Friday, September 16, 2011

My "Existentialist" Past

I was on the train on my way home one lovely afternoon and yet I felt a little gloomy inside for no apparent reason. I don't know if you can relate with such sadness and gloom that seem to come from nowhere? I've had those "depressive symptoms" since my teenage years. As I was sitting there on that train, my thoughts suddenly was on king Solomon of the Old Testament Bible. God made him the wisest person that ever lived on earth and yet he was also one of the loneliest. He was often said to have had depressive thoughts. Have you ever tried reading the book of Ecclesiastes? Some people would argue that the author of this book was not Solomon but Bible scholars have compelling proofs that in fact it was the wise king who wrote it.

It's somewhat of a depressing book so consequently and understandably enough it's not very popular nor well-read either. It's one of my favorite books in the Bible though. Somehow I can relate to some of king Solomon's "ranting" as recorded in that book. It seemed like he always managed to see the end to everything instead of seeing the hope or to look for the "light at the end of the tunnel." All he saw and what he witnessed in this world was just plain vanity in everything. "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?" -Ecclesiastes 1:2-3

I used to have dark thoughts when I was younger. There was like a perpetual "dark cloud" that hovered in my midst. I didn't know what it was and I never sought help to understand what I was going through. I honestly thought it was the "normal" way to feel. I've never talked about it until I met my husband and after Jesus found me and saved me. I've found out that talking about "hidden" things in your life to people you love and trust is "therapeutic." When we confess and bring "secrets" out from our past we allow God to bring His Light into it and we take away Satan's foothold from that part of our life. That's when God's perfect healing really begins. "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." -2 Corinthians 4:1-2

Looking back now, I know God's protection covered me all throughout those years. Since the time I was conceived I knew He was with me. He had plans for me and my future. I remember having a "mini breakdown" during my freshman year in college but at that time I didn't understand what it was, I had no name for it. I just remember feeling so gravely sad and I tire easily for no reason. My parents probably thought I was just being a normal teenager. My body was lethargic at times but my mind was reeling and burning with dark, deep, bleak thoughts about human existence, questions about life in general, and the purpose of man. Why was I born? What am I here for? After death, do I float into emptiness with no memory of this life or do I go some place real? My mind was filled with these "loaded" questions of nothingness, void, and the dismal abyss of the unknown. I do understand now that these are not normal thoughts for a 15-year old.

That was the time when I was drawn to the philosophy of existentialism. I began searching for books about it. I devoured writings of Soren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre, names of which I beg your children to stay away, far away. There are endless books about this philosophy which shouldn't be in the hands of a "troubled" teenager in the first place but I found them all right, and I did read them. They made "sense" to my young mind although they never answered my questions and they never took away the angst I felt inside. Those existentialist writings only deepened the hole in my heart and the gap that seemed to divide my physical existence from my own soul.

I know now that I was treading on dangerous territory then. I remember thinking that if I opened up and confide in my family and my friends, I was so sure they would laugh at my "craziness." I do realize now that those fears of rejection and of being misunderstood were totally unfounded but to the mind of a teenager, it's for real. Sometimes imagined fears and assumed outcome are more real to a young mind than what the reality is. That's why a solid foundation on God and His Truth is the most essential "Rock" a child can have as early as possible. It's already a scary world out there and when we leave our children unsupervised even with their own thoughts and in their impressions of life, it can be a very volatile combination. I thank God for protecting and saving me. I loved Him because He first loved me and the Bible confirms this truth. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us." -1 John 4:18-19

In case you're wondering, existentialism is the philosophy which says that human existence is the beginning and the core to everything that happens in life. It says that after a person is born, he now therefore "exists" and he must make choices in life that will be the essence of who he will be. Even the existence or the non-existence of God is based on that person's decision. This philosophy completely sets aside rational evidence from science, math and other logical studies. In a nutshell, it believes that a person is solely responsible for what happens in his life based on his choices, decisions, experiences and beliefs. I used to believe in these things but what anguish and more dread it brought to my heart! When God showed me His truth from the Scriptures, I look back and just shake my head at my own foolishness. I used to believe in such "existentialist hopelessness" and I thank God everyday for saving me and taking me out of that bottomless mire! Praise the Lord indeed!

Even king Solomon in his dire sorrows saw that there is only one way out of hopelessness and despair - God! "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." -Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3:11, 12:13-14


  1. Isn't it amazing what the pasts God delivers us from? Sometimes He even protects us from things we don't even see. There is so much untruth trying to deceive us, so glad God can shine through all the darkness.

  2. I have had depression on and off for over half my life; when I was caught up in a particularly bad bout of it, I was lost to everything even to myself. God snapped me out of the worst of it, even though sometimes I still do feel down from time to time. Now I learn to control the triggers that could start it off and consequently have not suffered a serious bout for a long time, and don't see that it will be a serious problem ever again. Of course, my life still doesn't run smoothly (whose does?), but I learn now not to see every setback or personality clash or frankly just a bad experience as the worst thing imaginable; it's just life. Sometimes good things happen, and sometimes...? Well, you know the rest. Thanks ever so much for sharing that with us.

    I have found that simply walking with God, and being obedient to His laws, ways and precepts, can bring joy and meaning into the most joyless and meaningless life.

  3. Thank you for your comments, Stephanie & Tim. God bless you both always.
    I thank God everyday for protecting me & saving me from a lot of things, most especially from this "sickness." I'll be praying for you Tim. Take care.


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