Hic Sunt Leones (Here Be Lions)

Lindon Claridge Lindon 0 Comments

As I sat down to pray about what I should write, a million ideas crowded my mind acquiescing for my attention. All felt too ripe for the mood I’m in. A small bat of depression has come over me lately. The likes I don’t actually understand.

Depression hasn’t been a big side effect of my life…thank goodness. So to acquire a mutual declaration that my depression can stay as long as I comprehend the reasons for its existence has been mostly futile. It comes in the shadows of the night and lingers like a lion stalking his prey. There’s something very sinisterly beautiful about how a lion holds the power to a life – deciding whether its victim lives an extra ten seconds or not – truly becoming its prey.

But of course, I am only talking about depression, the “black cloud of trouble that hang ore us.” It may be a false characterization to apply that depression holds the reins to the bit in our mouth, tugging at us, according to its whims. To do so would be to acknowledge that depression has its own entity organized thought.

Hazah! A mystery. And why would anyone debate the fact that depression doesn’t have its own whims or thoughts?  I aggressively argue that it does! Or at the least is a contract mercenary for the heads of darkness. Though incredulously amorphous, depression is well organized and professionally thorough – pinpoint accurate, some might claim.

Do not doubt that it will come. The path of its carnage is a hopeless constriction; a desperate escapade to finally feel what nothing feels like. The question is not if, but when or where or how it takes you. Which if not understood can really cripple a shimmering hope. It has taken from me, leaching from me the essence of my smile, and I don’t know why. Scary? I’d say.

At first I thought maybe the chokehold on my joy originated from the fact that my all-time-best-friend, and other-half-since-diapers was getting married today and I wouldn’t be there, even though we’ve dreamed of these moments ever since sleeping out under the stars on the trampoline as kids; making impenetrable covenants that we’d go on missions together, be best man at each other’s weddings, live next door to each other, and start a business together. Boy, oh boy, does life require to have its say in the matter.

So maybe I was a bit bummed for realizing I would not be there for the man with my heart on the most amazing day of his life. It does not take away from the happiness that brings me to know he is happy, but still, it hurts.

So I wallowed all day like this depression inclined for me to indulge. In fact I felt so sappy and helpless that I am embarrassed to admit that I gave into the demise of one of my Remnant Rebirth “don’ts.” I spent the entire day (literally) reading “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green, which I believe some would consider heart wrenching.

In a nutshell, it is about two teens who have cancer, fall in love and die. Against popular opinion, I actually very much disliked it. Green purposely ignored the power of faith and spent too much time bashing God. The book actually fed my depression, not inspired me out of it.

If cancer is something that wracks your body, I strongly advise not to read it. Admittedly, it will fulfill for you a sense that your situation is understood by some and you need not fear feeling alone in the hardship you face, as Green points out, all too often, the ignorance our society has to cancer patients. But in the end you’ll be left empty-handed with more encouragement to give into the “inevitable prospect of death,” rather than the true healing (and I mean HEALING!) that can take place.

Understand for me though, please, that the healing of your heart is more important than the healing of your body, regardless of ailments, diseases or addictions that plague us. All I really have further to say about the book is what happens to be stated by I believe Shakespeare, in which the title is derived, “the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

However, I do applaud green in his writing process. I never considered myself a writer, even though I am doing it right now. For me, it is always a treat to see advanced writers at work. His use of metaphor is astounding.

It was in the middle of my binge that I realized more of why I was depressed. It was one of those times were something happened which led me to this, which led me to that, all the while being carefully directed by God to much-needed answers and then to glorious healing.

One of the metaphors Green uses is to compare cancer victims to grenades, and when that grenade goes off, whoever is in the vicinity is hurt. With this realization, the character of the book purposely chooses to shut herself away from others in order to decrease the casualties she would cause in the wake of her death.

It was right then that I realized that I believed and desired the same thing for myself. I’m a freaking grenade! Except, like, worse… I go off by my own pulling the pin as opposed to those who go off without a choice. The guilt, I feel, is stronger! The pain almost more intense than the blunt shift of death. The pain I caused keeps on going. Just looking at me causes pain, and sentimentality of distrust. The only difference between me and cancer is that the pain I caused is a reflection of the past, not a distortion of the future by the “inevitable prospect of death.”

An overwhelming wave of deficiencies crashes over me with this trial of thought. As if I am not good enough, nor ever will be, since the baggage I carried is too long and too heavy to carry. Like those medics in the field of battle scouting out fallen comrades to help, when upon reaching two, he assesses both and deems one too badly injured and thus begins helping the less injured one. He knows instead of making the risky attempt at saving the more critically injured, which might cause him to lose both lives. He will save the one he knows can be saved. 50% is better than 0%, am I right? So yes, in fact, a man may be too damaged to the point where he is technically already “dead” in the hearts of those around him, even though he is still very, very much alive.

My life to a degree, is a living cancer and I guess right now it is hitting me with full force. I’m tired of hurting people. I’m tired of feeling like I’m obligating people to help carry my “baggage.” I’m exhausted trying to forgive those who won’t forgive me. So with depression’s bit tight in my mouth, the reigns have been yanked ever so forcefully to let people live their lives, extricating myself, so my contagious disease doesn’t splatter on their Sunday-best. In doing so, the pain I cause people would cease because bridges have been burned.

My past has made me a martyr for itself. “Want to quit hurting people?” It asks, “Become a hermit.” Is its reply.  Sadly, I want to listen to that voice.

But alas, I have divulged my heart to you, as labyrinthine as it may seem, and have come full circle to when I sat down to write this post. I prayed about what I should write and because of where my heart and mind are right now, this is what I felt inspired to say: my brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ LIVES! Like, LIVES, really, really lives! In everything! He is life.

My all-time favorite hymn is “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” I can’t sing it without crying. I just can’t. But, I always used to think the meaning of that phrase that “Jesus Christ lives” referred to the fact that He was alive, that He was no longer dead, that through resurrection He is now alive and living. And sure, that is what it means, but only on a foundational level. To say “Jesus Christ lives” means infinitely so much more! On an incomprehensible level, it means that the Savior of the world is in everything, through everything, EVERYTHING is His! There is nothing in our field of existence that He isn’t in. Every circumstance, every miracle, every choice has His life ALL over it (and in it, and through it, and above it, and beneath it, etc.…). He is everywhere. He is everything.

This became so evidently clear to me when I finally received my copy of this past General Conference issue of the Ensign. Every talk from what I can decipher speaks solely on the omnipotence of Jesus Christ, His light, His life and His love. The “seer to my heart” this conference undoubtedly was President Russell M. Nelson in his empowering talk “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ Into Our Lives.” My Savior became clearer than He ever has in my life due to that talk. I realize the grand truth that Jesus Christ really does LIVE!

The world is His. Our lives are His. Our choices and consequences are His. Time is His. Light is His. Love is His. This church is His. The gospel is His. The Atonement is His. The resurrection is His. The priesthood is His. Service is his. The elements are His. All goodness is His. All power is His. Everything that is in everything is His!

These truths complete me, because even though I may be a cancerous grenade, I am His cancerous grenade. And that makes all the difference in the world. Fear of pain, hurting others and being alone all washed away by His love, His life. I may still be full of deficiencies, but He makes me sufficient. The lions of depression now become my prey!

   

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Lindon Claridge

I know when you smile everyone wonders what's up, so I keep smiling. If the grass is growin', I'm still goin'!

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