Tonight we were at a monthly meeting for songwriters that we have with some people in our church worship arts department. My wife and I are active members in our church choir, up in front of people every week, smiling and singing and weeping and whatever else happens in the worship service each week. You would think, considering the mood I've been in for some time, that the "weeping" part would come much more easily to me than the "rejoicing" part, but the fact is that I've had no trouble worshiping God joyfully in all this. In fact, worship times at church are almost the only thing I still have some enthusiasm for... most everything else I'm just like, meh.
Anyway, so here I am at home. My almost-eight-year-old son has been put to bed (he was grouchy because it's late), and my baby went to bed a few minutes ago with my wife. I'm all alone here in the living room, and the empty feeling has rushed back on me. Tonight as we were with friends, singing our songs (I sang two of mine which are both pretty ballads) and visiting and having a good time, I didn't notice it as much, although it was still there if I thought about it. But now alone, here it is again.
You might wonder how I could possibly write anything except melancholy stuff in the state I'm in. Well... keep in mind that I don't feel the weight of depression 100% of the time. There are times (especially during church services) when it lifts somewhat and I get a breath of fresh air. And things that are true are true always, whether I'm feeling numb about them or not. The only problem the moods are causing... okay, maybe this is two related problems... is that I've started second-guessing my own lyrics because I'm afraid I'm writing my depression into them, and I lose confidence in and enthusiasm for my own new songs within days of writing them. An example of the first: in one of the songs I wrote tonight there is a line, sung to God, that says "Only You can cure what I've got." The line is a pretty straightforward thought about salvation/redemption/spiritual healing, that sort of thing. But I keep wondering if I subconsciously wrote my own depression into the song. Seems like I'm taking my lyrics a little too personally, as if I'm reading my own mail to people. Personal lyrics are a good thing, but I almost feel like I'm invading my own privacy.
My recent lyrics, particularly the two songs I sang tonight, have frankly been some of my best-ever work. On one level, I guess an intellectual level, I'm very proud of them. On an emotional level, I'm so not-emoting that I don't really know how I feel about them. I can't tell if I feel happy with them or not. I don't really feel happy about much of anything.
I haven't really written a song that is specifically about being depressed. I did read a book by Michael Card about a year or so ago that had a section about songs of lament, noting how many of those are in the Bible and wondering if there isn't a real void in the art within the modern church that can be filled by them. So maybe I should write something about my depression. I probably will, although it probably won't be tonight. :) I did start a song a few weeks ago when Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman passed away, and if I had known then what I know now about clinical depression, reading my own lyrics then would have set off the alarms:
Another brother has taken flightThat was intended as the first verse, with the chorus ending with the line "If I could be where he is." The idea was to write a song about the longing every Christian has to be with God. It came off sounding almost suicidal, now that I look back at it. I wrote that on February 25, which was almost five weeks ago. I didn't realize I had been that bad off for that long.
Present in a world of endless light
Absent from a world of creeping black
One-way ticket, no flight back
Standing against the evil tide
With all my loved ones by my side
I'm a fortunate man, a favored son
Still, I'll be glad when my time has come
Start with the first post in this series here, or continue with the next post here.