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Understanding Sadness

December 2, 2006

For most all my life (and probably most of hers) my mother has been sad. It was debilitating for her and often for our family. She would spend days and days in the bed. Often she would cry … sometimes she would slip into what seemed like a great dark hole … and we thought she’d never come out.

I hated it! And I hated the life it created for us. I swore that I’d never live my life that way. I never knew why my mother was so sad … I know what she said. “I’m overwhelmed.” ” I wish I could just be alone.” “I wish I was dead.”

It was horrible trying to live with someone who was so incredibly sad. There was nothing that we could say or do to make her feel better about herself or her life. She felt hopeless and so did we.

Since I couldn’t understand her sadness … I became indifferent to it. I got tired of the affect it was having on me so I just “numbed” my heart and mind and vowed to not allow myself to slip in to the same hole she was in. That may sound cold, but it was mostly just a means of survival.

I was watching “Fried Green Tomatoes” the other day ( a favorite film of mine, by the way) … and Kathy Bates’ character was describing this overall feeling of depression … a hole that she couldn’t get out of … a feeling of “slipping” from the grip she thought she had, or ought to have, on life. Jessica Tandy’s character, “Mrs. Threadgood”, recognized immediately that she might have some hormonal imbalances and was probably going through “the change.”

Upon recognizing the problem, Kathy Bates was able to take charge again and do something about it. Life went on the upswing…

I think that is probably the most effective way to deal or at least understand sadness. The control freak in me could then say, “Oh…I get it now. I can fix that.”

The probably is, I suppose, when you can’t really pinpoint what the problem is. Or, maybe it’s just a whole bunch of stuff piling on top of each other. Then you have to start “unpiling” or pulling back the layers of “shtuff” so you can see the “pea” that has been placed under the mattress. (hmmmm? now that might preach!)

I’ve been so stinking sad for several months now.

My daughter keeps asking me … “Well, what is making you so sad, Mom?”


My doctor asked me just yesterday, “What is it that you think has brought this feeling on?”


The truth is … I don’t know. I know that I feel like a fish on a line, flopping around trying to get loose.

I feel like there is a gap between the left side of my brain and the right side.

I feel so lonesome sometimes that I can hardly breathe. Even sitting in church, in the midst of 500 people…the thought that consumes me is “I’m all alone.”

I feel like I am “slipping” — I’m forgetful about things that I never was before. I lack motivation about things that used to fire me up. I’ve always thought of myself as a very passionate person … but of late, I think, what difference does it make?

I long for connection. I long for direction. I long for purpose. I long to get over this empty, yucky feeling that is wreaking havoc in my heart and mind.

Maybe I’m experiencing this to teach me about compassion … and understanding how my mother felt all my life.
I’ve sought her counsel on this …
She gives some odd and random advice …

For example, she tells me to go to the park and make some friends. “You don’t have any friends.”

Hmmm? The park, huh?

Then she tells me to “Quit work … find another job … that one is dragging you down.”

I’ve thought,”Well, maybe she’s right. Maybe I’m just burned out.” So I apply for jobs … EVERYWHERE. And no one responds.

So…that adds a heap onto the pile.

My doctor said that I must start doing things for me. I must start exercising … going out … meeting new friends.
So I get a massage, go to ballgames, exercise, watch a movie, start drinking Starbucks, listen to music…
All good distractions … until alas, once again, I face the gal in the mirror … and the issue at hand.

Though (like all folks) I have had moments of sadness in my life, I’ve always been able to shake it off, or at least ignore it until it supposedly went away.  There has only been one time in my life that I found myself disabled by depression.  And yes, it was also at the culmination of a long season of dealing with loss, stress, disappointment, rejection and lack of direction.  Hmmmm???  Now we may be getting somewhere.

So, how did I get past that time?

Ah yes … I remember.  I was lying on the couch, after crying all day.  Christie was spending the night with my aunt. I was indeed completely debilitated by my sadness.  Lying on the couch, snuggled up in a blanket … I decided to watch TV.  And what was on?  “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  I have never seen the movie … by with great cynicism, I decided to watch it thinking, “Yeh, right!  It’s a wonderful life.”

Well, as cheesy as some may think it it, this film ministered to me in a way that nothing else had.  I found myself in George Bailey and as the story came around, amidst my tears of shame for wallowing in my own self-pity and circumstances, I realized that I did have a wonderful life … and even a life that God was not finished with yet.  I remember!!!

That was a bad year of my life.  It was probably the worst year I have ever lived.  I did think I was just die from the sadness that I was feeling.  And there were many people trying to help me out of the hole — but nothing they said offered any comfort.

NOT UNTIL — I watched, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and I learned the same lessons of life that George Bailey had learned.  He got to see how life would have been if he were never born.   And I guess, God led me to be still for a moment and think about this same perspective.  Suddenly, the comforting words and support of friends came readily to mind, and I realized that I was loved and appreciated.

There’s a line in the movie … something like, “No man is poor who has friends.”

Like now, I guess I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  I felt so alone then … and I’ve felt so alone now.  But the TRUTH is, that I am not alone.

Sadness, no matter what the cause or source, can be overwhelming.   Sometimes, it’s so overwhelming, you can’t see anything else … even when help is being offered.

And understanding myself … and my control freakish ways … I know that “I think” I ought to be able to handle such feelings on my own … and that not being able to handle it is a sign of failure or ineptness.

But alas … somewhere in this mind and heart of mine … in spite of all the junk — is the knowledge and wisdom that the enemy uses lies and any other weapons he can to keep me from realizing the TRUTH.  THE TRUTH is the best medicine  and combative means for dealing with and understanding sadness.

The TRUTH is — I am a child of the King.  That God loves me so much that He gave His Son to die for me … so that I could have victory over all the evil, bad and sad things in my life.  I am the apple of my Father’s eye.  When I feel that no one else wants me, I KNOW that He wants me.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made … in HIS IMAGE.  My purpose … my direction … my life is fulfilled in Him.  There is nothing — physical or emotional — even sadness, that can separate me from the LOVE of my God!  It IS a WONDERFUL LIFE! 




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