Becoming New

Every time I experience a depressive episode, something dies. Sometimes I have lost things I would have preferred to keep – a sense of hope, a faith I recognize, friends, ideals about relationship, a secure understanding of myself. Other times, I lose things that needed to go anyway – beliefs that weren’t working for me, inaccurate perceptions of myself and others, unrealistic ideals about what I should be able to do, or unsupportive individuals. But this loss never feels good. It’s never invited. And it’s never the way I would have preferred it.

The good news in this is that my faith suggests that with death also comes the potential for resurrection. That despair is not the final word, and there are opportunities for nothing less than life after death. For me, this is the gospel. This is the good news of Christianity. That God can find life in the midst of death.

empty tomb1

The New Testament writer Paul encouraged the nascent Christian community at Corinth with words about being a new creation:

Therefore if any woman be in Christ, she is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

While it may be the cycles of my own bipolar that give me hope in this rhythm, I imagine that this may be possible for many people – those of us who live with depressive conditions, and those of us who do not. That we die many deaths in our own personal evolutions, and we have the chance to become something new.

This core understanding is affirmed by my theological orientation. I firmly believe that God calls us to something new without determining what it will be. In this sense, we are more than puppets in the hands of God with complete foreknowledge. Nor are we determined to repeat our pasts again and again. Still I have questions:

How does this work? This becoming new. And what will this new thing, the new me, be?

This is where I am now. I am releasing grief and loss, addressing physical pain and personal disappointment and excited – eager, even – about becoming new. But I don’t know how it’s going to end up.

And I hate it. I’m a planner. A doer, a fixer. It comes with that type-A personality. I want to be involved in the discovery process – organize it, lay it out in my planner and get about this business of becoming new.

I know it doesn’t work that way. I didn’t die in an instant, and my rebirth will be a process. I can’t see what’s ahead of me. Figuring out who I will be is a groping in the dark.

I’m not completely passive. I’m learning more about myself by paying attention to my body, trusting my friends more deeply, reducing distractions and breathing a little more deeply. I try to read books and blogs that address the details of my current situation. I seek advice from folk who have been on similar paths.

Still there’s never much detail about how this resurrecting thing works. And it’s wholly possible that like a post-resurrection Jesus, I’ll have some permanent scars and my friends won’t immediately recognize me.

Tenacity to the process seems to be the only thing I can grasp tightly. That faith is believing that there is something new and worthwhile on the other side of loss. I think I learned this as a child in church when I heard the congregation break out into song after a testimony period:

Believe I’ma run on to see what the end is gonna be

 

 

 

 

 

Book Monica A. Coleman to speak at your event.

Monica speaks with heart and vulnerability as she discusses some of the most challenging issues of our day. She speaks out on issues that churches and society often keep silent: mental health, sexual and domestic violence and religious diversity. In the pulpit, she offers a refreshing view of how scripture leads us to community and social action. In academic lectures, she blends her knowledge of religion, cultural studies and literature with social issues to offer new visions of faith. In every setting, she shows audiences how our faith can free us to be more and more of who and how God calls us to be.

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Book Monica A. Coleman to speak at your event.

Monica speaks with heart and vulnerability as she discusses some of the most challenging issues of our day. She speaks out on issues that churches and society often keep silent: mental health, sexual and domestic violence and religious diversity. In the pulpit, she offers a refreshing view of how scripture leads us to community and social action. In academic lectures, she blends her knowledge of religion, cultural studies and literature with social issues to offer new visions of faith. In every setting, she shows audiences how our faith can free us to be more and more of who and how God calls us to be.

Read More