Christmas present

If depression is being tied to the PAST and anxiety is being tied to the FUTURE, how can we spend enough time in the PRESENT to enjoy the other Present that Christmas brings? No, not the chocolate [though we need to enjoy that too], but the gift of Jesus and the forgiveness and fellowship He brings?

Therapists talk about the cognitive triad of depression as being three sets of thoughts that people with depression often have - they think of themselves as worthless having accomplished nothing of value; they see the world as unfair and judgemental and as a result they feel guilty for things they have done; and they see the future as so hopeless it may as well not exist. People with anxiety labour under another set - they see themselves as fragile and at risk; they see others as threatening; and they see the future as uncertain - and so in need of constant speculation and modification. Of course, anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, so people live both in the guilty past and the uncertain future - and never in the present.

janusLike the Roman god Janus, after whom January is named, they see two ways - into the year just gone and into the New Year to come. However, perhaps the one thing we need to do at Christmas is just stop for a moment and spend time in the present, and the presents!. It is very hard to truly enjoy a gift if you are wondering if you deserve it because of all the bad things you have done. At Christmas, we are also called to spend time in the company of others - family, friends, church? But it is very hard to truly participate in a conversation if you are wondering about all the bad things that might be about to happen.

Scarily similar, I know many people who are not depressed but are living in the denial of busy and unsustainable lives who even more so live in the past [striving to prove people wrong] and the future [under the guise of vision or career]. They are perhaps even more unable to enjoy the present and for them a breakdown may be just around the corner. However, people who have recovered or are recovering from depression can be quite good at spending time in the present. This may be because they are reluctant to again spend time thinking too much about the past and the future and prefer to take each day as it comes. However, I suspect it is also because they have seen the value of truly enjoying the small things of life and truly participating in two-way communication.

In this, I think we can learn from the experience of being depressed. It can be a good thing for it is a more real state than denial and has the advantage of forcing you to appreciate the present. I know people who say they only discovered the true meaning of Christmas and the Present we can receive BECAUSE they became depressed and so were still for long enough to really listen.

And the Present of Christmas, Jesus Christ, is not insensitive to those who are depressed. In Isaiah 42v3, where prophecy speaks of His coming, we are told that 'A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out,' and this is indeed true this Christmas time - that is if you will take the time [and the risk] to enjoy the Present. Do we dare to let Him love us?
Rob Waller, 10/12/2013