living liturgically (season one, episode eleven, ordinary time 2022)

I wasn’t sure exactly what to write this week (and yes, I know I’m a day late, I was so exhausted yesterday I was unable to do any writing), because there was so much going on, and yet so much was the same. I struggled with an extra helping of depression the last few days which isn’t something I often write about but it’s something that is probably important. When I was growing up in the cult, there was no such thing as depression, or anxiety, or any other mental health issues. Those of us who suffered such things were told that we had sinned and that we were under conviction and merely needed to repent, and that would make it all go away.

There was no going to a psychiatrist to get medication to help, there were beatings instead. I was told to just snap out of it, I was beaten for being depressed or anxious, I was mocked, I was told to read all the Psalms in a week, to make a daily list of 100 things I was thankful for, and to spend much time in prayer seeking the face of God and getting right with God. I was told that God would chasten me with a rod because he loved me. I was also told that my parents beat me beacuse they were striving to be godly and God beats his children and that it’s better for parents to do it because it’s not as bad as if God does it.

The pastor told me that I should be thankful for everything that happened to me that was better than dying and going to hell, because anything better than that was better than I deserved. This was what I was told when I tried to reach out about the abuse I was suffering. I had chronic pain from the abuse but they said I was just lazy and gave me more work to do. They created my multiple personalities and then blamed me. I was told to stop “living in my head,” they also told me that one day some therapist would insist that I had been abused and draw out some repressed memories and that therapists were evil and psychology and psychiatry were against God’s will for Christians. I was told that anyone in the field of social work was out to make their clients hate God.

I hadn’t planned to write about this, because it’s depression not spirituality, but the thing is, sometimes spirituality and mental health are entwined. I’ve had to sit with discomfort, sadness, grief, and depression this week. I’ve cried many tears, which is unusual for me because crying wasn’t normally allowed either. I’ve told myself lies about myself, and had to turn to God and rebuke those lies. That’s where mental health and spirituality often combine. I do have to go to God for strength to refute the lies I’m telling myself. If I need to repent of anything in my periods of depression, it’s of lying to myself.

God’s presence is always around me. Jesus is with me, and sometimes Mother Mary comes to sit with me a while. The best thing is that I know they all love me and care about me. I wish I had known that earlier. I’ve made some huge positive steps spiritually in the last month, and that always comes with a price of feeling depressed later. I am not abandoned in those times even if I feel like it. This is the ordinary. Prayer is ordinary, but it’s also extraordinary. Praying the rosary can totally change my thought processes, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t take my meds. My meds are a gift from God to be used as a tool to help with my illness that in turn helps me to remember to refuse the lies I tell myself.

These things are complex, but they are also ordinary, and right now I’m trying to rest in the ordinary, or at least what is ordinary for me.

Published by MaryClare StFrancis

MaryClare StFrancis is a writer who sounds as boring as hell but who is intimately acquainted with the horrific and the sacred. For a long time, darkness has been her friend, but she now walks in the light of Christ. As a committed Episcopalian, her main contribution to the church is her ability to make the priests facepalm or swear, depending on the day and context. MaryClare has a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and lives in Mississippi with her four children.

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