By Jorden Blucher, Contributor
With all that has been going on in the world lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the light in the gloom. The silver lining is a more common way to put it, but light in the gloom seems more fitting to me as a follower of Jesus. Unfortunately, whether we believe in a god or not we often miss the light, because we are so focused on the gloom.
In 1996 my friend Jarrod was killed in a car accident a week after we graduated from high school. On the morning before his death, I spoke to him on the phone and had planned to go meet him at his work. I never made it, and he was killed as he was leaving. At the emergency department, I, Jarrod’s girlfriend, and another friend somehow persuaded a nurse to let us see his body. We made it as far as the green line by the door, in clear view of his body on the steel ER table.
Almost exactly a year earlier, I had become a father to a son, and now I was a witness to a life lost. My life plans on that day in 1996 were shaky at best, and emotionally I was a lost soul. In the moments after seeing Jarrod’s body, I became completely unmoored and spent the next several years angry at everything and desperate to find understanding and my place in the world.
Jarrod was non-judgmental, empathetic, and compassionate beyond his years. The reason we became friends was that the year prior he was worried about me, he saw that I was struggling and he wanted to help. Since Jarrod’s death, I have tried to learn from his non-judgmental ways with varying degrees of success. All the while I’ve struggled with why he was taken so young. What was God’s plan in all of this?
It is most likely that I’ve suffered from depression all of my life, but I was not officially diagnosed until 2009 after I was laid off from my job as a creative director of a living history park by my embezzling boss, who needed more money for his secret cattle business. The last two years have been the hardest I’ve ever experienced in terms of my depression. When I reread my journals from this time I shudder at how dark a place I was in. At one point, my wife Erin told me she was worried that one day I would go for a walk and she would then find me hanging from a tree.
Amid this darkness, I came to realize that in his death, Jarrod has been instrumental in keeping me alive. I feel incredibly selfish and slightly ridiculous writing that, but knowing the type of pain I would inflict on my family and loved ones if I were to end my suffering has kept me safe. This in turn has allowed me to make monumental gains in coping with my depression and I am now in a far better place.
I’ve been a stay-at-home-dad since that embezzling boss let me go on a Monday morning eleven years ago. I am not bitter about that incident, not anymore. Rather, I am beyond grateful, despite all the times I stomped around the house insisting that I needed to get a job. Eventually, I came to understand that I was right where God wanted me to be.
Recently, though, I stepped into a business opportunity that was interesting and flexible enough for me to want to try out. Unfortunately, it did not work out, but in the time that I did try to make it work, I became friends with someone who had formerly been an acquaintance. One day, when he stopped by to talk about a weekly men’s group I help facilitate at Charlotte Congregational Church–a group that has been instrumental in my wellbeing over these past eight months–our conversation turned to some personal issue he was having. We talked for some time standing there in the warm fall sun, and when he left, I realized that my foray back into the working world was not meant to make me buckets of money. Instead, it had been God’s plan for the two of us to build our friendship so that we could help each other.
Finding the light in the everyday is so important to our wellbeing and something many of us have forgotten how to do. Sometimes, the light comes from something monumental that happened years before, and sometimes it is right in front of us in the moment. Regardless of how or when it arrives, we should all be grateful for the light, no matter how faint, that cuts through the gloom.
Hold fast. Slow yourself down. Unshackle the joy.
Jorden Blucher is a stay-at-home-dad who writes a weekly blog about the nuances of life and his journey with depression.