Image via Wikipedia
I mentioned in my previous post that even though I dreaded going to see my family, I would do so, and it would be good. And it was. We had a super time.
So often, when I feel depressed, I just feel an overwhelming sense of dread. It’s like a gaping openness that looms in the distance. An evil foreboding. I can’t really put my finger on it. There’s very little that’s realistic about this attitude. Often times, I feel the strongest sense of dread when faced with doing things that I typically really enjoy. And every single time I’ve gone ahead and gotten myself together and done whatever it is that I somehow had imagined would be so impossible for me to do—I’ve enjoyed it. Sometimes the feeling of dread evaporates once I start getting ready. “Poof—it disappears!” I don’t even think about it, except occasionally to wonder why I had the feeling of dread to begin with.
Though I’ve experienced this too many times to count, and you’d think I’d just learn my lesson, each and every time that I get that feeling, I still have to make a conscious, deliberate effort to remind myself that the dread—even though it feels so oppressively palpable that it’s almost like a hand pushing me down—is not real. That the sense of almost literal paralysis is not insurmountable. That my feelings are not a guide to what’s real or even true.
How often have I let my feelings be my guide in such matters? If I only did whatever I felt like doing, I sure wouldn’t do much, many days. This is why I get so doggone mad at people when they don’t attend functions, or church, or sometimes even parties that they often insisted they would be at, and tell me, “Well, I just didn’t feel like it.” If I only did whatever I felt like doing, I’d absolutely, positively be dead. I would’ve just killed myself. Because there were just too many times in the past when that’s exactly what I felt like doing.
Obviously, we all do things every day that we don’t feel like doing. (I don’t think I ever feel like cleaning my cat’s litter box. But it has to be done.) Most regular activities become so habitual that we don’t think about whether we enjoy them. The consequences of disregarding them are unpleasant and sometimes immediate. Don’t feel like going to work? Give in to that feeling and pretty soon you won’t need to! But pretty soon you’ll be feeling like surfing the web, and you won’t be able to because your electricity has been turned off since you can’t pay the bill, since you’re not working because you didn’t feel like it. Let’s not even get into being unwilling to change a dirty diaper—a task regarded as equally necessary as it is generally unpleasant. Just as obviously, there are also things that we don’t engage in, despite their attraction. Spending our entire paycheck on a designer handbag, or whiling away the afternoon at a bar instead of going to the gym.
The examination of my feelings and whether they are rational or not is my most ongoing, and difficult task as an adult. I don’t usually do this in my blog, because I don’t usually care for slinging verses from the Bible around to either prove a point or make a statement, but there is one that I try to remember in this case. “More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NAB) Indeed.