As a photographer, sometimes what you see at the moment isn’t the same thing you see in an image later. Wandering around some of the “white towns” in southern Spain there are hundreds of windows and doors to capture. I love finding an interesting window that is different than the myriad of others. This one stands out because of the detail of the wrought iron and how the sun creates a attractive shadow because of the angle of the iron work. It is a pleasant window to be sure.
But what I have come to think of this image later is quite a different and deeper picture. It strikes a chord with me as a depression overcomer. Depression is insidious, lurking inside and wreaking havoc while there is a somewhat normal face on the outside. No one knows the pain going on inside, unless we tell someone. So we can have something beautiful on the outside, but inside it feels like a prison. Like in this photo, how would someone possibly get out? The iron work is sort of intended to keep people out, but it doubly keeps people in. So how can we who live with depression try and hold on to hope when we feel like we live in a prison?
A couple things come to mind. When you have lived under the cloud of depression and anxiety, you feel like you will never get better…like there will never be a normal again. I know that full well. But I did come through and finally came out from under the cloud, and I hope you will too. Try to cling to a truth that this is a season, and that season will have an end. You can make it through. Like in a previous post I mentioned a Psalm in the Old Testament that spoke of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Keep walking, doing the things that others have told us can help: counseling, trying to get enough sleep, medications have worked for many of us, having constructive distractions like exercise or creating art. But keep taking steps forward. You won’t get out of the valley without taking one step after the other, even if you don’t know when you will exit.
A second encouragement. I want to remind you that there is a sky out there. We can get so focused on the fact that we feel in a prison that we start forgetting there is something to look at outside…noteworthy things. Birds in migration, sunsets, violent clouds, bright sunlight, sunrises…even smells and sounds are out there. You may have to actively remind yourself to look out the window. It’s tempting to let the lack of hope we feel be the louder voice and keep us looking only inward. When we only look inward we live prison bound. When we look out, we are actively seek out hope and longing. Longing is essential to eventually get out of the prison. Longing propels us forward. Without longing there is just looking at the walls of our circumstances. We need hope.
There is one small aspect of this photo that stands out to me in some subliminal way. There is a little lamp on the left side. That little lamp illumines a spiritual image. You may only see the lamp’s effect when the skies are dark. But there is a sentence in the Bible that gives me much comfort. In Psalm 119:105 the writer pens, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” We don’t know where our paths will always lead in life. Sometimes the path goes through the wilderness, or a deep valley, or something magnificent. Sometimes the path is easy to see, sometimes it feels impossible to even find. For me, I’m glad there is someone who can walk with me through my difficult times, and even give light to my path so I will know where to go. The whole path isn’t lit, but the next step or two is. And sometimes that is enough.