This morning’s post in the series Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger and Thirst For? was written by an anonymous contributor.
I don’t hunger and thirst for much. I just hunger and thirst to escape depression. There,
I’ve said it. But I’m not able to add my name to this statement. I need to be anonymous.
I am a middle-aged pastor of a suburban congregation of around 150-160. Every week I
stand and declare that Jesus forgives our sins and restores us to life. Yet I am bound by
pain which reaches back into my infant past, pain that I have only just become aware of
through therapy, pain that I have not yet faced—and fear to face even now.
I have grown up being driven to ‘repair’ the world, to ‘make a difference’, trying to make it
better so that others don’t suffer the way I do. I fear I have mixed that up with what it
means to be a Christian, and to be a pastor. When I fail, there is a kind of voice within my
my therapist calls the ‘savage god’ who accuses me of being—wait for it—less than
perfect. I have confused that voice with the Living God. Sometimes the only thing that
protects me from suicidal thoughts is a sense of compassion I can ﬁnd within myself for
those with whom I could be rightfully angry with. I would dearly like to ﬁnd ‘rest for my
I see a therapist several times a week. I take antidepressants at the maximum dose. I
pray. I believe. I love my congregation, and I have the good fortune to pastor a supportive,
wonderful community. The people know I suffer with depression, because I’ve spoken
about it from the pulpit. It seemed important for me to do so to help fellow-sufferers who
felt shame for their illness. Yet only a few know how much I suffer; I want to protect the
congregation. I want them to know the freedom that is theirs in Christ. In fact, when I lead
worship I do feel like the burden is lifted for a while. I ﬁnd that I can step outside the
constrictions of the pain I feel and be with the people. I don’t mean that I’m overly
demonstrative, just that I know that inner freedom for a time and my smile is genuine.
I don’t think I’m living a lie. My problem isn’t authenticity, it’s just pain that has dogged me
since the nursery.
I’m sure there will be others posting in this series who want justice and peace for all. So do
I, and so does my community. I want the kingdom of God to come. I know it is here now, in
the midst of my pain, our pain. I know that in Bonhoeffer’s great words, ‘only a suffering
God can help’ and I take comfort in that. I know Christ’s strength is in my weakness. I just
want to feel it all the way through.
This Lent, I expect to put one foot in front of the other and walk towards Holy Week and
the Triduum. I rejoice at the destination of the Empty Tomb. But I fear there’s still quite a bit
of me mouldering in that tomb, and I hunger and thirst for it to live.