As one who’s wrestled with depression since early adolescence, there has been a lot of darkness in my life.  It’s like a dark pit I sometimes fall into, a beast stalking me in the deep jungle, a heavy cloud that obscures the sun and everything that might be illuminated by it.


I’ve learned what helps: quiet walks, slow breathing, long baths, gentle music.  People, often.  The tender, trusted ones.  The ones whose judgment I don’t fear.


Is the Light in those things?  Is the Light in the amber sky that spreads over Portland as I drift along the sidewalk?  Is it in the jeweled sounds of piano keys filling my old apartment?  Maybe.  Probably.


There was one season in my life when the darkness went on and on, and it was during that time that I felt the Light most directly.  It was the winter and spring of 2008.  In February, Matty changed his mind or got honest or whatever it was, and he concluded that he didn’t believe the Christ story after all.  He’d spent a few months inquiring and then several months trying it on for size, and in the end, he just couldn’t swallow it.  So he was giving it up.  Donezo.


This all unraveled moments after we sat down with burritos at a little place in downtown Eugene.  I remember that I couldn’t eat.  I remember our tears on the drive home.  I remember lying in the back of the Vanagon and closing my eyes against all of it as Matty faced forward, driving us back to Portland.


When we returned to my apartment in Sellwood, we sat at the dining room table and just sobbed.  There wasn’t much discussion; we’d known for all nine months of our dating that we wouldn’t continue as a couple if we weren’t like-minded, if we weren’t on the same page.  The decision was made.


The days that followed were brutal.  I cried every morning when I woke, on the drive to work, on the drive home.  I stumbled through the spring of my first year as a high school English teacher, and I limped through my hours away from work.  What would have been a crushing situation for anyone also served as an open door for the beast of depression to clamp down on my life.  It felt like everything was collapsing around me.  I was exhausted by the darkness.


One Saturday afternoon, I pivoted my couch so that it was facing the living room wall with the largest window.  I pushed it all the way up to the wall, so I had to climb over the arm to get onto it.  I stared out the window with my Bible and journal in hand, aiming to try again to make sense of this loss.  I never opened either book.  Instead, I wilted onto the couch and pulled a blanket over my tired body.  As I lay there, depleted and fragile, the light from the window enveloped me.  I closed my eyes and released myself to the moment.  Slowly, the sensation of warmth gave way to a feeling of kindness, benevolence.  I was wrapped in the tender love of Christ, and I sensed that He longed to comfort me with His Light.  I sensed Him conveying that my heart mattered to Him, that He loved me dearly, and that it would be all right.


And, of course, it was.  Eventually.  Several months of pain and confusion still lay before me, but I found my way, and Matty and I found our way together.  It is striking to me that Matty’s love so closely resembles the caring Light I experienced in my apartment years ago, and that having been wrapped in it for years now, I experience the darkness of depression almost never.


—Amanda McDermott