2020 has almost come to an end, but its effect on us does not appear to be letting up. I seem to feel tired no matter how much I rest, and heavy. I miss people, and the tight hugs we once gave each other every Sunday between gentle mutters of “peace.” We have shown immense creativity in staying connected to one another this year, but I have personally still had to wrestle with inevitable bouts of depression. In the absence of the usual company of friends, my depression has been my most consistent house guest. A gifted, pathological liar, it weaves through my brain, and whispers chillingly into my ear, “You are alone.” Friends, have you also been visited by such an unwelcome guest this year?
Without the usual company of other people to quiet these voices, I’ve found myself looking for validation in projects, work, research, anything that might show tangible proof that I am worth something. I just completed my final exams for this semester, and my depression became the study partner whom I never invited to the study session, and yet still showed up with a cacophony of distractions and zero snacks. Despite hours of writing, reading, and studying, I became convinced that my work would never be good enough. For whom am I trying to be good enough?
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for [the Lord] has looked with favor on the lowliness of [God’s] servant.
I was raised in a church tradition which focused very little on Mary’s story, not because there was anything wrong with Mary, per se, but rather because that was a “Catholic thing,” and the Catholics were all going to hell. But after I realized I would be joining the Catholics for being queer, I began to research more of Mary’s story.
Of the Magnificat, the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber writes that Mary “didn’t say that God looked with favor on her virtue. She didn’t say that God looked with favor on the fact that she had tried so hard that she finally had become the ideal version of herself. No. God looked with favor on her lowliness.”
This year has been so difficult, meeting deadlines, nothing seems to work out, we don’t have each other near to quiet the voices in our head which try to convince us that we are the worst version of ourselves. And here in this story, God has found Mary at her lowest and said, “You are worthy, loved, capable, resilient.”
Friends, if you find the whispers of depression in your ear, may you drown them out with Mary’s song, for as Nadia Bolz-Weber said, it is “our humility, not our strength and our so-called virtues where God does God’s very best work.”
Check out “Just Throwing It Out There (Christmas Edition)” by Nadia Bolz-Weber https://nadiabolzweber.substack.com/p/just-throwing-it-out-there-christmas