Ignorance, Blindness, and Depression.

8 days ago, the world lost a great man.

Jarrid was more than a Pastor, more than a friend. He was a follower, lover, and worshipper of Jesus Christ. He was a husband, father, brother, son. He was LOVED by so many…he IS loved by so many.

The loss of Jarrid has been felt by people from all over the world. People who knew him, and even people who didn’t know him. Comments have been made, encouragement spoken, theories surfacing on the details surrounding his death…and his struggle.

A conversation has erupted out of The Church. One discussing mental health, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and suicide itself. All different viewpoints, theologies, scientific theories and facts have been presented in a LOUD way over the past 8 days.

While I am grateful for the conversation and greater good that is happening, even out of this dark moment, I can’t help but notice a thread of a theme happening among some circles that (perhaps) aren’t fully aware of definitions, meanings, and scientific facts surrounding depression and anxiety.

That is where I am coming from in the core heart of this blog. Perhaps, even one person will read this blog and gain a better understanding to the medical condition of depression, the medical condition of anxiety, and have compassion on those around us who struggle with these conditions.

One injustice and point of ignorance (I use that word in the purest sense of the word) is the habit I have seen of people lumping depression and being depressed into the same category. My friends, clinical depression is an actual medical condition. It is a very real disease. While neither is more “real” than the next, the important thing to remember here is; they are different monsters.

The cause of clinical depression can be a a few things. Genetics, unhealed traumas, or a overload of sensory and processing systems that our brains have set up. Even within clinical depression, the realities of the struggle can vary from person to person. There is no ‘one size fits all’ in this disease.

The cause of being depressed (or situational depression) is generally from a singular moment, or series of hard moments, including…but not limited to…a recent breakup or divorce, death of a loved one, major life transition, birth of a baby…marriage…etc. Situational depression typically lasts for moments of time, and ebbs and flows with different seasons, memories, or traumas that tend to happen in life.

Jarrid was very open, honest, and public about his struggles with clinical depression…and even the seasons of his situational depression. Writing a blog about his depression after his sons were born, and being intentional to write blogs (and even a book) about his struggles and dealings with his clinical depression.

I was thinking about this conversation happening yesterday after coming across a popular conservative christian’s “shock jock” show where he essentially said Jarrid was a fake, liar, and had no place saying he was a Christian…much less a Pastor. Really? WOW! I could see ignorance all over his statements. And it broke my heart for the man in question.

The reality? Not many of us are in relationship or community with someone who has clinical depression…but situational depression riddles American society. So, most of us come at the “subject of depression” with the lens that all depression is situational and seasonal…which, we’ve established, is not always the case.

This specific shock-jock christian’s comments made my mind to go a situation that happened with Jesus and Jewish cultural responses to a medical condition found in John 9. Jesus is walking the streets with his disciples when it all goes down…

There was a man who was blind from birth. The disciples asked a question that was wrapped in cultural and religious presumptions and ignorance. And they weren’t completely unfounded. In fact, it was a situation that happened fairly often – of someone eating bad pork, or getting cataracts (diets weren’t the most wholesome back then). The general assumption in the Jewish culture and customs was that there was sin that happened (eating pork was a sin…and it was believed that going blind was a mark of familial or personal unrepentant sin). “Hey Jesus…who sinned? This man, or his family?”

The odds of someone being born blind, and making it all the way to adulthood / maturity (we will find out later this man was a grown man), wasn’t very high…much less, people having relationship or a close-friendship with someone born blind from birth.

So, the lens in which the question is asked was out of ignorance and cultural / personal experience with the blind…Jesus, being asked the question, didn’t harshly rebuke them. He had massive amounts of grace and kindness for both the blind man, and His disciples.

“My friends…neither of these is the case. This happened so that the works of God might be displayed…” Wow! What a thing for the man-born-blind to overhear. Could you imagine the hope in his heart in this moment? Could this be?!

Jesus goes on to heal the man using spitty mud, and a dip in a stream…

My friends, this is a call for us, The Church, to open our eyes and approach the conversation from a position of knowing the different types of depression that this world is riddled with. None of us are exempt. None of us are perfect. We will all struggle at some point…whether for a season, or for a lifetime.

This is a call. This is a pleading from the deepest part of my heart, for us to approach the table, or the streets we find ourselves walking, with an open heart of understanding that depression isn’t always the same for all people. The struggle is not always temporary. The realities surrounding the circumstance vary wildly from person to person.

Rather than bringing our assumptions and biases and lenses…let’s bring Jesus to those who are hurting around us…some sitting in the seats right next to us in Church on Sunday (or whenever your community of faith gathers) mornings.

Let us be a people marked with radical love, care, grace, and patience with those struggling around us. Let us gift one another with the massive gift of silence and being an ear for those who just want someone to listen…to sit with them in their darkest days.

Grace, and peace, be with you always…amen.

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