I was falling down a dark abyss. The abyss was made of my inner demons and my internal struggles. I was drowning in my depression and the ghosts that haunted me were taking over my soul. Just when I thought it was all over an angel with darkened wings reached down into the pit where I was trapped and pulled me out. That angel was Johnny Cash.
Christians can be a difficult group of people, especially when you don’t fit into their preconceived notion of how a Christian should think, talk, act and dress. I had several strikes against me; my mental illness, my depression, my outbursts of anger, my hidden sins and my choice of an all black wardrobe, because for some reason, black is an evil color.
I had turned to Christians for help with my mental illness, but instead of helping, my brothers and sisters looked down on me, because I was not the joyful Christian I was supposed to be. A Christian couldn’t be depressed, because they had Jesus and Jesus made everything better. I stopped talking about my struggles, because instead of encouragement or comfort I received judgment. I kept all of my inner demons a secret, because I knew my struggles with my sins and my illness were signs I wasn’t a true Christian.
I gave up on being a Christian, because I knew I couldn’t be the one other Christians and pastors were telling me I had to be. My demons followed me, mocking me and I knew I would never get rid of them, they would always be with me, whispering, taunting and in that moment, the demons were winning. They were dragging me deeper into the pit of depression.
This is when my angel appeared. He came to me on the television in the form of a Johnny Cash TV special. I was captivated by this man; I went from glancing at the screen from the kitchen, to watching it from the living room, sitting on the edge of the couch. In his face, in his music, I could see everything he had been through. He believed in God, he loved Jesus, but several times he had lost to his demons. He didn’t find Jesus and everything was better, he still had to fight a long and difficult battle, all the way up until the end.
It was the last interview that got me. The one after June died and right before he passed away himself. Listening to him speak, I realized that before that moment I had never understood the grace of God. I saw a man, worn down from his battles, tired from everything life had thrown at him and grieving the loss of wife, but I also saw in his face the peace and the love of God. He talked about his faith, how he wasn’t afraid of death, because he knew he was going to heaven and he knew he was going to see June again.
That interview changed me, because I learned that God does not abandon broken people. He doesn’t give up on us when we lose to our demons. I realized then that the definition of Christian I had been taught was all wrong. It’s not about the clothes we wear, and it’s not about our sins and illnesses disappearing so we can be happy Christians.
Our lives, the lives of broken people, they’re like pottery that has been broken and then lovingly, painstakingly, put back together and it ends up being more beautiful than it was before it was broken. We are beautiful, because we have survived our battles. We have survived the abyss and I think that is more inspiring than the Christian who says that God made all of their struggles disappear. It’s easy to say God made everything better, it’s difficult to admit that you are still struggling, even when you know that God is with you in the struggle.
So, don’t give up. Sometimes the demons win and sometimes you mental illness will get the better of you, but there will also be times when you win, times when things are good. Fight for those times.
Remember you are not alone. We are out there, the broken people, the outcasts, the rebels, all you have to do is reach out to us.
You can always contact me on the contact page, on Facebook or by email.
The Man in Black watches over us.