Whoa! Wait a minute! Are you saying there is such a thing as being spiritually depressed? Yes, I am! What follows are my reflections from Lectio Divina meditation and contemplation on Philippians 2:5. I asked the question, what are aberrations or dysfunctions of the spirit. What follows is what I received back and wrote in my book, Is Your Life Running on Empty? Moving beyond spiritual depression. Find it in the Store section of this blog.
ARE YOU SPIRITUALLY DEPRESSED?
“You can’t commit a sin unless you are spiritually depressed. The reason you choose what you want over what God wants is that you always choose what is best for you. Sin means what you choose is not good for you and, if you don’t get rid of it, it may kill you.”
Are you spiritually ailing and depressed?
Are the questions on the following pages true for you? When you have reached the end of the section entitled, “Are You Spiritually Depressed?” go back to the beginning and re-read the section on “What Is Your Center?” So little is known of spiritual depression and its interaction with the mental and spiritual universes in which we find ourselves. The interface between body, mind, and spirit is just now being taken seriously. We, humans, are joined at the hip with our spirituality, like it or not. When we talk about spirituality, we usually talk in terms of unseen things, like love, peace, justice. Love, peace, and justice do not live in an invisible world but are made real through us. If you are spiritually depressed, you won’t be able to “see” the spiritual dimension to life. The dark side of the human psyche is capable of the most heinous crimes and unspeakable grievances against humanity. Witness the rash of pedophile priests uncovered or the discovery of genocide, both symptoms of spiritual depression in either individuals or societies. Why do people do those things? The troubling fact is, any of us are capable of all of the above, given the right circumstances. Except for the grace of God.
If you think that no one loves you, you may have symptoms of a spiritual headache. Spiritual depression is the headache of the spirit.
The physical universe is linked to the mental universe, and the fate of both are inexorably bound up with the spiritual universe. All three are separate dimensions, yet one reality. Evolution happens in all three universes. Being African American, Native American, European American, or any other ethnic tribe is not the same as having a human nature. We share human nature together, we may not share our ethnic backgrounds. Is that bad? No, is it a fact.
Spiritual depression means my human nature is not acting in accordance with its intended purpose. There is dissonance in my space, my frame of reality. I have an existential headache. If you have a spiritual headache, you need to take some spiritual medicine, some spiritual aspirin, if you will, to help you gain perspective. Curing a spiritual headache is not that easy. You must first cure the body and the then the mind. Spiritual depression feeds upon the vacuum of meaning created by the mind.
The following statements in the next few pages came from those who may be spiritually depressed. Grace produces change because you are hooked up to the energy of God, and not your own self-contained power source. When you are spiritually depressed, there is a short-circuit in the flow of energy between your physical, mental and spiritual universes. These universes must be aligned because they were intended to produce grace. When you read scriptures and are depressed, nothing will happen. Why is that? You read the words. You comprehend the words. Nothing happens because the power that flows from pure energy is shorted out. It takes time. Be patient! You are the living conductor that channels the flow of energy from God through you to the physical universe and mental universes. If you want to have God’s energy inside you, you must put it there. Everything spiritual is bound up with the freedom of choice and the ability to choose wisely.
“How could God possibly love someone like me?”
Remember your center? You can’t have both hate and love in the same center? If you keep hatred at your center, you will be spiritually depressed. Having momentary thoughts of hating someone is not necessarily harmful, but it may not be good if they continue to dominate a relationship. If so, all teenagers would be condemned for hating their parents. Hatred is evil because it keeps the energy of the spiritual life from surging through your body and mind. Hatred only destroys those who hate. You can’t hate and be in Heaven. Hatred is a sign you are spiritually depressed. If you are stuck in a hatred
mode, which some are, you can’t love yourself, as the Master suggested. The Master asked us to get rid of hatred, even towards those who have wronged us, like a former spouse. Why is that? Is it easy? Not at all, but it brings spiritual healing. You will know you are a disciple of The Master when you can forgive those who wrong you. You are called to transform what is sinful into what is graceful, but not without help.
“I hate my former husband or wife for what they did to me.”
Changing a flat tire is part of the journey. If you have been changing it year after year, without learning that you need a spare in the trunk, you are spiritually depressed. You have not learned from your mistakes. Where do you get the spare tire? Spiritual depression means you are so out of focus that you fail to check to see if your spare has air in it, or is even in the trunk. Life will give you setbacks, like the death of a child, the loss of a fortune, your own impending death, the loss of a spouse, severe deformity, and possibly even rape. How do you cope with these set backs? Do you have a spare ready? Your spare is forgiveness. Forgiveness always leads to reconciliation, but it begins with you. You may fall into spiritual depression because you do not seek God’s energy to help you. Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened. It means you are enlightened to see that you are off center and you consciously and willingly want to get back on the correct path.
If life is a journey, are you changing a flat tire on the side of the road only to find you don’t have a spare? Recently, I had a person stop at the door and tell me I had the wrong Christian denomination and that I was destined for hell unless I changed. They looked angry and hateful when they were talking. I asked them if they thought it peculiar that they were trying to change my God for their God. They were stunned! What they wanted was to have me join their denomination, which had a particular point of view about life. I told them that our two religions were so different and that I was, with God’s grace, willing to die for that difference. They left no doubt thinking I was going to perdition and that they were doing God’s will. We all play God games in the guise of truth, don’t we? Be careful in thinking that your religion is so superior that you fail to notice that you fit into God’s plan, not vice versa. You are not God! Pride precedes the Fall of Adam and Eve, you know. You can preach the good news. You may not judge. The part we forget is, God will ultimately judge all of us, weighing the lightness of our heart against the Truth, the Way, and the Life we led.
Do you find that attending church, which so often has been a source of comfort and inspiration, suddenly has become flat and lifeless? You attend the service. You try to listen to the sermon or message. You get up, when your turn comes, and go to communion, but there is nothing there. Have you lost your faith? You may just be spiritually depressed. The problem is not the church. The problem is not communion. The problem is not Holy Scriptures. The problem is not your spouse or your family. The problem is not even you. You are spiritually at odds with your mental and physical selves. You are out of alignment. This feeling, like a headache, is a symptom that something is out of balance. This, in turn, manifests itself in the misalignment of your spirit with your mind, and your body. Like the physical physician who can diagnose then treat illness, someone who is a spiritual coach or director can identify what blocks grace from flowing and they allow you to seek healing.
Do you feel like you are dying of thirst on an ocean of water? Your system will not tolerate salt water. In a similar way, your spiritual self cannot take the saltiness of hatred, envy, jealousy, lust, drunkenness, and still thrive. You have a spiritual temperature that is over “normal.” Spiritual depression means you do not give the spiritual life the life-giving water it needs to survive. The more you drink of sin, the more you are thirsty. We, humans, are destined for life with a being that is pure water for our spirit. Read John 4: 13-14. What is the water of life, the fountain of youth, the living water of which John speaks? Do you have a chance to drink this water? Spiritual depression means you drink, yet nothing happens. You need the water of life, but something keeps you from benefits. What could it be? Drinking the water of life while spiritually depressed is like drinking salt water. It won’t be effective until you take out the salt. Who can do that?
Are you obsessed with the spiritual life? Too much religion and not enough spirituality can lead to a religious depression. Much like a “smiling depression,” what is going on inside is not so evident. A true story: I had known Janice for five years. Each time we would pass in the hallway, she would be smiling and always greeted me with a spiritual comment about how good God was to her. Six months later, I found out that she was treated for severe depression, stemming from family problems. She held her emotions in check for fear of losing her job. She was a single parent. She turned to religion out of desperation, becoming obsessed with the spiritual universe. One problem: being depressed, she did not have the proper perspective. She drove everyone around her crazy with her rants and raves. She needed a psychiatrist to help her gain some equilibrium, not a minister. What is true for our physical and mental selves is also true for our spiritual self. Being obsessed with religion won’t make you any more spiritual, it may be a sign of spiritual depression. Treat the body first, then treat the spirit.
You can read the word of God all day long and quote scripture “until the cows come home,” yet if you don’t do what scripture tells you, you have missed the boat.
The Scriptures are the footprints of those who have taken the spiritual life and walked in it. It is a history of our failures and successes. It is the record of our wanderings and our awakenings. It is a guide for the perplexed mind. It is the Word translated into fl esh.
Have you ever heard of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, sometimes called SETI? Scientists have huge antennae facing the Heavens, listening for any signs of intelligent life out there. Did you know that you are the antenna that receives signals of pure energy from a power source so immense, it does not even live in our physical universe–not enough room. You, and you alone are the power source, the receiver, the universal translator, of pure thought, pure love, and pure service. Think of it! Why are you given such awesome responsibility by an alien being? The answer is as simple as it is complex: to know, love, and serve God, and to be happy one day in Heaven.
After you have prayed and prayed, and given yourself to God, but nothing happens, now what do you do? It is good to put your cares, your fortunes, your very center into the hands of God. It is better to realize that when you gave God your cares, God gave them right back to you. Have you noticed the transfer? God doesn’t take responsibility for your actions, God wants YOU to take ownership of your life, and show how His grace can set you free. Spiritual dumping is when you say that God’s will be done and let God worry about it. Nothing will ever happen when you dump responsibility on God. It is when God dumps grace or pure energy on you that you explode into a symphony of activity. You have heard it said, “How can a good God allow bad things to happen to the poor and children?” The real question is: How can YOU let bad things happen to the poor, widows, the elderly, and children? A Hurricane hitting the coast is not evil, a tornado cutting through Zenia, Ohio, is not evil in itself. If you are spiritually depressed, you won’t know the difference. You will be waiting for a phone call from God that will never come. You are the phone, the receiver, and the operator.
RESPONSIBLE CHARITY “Thy Will Be Done” means God trusts YOU to act as if God were here with you. Because you continue to be graced by God, you are responsible to make love take root around you. Going to church is good. Going to church to get the strength to deal with a broken marriage, a child who has been killed in an automobile accident, losing your life savings to a con-man, failure to get that job or promotion, humiliation at being called racist names, put down because you are a believer, is better. Going to church because you are in need of spiritual replenishment because you are the occasion for others to receive God’s grace, is best.
You are a conduit of goodness when others put you down. You are the lightning rod of patience when your family rages against you and calls you unforgivable names. You make love happen where ever you are. You can’t do that if you are spiritually depleted. Your cell phone needs recharging or it will run out of power in one to two days. In the same way, you will run out of spiritual energy, if you are not plugged into the source of pure energy. The Master is the resistor between the pure love of God and you. Otherwise, your circuits would be fried. No one comes to the Father except through the Son.
What are you doing giving your responsibility back to God? God wants to know if you can take it.
• Your purpose is to know, love and serve God while here, so we can be with that same God in Heaven. “…Thy Will Be Done On Earth As In Heaven.” Matthew 6:19
• You must let God’s grace work through you, with you, and in you so that the Father is given all honor and glory.
• When you are angry, jealous, have vengeance toward someone who has wronged you, want to kill someone, want to drink yourself silly every weekend, what to sleep with a different female every night for Twenty-five years, you can’t focus on God’s will. You have too many distractions. That is called spiritual depression. You may not even notice it.
St. Benedict says, in Chapter 4 of his Rule, that, if we do any good, God should be praised as the author of it, but that if we do any evil, we take full responsibility for our sins.
If you are a car, do you feel that you are long overdue for an alignment, yet too lazy to take yourself in? We all need alignments. No, not the science of chiropractic, but an alignment of our physical body, our mind, integrated with our spirit. If you are spiritually depressed, your plugs may be dirty, your timing might need adjustment, or you might need your tires aligned. As long as you remain on earth in your present body, you are governed by the physical laws of nature. Alignment won’t stop death, and alignment won’t prevent you from veering off the road of life if you have the wrong center. What it will do for you is fi ne tune your perspective so that you can see with the eyes of the body, think creatively with your mind, and choose what is good for your spirit. When your spirit touches God’s spirit, you have the energy to gain perspective, although one that lives in three universes, not just two. The challenge in life is to choose continuously what is authentic and true. Maintaining your spirituality, like taking your car in for a tune-up, takes time out of your busy schedule. Do you have time?
Is your light bulb burned out and you are just too tired to replace it? Laziness can be a sign of spiritual depression when it becomes avoidance. We always find time to do what we want, if it rewards us. The reason you are spiritually depressed is: YOU DON’T THINK GOD IS WORTH IT! You need to plug into the source of energy again. God is someone “out there, rather than in here.” You may be spiritually tired. Call it what you want, you just can’t see to get up in the morning on Sunday and go to church. You still believe. You still call yourself spiritual, but you just don’t have the will to go to church. Avoidance is a symptom that you may be spiritually depressed, much like a high temperature means something is wrong with the body. You are spiritually depressed and may be trying to avoid meeting God. Time management has a saying: you always have time to do what you think is good for you. See any parallels? Read Mark 4:21-25.
Why would you take the trouble to enter the spiritual universe only to hide the reason you make the commitment in the first place? Spirituality is about making all things new. That takes work.
Has someone you loved just died? Anger over someone who has passed through to be with God can be directed at that person for leaving you. You are so angry at your spouse for leaving you with the bills, not knowing about social security, not having any idea of finance. What was once taken care of by someone is not your responsibility. You may even resort to turning around your late spouse’s picture so you won’t have to look at it. Your anger may also be directed at God. If God is good, why did he take your spouse, your child, your loved one? How can a good God accept evil? As a result of negative thinking, you might slip into spiritual depression and not even know it. When you are angry at God, it is ironic that it is that same God who gets you out of your spiritual stupor. You can get into a DaVinci Code mentality that what is plausible must be true. Get a grip! My friend’s wife had just died. He told me that he was an atheist, but attended the Unitarian Universalist church. He ranted and raved about how God could be so cruel as to take his wife. Is there something wrong with this picture?
Do you find life boring? Your physical self is inexorably linked to your mental and spiritual selves. When there is a symptom in your behaviors that something is not quite right, you will see events as black and white. Some cultures think this way. The Ying and Yan are black and white. In these cultures, gray is ambiguous. Ambiguous is not good. If you are in the gray areas, you won’t even know that you are depressed. If you find God boring, God just smiles and gently gives you more time to discover what is truly meaningful. When God finds you boring, that is when you should worry. That won’t happen. Being bored with life means you have problems with purpose and meaning. If you always want to be served by others, you will lose the spiritual dimension. This asks the question, “What can you give to me?” Our Master wants us to ask, “What can you give to others?”
When your physical, mental, and spirituality universes are aligned, you have resonance. You can not be bored because your energy comes from God.
Do you think that money makes the world go around? If not, what does? More money won’t help a millionaire find authentic meaning. You can have all the money there is and still have that nagging feeling that you missed something in life. The answer is not more money. Where you do find purpose in your life? What price are you willing to pay to get it? Money may buy you respect. Money may command the attention of others when you check into a luxury hotel. Money may buy you boats, buildings, blondes, and bonds. Money won’t buy you love, or spirituality. You are destined to find meaning all by yourself. You are not alone, of course, but you are born, live in the company of other humans, and then die alone. Spirituality provides you with the perspective that says, “I am one with the source of all energy. I have a purpose. I need to be here, now.”
God’s Bed and Breakfast is waiting for those who want to check in. When you are clinically depressed, you often want to sleep all day. When you are spiritually depressed, oddly enough, you may often want to just sit read the Bible, without having a thought in your mind about God. In the mental universe, relationships are too difficult to endure, so you want to be alone. In the spiritual universe, depression is a lack of meaning and focus. You know you should attend church, have meaning in your life, but nothing happens. You feel guilty. Spiritual depression is dissonance of the Spirit, your lack of alignment with your physical, mental, and spiritual selves, and your inability to communicate fully with the energy you need to sustain yourself as spiritual. Like any depression, it may not go away without help. Don’t forget to cure the mind as well as the spirit. The two are inexorably linked together. If you are spiritually depressed, you will get a bill. All your food will taste bland. You won’t be able to enjoy it because the spirit in you is not in sync with your physical and mental selves.
Do you have a spiritual headache that won’t go away? We mentioned earlier that headaches are physiological signs that something is wrong with us. It may be stress, allergies, sinusitis or something more serious. A spiritual headache is a symptom that shows itself by what you say, what you do, or by what you don’t do. When you think your religion is better than anyone else’s; when you hate other people who hold differing spiritual views from your own; when you make pompous moral judgements about who will go to your view of Heaven; when you continue to lust after your neighbor’s wife or husband; when your center is filled with lust to the exclusion of true love, then you have a disconnect between your physical, mental and spiritual selves. You are not one in the spirit, you are out of spiritual alignment. You are spiritually depressed. Read Galatians 5. That slight discomfort, the tension you feel, the anxiety you notice, the impatience you feel when you touch core values or meaningful insights, is symptomatic of a spiritual headache. Will you die from it? No! However, spiritual depression may kill your spiritual universe, if not treated. You will surely die from that. Don’t stay in a state of sinfulness.
If you are in a state of sin, you are spiritually depressed. It seems like we got away from sin when we entered the age of enlightenment in the 1960’s. Maybe that was the beginning of our Modern Dark Age, the Age of Self Indulgence. No one knew where sin fit when God was supposed to be so good. If you look at the world and the mess the human race is in, you can see we only fooled ourselves. Sin is still here. It will always be with us. Original sin is the confirmation that our race has not evolved to a point where we can fully control our urges. We do it sometimes, and sometimes we fall on our face. Thank goodness God has a sense of humor. I am not talking about one peccadillo, but rather a prolonged state of alienation from God’s energy. This is like a state of depression. Depression breeds depression in the same way that sin breeds more sin. They are both related. Depression can cause you to enter into temptation and think that what is fun is good for you. If you have a center that is not at one with God, you may be spiritually depressed. Your destiny is not with evil, it is with God. God is not dead, but you may be spiritually depressed. Making all things new means you re-center or realign your realities.
Sin sucks! You may be saying, “I don’t believe you said that!” Think about it! Sin is a symptom of spiritual depression. Sin means that God and I are at-odds. In other words, I am not at-one with my center, or I may have the wrong center. If you have the wrong center, there is a disruption in the harmony between the physical, mental, and spiritual universes in which you live. When you don’t feel just right, it is because your universes are not aligned properly with your intended destiny — to be with God…Forever. Sin means you are not fulfilling the purpose for which you are intended. You act like an animal and not as a human. You grace tank may not be on empty, but your tank just got a bit emptier. Sin not only sucks, but it drains your spiritual energy. The Master prayed that we not be led into temptation. What do you think that meant? Your destiny is to know, love and serve God on this earth, and be happy with God in Heaven. Everything else in life is gravy. Some will never comprehend this because they are spiritually depressed. Open yourself to the possibility of the manifestibility of pure energy, pure Being. You can’t believe how exciting that is.
1. If you are spiritually depressed, you may not even notice it.
2. If you have the wrong center, chances are high that you are spiritually depressed.
3. If you are in a state of sin, chances are high that you are spiritually depressed.
4. If you are chronically angry or negative, chances are high that you are spiritually depressed.
5. If you are physically and mentally depressed, you may not be able to cure spiritual depression until you first cure the other two universes. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, you know.
6. You are destined to be with God in Heaven. If you are not aligned correctly, you may be spiritually depressed, until you fulfill your destiny by realignment.