I recently read a post from a friend asking for prayers and positive energy. He took the courageous step of publicly asking for help with his lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety. As someone who also struggles with this wicked cocktail–served as PTSD–I know how crafty and cunning the demons of depression and anxiety can be. I know the shame I have felt for wrestling with and living with these demons. I know how hard I’ve fought to conquer these foes only to be reminded that they live with me. I know I have not written about this struggle because simply seeing the words in black and white makes these demons real.
Intellectually, I know naming them is the best way to disperse their power. But somehow, their voices seem to drown out the still-small voice that whispers, “You are not alone. You are God’s beloved. You, with all your foibles and faults, are worthy.” Perhaps people who haven’t wrestled with these demons can’t comprehend the courage it takes to break the isolation and ask for help. Perhaps people who haven’t traveled regularly with these demons can’t comprehend the challenge it is to admit you’re not making it. Perhaps that’s why we have trouble understanding Jesus and demons.
These stories don’t make rational sense. That’s the thing about demons. They aren’t rational. But just because something isn’t rational, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Jesus seemed to intuitively understand this. From his encounter with the man with the unclean spirit or the Gerasene demoniac, Jesus doesn’t shy away from the power of these demons. Nor does he deny them. He names the reality, and once the reality is named, the power of the demons shrinks.
Today I speak out to honor a friend who has reached out for help. I speak to name the demons with whom so many people silently struggle. May speaking their names shatter the power our silence grants.