You probably don’t know many four-year-old children with depression, but when my grandma was that age, she was depressed—so depressed, in fact, she stopped eating, laid in bed, and only spoke when necessary. She should have been playing outside, but instead only stared out the window. Being adopted changed her entire world and she didn’t know how to adapt.
Naturally, Grammy’s new parents were worried sick. One day though, Essie, a family friend, came by and, after talking with my great-grandmother, walked into Grammy’s room. Grammy didn’t turn over, but Essie sat on the bed anyway and began chatting.
“You know,” she sighed, “yesterday afternoon, I went out to my barn and I saw that Flora, my ewe, had had her little lamb. Remember, I told you she was going to have a baby?”
Essie continued talking to Grammy’s back, explaining how Flora had rejected the baby and she’d found him huddled alone in a corner. This was a problem. Lambs need to eat, but Essie had to work and couldn’t take care of him. Someone had to feed him or he’d die. Then Essie plopped the lamb’s warm, wooly body in Grammy’s arms.
Orienting ourselves to love brings us back to life.
The lamb quickly found Grammy’s finger and sucked on it. Grammy looked at the lamb. The fact that something so beautiful and vulnerable needed her help reignited something inside of her. She began to laugh. After a second or two, she sat herself up in bed, and Essie passed Grammy a bottle. It was a turning point.
Depression is a complicated mental illness, and I’m not suggesting there isn’t more to it than what Grammy experienced, but this story reminds me of how we were made to live for something outside of ourselves. After Peter’s denial, Jesus’ instruction to him was, “Feed My lambs” (John 21:15). It was a turning point for him, because sharing the gospel is healing. We don’t just share because people “out there” need to hear it, but also for our own sakes. We flounder when we get stuck inside our own heads and focus too much on the pain life throws at us. Orienting ourselves to love brings us back to life.
I don’t know what your life looks like right now, but I want to encourage you to build a life that is mission oriented. This doesn’t mean you arrogantly think you’ll change the world or fix people all by yourself. It means you lay down your life to share the good news with others, because that’s what you were made to do. When you do, it will likely be a turning point for you as well.
Allie is a 2012 ARISE graduate and on-staff writer and communications assistant for Light Bearers. She is fascinated by the intersection of faith and the creative process and enjoys poetry. When she’s not watching a good movie with her friends, she enjoys narrating life with mediocre accents.