It’s All In Your Head

It’s worth mentioning that this blog isn’t always that concerned to keep up with current affairs. If there are special occasions and events of one sort or another, I don’t feel obliged to mention them. So it is just one of those things that this entry so happens to happen on the same day as World Mental Health Day.

I am currently reading the autobiography of the former footballer and current football pundit, Ian Wright. Known for being a bubbly and chirpy character, so it was interesting coming across this quote.

In general, you’ve got a society in which men put up barriers around themselves and won’t even admit to being depressed, let alone talk about.

A Life in Football, Ian Wright: My Autobiography

He wasn’t writing about himself, more about the culture he was in where especially among professional footballers there were many barriers to talking about depression. It’s not that culture alone, though, that suffers from that problem.

There is a sense in which followers of Jesus shouldn’t be depressed or suffer from similarly debilitating mental illnesses. In certain Christian circles it’s almost as though you’re not Christian enough or don’t have enough faith if you are depressed. This obviously doesn’t help anyone, so those who suffer will tend to do so in silence, whilst being told all the time to rejoice in the Lord always and again he said rejoice.

There are cultural expectations of what it is to be a man both in church circles and the world that makes no room for ‘weakness’. There is little acceptance for vulnerability and so things like depression and feelings of inadequacy and even suicidal thoughts are not talked about openly and so barely addressed.

That is not to deny that in some cases there are some very real spiritual issues going on that need to be addressed and there may be a plethora of factors that contribute to a person’s perspective on themselves and subsequent seasons of doubt and despair. Even here, though, it would be great to know that there is a community who loves and cares and is capable to offer either effective support in themselves or signpost you to where to get the support you need. The kind of community that makes it easier to be vulnerable and share those tough times. The kind of support network that appreciates that there aren’t always quick fix solutions to these issues and just because one person is supernaturally healed immediately it doesn’t mean everyone should be or indeed will be. The kind of community that seeks to understand and then be sensitive in a proper compassionate response that is not about belittling the situation and the individual, but endeavouring to help them out even by just being a loving presence.

Men get depressed. Men of God get depressed. It happens. It’s a reality and to dismiss it or seek to avoid it is only building up for greater trouble at some point down the line. Not only is there a need for awareness, there is a need to shed light on what can be done to show love in deed to those who are going through.

As someone who has experienced a number of very dark times of the soul, I can agree with the casual dismissive comment that it’s all in your head. That is correct. That is where it is. It is really there and as long as it is there life cannot continue as others want it to be. Saying that it’s there does little to change anything other than the level of irritation that’s felt about such a disrespectful and negligent remark. Now that it is there, what can be done about it? What can you do to make a difference?

I am able to write this here and now today, because there were good people around me who exercised great patience and grace as I walked through some tortuous seasons. It can be a struggle sometimes, but to have people to support and feed love in situations like that is worth so much in itself.

Trusting God and believing in Him is to believe that He wants us to be whole and on the journey there we can walk with others and compassionately and sensitively seek to understand them.  Even when we cannot, we can at least learn how to love in word and in deed as these times of life proceed.

Perhaps being a part of the community that is intentional about giving people the space and environment to be able to share these things will be a step in the right direction. Ensuring that men and women can feel free to be vulnerable, unsure and afraid can be tremendously helpful as initial steps on what might be a journey that lasts for a lifetime. Yet with love inside shared on the outside at least it will be a life-time and a life-time full of love at that.

It might be all in the head, but what can we do to see the head-space full of darkness, and bring a little light to it?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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Guitars or Keyboards: Creating the Environment for …

Pianists and guitarists have my unswerving admiration. Both musicians have a gift for creating soundscapes that few other instrumentalists can manage.

There’s always been something I found interesting between the guitar and the keyboard. That large piece of equipment in the keyboard always appeared to require a lot to it. Whereas the guitar was a lot more portable and able to create the sound whenever and wherever, especially the acoustic guitar.

Both instruments are great, but one seems more capable of creating the environment wherever and whenever than the other.

Something I have admired about certain people for quite a long time is a particular type of life guitarist. The person makes you feel comfortable, they make you feel right at home. Their focus is on you, but they don’t make you feel under scrutiny.

They don’t hog the conversation by talking about themselves and they’re not intrusive by asking nosey questions from you. Them being at ease makes it easier for you to feel the same. Before you know it you are hearing funny things and profound things and you’re paying no attention to time. You’re sharing things that were deep in your heart and you have found a way to say it without fear of judgement or retribution.

All because of the space prepared for you. All because that person or those people didn’t need the full keyboard, they could bring their acoustic guitars and make a melody that would make your heart soften and open for the healing you never even knew was available.

Following Jesus makes me want to be that kind of guitarist.

(Photos: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

It’s Just Another Day

Becky knew she couldn’t ignore the alarm the second time.

It’s incessant repeating tune and vibration did not allow her to do anything other than stare annoyed at it. Not that she had been deep asleep. Not that she enjoyed a decent night’s sleep. Again. Just that the alarm ruined the usual delusion she gave herself that maybe today she didn’t have to get out of bed. The delusion that she didn’t have to face the screeching of her six year old daughter about how it was unfair that her four year old brother was getting the last of the cereal again. The delusion that she was actually waking up to the serene sounds of the beautiful waves caressing the shore in her fantasy holiday home in the Bahamas.

That alarm shattered all of those delusions. Again. Instead Becky would open the curtains drearily to a day that matched her mood. Lily would again screech that Jake had taken the last of the chocolate cereal. Becky would have to sum up the courage and strength once again to get these children in order before dropping them off at her Mum’s house before she went to work.

Her uniform hung off her slim frame and she couldn’t even muster a smile at what she saw in the mirror. Both her and the woman looking back at her agreed, if it wasn’t for Lily and Jake, there wouldn’t be much worth living for. She worked hard to ensure her children didn’t notice her weariness too much. She worked hard to protect them and worked hard to give them whatever she could manage to keep them happy. It was tough, though, she could barely make ends meet even though she was working all the hours available to her plus overtime whenever she could.

A lot of effort, a lot of work and a lot of weariness before and after it. There seemed to be no let up and she was concerned with what teachers were saying about Lily’s behaviour at school. Becky felt close to the end of herself. There was only so much she could do especially since the father of Lily and Jake walked out on them not long after Jake’s birth.

She was grateful to her Mum for looking after the children in the holidays, but she felt guilty at the pressure it placed on a woman who wasn’t as strong as she used to be. Sometimes it would all get on top of Becky and she would look for some respite through a night out with her mates. But she knew she would drink to much and that would lead to …. complications. Yet there seemed to be no other area to release all the pent up frustration.

Sometimes when the children were asleep, she would nurse a glass of wine and over time finish one bottle after another without feeling any better for it. Yet eventually she would drag herself to sleep … Only to have it wrecked by that alarm ringing the second time.

Was there really any hope for her in her situation or would she just have to deal with it as just another day?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Remarkably Resourceful

It was one of those days.

One friend had the link to help with starting projects. Later on another friend supplied some outlines that I could follow to succeed in the project. Hours elapsed and another friend offered outstanding insight on equipment that could be used to deliver on the project. Then as if that wasn’t enough yer another friend gave some good counsel on how to just take time with everything. Take things in stages. Don’t get in a rush. Just do what I can.

Without all of this, I would not even be able to start, let alone have good guidance on how to progress with the project.

What’s the project?

Well ….

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Coming To An Agreement

Two people agreeing on something is in itself something not to take for granted.

That’s because it is easier to eventually reach a position where disagreement leads to division because of the disunity. That’s just between two people. Imagine what it’s like when the numbers increase.

I was reminded of two incidents in the book of Acts that highlighted just what an achievement it is to gain agreement. The first, seen in Acts 6, was when there was upset and uproar at what was deemed to be the unfair treatment of the non-Jewish widows. The way that agreement was reached to the solution presented is quite remarkable. In as much as it is recorded by Luke without that much in the way of nitty-gritty and detail – the outcome from the process which had the consent of both those affected and the apostles is something that I read and I know could only be successful because of the Spirit of God.

The really fascinating issue, however, which had the potential to cause major havoc in the early church – and which still caused repercussions despite the decision – was the Jerusalem Council referred to in Acts 15. This was a pivotal meeting for the sake of the gospel reaching the Gentiles. The arguments were strong, even after the Cornelius episode where Peter had made it clear that the Gentiles could also embrace this gospel with subsequent Pentecostal experiences as the brethren experienced on that awesome day. Even after all that, there were still some saying that real salvation required adherence to circumcision and the law of Moses. The dispute at Antioch before the argument in Jerusalem highlights how much both sides of the argument were held dearly. To reach agreement on the situation and send a letter to the churches to that effect is no small achievement at all. The role of the Spirit was highlighted even in the letter.

Disagreement has brought on a great deal of stress and turmoil. The church still has an opportunity to show the way to how not just to disagree with grace and civility, but actually how to work with the Spirit towards agreement. Not an appeasement to the cultural norms of the day, but standing with what is still an incredible call to new life through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 21 – God Save The King

This Psalm is an interesting praise for what God is doing for the King.

Some may want to appropriate this for any leader. The key difference is, though, that this praise is about how God protects and saves the King because the King is in a right relationship with God. That way there’s a clear flow going on between the praise to God for the King. The King is undoubtedly the beneficiary but this is all because of the connection with God – it’s always the God centre going on.

That makes this Psalm all the more intriguing.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 4 – Plea

The word plea really captures the heart of this Psalm. Plea to God and a plea to people.

The safety David finds in God at the conclusion of the Psalm is remarkable and reassuring, but it is the plea to the people in particular that caught my attention.

Intriguing that David is calling people away from idolatry and slack attitude to God to take on a more reverent approach to God.

Even as the plea goes up to God and to the people for them to return to a right attitude to God, I wonder if that is our heart’s plea. Not only for us to have a right attitude to God, but for those we love and with whom we do life, to cultivate a right relationship with God.

It’s one thing to be assured in yourself that when you go to sleep you will be at peace. It’s another thing however to have concern for those around you. A concern that hopefully can lead to them sharing that same confidence only in the Lord.

It’s a plea worth making.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden