When I was a junior in high school I was in a play. The name of the play was “The Importance of being Earnest.” The whole lesson you take away from the play is that the most important thing in this world is to be yourself. The title itself is a play on words. I played the part of Algernon, the stories secondary “hero.” That’s not really anything special. High school students are in plays all the time. The interesting aspect about this play was that I was never supposed to be in it. To be more specific I had never heard of it nor had I studied the script.
On the day that the play was set to be performed in front of the entire school the guy that was supposed to play Algernon and his understudy never showed up. To this day I don’t know what happened to them. It just so happened that every once in a while I would hang out with the drama crew, and so when one of the few male leads didn’t show I was dragged out of my morning math class and was begged to fill in with less than two hours to get ready before the play started. If you know me very well you know that I have a problem with the word “no.” I wasn’t any different in high school. So with a script in hand and wearing a suite that was two sizes too big for me I stumbled through a play that I wasn’t ready to perform.
This little excerpt from my adolescence has been a pretty apt illustration for how I have viewed my life for a really long time, even before the experience.
For many years now I have felt that I am a man thrown into a play in which I don’t know my part. I haven’t studied, I’m not prepared, and my costume doesn’t fit quite right. I do my best to stumble through it, say my lines right, and make sure I’m standing in the right spot on the stage, but in the end it’s all pretty fake. I might get an A for effort and some polite applause at the end, but for the most part people are walking away a little bored, a little confused, and wondering why that kid’s clothes don’t fit.
I used to think that if I just tried a little harder, kept my chin up, smiled really big and worked really hard, that feeling would go away. It hasn’t.
This feeling has a title. I have tried for a really long time to avoid it. In fact I used to make fun of it, joke about it, and judge people in my heart who carried it. I used to explain it away as an excuse for laziness and a crutch for the untalented.
I have tried to scratch it out with coffee cup bible verses and motivational speeches. I have sought to cover it up with the physical. I have tried to out run it. I have tried to smother it with self-gratification. I have tried to quench it with liquid oblivion. It’s not working.
I have spent the better part of my life hearing from very well-meaning but very misguided spiritual leaders that this feeling has no place in the life of a Christian. They say that the true mark of a believer is the ability to remove this title from my heart with pithy catch phrases and verses of scripture ripped out of context They are wrong. Don’t believe me? I challenge you to point out one man or women whose story in the scripture that was of any importance who was not marked by this title in their life at one time or another, including the God-man that was sinless and perfect.
I suffer from depression. I’m not talking down in the dumps because I’m worried about life. I’m not talking about being sad because my sports team didn’t win or I didn’t get a promotion or I don’t have a lot of money. I’m not talking about some cliché’ hyper emo facade that Hollywood has glamorized to sell movie tickets to angst filled teenagers looking for a dramatic life.
I’m talking about waking up in the morning and wondering if I’m even going to get up. I’m talking about a hollow feeling that gnaws at the inside of my body and a buzzing that lingers in the back of my head. I’m talking about a tiredness of the soul that no matter how much sleep I get, or coffee I drink, or pills I take never seems to go away. It is a weariness that is only understandable to those who have experienced it, or to those who have lived with those who have.
Like I said in my prior post. I’m not writing about this for sympathy, advice, or attention. I’m writing for accountability to myself. This is the beginning of my journey of confronting a lot of junk that I have let set in the deep intangible parts of my body for too long. My hope is that through this journey, and by my writing that others like myself can find healing, hope, and most importantly learn their role through Christ in this world.
It really is true. The most important thing is to be earnest.