2 Corinthians 12:7

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”

King James Version (KJV)

Being raised in a good old fashioned Catholic home, we weren’t big on reading Scripture. Until a few weeks or a month ago, I had never heard of or noticed the above verse of Scripture. I was familiar with the idea of redemptive suffering, and I thought there was great merit in that idea, but I never realized that it had such a strong basis in Scripture.

I rarely read the Bible, but my mother watches Catholic TV all the time, and for some reason, over the past several weeks, this Bible verse quoted above keeps coming up, again and again. I think God is trying to tell me something.

I have written before about experiencing depression and mental illness. It is something that I have struggled with all of my life, but it’s only half the story. Not even half the story. From a very young age, I have known-not just believed, but known, for certain, that God exists and that this life is not all that there is. I have never been a person of great faith. I am like Thomas: I believe because I have seen. There is no way of knowing for certain, but I am fairly certain that if I hadn’t seen, I would have been an atheist.

Anyway, to say that this knowledge has made my life infinitely easier and happier and better in every way would be the understatement of all time. I remind myself of this when I start feeling sorry for myself over other things, like depression.

A recent experience had me really starting to sink pretty deep into self pity. I was speaking with an older man who was experiencing depression for the first time in his entire life. I was trying to help him. He said that thoughts of suicide were crossing his mind. I told him that we all feel that way sometimes, and that life is just like that for all of us sometimes. He looked at me as if I were totally insane. He completely rejected that idea. He looked at me in total disbelief, and he said “I never felt this way in my entire life until two weeks ago.”

It’s understandable that many of us go through life assuming that other people are very much like us, and that other people experience life pretty much the same way we do. No one knows what it is like to be someone else. Before speaking to this man, I had assumed, without even realizing it, that everyone was depressed to one degree or another. I often suspected that other people were just better at dealing with it than I was. It was in many ways a huge relief to be told flat out that most people are not depressed. It made me feel better about myself. It helped me to be kinder to myself.

It also caused me to ask, “Why me?” But since hearing the Scripture quoted above, I think I have my answer.

There is no way of knowing what might have been, but I think I have a pretty good idea of who I would have been if mental illness wasn’t an issue in my life. I would have been an insufferable bitch-happy as a clam, but insufferable and probably not very sympathetic or compassionate to other people. I fear that description may fit me very well as it is, but without depression, it would have been so much worse. When I try to picture Judy in that alternate universe, where Judy is never depressed and has never experienced mental health issues, I am so thankful that that Judy isn’t real. I don’t like her. She is happier than I am, for sure, but even so, I don’t like her. She’s a spoiled brat. Her life has been way too easy. I am glad that I am not her.

And the man who was never depressed until two weeks ago? That doesn’t mean he didn’t suffer. That doesn’t mean that his life was a walk in the park, until two weeks ago. It does not mean that life has been easier for him than it has been for me. He never had to deal with depression until very recently. He has also never been given the certain knowledge of God’s existence and goodness that I have been given.

There is no way to measure one person’s suffering to another person’s suffering, or one person’s happiness to another person’s happiness. All we can do is try to be kind to ourselves and to each other. And know that God knows what He is doing. Especially when we have no idea what He is doing.

9 thoughts on “BVOTD

  1. I marvel that you can look at it this way.
    Ive been sitting here for a few minutes after writing the above, trying to think of something to add, but I can’t. I have been through two periods of depression and I recall them both as blackened, charred pits along the sunny, extremely pleasant highway of my life. Months stolen from me. For no reason. I could say they were a blessing because it made me appreciate the sense of well-being when it returned, but no, because they also made me insecure in the knowledge that it might vanish again. It’s unreliable.
    I feel for the poor man you describe undergoing his first bout of depression, blindsided by it. I sincerely hope he makes it through and back into the light. Most do. Some don’t.
    And God bless you, for sharing this, dear Judy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am glad for your honesty. Lately I have gone through some high anxiety moments which I never experienced before. Perhaps it is the times for me. Do I feel everyone experiences this? Yes, to a certain degree. It is more high anxiety and how I handle it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Went through a tough stretch with husband, his cancer, stepson, jobs, etc. Just felt very tired but lots of good things happened with some effort. Husband tumors are benign, and things are much better. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well and bravely done, JaC! That verse is a favorite! Especially the “My grace is sufficient for you.” part. I need to be reminded that His grace is like air/water surrounding and sustaining me, all the time. And that He knows suffering – and joins it to His – if I allow it. Thanks again for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Nanda! Yes, I should have somehow included, “My grace is sufficient for you.” I realized that as I was drifting off to sleep this morning, Lol, and now I have to go out, but will try to rectify this 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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