Written by Julia Breidenbach
I went to my first church service at University Lutheran Church of Hope a couple Sundays ago; I was excited to hear Pastor Jen preach and I had heard a lot of good things about her from fellow students. When the sermon started, I was ready to sit back, relax and learn some new interesting points about faith.
That was not on Pastor Jen’s agenda.
She wanted us to interrupt her as she read the lesson with what we noticed or what we wondered about.
I was a little doubtful; didn’t she know most Minnesotan churchgoers grew up with a “keep to yourself and stay quiet” mantra?
However, her faith in her congregation was not misplaced. I went home with many insights from the sermon, and they were mostly points made by the congregation. The point I remember the most regarded Jesus’s interaction with the unclean spirit. They noticed that Jesus did not find fault in the man, but the unclean spirit inside of him.
We all have unclean, toxic parts of ourselves, and my personal demon, somewhat stereo-typically, came out in full force in middle school. For several reasons beyond my control, my steady friend group dissolved, leaving me very alone and very vulnerable.
I didn’t realize how important having these friends was in maintaining my positive self-esteem and identity. I began to believe that since I didn’t have friends, I was not worthy of friends. My whole life began to revolve around my insecurities, my shame and seemingly endless mistakes.
Depression quickly settled in and stuck, taking away the beauty in the world and replacing it with ingratitude, self-loathing and anger.
My relationship with God was pretty distant when I was depressed; I read comforting scripture most nights, but did not feel the warmth of God’s love. It wasn’t until I went to Pause student worship that I really began to understand what God’s love looks like.
God understands that it is not my fault for becoming depressed; my insecurity or the unclean spirit inside of me is the problem, not me.
This is so unbelievably freeing because it allows me to stop being guilty about being sad, chastising myself daily that I should be more grateful, more positive, more everything.
It means I’m lovable enough to talk to others about what’s bothering me and knowing that I’m not simply an annoying burden when I do so. I can take breaks when I need them because my worthiness does not hinge on what I do, but who I am.
Through therapy and the right medication, I am a lot better than I once was. However, I am still working on accepting my vulnerability to depression and taking steps every day to ensure I never feel that low again. The scripture today reminds me that I am not defined by my demons. With God’s love, I am so much more than that.