472. That Time I Got Saved

I’ve written about many of the strange events in my life, from an awkward stage kiss to a severed human arm, but not until now of the day I committed my soul to God. It was… I don’t remember what kind of day it was. It was probably muggy and overcast. I was indoors at the time, standing in line, waiting for a meal that was, in retrospect, soggy and terrible.

I speak of That Time I Got Saved, a tale of grace and burgers.

(For full effect, you must read the title of this story with a Southern Baptist drawl: “That Time Ah Gawt Saaaved.”)

Unlike some of my other That Time I _____ stories, this one isn’t all that exotic or sensational. Heck, it doesn’t even make for a compelling testimony. I got saved while standing in line for a nasty hamburger.

This happened nearly twenty years ago in French Burger, a sketchy fast food joint. For all I know, it’s still open for business. (I really hope it isn’t.) French Burger served beef patties on cheap buns soaked in some kind of milky fluid: probably mayonnaise diluted by the moisture from wet shredded lettuce. These mushy burgers were served in little mustard-colored plastic bags. The burger juice would collect at the bottom of the bag, along with stray wisps of lettuce and shreds of soggy bun. The horror! The horror!

A photo of the food from French Burger would have been too graphic, so I replaced it with a picture of some pretty flowers. I’ve got to keep this blog family-friendly!

French Burger was tucked in a corner of a parking lot in Santo Domingo de los Colorados, a city built to the west of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador. My family and I spent about four years there. My memories of Santo Domingo are few and faint, but I recall gloomy impressions of mud, concrete, overcast weather, and weeds.

Understandably, I spent much of that time indoors: watching VHS tapes of old cartoons, building with Legos, playing and replaying games on our Super Nintendo Entertainment System, dodging home school assignments, learning to read—subsequently reading with voracious interest—and trying to write a novel. (Spoilers: I quit after two paragraphs.) It was a formative time. I discovered Nintendo, J.R.R. Tolkien, Star Wars, C.S. Lewis, and coffee.

I did occasionally venture forth into the community: picking up fragments of Spanish, pestering the neighbors, riding my bike, and buying bread from the local shops. My family and I made regular visits to a local river, where I encountered a Giant Mutant Killer Jungle Ant. We also visited nearby restaurants, such as a French Burger and Kentucky Fried Chicken. (KFC is weirdly popular in Ecuador.)

Oh, Santo Domingo de los Colorados. I… don’t really miss you, actually.

It was during a visit to French Burger that I found myself waiting in line, and committed my soul to God. I could joke that I got saved just in case I died of my lousy hamburger, but at the time, I actually liked those soggy messes. (My tastes have much improved, I hope.) As I waited, I realized that I should probably be saved. I was raised in a Christian home, surrounded by Adventures in Odyssey and Sunday school lessons, with the Gospel of Christ rattling around in my head. It finally occurred to me that I should probably do something about it.

I… didn’t really do anything about it. I prayed a trite sinner’s prayer—which I repeated over the next few weeks just to make sure my salvation stuck—and then continued to live however the heck I wanted. My life continued to be as messy as those burgers.

That day in French Burger didn’t make an immediate impact, but it was a tiny step forward, and God is known to work wonders with little things.

It wasn’t until the start of high school that I became a proper Christian. It wasn’t exactly a decision, but more like a gradual movement toward Christ. I took prayer more seriously, began reading the Bible, and made a sincere effort to be less of a jerk. My faith has wavered over the years, but for better or worse, I’ve kept it.

The salvation of my soul wasn’t an event of dazzling beauty or splendid emotion, but it was a start. After all, redemption has to begin somewhere. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Neither bad burgers nor bad people can preclude the grace of God.

Batman Syndrome

I have Batman Syndrome.

I wish this meant I were as cool, skilled or accomplished as Batman. It does not. It most certainly does not. What it means is that Batman and I have something in common: we obsess over our mistakes.

If you or someone you love suffers from Batman Syndrome... I feel your pain.

If you or someone you love suffers from Batman Syndrome… I feel your pain.

I like fictional characters who overlook their victories and overemphasize their failures. There’s something compelling about characters who are heroic without realizing it. Take the Doctor from Doctor Who, who has saved every planet in the universe roughly twenty-seven times. In all his travels through space and time, he never leaves behind his insecurity, self-loathing or guilt. Consider Jean Valjean from Les Misérables, who atones for a few petty crimes by spending years serving the poor and helpless. They bless him as a saint. He despises himself as a criminal.

Then we have Batman, the eponymous sufferer of Batman Syndrome, who is so blinded by guilt that he fails to recognize one all-important fact: he is freaking Batman. No matter how many thousands of people he rescues, he remains obsessed with the two he failed to save.

I’m not a savior like the Doctor or a saint like Jean Valjean. I’m certainly not a superhero like Batman. Even so, I occasionally do things right. I also do things wrong. In my mind, the wrong things eclipse the right ones. A mistake cancels out all successes.

This isn’t always such a bad thing. I feel driven by my mistakes to try harder, to be better, to get it right. In the short term, it helps.

In the long term, however, Batman Syndrome wears away my confidence. It also makes me anxious. Dash it all, does it ever make me anxious. Doing anything is hard for someone desperately afraid of making mistakes. Perfection is a lousy minimum standard.

Batman Syndrome haunts me with one dreadful question.

You’ll never get it right, so why even try?

I write a lot about grace and stuff. In the end, I suppose it’s because I’m amazed (and sometimes incredulous) that God loves me. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. More to the point, I make a lot of mistakes. It’s easy for me to accept God’s forgiveness for a sin committed ten years ago. What’s hard for me to accept is forgiveness for a sin committed ten minutes ago.

It can also be hard for me to acknowledge my victories. I want to be humble, but there’s a difference between true humility and false modesty. I’m often reminded of my weaknesses. I think I must also allow myself to be reminded of the strengths God has given me. I’ve a long way to go, but I mustn’t overlook how far I’ve come.

I’m not Batman, and I think I’m finally beginning to accept that I don’t have to be.

This post was originally published on March 18, 2013. TMTF shall return with new content on January 19, 2015!

267. I’m Giving Up

The ironic thing about some of the lessons I’ve learned is that I haven’t really learned them.

Sometimes, I know things without understanding them. I accept a lesson and then forget it. When I’m reminded of some lessons, I understand them a little more fully. Learning becomes an incremental process.

Thus I’m going to quote myself quoting C.S. Lewis and say,

Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, “You must do this. I can’t.”

Living by grace doesn’t mean merely trying to do good things, says dear old Lewis,

But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.

In other words: Stop trying to be good enough and depend on God’s grace.

My problem is a paradox. I have made depending on God’s grace just another facet of trying to be good enough. As I said last time, I wanted to be consistent. I wanted to depend on God’s grace consistently. Grace became another weapon in my battle to get it right.

Maybe grace is simply permission to stop fighting.

I’m giving up. My dreams of reaching a nice, level plateau of angelic goodness and contentment are gone. My life will be disordered, flawed and messy. I shall sin and struggle and make mistakes. (Please note these are a statements of fact, not of intention.) There will be days of depression and grief and anxiety, and nothing I can do to prevent them.

What does this mean for my day-to-day life? Honestly… not much. I’ll keep living, working, praying, reading, writing, playing video games, drinking too much coffee and failing to act like a solemn, serious adult.

As I do these things, I’ll try not to hold myself to the self-imposed standards of years past. I won’t replay and review things constantly in my mind, and I certainly won’t agonize over mistakes. By accepting I shan’t be perfect, I can stop trying—better yet, I can try in that new, less worried way.

I’m giving up.

266. Crying Out for Consistency

And today I will trust you with the confidence of a man who’s never known defeat, but tomorrow upon hearing what I did, I will stare at you in disbelief. Oh, inconsistent me, crying out for consistency.

~ Relient K

I had a birthday not long ago. On that bright, chilly spring day, I reached the ripe old age of twenty-four and resigned myself to the gloomy of business of being an adult. As I reflected upon my future, I chose a keyword for my twenty-fifth year—a one-word resolution to guide my actions, attitudes, words and thoughts for the next twelve months.


Within one day, I had deceived myself into doing things I should not have done—sinful things. My fine resolutions were effortlessly flattened by familiar temptations. So much for consistency.

Just one day after that, a bleak depression settled upon me. It lasted for days. While I was depressed, I could only scowl at my hopeful new keyword. Consistency? What an idea. In the paralyzing grip of depression, it was all I could do to function. I dragged myself along, hour by hour, grimly surprised every night that I had survived another day. I couldn’t be consistent. I could barely keep going.

Once again, consistency was an empty hope.

For years and years, my life has been largely driven by one all-important conviction. I could express it in a number of ways, but the simplest is this: I needed to get it right. No matter the circumstances, no matter my feelings, no matter what trials and challenges assailed me, I needed to get it right—to love God and to love others and to have faith and to be awesome. God’s grace had redeemed my life, sure, but it was up to me to live.

I wanted for years to reach a plateau or level of goodness and faith. It seemed logical that I would eventually learn every lesson, overcome every temptation, cast off every burden and consistently live a good, contented life. There had to be some secret, some attitude, some perspective or paradigm to make everything click and all the pieces fall into place.

Thus I tried out a long series of resolutions, attitudes, philosophies and personas in my quest to be consistent. I’ve always known I can’t be perfect, but consistency seemed like a reasonable goal.

Now I’m not so sure.

I’ve written many times about my near-obsessive desire to be “good enough,” whatever the heck that means. God’s grace is another subject I’ve discussed repeatedly. My conclusion is always the same. God declares, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

More clearly than more than ever before, I understand that weakness isn’t merely a sinful nature. It’s helplessness. Weakness is waking up on some days hardly able to stand, let alone work or write or pray. Weakness is never, ever reaching my long-sought plateau of consistency. Weakness is struggling and making mistakes and never quite getting it right.

Weakness is space for God to work.

What next? Well, another blog post, I guess. Check back next time for the conclusion to my thoughts on weakness, grace and where in blazes I should go from here.

227. The Return of the Anti-Adam

Hello, Adam. It’s nice to see you. Wait, did I say nice? I meant nauseating. It’s nauseating to see you.

You again? If someone has to annoy me while I’m trying to write blog posts, can’t it be the other guy?

If you’re talking about the Pro-Adam, he couldn’t make it. Don’t act surprised. You know I visit you much more often than he does.

I know, but I hoped for some variety. His empty praise is a refreshing change from your undeserved insults. What is it this time?

There are a few things, actually. May I sit?


I’ll take the armchair, thank you. First of all, I think some congratulations are in order. You’ve finally given up trying to write novels. Well done! It’s about time you took my advice and stopped embarrassing yourself.

I don’t think I’m a bad writer, and I haven’t given up on The Eliot Papers. I’ve just put the project on hold indefinitely. I believe my circumstances made it necessary.

When you say “my circumstances,” I presume you’re referring to your lack of ambition and talent as a writer. I understand completely. Well, at least you have your blog.

Yes. Yes I do.

Sure, I can understand giving up your lifelong dream of being an author, and instead writing blog posts about exploding tomatoes and video game mustaches and girly cartoons with ponies and rainbows. It’s not as though you could actually be writing thoughtful posts about meaningful things.

do write about meaningful things… occasionally.

When you’re not busy being a frivolous idiot, that is.

I’m allowed to be frivolous! Heck, life would be awful if we had to be serious all the time. It’s the little things that make life livable, and the little blessings that help us appreciate the great ones.

Great blessings? Like grace? You write a lot about grace, expressing the same ideas again and again, like a lunatic muttering to himself. It’s almost as though you were trying to convince yourself of something you don’t really believe.

Belief is hard. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”

And you quote somebody! It was only a matter of time. Do you have even one original idea rattling around in your head, or just a lot of quotes?

I have ideas, really. Quoting people helps me express them.

Your memory stinks. How do you keep track of so many quotes?

I have no idea.

I suppose I can’t blame you for having a bad memory. Fortunately, I can still blame you for lots of other things. Like working a menial job.

It may not pay well, but there are worse jobs than serving persons with disabilities.

And doing absolutely nothing with your college degree.

I plan to use my teaching degree sooner or later—I just renewed my educator’s license, after all!

And being antisocial.

Being introverted and being antisocial aren’t the same thing.

And being afraid of life.

Life is scary!

And making the same stupid mistakes again and again and again.

Well, I’m a human being. We all make mistakes.

Excuses, excuses. You sound awfully confident for someone who spends a lot of his time being depressed.

You’re not going to blame me for that, are you? Lots of great people have suffered from depression. Abraham Lincoln, for example, and also my dear old dad. And have you counted how many good people in the Bible showed symptoms of depression?

You’re glorifying your depression by comparing yourself to great people. That’s classy.

I’m not saying we’re alike because we’re great. I’m saying we’re alike because we’ve suffered from depression. Depression does not a great person make, but it certainly doesn’t make a person any less important or valuable.

I’ve had enough of your prattle for one day. Don’t forget what I’ve told you, Adam. I’ll be back.

Of course you will. Something tells me you’ll never be far away. It’s a good thing you’re not the only one. “The Lord is my shepherd,” and all that.

I’m leaving.

Good. On your way out, would you mind getting me a sandwich?

220. Wishing I Had Something Wise to Say

This was a rough week. First of all, there was snow. I don’t like snow. It’s wet and cold and awful. There’s a reason Dante put snow—well, ice, which is almost the same thing—in the innermost circle of hell.

Snow was the least of my concerns this week. I suffered from depression. This was no surprise. Depression afflicts me occasionally. Sometimes it lasts only a few hours. Sometimes it lasts a week or more.

At its worst, depression is very much like a cold. These conditions share some symptoms, such as tiredness and lethargy. Depression also inflicts apathy, mild panic, feelings of hopelessness and an inability to focus. Both conditions last anywhere from a few days to more than a week, and they’re generally infrequent—thank God.

When paralyzed by depression, I watch helplessly as chores and commitments pile up. (Yes, these sometimes include blog posts.) I huddle in my armchair when depressed, unable to focus, dreading work, wishing I could just curl up in my sleeping bag and wait for my depression to go away… and wondering whether it ever will.

Depression sucks.

This week, I stumbled through a suffocating fog of stress and fatigue. I slept a lot, and forced myself to eat, and watched some Batman videos on YouTube, and then shuffled reluctantly out the door to go to work. For the most part, I didn’t live. I merely functioned.

Then I awoke on Thursday and felt fine. My depression disappeared overnight… as always.

Every time I have bad experiences, I try to learn from them. It comforts me to find to find lessons or blessings in unpleasant circumstances. I’ve used my struggles with depression to illustrate discussions about things like grace, compassion and the importance of a positive outlook.

Not today. I wish I had something wise to say. I’d love to wrap up this week with some neat, tidy lesson, but I can’t. It was a hard week, and God carried me through it, and that’s all there is. As much as I wish I could share some profound insight, I’ve got nothing.

I’m simply thankful today. I’m thankful my depression hasn’t ever become a permanent affliction. I’m thankful for family and warm clothes and God’s grace and rest and Batman and chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Whether or not my life seems to make perfect sense, I’m thankful to be alive.

218. Another Post About Grace

I write a lot about grace. You may have noticed.

I suppose the reason I write so much about grace is that I’m amazed—staggered—almost incredulous—that God puts up with us. I sin. I struggle with selfishness and pride and insecurity every freaking day. Besides my personal faults, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the myriad pressures and responsibilities of life. Have I mentioned my chronic struggle with anxiety and depression?

Yeah, life can be a mess.

Throughout this messy life of mine, I have often hoped to attain a sort of near-perfection. Someday, I thought, I will get it together once and for all. There will be no more insecurities, sins or mistakes. I hoped to reach a kind of godly plateau, a spiritual condition with very little room for improvement. With God’s help, I will finally get things right.

I know now that’s not going to happen.

Last month, I spent an amazing week relaxing with my family by a lake. It was a sabbath rest: seven days packed with blessings. I felt refreshed and strengthened by that week. My time at the lake was, I felt sure, a cure for at least some of my problems, and the beginning of a better, brighter chapter of my life.

It wasn’t.

The next two weeks were rough. Work was hard. For several days, I blundered through a fog of anxiety and depression. It was almost as though the week at the lake had never happened.

In the end, of course, God helped me through those weeks. That was no surprise. Whatever my problems, God never fails to help me—and that’s the point.

I don’t think I’m ever really going to get it together. I shall always struggle. Perfect holiness and complete awesomeness will elude me. Until I shuffle off this mortal coil, I’ll have problems.

In my experience, God doesn’t make us self-sufficient. He helps us do better. He helps us be better. When we inevitably make mistakes, he forgives.

As much as I wish I could get it together and keep it together, I don’t believe I ever shall.

It is well, then, that our God is a God of grace.

195. Faith, Hope and Tea

There was once an old sage named Iroh. His wisdom was tempered by many sorrows and crowned with a compassionate heart, an affable nature and a passionate love of tea.

Needless to say, Iroh is one of my heroes.


Iroh may be merely a character in Avatar: The Last Airbender, a television show, but his wisdom has left a strong impression on me nonetheless. In previous posts, I’ve shared his views on the futility of regret, the importance of seeking insight from many sources and the value of accepting help from others.

“Life is like this dark tunnel,” Iroh once remarked as he and a companion walked along a gloomy underground passage. “You may not always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you keep moving, you will come to a better place.”

Earlier this year, I found myself in a dark tunnel of my own. The posts on this blog took a dismal turn, covering subjects like depression. Then, far ahead, I thought I saw a glimmer of light. A long, dark winter surrendered to the beauty of spring. The trees outside my apartment exploded into sprays of pink blossoms. I renewed my hope that things would get better.

Thank God, things have definitely gotten better.

I won’t go into all the details, but I will share a few of the things that have made a positive difference in my life in past weeks.

I’m back on a consistent schedule

After months of bouncing between daytime and nighttime shifts at two different workplaces, I have returned to my ordinary schedule at my usual workplace. Not having to invert my sleep pattern every few weeks is a great relief!

Speaking of which…

I’m getting more sleep

In past years, I assumed I needed about eight hours of sleep every night, and averaged between seven and eight. However, the aforementioned changes to my work schedule (and my consequent sleep deprivation) forced me to reconsider how much sleep I need.

I concluded I require about nine hours of sleep every night, and I have since averaged between eight and nine. That extra hour of sleep has made a huge difference. I’ve had more energy, and my waking hours have been more productive. Bouts with depression have been milder and less frequent. Getting more sleep has been a tremendous blessing.

I’m being more consistent in fulfilling commitments and goals

Instead of using fatigue or depression as excuses to be undisciplined, I’ve been more consistent in getting stuff done. The more I practice self-discipline, the easier it becomes. It’s satisfying and empowering—and quite a relief—to fulfill commitments promptly.

I’m trying to be pragmatic

I tend to be neurotic. My anxieties have anxieties, as Charlie Brown would say. These are joined by all kinds of insecurities, doubts and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I continue learning how not to get tangled up in all that wibbly-wobbly, feely-weely stuff, and how instead to live with the sort of simple, efficient pragmatism that comes from relying upon the grace of God: to win those battles with anxiety and insecurity by choosing not to fight them.

Which brings me to my final point.

I’m doing my best to live by grace

Yes, I write a lot about grace. I often struggle to understand that God not only forgives my sins, but bears with me patiently through my endless struggles with insecurity, depression and selfishness. No matter how dismal life seems, this promise remains: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Quoth Iroh, “You may not always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you keep moving, you will come to a better place.”

Step by step, I’m getting there.

184. An Explosion of Pink

A tree has stood outside my apartment all winter: an empty, skeletal tangle of bare twigs and branches. There were brief moments when this tree was lovely—its intricate silhouette looked quite nice against the rising sun—but it seemed bleak and ugly most of the time.

One day, about two weeks ago, I was astonished to glance out my window and see this:

002This transformation happened almost overnight. A skeleton of weathered wood had burst into a fountain of blossoms, swaying in the breeze and sending petals fluttering to the ground. Something dead had exploded into bright, beautiful, exuberant life.

So yeah, that’s what’s been happening with me.

April was not a good month. My work schedule, ever as capricious and unpredictable as the clouds, changed repeatedly, forcing me to switch between daytime and nighttime shifts. I suffered from severe sleep deprivation. At work, I was compelled to handle unexpected responsibilities on short notice. I lost my appetite. My recurring struggle with depression became a constant battle.

All the while, my obligations and commitments kept coming with the unstoppable regularity of ocean waves. I felt about three seconds away from a breakdown on at least two occasions. To paraphrase the words of Lincoln, it seemed impossible for me to remain as I was. I could recover or break down, but I couldn’t keep going.

Then, around the beginning of May, things changed with the suddenness of a tree exploding into bloom.

My depression disappeared as quickly as it came. I managed to get some sleep. My appetite returned. Work became easier and my schedule eventually returned to normal. (I doubt it will stay that way, but I can hope!) I watched a couple of movies and some YouTube videos and actually enjoyed them.

I’m taking a break from work this week, starting tomorrow. Fueled by cookies and coffee, I’ll travel north to watch Iron Man 3 with my uncle, discuss Abraham Lincoln with my grandfather, play Mario Kart with my cousins and generally have a good time visiting friends and relatives.

My life is looking better and brighter by the day.

I knew the tree outside my apartment wouldn’t stay bare forever, but I didn’t think it would resurrect so suddenly. I definitely didn’t expect it to be pink.

I was sure my life would get better eventually, but my recovery still astonished me. I certainly didn’t expect it to be so overwhelming.

My sufferings are trivial compared to those faced by other people in the world. I have enough to eat. My family is awesome. I have no desire to hang myself, read the Twilight series or end my own life in any other way. I’m ridiculously blessed even through difficulties.

All the same, my difficulties last month seemed quite bad enough, thank you.

It has been endlessly comforting to look back over those dark weeks in April and realize they were not without purpose. Unlike poor old Job, who probably never knew why God made him suffer, I can see at least some meaning in last month’s trials.

Never before have I had such an appreciation for not being depressed. Freedom from anxiety and hopelessness is something I no longer take so much for granted. I’m getting more sleep and worrying less about the future.

More importantly, I learned last month to stop blaming myself for bad days. Neither bad nor good days are usually my doing.

This makes my life less complicated. I don’t have to figure out what I’m doing wrong on bad days or right on good ones. I can simply persevere through the bad and be thankful for the good, giving God my best through every kind of day. My best will be better on some days than on others. That’s all right. I may be inconsistent, but God’s grace is not.

The tree outside my window has faded to dull green. My life will sometimes seem hopeless and difficult. I’m not giving up. After all, every desolate, skeletal tree may soon become an explosion of pink.


181. My Battle with Depression

I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.

~ Abraham Lincoln

I don’t often write about depression. It’s not a pleasant subject, and I make an effort to be optimistic. Quoth Louisa May Alcott, a ridiculously cheerful person: “I can only say that it is a part of my religion to look well after the cheerfulnesses of life, and let the dismals shift for themselves.”

Besides, depression is kind of embarrassing. It’s easier not to talk about it.

I’ve struggled throughout my life with periods of anxiety and hopelessness—I once wrote a post about the worst of them—but depression isn’t usually a severe problem.

Recently, however, it has been more of a struggle. More than once in past weeks depression has impaired my ability to function… and today is one such occasion. Earlier today—not today today, but the day I wrote this post—I made some last-minute arrangements and came home early from work.

I just couldn’t do it.

There was no way on God’s green earth I could spend eight hours in a group home administering medications, washing dishes, changing soiled undergarments or doing whatever the heck else needed to be done. It was hard to do anything except keep breathing.

Thank God, I’m feeling much recovered—well enough, at least, to write a blog post. (Tea, rest and Brawl in the Family are fine cures for depression.) This is a post I’ve wanted to write for some time: not as a complaint or a plea for attention, but an honest acknowledgment of a personal struggle.

Dash it all, personal posts are the hardest to write… except for top ten lists and book reviews. But I digress.

I’m thankful not to have any troubles worse than depression, and extremely grateful for the loving support of friends and family.

Several people in my family suffer from depression. My old man, for example, has battled it throughout his life. Do you know what else?

My old man is awesome.

I will consider mine a life well spent if I grow up to be just like him. My old man is consistently cheerful, funny and kind. People are always surprised when they learn he suffers from intermittent depression and chronic physical pain. He gives me hope that I too can live a cheerful, useful life despite my own struggles with depression.

I wonder sometimes why God allows me to experience anxiety, fatigue and hopelessness. Wouldn’t I be a good deal more effective doing good things if I were not occasionally burdened with debilitating depression? I mean, really, God?

In the end, I always come back to the passage in the New Testament in which the Apostle Paul suffers a paralyzing problem of his own:

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Depression might be a thorn in my flesh. It’s certainly a nuisance. Nevertheless, God’s answer to me has been the same as his answer to Paul. The grace of God is sufficient. That, as they say, is that.

God may not have spared me depression today, but he enabled me to pull some strings to come home early from work. He didn’t give me the strength for which I asked. Instead, he gave me tea and rest and funny webcomics.

I continue doing what I can to prevent depression: eating fruits and vegetables, drinking too much tea, working out (often while listening to music from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, which is either really stupid or really awesome), watching cheerful cartoons, trying to get enough sleep and asking God for his help.

I have good days. I have bad days.

Through every kind of day, God’s grace is sufficient. Always.