrod said: I wish this were an April Fool's post-but it's not. "Letters From A Devastated Artist:Dear Depression" http://ow.ly/1tCW9 […]

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    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by randyelrod: I wish this were an April Fool’s post-but it’s not. “Letters From A Devastated Artist:Dear Depression” http://ow.ly/1tCW9

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