Tuesday, January 15, 2019
The triumph of the subjective. . .
I was reading the story of one person's battle with depression and he insisted that one of the paths to his healing was to distrust his subjective experience -- to dethrone the god of pleasure, want, and desire. After all, in the life he was living, nothing ever “sounded like fun” (that’s the nature of depression) and so he began to look beyond what things sounded like and past his immediate wants or desires and force himself to do things he did not want to do. In the end, he discovered that looking beyond the realm of his subjective experience and desire was the release to the prison of depression that had even cause his hospitalization.
In another article, the author said that depression tended to be shown in an abundance of sentences that began with I think, I feel, or I want (or do not want). This author, a therapeutic counselor to those depressed, also noticed an abundance of expressions that included words like never or always. These absolutes tended to inflate and exaggerate the negative feelings and only compound their impact in stealing ever semblance of joy or contentment.
The life turned inward is not a full or free life but one in which bondage to feelings and the search for happiness empties the soul and does not fill it. Yet this is the epidemic we face as a world abandons an external and objective truth in favor of feelings and desires and a flexible value systems that does not filter or judge either except to excuse, justify, and elevate them as the supreme focus of life.
This is not without application to the faith. Christian faith which turns from the objective of Christ incarnate, crucified, and risen and to the realm of feelings and experience is a faith emptied of its power and promise to the hurting and to those living in the shadow of death. If faith is to offer our world any real hope, it must begin with the confrontation of the subjective and the affirmation of the objective, with the surrender of our lives and our stories to the one life and one story that has the power to redeem our lost lives and restore the right relationship with our blessed Creator through the merits and mercies of His Son, our Savior. This work is the work of the Spirit, to make Christ known and to teach our fearful hearts to turn away from the dead end of introspection and to the path of trust in Christ alone.
Christianity does not begin nor does it end with the preoccupation with of the inner life. The Christian faith begins with the objective truth of the death and resurrection of Christ. That transcendent reality is both a point in history and time attested to by the testimony of witnesses and the point of faith born of the witness of the Spirit to things we have not seen and yet believe. Regardless of our subjective questions, feelings, and experience, the concrete reality of Christ’s death and resurrection remains. This is where hope and healing begin.