My friend gives me permission to tell this story. He’s a pastor. Throughout his 30-plus years of ministry he’s struggled with depression, at times acutely.
Growing up, dad was angry and hard to please. Mom was doting, overly attached and emotionally suffocating.
My friend’s marriage has been marked by chronic contention and power struggles. His marital problems have coincided with his depression, each feeding into the other.
Sometime back, my friend conveyed how remorseful he felt for his contribution to his painful marriage. He acknowledged the deep hurt he’d caused his wife. Dejection and despair clouded his face.
I asked him, “When you sit with your remorse over how you’ve interacted with your wife, what do you sense from God? What does He say about who you are? What do you sense His opinion is of you?”
Without pausing for reflection, he matter-of-factly stated, “I’m a f****** S-O-B.”
His candidness and immediacy startled me.
We reconnected last week. My friend updated me on the current state of his marriage. Things are still difficult. Knowing he hurts her feelings continues to pain him.
I asked the question again. “What is God saying to you in the midst of this? What is His opinion of you?”
His response was again immediate. “After you asked me that the first time, I spent time meditating on Romans 8, where it says we call God, ‘Abba, daddy.’ I heard God speak to me, ‘You’re not what you’ve thought you were. Don’t you realize you’re my son? You’re my son, for goodness sake!’ Knowing this makes all the difference.”
It was . . . awesome.