Like anybody else with a chronic, but manageable, health condition, I am the only one who can truly decide how much effort I am going to put into not letting depression, and Circumstance (or, more precisely, the Feelings I Have about The Circumstance) rule my life.
*I am talking about me, and my view of my relationship with my depression. I am not making a judgment nor an edict on other people’s relationships with their chronic health issues, nor discounting people who face moderating effects in managing their health needs that I do not face.
This past Sunday, I spent five hours cooking. I spent five hours cooking because I had promised to make a meal for one of the teachers at a school where I spend part of my work week, because she has recently had a baby.
I KNOW. CONUNDRUM.
I haven’t talked about this here, but for the past several months, I have settled into the fact that my ministry — and by that, I mean the way in which I can help people (no religious connotation need be attached) — is food.
I have prepared items for our local nutrition kitchen (in your community, you might call it a “soup kitchen”), for our Jewish Community Congregation, for a woman who lost a pregnancy, and for a woman and her son who lost their husband and father.
Then the inevitable happened: the very pregnant teacher, whose class I’ve worked in all semester (as she got more and more pregnant), delivered her son, and so, of course, the school organized a meal train for her.
I was torn.
Food is what I do. It’s what I’ve been doing. It’s what I enjoy doing for others. I talked with Stacy about it. I talked with some friends about it. I knew that I could cook the food. I didn’t know whether I could deliver it. To the family. At their house. The house with the newborn. I reluctantly decided to give myself a Grace Pass on this one, even though I didn’t feel good about it.
And then something amazing happened — another staff member offered to take any meals that anyone with the school made for the family to them, at their house, the house with the newborn, if said makers would simply deliver the meals to the school.
I was saved!
Monday, while I was getting ready for work, I was thinking about politics… so many thoughts. Mostly, I was thinking about this movie from the ’90s, “Wag the Dog.” It’s about how a sitting president makes up a war to distract the public from some unsavory things he’d done in his personal life. Ever since I’ve seen that movie, I’ve always wondered which events are real and which are smoke & mirrors — distractions from the things They don’t want us to notice.
It was in that Wag the Dog moment that a thought occurred to me: how can I be a Warrior if I am always too focused on my Circumstance? How can I do Important Work if I am always distracted by Smoke & Mirrors?
I can’t afford to miss any more of my life because of my sadness and disappointment about The Circumstance.
I can feel sad. I can honor and hold space for my sadness and disappointment. In fact, I need to. But I can no longer allow that sadness and disappointment to rule. Because I’ve got Important Work to do.
This past Sunday, I spent five hours cooking. Three meals and a batch of cookies later, I felt content.
I feel content.