I Can Do All Things

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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When my son called home to tell us he’d fallen into a cold blue funk that could only be called "depression," we weren’t totally surprised; we were, however, saddened and afraid.

Ever since graduating from college, he’d seemed decisive only about his indecision. In every possible direction he looked, molehills loomed mountainous and no risk appeared too slight. He needed to leave graduate school and come home, he said. He needed to talk.

My father’s death had occurred not long before; his home-going—he was a deeply religious man—was a triumph. My son’s homecoming that weekend was one of the saddest moments in all of our lives.

When he sat beside us on the couch and described his anxiety, what he told us nearly ripped out my heart. He’d be walking down the street with friends, he said, and suddenly be dumbstruck with the notion that they didn’t like him. He’d cry for hours, go to movies—any movies—just to escape his oppressing fears.

We live where people are few, where the sky is big and the land so featureless that we like to say we can watch our dogs run away for three days. But my son, who had been living in the very heart of a sprawling city, had been horrifyingly alone.

No pain is as great as the one parents can’t take from their children.

Thank goodness for pharmaceuticals. Today, a year later, my son says he knows when he’s withdrawing; but he also knows that he can’t fall as far as he once did.

I look east and see the sky brighten, he can be nearly debilitated by the face of dawn, having to face it, to decide—and decisions are so defeating—whether or not to get going. Paralysis is both relief and continual torment.

His mother and I pray. Prayer, really, is all we have.

Depression steals away the will. Living without the will—or living with someone who’s lost it—is a lesson for all of us in patience and love.

But it’s also a lesson in the blessing of will. In Philippians, Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I admire Paul’s bravado, his unsullied will, and I believe, firmly, that he is telling the truth, both for himself and all of us.

Right now I can’t suggest that my son take comfort in Paul’s commitment, true as it is. To quote him that line would sound like admonition.

His depression has taught me many things. Like him, I am no longer who I was when this darkness was nowhere to be seen. I am humbled by the sheer grace of our blessings, our gifts, one of which, I’m convinced, is the singular faith that we, like Paul, can do all things through Christ.

I hope—and I pray—that sometime, on his own, strengthened by the God we both worship, he’ll discover the truth of that line, hold it fast, and walk up into the dawn.

Because that strength is there for him, and for me, and for all of us.