Friday, January 21, 2005

Sometimes I Surrender

I awakened at 3:55 this morning. A headache demands my attention, and robs me of what I crave almost as much as God these days—sleep. I wish my head were not like this. I wish I did not fall into depression with every God given autumn, and fail to break through to a sunlight of the soul until the spring, with the kind of certainly upon which the seasons themselves change. I make a thousand wishes about my brain chemistry, upon a Star that I am incapable of seeing.

In these wee hours of the morning, I play on the internet, watch late night television, read, think, and even pray. When these things fail me, I go back to thinking. This dark morning, I am remembering my days, six years ago, as a seminarian.

The only thing worse for a Christian madwoman to do than desperately pursue a graduate degree in psychology while she is completely insane and her husband is a drug addict, is for her to do this at a theological seminary. I left classes after each school night, devastated by the startlingly clear revelations I’d received about my own pathology. Add to this a ruthless, ripping of way of all my erroneous theological positions—which was most of them, and you have an adventure of faith every day.

At some point in a psychology program, you are forced against your will to take a battery of test that will prove to you, in black and white, what you already knew in secret. You are crazy. According to the MMPI, I scored high as a sociopath. My concern that I’d be killing prostitutes in a few years drove me to my instructor. He assured me that for some odd reason, black people score high on this test in that area. So do graduate students-black, white or other. I was again restored to some semblance of peace, being both black, and a graduate student, but most important, Ann Arbor’s two hookers were safe.

Then there was the test whose name I’ve blocked out. Thank God for defense mechanisms, for surely, I’d have taken it again by now to confirm the results. This one was an instrument measuring depression, and predicted that I’d kill myself within 10 years. Way to boost student morale! I still have four years to go, and tonight, I have to wonder if I’m going to make it after all.

I had this friend who I will say was the man my sister Carlean loved. He was a gentle man of God, always smiling. He was a chocolate kiss, as kind as he was attractive. He took ill, suddenly, and then, he was dying. We prayed ferverently for his healing, and visited him in his last days at the hospital. I remember one of the last things he said to us about healing:

“I know God is Able, but even if He doesn’t heal me, He’s still Able.”

How moving is that? He died not longer after, still trusting God.

Though He slay me, I will trust Him. I know my redeemer lives.

Knowing you will die soon has to be hard when you are a young man. It is also hard when the process is slow, and you wonder if it will not be yourself that kills you. I write about embracing God in the dark, but it’s damned difficult to do, even on my best days when I quote wonderful, lilting, poems by Rainer Maria Rilke--who clearly suffered from depression. But Rilke also wrote poems that say he feels like he is slipping away, like sand between his fingers. He writes:

“I want to die. Leave me alone.
I feel like I’m almost there.”

And sadly, I know just how he feels.

Last night, when it was all I could do to not pierce my jugular vein, like Rilke I wrote my own depression love poem to God.

Sometimes I Surrender

envelop me
in indigo

swathe me
in a shroud

deny my senses



to the Darkness
that is You.

I can write that. I can even do that on occasion, but it isn’t easy. Ever.

Four years ago, I stumbled in the darkness and found myself, and I loved her fiercely. And that self was born again. I named her Indigo Blue.

This year, I stumbled in the darkness and I found God, and I was born again. I christened my newborn self ragamuffin diva.
And I love God fiercely.

Even though He slay me.

Even though like Rilke,
I ache, and swell
in a hundred places.

I love Him, anyway.

In the dark morning,
God’s raga


Geo said...

If you will crawl about 5 feet to the left in that darkness I am there! I will meet you there in that place.


lori said...

thanks so much-your thoughts always help me clarify my own.
Last year thru my depression, I knew God wanted me to be more open to hurting, more willing to let Him hold me in the hurt, and less willing to cover my hurt with whatever addiction seemed to comfort me at the time. (like you said so beautifully-maybe He could hold my hand thru our journey, because my hand was empty)
So...I taped Jimmy Abegg's prayer (posted by you for new years) to my frig and I prayed it with candles lit around me and I desired it so strongly in my own life...until God answered it...and I wasn't singing and dancing! Having your deepest desires turn to nothingness left me sad, lonely, and feeling worthless, and I really didn't even want to talk to Jesus, let alone dance with Him.
So, your blog today meant so much to me. (I took the prayer off my frig for awhile-it's way too frightening!)I realize that although I want to come to Jesus empty-handed and need absolutely nothing but Him in my life, I'm not that mature yet. But right now I can say (I couldn't earlier this week)that I can at least look next to me and see that Jesus understands and is walking next to me-(I think He's got His arm around me for now).
I am crazy about you, Claudia. You help me to remember God's amazing love when i forget.
(the sun is shining on the snow right now in ann arbor-so look quickly!-it's beautiful, but you know it won't last long!)

seeker of truth said...

You write the way alot of us share at a level that 'if only' we all could....God uses people gifted like you to reach people.....continue to write and love Him....we need to hear it...

Heather Diane Tipton said...

Raga, you are a blessing to someone like me. The past year has been an interesting one for me. I’ve never been depressed like I have this last year. It wouldn’t stay for more than a week. But it would grab a hold and try drag me down. But at the same time, the Lord has been doing some amazing things in me this year. Which I think is the reason for the depression. I have never been a very emotional person, but this past year the Lord has been teaching me how to be. Which has made me more vulnerable. So while I may not know what you are going through I understand reaching out for His hand in the dark. Letting Him, lead on this journey is a very hard thing to do.

So anyways, all that to say that God has put a special gift in you. To be able to be as open, raw and laid bare like you do in your blog, is a blessing to me. To be able to watch you blog this journey that He has blessed you with is a blessing to me. To be able to see that I’m not the only one that God takes on a wonderfully, odd, hard, painful journey, is a blessing to me.
Keep seeking, Keep writing.

upwords said...

This year, I stumbled in the darkness and I found God, and I was born again. I christened my newborn self ragamuffin diva.
And I love God fiercely.

And I love you--fiercely.

Tears streaming,

Donna J. Shepherd said...

I am blessed to read the writings of the newborn Ragamuffin. You so eloquently convey the sense of helplessness. I feel so sad for that young man. Hard to understand, isn't it? One thing I know - I probably shouldn't study psychology - I don't want to know how I would test! Thanks for the read, and I pray your spirit has been lifted, and you get much needed rest. - Donna

violet said...

Raga, so sorry about the darkness...but glad God is with you there. Your writing remindes me of another writer who struggled with depression, poet Jane Kenyon. Here are some poems by her that say what you are saying in other ways: Notes From the Other Side and Having it Out With Melancholy, and my favorite, Let Evening Come.

Paula said...


I love you. I love the woman who bares all before the Lord. I love the woman who who fiercely loves and lives. I love the woman who fights and who surrenders, in both the sunshine and the dark. You are beautiful, Claudia. Our Lord is passionate about you. He is holding you in the darkness, even when you don't feel his arms. In you He is well-pleased. Believe His love. Let it set you free.

Anonymous said...


When God told me a while back that he was going to take care of this in me, I just took it in stride. With everything else that was going on it was an idea among many.

Later on I realized God was serious. I told him he was nuts. He said "Watch me." And I have been.

Watching isn't enough, of course. I have to live though this. Depression comes from a number of places and God has to sort out each one, make me aware of it, and then we do something about it. First the ones that would have ended my life early, and now the more serious, foundational areas.

I don't like the process. I wish God would just wave his magic wand and fix it. That's impossible; life got me into it and only by living can I get out of it. There are times when the abyss seems very close.

Or I get scared and run away. Eventually I come back because only God holds the limb I'm out on. Life without him is intolerable, even when life with him is painful.

Larry said...

Oops. I guess I wasn't logged in when I wrote the foregoing comment. That was me, Last Exit Larry, rather than the anonymous Anonymous.

markwashere said...

alright lady. i demand that you write more. i read surrender soon as it posted up, and i've been chagrinned each day you deny letting us in on your special revelations. so look. either you write something new? or me and my dirties are gon' stage a protest at ur blog and we might hatta burn somethin' down. now are you gonna give us what we want or do we gotta get ugly?

Jaime H. said...


I hold you in my prayers and love.



Roger said...

Love you sister! We have good friend who took on the name Blue after she became a real follower. She too, is a gifted writer....