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Suffering

Say Something

Say Something

The world is too much with us; late and soon. We are surrounded by suffering. It will follow us until we leave this earth. There is no cure while we are yet here. Grief is coming. To you. To me. To every single one of us. Over and over again, until the end. (I’m as […]

<i>Therefore I Have Hope:</i> The Blessed Assurance of an Objective Gospel

Therefore I Have Hope: The Blessed Assurance of an Objective Gospel

I remember the exact place where I was standing on campus at Ole Miss when my mom called with the news that Cameron Cole’s three-year-old son, Cam, had died. I don’t think I believed her at first. Surely, I had misheard what she said. There was just no way that this was happening. Why, God? […]

Chewing Tinfoil, Wanting God: Christian Wiman’s <i>He Held Radical Light</i>

Chewing Tinfoil, Wanting God: Christian Wiman’s He Held Radical Light

What is it we want when we can’t stop wanting? Christian Wiman’s new essays resist review. Reviews of art are always a strange effort, anyway. An exhibition of paintings or a play or a concert or a novel or a poem, all are experiences, experiences of difference—when our action is displaced but our hearts and […]

How to Deploy Survival Mode: Some Notes on Mental Health from the Ladies of Unmapped — Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips

This excerpt comes from Mockingbird’s latest publication, Unmapped: The (Mostly) True Story of How Two Women Lost at Sea Found Their Way Home, by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips. One of the many zingers from this spiritual memoir duet, the following passage finds the authors wrestling with anxiety and mental health issues…as related to the gospel:

The gospel gets a bad rap sometimes because it says you have to die before you can live. Which is a hard pill to swallow when you didn’t even want to take a pill in the first place.

Here’s how it goes: girl has anxiety. Girl gets tools to deal with it. Tools help. (Occasionally.) But girl ends up in a situation (usually involving failure, humiliation, menstruation, her children, all of these things, or NONE OF THEM) in which she ends up feeling totally defeated by her anxiety; we mean, crushed. All hope appears lost. She thinks she will never get better. She can’t bear to think about the looks she will get when everyone sees she’s STILL a mess. She thinks she will actually die. None of the techniques help. She is drowning, and she cannot breathe. She is sinking, sinking, sinking…and everything goes dark.

Awful, right? Like, Shakespearean tragedy-awful. Except there’s this other thing—death—and it relies not at all on the sinking girl, but on her being miraculously and improbably revived by something [Someone] entirely separate from herself. No strategy, no implementation, just plain being lifted up out of the depth of despair and placed atop some blessed rock. Death, but then…resurrection. See what we’re getting at here?

We know it’s not as simple as a granted wish. We know there’s a whole lot of fist shaking, swearing into the sky, and despair. But it took Jesus himself three days, people. Settle in: this may take a while. Chances are, we’re probably going to be staring that bastard (mental dysfunction) in the face off-and-on our whole lives until we arrive at that beautiful buffet in the sky, where there’s endless white bread and the bill is already paid. But God is right with us. The ultimate hope—for us, for our kids when we fail them, for our friends when we hurt them, for our marriages when we flounder, for our jobs when we blow it—is in the throes of death that transform into the pangs of new life.

Drown, resuscitate, repeat. Fail, get forgiven, go again. Despair, hope, defeat, redemption, over and over, until one day you wake up and you realize you’re still anxious, but you see it more clearly, for the cloudy lens it is, and you know—even though you’re not there yet, because TODAY IS A DOOZY—you know that you’re going to be okay. Ultimately, you will be whole. And you’re headed there. So you breathe, and you put one foot in front of the other while recognizing that you’re actually being carried. And your anxiety hasn’t disappeared; nope, it’s still following you around like a hot, wet rag someone keeps chucking at your face, but you’re no longer a table for two. You’ve got company, and it looks strangely like a lifeboat with all the provisions onboard (see what we did there?). You settle in, and soon other passengers come aboard your lifeboat, so you open a bottle of wine and hold hands and breathe together, everyone facing the same direction.

Of Millstones

Of Millstones

One of the most stark and terrifying verses in all of the world’s religions is attributed to Jesus not once, nor twice, but three times identically in three different gospels: “Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if he were thrown into […]

The Great Things We’ll Accomplish in the Grave

The Great Things We’ll Accomplish in the Grave

We’ve all had influential people in our lives who remain unaware of the impact they had on us. An elementary school teacher who inspired us to dedicate our lives to educating others. An older friend of our family whose kindness and generosity we’ve tried to emulate. Maybe it’s a random stranger who, like a guardian […]

I Am Not Better Than John McCain: I Am Worse (and You Might Be Too)

I Am Not Better Than John McCain: I Am Worse (and You Might Be Too)

Inevitably, when a figure who is much beloved by some–but not by all–dies, we are reminded of our opinion of that person. In our current cultural moment, this also means that by God we are going to share that opinion. In its most recent iteration, the death of Senator John McCain sparked an Opinion Fest […]

A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction

A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction

Author’s note: Over the past several months I’ve been asked the same question by multiple people, all in a very particular way. In the middle of a conversation, they will suddenly ask, “Who are you?” It’s not phrased in a demeaning way, but definitely with a politely confused inflection. My life doesn’t quite add up to them, and I […]

Can Jordan Peterson Walk Away from Omelas?

Can Jordan Peterson Walk Away from Omelas?

Full disclosure: the point of this article is to get clicks. Lots of clicks. Because, love him or hate him, the Canadian psychology professor and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson gets clicks. And despite all our talk at Mockingbird about not keeping score, Google Analytics is real and we are sinners and clicks are the currency […]

The Jeffersonian Ideal and the Unexpected Solution to Racism

The Jeffersonian Ideal and the Unexpected Solution to Racism

As you may know, Mockingbird HQ is situated here in happy, wealthy, intellectual, pastoral Charlottesville, Virginia. When I moved to Charlottesville for college almost 15 years ago, it was considered “America’s Happiest City” and one of the best places in America to raise a family. It still is. For this reason, and others, there is a […]

After Suicide

After Suicide

This one comes to us from Faith Perry. Hi, my name is Faith. I’m in Room 22. Today I’m feeling anxious and confused. My goal for the day is to get the most out of groups.” “Faith. Faith is feeling anxious and confused. Her goal for today is to get the most out of the […]

Charlottesville and Suffering: The Best Church Retreat I Ever Did

Charlottesville and Suffering: The Best Church Retreat I Ever Did

Last year, in late August, we began to hear that a storm was headed for our community. They were not sure what the extent of the flooding might look like, only that it was possible. My husband and I met during Hurricane Katrina, and I did relief work in the months that followed. I knew […]