Friday, May 24, 2013

The Funk

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” You know, if someone approached me today and said that, I just might have to…….well, let’s just say I would not receive their chipper greeting with equal glee. You see, I’m in what I call "the funk". That's just a cute way of saying that I'm depressed. Depression sucks. Most of you know that I've dealt with depression for most of my life and for the most part, I've overcome it. Overall, I have a relative amount of peace in my life, but not today. Every once and a while, "the funk" revisits me, and sometimes it's just as hard as it ever was before. I feel like I've been transported in time to who I was 20 years ago.

I’ve been finding it very difficult to write, so I'm sure this will not be a literary masterpiece. I can't stay focused. I've been unmotivated and have no creativity. So, why not write about "the funk"? The funk is my reality. Quite simply, I am "the funk". If you looked up “funk” in Webster’s Dictionary, you would see a picture of my smiling face, taken on a day when I wasn’t in "the funk". But as for now, as I write this blog, I’m definitely in "the funk". I’m not alone in my funkdom, am I? I mean, we all slip into the occasional funk from time to time, don’t we? We can be the most positive people on earth, but not immune to falling into “the funk”.

In reality, I think depression is just part of our human chemistry. Part of the cycle of living life. Part of the way God has wired us. I envision it as somewhat like a car engine. You can take obsessive care of your car, in terms of preventative maintenance, wash it every week, wax it and spray that smell good stuff in the interior, but eventually something will snap, break or crack, causing the engine to run a little less smoothly, and just overall feel kind of sluggish. Funky. You might just get some bad gas, and the car sputters and kicks as it longs for fresh fuel to course through the system. In some ways, the car is just trying to tell you something. I think our bodies are no different, and “the funk” may actually have a very useful purpose. Whether physically, emotionally or spiritually, depression gets our attention. Our spirit is telling us something. In a deeper part of our soul, an indicator is being activated, a light is blinking, and the alarm is sounding. “Check Engine”. Our attention is targeted. No distractions.

Recently it has become very clear to me how many distractions I encounter each and every day. When you think about it, we live in a culture that constantly inundates us with distractions. It’s almost as if we’re over-stimulated children on sugar highs, doing our best to keep up in a classroom with no rules. We’re exposed to much, but hear very little. And at least in my case, I think this is why we slip into "the funk" from time to time.

Have you noticed that when you're depressed, it becomes very difficult to keep your attention on anything outside of yourself? Distractions become minimal as we become inwardly focused and the details of life become secondary. Things that once caused us to “Rejoice in the Lord”, suddenly become dull and cloudy. Living life becomes kind of mundane and even insignificant. Depression sets in like an early morning fog. It blurs. It distorts. Like Superman fraught with a necklace of kryptonite, “the funk” sucks the life right out of us.

Scripture illustrates stories of many people that found themselves in “the funk”, and they turned out OK. But the most powerful examples are found in the Psalms and David, “a man after God’s own heart”. David didn’t just wade through “the funk”, he dove in head first and swam though it, his head submerged from time to time, wondering if he would eventually drift below the surface and never surface again. Listen to what David said about his time in “the funk”, as well as other Psalmists.

"My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught” (Psalm 55).

“My soul is in anguish…I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” (Psalm 6). 

“Troubles without number surround me;” (Psalm 40).

“Out of the depths (funk?) I call to you, O Lord;” (Psalm 130).

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths…I am worn out calling for help…I look for sympathy, but there was none,” (Psalm 69). 

Psalm 88

These are just a few examples, but can you relate to any of these words? I can, and although I don’t have all the answers right now, I’m glad to say that God has my attention. And as I begin spending a lot more time in prayer asking, “Why?”, God seems to remain silent. After a couple of weeks of silence, my prayer has changed to something a little different: “What?” “What can I learn from this, God? You now have my complete attention, so what do you want me to learn from this “funk”.

And do you know what I’ve found out? Nothing. I’ll let you know when I figure it all out. But the point is, God has my attention. The distractions have been clouded out as the “check engine” light flashes. The alarm system has worked as it should have and caused me to realize that there is something causing my engine to run a little sluggish. And you know what? It’s OK. The funk will clear and I will soon “Rejoice in the Lord” once again. If not, you’ll be treated to some dark blogs for a while.

(Photograph - Angus Campbell)