At a wedding recently, I saw the groom standing with the most funereal look on his face. “Happiest day of his life,” I whispered to the person next to me. More than likely, this guy was just trying to keep it all together, but his expression said, “I’d rather be getting a root canal right now.”
For many humans, our natural expression, our natural emotion is not happiness. Why else would people who are taking our pictures have to so constantly remind us to “smile.” This is why I invested a dozen or so entries in taking apart Psalm 118:24 recently.
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I wrote about the verbs and the nouns and the pronouns. I camped out on that verse for hours over the last couple of weeks. And here’s the weird thing: as I wrote about the necessity of rejoicing and being glad, I found myself bouncing along on the pot-hole-strewn road of depression.
What was wrong? What, as my father used to ask, “did I have to be depressed about?” In reality, I had nothing particular to fuel my depression. During those weeks, spring erupted in Kansas City. A new grandchild arrived in our life. My job is steady; my bank account healthy. My relationships have been stable, and nothing unusual has come my way to throw a monkey wrench into my mood. So what was wrong?
Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about go-to-the-doctor-and-start-Prozac depression. It hasn’t been friends-hide-all-the-knives depression. I’ve seen that in people, and I don’t trivialize it. No, this was just a general down season, perhaps what Jimmy Carter referred to as a “malaise.”
How could I remain down, not only knowing that “This is the day the Lord has made” but dwelling on that verse as a whole and in its parts nearly every day for two weeks? It doesn’t make sense, but then this is the human mind we’re discussing.
In trying to understand my feelings, I’ve had Psalm 119:14 pop into my head:
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Over these weeks, I do believe that the words of my mouth (and my keyboard) have been acceptable to God, but I don’t know that I can say the same for the meditation of my heart. Yes, my head ran over Psalm 118:24, analyzing it to within an inch of its life, but for all that analysis, did I do the thing that I had hoped this entire project would accomplish? Did I implant not just its words but its meaning, its profundity into my heart?
Although I thought I was done with that verse, I believe I might camp out on it for a couple more days. Hopefully, as I fully process its depths, I can chase the blues from my life.