The Doctor says You Are Depressed …

In a voice, ever so tender, Mother said, “So they say you are depressed.” Continuing, she said, “And we know what to do about it.” That conversation took place in 1967 at the corner of Brainerd and Moore Roads in Chattanooga as we drove home from the office of a reputable internal medicine doctor.  For several weeks, maybe a month or two, I had lost so much weight I looked like a bone and had lived in sheer fear of the unknown.  Thinking it was the stress of a small child and just life in general, Mother started with a regimen of vitamins (is anyone surprised?) – then it was visits to three different doctors.  All gave the same diagnosis and offered the same prescriptions.  To which my wise mother said, “Thank you but we are not ready for those.”   

My thoughts were stirred to my experience this morning when I heard Gloria Gaither say, “Sadness happens because of some event but depression comes to you.”  And so it was with me in that season of my life.  Our church was in revival and one night an elderly, unsaved gentleman who had just been released from the hospital following a serious heart attack went forward and accepted Christ.  The church had long prayed for this gentleman and everyone was jubilant.  Life was good. But once I got into bed, “It” came!  Out of the blue!  I said to Cliff, “Do you ever feel like something bad is about to happen?”  Unable to calm my fears, he said, “Call your Mother!”  And the rest of the story is a memory that was put to bed only to be awakened today.

The things I got right:

I recognized that depression was real and clouded everything.  I remember driving down the road and thinking that even the sunny sky seemed gray – Cliff would ask, “What can I do to make you happy” and to my sincere answer, “I am happy” – his response was, “No you aren’t because your eyes are sad.”

I told someone … I did not deny it.  So thankful I opened up to Cliff who was wise enough to point me to a wise spiritual mentor who saw through her eyes and not with her eyes.

I listened to difficult counsel.  Walking gently and carefully navigating the path through medical tests to confirm there was no physical reason, Mother said, “Phyllis this is from the Lord!” Now what did that mean?  I was living what is now called a legalistic, fundamental lifestyle and was happy doing so – what in the world was she talking about.” And to my tears and fears, she would oft repeat, “If you would only yield.”  It was the only way she knew to say it, but she was spot on.

I sought the Lord.  While I often seethed at her vague counsel, my upbringing and teaching from my parents (my father was my Pastor) and what I had learned from my own personal Bible study, greatly influenced my search. It was not an easy journey – not because the Lord made it difficult but because the natural man and the spiritual man were at war.

The rest of the story. One morning in 1968, I awoke to another day of extreme fear.  Unaware, my Mother stopped by our apartment to visit with her grandson.  I remember the curtains were drawn, the room was dark and again I fired questions of fear at her.  To which, for the first time, she seemed a little overwhelmed and said, “Phyllis if you would only yield.” And this time instead of resisting, I leaned into the door facing between two rooms, and silently whispered, “Lord, that is what I want but I don’t know how.”  Unaware of my prayer, Mother kissed the baby and left, totally unaware of the great transaction that had just taken place between me and the Lord.  To be honest, I was as unaware as she was.  But that day nothing fundamentally changed and yet everything changed. 

Lessons for Today’s Challenge. Having said I am transparent as water, I readily admit when I am struggling – it’s hard for me to put on a good face when my heart is overwhelmed for whatever reason.  So I admit my struggles to anyone who will listen; all the while remembering that surrender is not a “once and done deal.” Sometimes the new surrender is simply, “Trust Me, when you don’t understand.”  Have you ever tried that?  If you have, then you will readily admit with me that it is not as easy as it sounds. Mother, being dead yet speaking, says to me again today, “Phyllis, if you will yield…” And if she were here today I would give her a hug for teaching me how to face life’s difficult challenges.   

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