- Bob Holmes
Outside Looking In
Here’s the scoop: I went into clinical depression for a lot of reasons. It felt like a black hole in the center of my soul, sucking all my life and light down into the void.
To keep it at bay, I developed all kinds of dysfunctional strategies that needed constant tending and always failed. You might be familiar with this. I hope not.
As I was saying, my Psychiatrist, who had maxed me out on various meditations, told me I was clinically depressed. He said I needed medication for the rest of my life. He told me, “Relax, take your meds, and get on with your life. It’s not gonna change.”
Depression can hit anybody. You might know Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You might be filled with the Holy Spirit, speak in Tongues, operate in the Gifts and Callings, and still be in a deep dark suicidal depression.
Hear me on this one: I’m not telling you to drop your Doctor, your meds, or Counseling. I’m not trying to treat you. That’s between you and your Doctor. I’m just telling my story here.
Locked Away In The Belly of Depression
So here I was, suffering deeply, in the belly of depression, where I was at the end of my rope, when God spoke to me and told me to go back into meditation.
I, however, was trained by the best. I rebuked the Devil, stood on the right Scripture, fasted and prayed, went through inner healing, years of counseling, revivals, outpourings, and did everything I could think of, and fought with God over this for five long years, as I ran out of every other option. I finally gave in.
What I learned was this: My depression was because I tried to solve my problems with my soul and failed. Let me say it another way:
When we ask our soul to do what only our spirit can do, it will fail us every single time.
Our soul was never designed to do what our spirit does.
You Need to Know
Meditation is a ‘spiritual’ practice (not a soul practice). It’s practicing our spirit. It’s breathing and releasing, receiving and letting go. It is entering our ground of Being, as opposed to doing. We are human Beings after all.
So Here’s what happened when I got started: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No change. No relief. It didn’t work. But I intuitively knew that eventually, it would work. I had 40 years of resistance to overcome. I could remember my days of enlightenment before I became inflexibly religious.
When the Change Started
So I set all ‘my beliefs’ aside, started anew, and meditated. I threw everything I had into it, finally doing what God had told me to do.
Then one day as I was doing a Tibetian Compassion Meditation, I applied mercy to myself. The one: “May I be well. May I be happy. May I be free from suffering.”
Anyway, at first, it was just a tiny spark, but it was the first spark of pure joy I had felt in 25 or 30 years.
Now I knew from my studies, that it would take 10 years (akin to the 10,000 Hour Rule), to restructure my brain, before Joy would become my default setting. It takes time to grow character.
A Jewish Lullaby
My turning point happened something like this. I was doing a Zen spiritual practice called Great Doubt. Now I had always thought that everything depended on my Belief. I was to learn better.
The practice goes something like this: You go into a meditative state, like mindfulness, and deconstruct everything. You doubt everything, without and within. You doubt yourself. You doubt your beliefs and everything you’ve been taught. You doubt your doubts. Then, stripped of everything, you step off into the unknown, sort of like into the Cloud of Unknowing. The visual is a Zen monk stepping off a hundred-foot cliff into the air.
So I entered into a meditative state and began the process, deconstructing through doubt. As all my efforts had failed me, the stripping away went pretty quickly. The last one, that released everything else, was the hardest. It was my belief in God, or that there ever was a god. That broke the dam and released everything else. I had nothing left. I and I use the term ‘I’ loosely, stepped out into the vast cloud of eternity.
As I dwelled there, the clouds began swirling beneath and around me. Emptied of all there ever was, only the eternal present surrounding me.
It was then I saw it, like two laughing eyes coming at me through the fog.
The clouds sweeping apart as the presence of all eternity approached. It was Jesus, with a laughing smile, welcoming an old friend. He embraced me in an all-encompassing bear hug of total acceptance and love. I was soaking in the presence of God.
Startled, awestruck, and bewildered, I didn’t know what to think. I was dripping with peace as the tears rolled off my face. Was it real? For me, it doesn’t matter. It’s eternal. Jesus keeps me no matter what, period.
So now I get St Francis and so many of the other Christian mystics. I get their relationship with Jesus. It all makes sense to me now. It’s not the usual ‘outside looking in’ approach theological studies make. It’s dwelling with Jesus looking out.
Meditation Is My Medication
Now my depression didn’t take flight never to return. I take my daily ‘tonic’ of meditation. Meditation is my medication. But the stranglehold that depression had on me, now has been broken.
My meditation now is centered into whatever Jesus quickens, and my journey into contemplation is my encounter with Him.
The title? One day when I shared this story with my friend Scotty, he said, “That sounds like a Jewish Lullaby.”
Two things I’ve learned:
God is faithful, even if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for He can’t deny himself.
When I ask my soul to do what only my spirit can do, it throws me into depression. I’m still learning to distinguish between the two and to allow my spirit to breathe and lead.
Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us and abide with us forever.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline