A Hopeful Lament on Spiritual Transformation, Gluten, and Depression
by Doug Bursch
I’m tired because of the gluten or is it the depression? Did the doughnut bring about this heavy head, or is it the sorrow, the perpetual sorrow of seeing so many refuse you? Or is it my refusal, my refusal to be at peace with who I am and who you are? It seems easy to blame this heavy hearted sorrow on the rebellions around me or the gluten within me, but maybe it’s more.
What is the goal of this day? Is there a destination I’m supposed to reach with careful planning and the intentional activation of my will? Or is today simply a place to be, less a journey as a room to abide in? Is it always a race to be won, or could it be an open field, wind in my face, you twirling me, lifting me up higher than myself? Is the goal a place to laugh or an ability to understand my desire to cry? What’s with all the question marks; seems like question marks are the fruit of too much gluten. Or is it depression?
I was born into an age that embraced the power of relational math. Through postulations and experimentations we discovered countless self help and community health equations. We married these relational observations with genetic discoveries, cat scans, and neuron maps. We learned the rhythms of vacillating dopamine and serotonin levels. Experts rose up amongst us with relational math and personality postulates guaranteeing meaning, purpose, mental health, and contentment. Everyone has become more proficient in the math, but the problems seem to intensify with each generation.
The math looks so good on paper, it sounds so right when proclaimed! There is a logic to all of it. One plus one equals two. Truth plus love equals transformation. However, the practitioners sooner or later learn the dirty little secret behind the math. Over time, they see the divide between proclamation and implementation. They see the chasm between agreeing upon values and implementing values.
Here is the truth. . . . I’ve preached many messages to rooms full of head nodders. But the head nodding did not change the hearer, nor the proclaimer. Instead, I spoke, they listened, and we all continued in our rebellion. The truth did not transform, whether it was remembered or quickly forgotten.
Where does transformation ignite? Where does change abide? I find myself back in the world of question marks, long pauses, and restless wondering. The Bible is my magic book, but I haven’t yet learned the right incantation to make the rebellion disappear. I preach freedom but I can hear the rattling of chains.
This may be the gluten talking or it could be the depression. Or maybe it’s a revelation of dependence. I cannot escape my entrenched dependence. I need more than knowledge, more than the right words, more than the right environment to bring about change. No, I need the abiding miracle of God’s presence to get inside you, to get inside me. I can only stand so close to you, but I can’t get in you. And you sure as hell can’t get into me. So there is this hopeless divide, this place we cannot enter. The place where transformation begins and ends, the place of God’s abiding.
Spirit of God, Spirit who enters and abides. I want to point to you. . . . silently point to you. . . . shout and point to you. There is the power, there is the transformation, there is the reason I will always be so ineffective. No man can take your place, we can only point to and testify to your presence as we abide in this season of endless perpetual grace.
Alright! A poetic venture by Bursch. 🙂 Great thoughts. I think I’ve added it all up:
Truth plus love, plus the abiding empowering presence of God, plus active choice, plus supportive environment, plus any needed serotonin or dopamine, minus gluten = transformation. Whether that’s the perfect math or not, I think it’s enough to multiply great results and subtract depression. As for the heavy-hearted sorrow due to refusal, that will be divided by the math of others. Our Department does not control that Division. Cheers to good math by you, me and all. MayDay for MathDay.
Too funny. . . I think there is still a remaining integer.
I don’t have a lot to add; just that this post really resonated with how I’ve been feeling lately. Thank you for writing it. Somehow it’s a comfort to see what you’re feeling put to words by someone else. AND…..is that “Jar Jar Binks” in the flower pot??? FUNNY!! 🙂
Thanks and yes that is Jar Jar. . .
I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to hear your state of vulnerability and to see in writing those incredible questions that have rattled around in my noggin as well. I choose not to be a head nodder any longer and pray for a constant fanning of my transformational flame. So many days I too feel like I am just one “fan” away from it being snuffed out. I am ready to SHOUT and point at this season of my life. Thanks Doug !
Thanks Shannon. . . . I try to just express what is in me. I know there is a role for all different expressions of the Gospel. . . . I just want to make sure that I do what actually brings about transformation. Even if that means I facilitate a space where I am quiet and God speaks.
See…there you go again making me dig a little deeper! 🙂 Your last sentence is so true and another whisper to me from the Lord. Thank You