I've made no secret here about my struggles with depression. When you have depression, even little things can set you off in a downward spiral, and my kryptonite has been my sports teams. I know it's just a game, but when my teams are doing poorly, it brings me down. A few years ago, in the midst of a downhill moment, my Pittsburgh Steelers ended their season with a heartbreaking playoff loss that sent me into such a funk, it took Heavenly intervention to finally bring me out of it.
A day like today is another example of this, though to a much lesser extent. The Steelers, who were riding high with their powerful offensive team, and a recovering defense, lost their ace quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, to a severe knee injury. Football is a violent sport (too violent, if you ask me), and injuries like this happen. But the fallout is that this could completely derail the Steelers season. "Big Ben" will be out at least for the next four weeks, and if an MRI tomorrow reveals more damage, he may miss the whole season.
I'm not the football fan I once was. The violence outside of the game, given the lifestyles and money the players live with, is sickening to me. The Ray Rice situation from last season, with him physically abusing his wife in an elevator, completely turned me off to the game, and was a horrifying example of the violent lives many, though not all, of the players choose to live in, and how far outside the law many of them are. When the commissioner of the National Football League, who's the judge, jury, and executioner of the players when things like this occur, can't differentiate between abuse and cheating, the league becomes a joke and the fans lose respect and interest. That's where I am. Some habits are hard to completely break, however, and my interest in the Steelers is still there. Despite my disappointment in the cheating scandal with Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, and the stupidity of players who figure they can use marijuana without consequences and then get suspended, I still care about the success of my team. And their success took a major blow with Ben's injury today.
That takes me to the Pittsburgh Pirates professional baseball club. The Pirates are in the midst of their third straight playoff season after 20 years of losing. Read that again. 20 years! That is a record for ALL professional sports teams in North America. It was 1992 when the Pirates last had a winning season before "The Streak" began, and though you might think I would lost interest in baseball, or at least in the Pirates, I remained hopeful every season that they might just break out of it. So, this year, the Pirates, my beloved Bucs, are finishing up a really successful season, one where they currently have the 2nd best record in Major League Baseball. That's just incredible to me. And that's where my hope is right now. It's what keeps me from dropping completely into a depressed state.
This hope is barely comparable to the hope Christ-followers have in our Savior. It may be hard to realize if you're not a follower of Christ, but it is an incredible feeling to know that the love that comes from Jesus, who died to save everyone, and you only need to open your heart to Him to receive this gift of eternal life, is enough to sustain us. And while I struggle with depression, I know deep down that Jesus is there for me.
I'm such a poor witness for my faith. You would think that Christ-followers wouldn't have any worry at all, and while much of what I worry about is just something created in my mind, there is a real struggle that takes place with depression. My battle is rooted in the grief that I feel from the loss of my wife. She passed away in 2004 from a massive heart attack resulting from complications from Mitral Valve Prolapse and an enlarged heart. Her death was sudden, and she left me to raise my 5-month old daughter alone. And I've struggled ever since.
I recently read a blog post from a man named John Pavlovitz who said almost perfectly what I've been feeling. I don't necessarily agree with everything he posts on his blog, but there's enough common ground, mostly through the grief that we share and the love we have for Christ, that I find his writing worth reading. Here's the LINK.
My reason for sharing all of this is to let you know that, even when everything seems hopeless, or when you're at your wit's end, or that you're feeling like it's the end of the world and you can't go on, there will always be Jesus. There's always hope in Him.
Have a great week, everyone!