I met the my friend for breakfast as we normally do. We are slowly building a friendship meeting bi-weekly, having good conversations about life. We come from different backgrounds but seek the peace of God in our lives. We are weary travelers on the road of life, and it’s a pleasure to have someone walk a few miles alongside.
This day I didn’t feel like talking. I wanted to complain. Please do not think that pastors don’t go through times of depression, anger, discouragement and disappointment. If a pastor tells you he doesn’t, either he is lying or he has not been in the position long enough. So, complain I did.
My friend is a talker. It’s his nature. After he commented that I seemed tired and asked how I was, he sat and listened. For the next 10 to 15 minutes, he said very little. I actually stopped once thinking he wanted to interject some sort of wisdom. Instead he sat there with the strangest grin on his face. So, I continued to clearly let him know where I was, and I was not in a good place. The sheep were winning. This shepherd was not happy. By the way, “happy” is one of the least used words in the Bible. Probably because our state of happiness is based on circumstances not internal peace.
I don’t know if I was testing my new friend to see how far I could go till he either would try to fix me (please don’t try), or placate me with trite sayings, or use out of text Bible verses. Regardless, he didn’t do any of those relationship killers. Instead, he listened well. HIs first statement was true as he pointed out, “You seem depressed and angry. You know they often go together.” He was dead on.
At that point I expected him to start the “fix it” or tell me about what he would do. We all do that a lot. What works for one person is not necessarily, and, actually I will say seldom, is the recipe for anyone else. That’s the major problem with self-help books. We all have different baggage, interpretive lenses, and family histories. What is really happening at those times is the shifting of attention to ourselves.
Instead, my friend asked me if he could tell me about the time he was institutionalized with a Jesus fixation. It was more than a Jesus fixation. He actually believed he was Jesus incarnate. Yes, he had a mental illness. I was not sure where he was going with this one but we continued walking together.
He told me about his thought patterns. When one really believes he is Jesus and nobody will listen, depression and anger hitch a ride. Meanwhile, when one thinks he is Jesus coming off his “rightness” doesn’t happen. Everybody else is wrong. They have to be; they aren’t Jesus. It went on for a few minutes, not real long.
At first I was thinking, what does this have to do with anything. We have talked about this before. I began to hear instead of listen, or do I have that one backwards? He began to talk about taking on a self-induced suffering since no one would come along with him. It was at that point the Holy Spirit clued me in. Suddenly, I was massively humbled. I got it. I didn’t like it but I got it.
It isn’t only the mentally ill who may have problems with thinking they are Jesus. It’s all of us. I’ve heard people say, “We all want to be god.” Only the word “god” is too generic. The name “Jesus” puts skin on it. Let’s face it, when life isn’t going the way we want it to go, we become complainers. If no one listens, we can easily become angry. If nothing happens, we can slip into an anger-induced depression. Why? It’s not because I want God to do things my way. It’s because I want to be Jesus. I want to be right. I want people to respond to “ME!” I want things to go my way. If they don’t, I will self-inflict “poor pitiful me” suffering to prove I am who I claim to be. We all do this, only we don’t want to acknowledge it.
When Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, the sin goes much deeper then we think. And Jesus keeps pouring out his grace over and over and over. Good thing he is the real Jesus and not me or you.

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