Common company for the downcast
“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,”
says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”
Photo (Cover) and (Right) by: Sierra ANATHEMA 1
Several years ago, I saw a commercial featuring a curious dog of
an indistinguishable breed. He had loveable eyes and one of those
winsomely forlorn expressions, the kind that advertising companies
bank on to maintain your attention so you don’t wearily change the
channel or leave for a snack in the kitchen. The commercial
portrayed various scenes in the dog’s life—sleeping, eating,
interacting with other dogs at the park, going on a walk with his
owner. In each of these scenes, the small dog plodded along—
lethargic to otherwise enjoyable activities. Then the camera zoomed
in, and my heart felt a twinge, as I noticed the dog was weighed down
heavily by two sacks of flour balanced on his back. Why didn’t the
other dogs notice why he wasn’t frolicking energetically, or jumping
as high as them? Why didn’t the owner slow his walking pace and
remove the sacks? The last scene showed the dog struggling along,
from the perspective of his owner--the sacks invisible to detection.
The dog dutifully carried his invisible burden, expecting nothing
The commercial was promoting a diet dog food, but it also
provides an analogy for depression. Often, depression develops into a
heavy secret whose truth we believe is inappropriate to bear. Then,
the burden of hiding our struggle is nearly equal to the burden of
carrying the deep sadness itself. And so we stumble on, pausing every
so often to adjust our sacks of flour, rarely considering that perhaps
Photo by: Sara Emiko Nimori ANATHEMA 3
We, the writers who have poured our most deeply-felt words
onto these pages, want you, the reader, to discover common company
here—a refreshing collection of pieces that seek to comfort the
burdened soul in its distress. In The Problem with Pain, C.S. Lewis
states, “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more
common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal
mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is
aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’” We want to empower the
struggler with the space and legitimacy to acknowledge depression
for what it is, to give a place but not power to the invisible harshness
that presses upon our hearts so painfully that words often become
inept descriptors of its severity.
We acknowledge that human words will never be enough. Well-
meaning sympathy cards in feminine pastels containing contextless
verses will never be enough. Concerned expressions, apologies, and
promises to pray will never be enough. Thankfully, we cling to an
eternal hope—but even that promise does not guarantee a respite
from depression’s storms.
He sees the burdens we carry. Though our struggles may yet be
invisible, we are not alone.
ANATHEMA 4 Words by: Sara Emiko Nimori
Sara Emiko Nimori
Graphics Designer, Writer
Assistant Editor, Illustration
Brent Barrett Jr.
Writer, Thematic Editor
TAble of contents
3-4 Editors Note
Sara Emiko Nimori
9-12 Waiting On Resurrection
14 Longer Than A Sigh
Brent Barrett Jr.
16-17 I, Anathema
19-20 Solace Playlist
24 Eyes Above Waves
Sara Emiko Nimori
27-28 Hope Found
Sara Emiko Nimori
31-32 You Tread With Us
33-34 Unveiled Faces
35-38 Rise & Fall
40 Satisfied In You
43-48 The Ignition
50 The Semicolon Project
Sara Emiko Nimori
51-54 The Wisdom of Weakness
Brent Barrett Jr.
Waiting On Resurrection
“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…”
So begins Christian band Page CXVI’s mournful
rendition of the childhood anthem for rejoicing in Christ. Set
over a simple arrangement of minor chords and the
constrained voice of Latifah Phillips, this song puts the
tension of deep sorrow in the Christian life to song. The song
is a study in the way music and lyrics interplay to create a
meaning that words alone cannot convey. It is also a study in
what confronts those in Christ struggling with depression.
One of the reasons that I love the study of theology is
because God takes on human flesh in Jesus Christ; theology
can speak to the deepest recesses of human brokenness.
While mental illness, in general, and depression, specifically,
surely qualify as brokenness, this kind of brokenness is far too
often reduced to the result of human sinfulness. Such a view,
however, does not do justice to the composite nature of human
beings and the chaos that depression entails. Though
rightfully associated with the mind, this “mental” illness is
intricately connected to bodily suffering as well.
This is because human beings are body and spirit—a union
that means we must reject hyper-spiritualized and purely
biological explanations for depression1.
The word “chaos” may best describe the complexity of
depression in how its causes can include a host of factors—
spiritual and bodily, and the effects likewise. Depressed
thoughts tend to feed a loop of pain and shame as depressed
thoughts become thoughts about depressed thoughts, which
become thoughts of shame about depression which cascade
into lost sleep, social isolation, and skipped meals.
Into this chaos, it is my simple contention that theology
is essential in framing the suffering of depression.
Theologians and philosophers have spilled much ink over the
problem of evil—it is not my goal to do the same. Instead I
hope to offer something more satisfying than a logical
argument—a paradox. As G.K. Chesterton once remarked, “man
is most comforted by paradoxes”2 and so good theology revels
in paradox because it revels in the one whose ways are higher,
and whose thoughts are higher still. The presence of paradox
is the promise of God’s presence.
Theology then comforts the afflicted by the one who is
beyond affliction, and yet freely bound to it. Here, we tread on
what could be the most depressing of stories: our ultimate and
total rejection of God in brutally murdering his son. Complicity
in doing so drove Judas mad, but as one songwriter puts it, “I
would have done it for less.”3 Indeed, if our rejection was the
end of the story we would all have cause for madness, but the
story does not end there.
1For more on this see the forthcoming book Between Pain and Grace: A
Biblical Theology of Suffering by Gerald W. Peterman and Andrew J.
2From Chesterton’s inimitable introduction to the Book of Job - Chesterton, G.
K. "The Book of Job." In Defense of Sanity: The Best Essays of G.K. Chesterton.
Comp. Dale Ahlquist, Joseph Pearce, and Aidan Mackey. San Francisco, CA:
Ignatius, 2011. N. pag. Print.
3 Day, Joe. What Have We Done. Joe Day. 2010. MP3.
The Painting (Left):
The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the
By Eugène Burnand
- Continued from page 11
But my depression continues. I believe Jesus rose from
the grave. If he defeated death why doesn’t he defeat my
depression? If this thought has occurred in your thought loop
than you are not alone. Even as Christ rose from the dead,
ascended into heaven, and is now reigning there, on earth it
can be difficult to believe—not for any logical objection but
because often, “life” doesn’t seem so appealing.
Theology places pain and suffering into a story. God
chose to reveal himself in large part through narrative. This
story does not pass lightly over suffering and as Job learns, its
main character does not offer any easy answers. Yet it is not
in spite of this, but because of this that our God draws us into
something better than answers: himself.
Depression is an apt crucible through which to view the
theological element of paradox—the place where God’s Word
refines suffering into meaning. Depression seems to
unequivocally oppose the logical emotional conclusion of the
Gospel. After all, we are commanded to “rejoice in the Lord”
(Phil. 3:1). Yet joy too belongs in its proper narrative context, as
does our suffering. Setting up this context, Paul writes in
Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present
time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be
revealed to us.” I quote this not to insinuate that the cure for
depression is a more heavenly mindset. Rather, as Paul’s
writings in Romans articulate, we live where the present age
of sin and suffering overlap with the coming age of
redemption and eternal life (Rom. 8:23 cf. 1 Cor 15:42-49). New
Testament scholar Brendan Byrne writes,
"As far as relation with God are concerned and as
attested by the gift of the Spirit, believers already live
the life of the new age. As far as their bodily existence is
concerned, however, they are still anchored in the
4Horrell, David G., Cherryl Hunt, Christopher Southgate, and Francesca
Stravrakopoulou. "An Ecological Reading of Romans 8.19-22: Possibilities
and Hesitations." Ecological Hermeneutics: Biblical, Historical and
Theological Perspectives. London: T & T Clark, 2010. 83-93. Print.
As Christians, our stories of suffering (including the
chaos of depression) are always set within the narrative of
God’s complete and whole redemption in Jesus Christ—“And
not only the creation, be we ourselves who have the firstfruits
of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as
sons, the redemption of our bodies.” We have the firstfruits of
the Spirit, but we live in this period of overlap where
depression mingles with joy.
On the front cover of this journal there is an arm
scrawled with the words of this present age: broken, anxious,
cursed. For those suffering with depression, the reality of
these words is all too real. On the back cover there is another
arm scrawled with the words of the age to come: alive, whole,
holy. For those suffering with depression, your identity—as
united by the Spirit to Jesus Christ to be sons and daughters of
the living God—is also real. The arms depicted on this journal
belong to one person; they are bound together in one collective
work. Suffering from depression is part and parcel to the
paradox of living in the overlap of the ages.
We are, one could say, living between the pages.
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is
seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for
it with patience.
[Romans 8:24-25 ESV]
ANATHEMA 12 Words by: Christopher Schneider
Longer Than A Sigh
The heavy click of hard soled shoes
on cracked concrete
cause concussive vibrations
to drum up my thin legs
while I look straight up
into a sky of shy snowflakes.
I do this long enough to feel
their gentle touch
around my coffee drugged eyes
and cheeks, blushed from the cold
savoring the subtle sensation
their fleeting caress
as they come to rest
upon my un-famous face.
Their touch almost tickles
as they melt into skin
and the feeling draws a chuckle
out from behind a scowl.
The warmth of smooth laughter
causes me to forget
the melancholy in my mind
which hovered like the murky grey overhead.
Look up to let your mind dash past your lie laiden life
into a thorny thicket of thought
where even the most timid of rabbits will hide, wide eyed
and shivering from the stalking enemies outside.
Occupy a safe place out of sight from your lurking self
that threatens to claw at your heart with worry.
Forget your fractured self
for a moment slightly longer than a sigh
and look up
to where hints of heaven fall as snowflakes
shyly from on high.
Photo by: Sara Emiko Nimori ANATHEMA 14 Words by: Brent Barrett Jr
Definition: A thing or person Accursed
I always thought Christianity was supposed to be
cleaner, simpler, maybe even easy. I don’t know if that was
assumed at the start or something I learned along the way. I
find that my experiences are quite opposite. Spiritual growth
doesn’t cease the song of discord in me but instead amplifies
it. This feels like a failure, something I’m doing wrong or not
doing at all.
Disagreement is a personality trait of mine. I argue both
sides of thought, I am at war with peace. I have been reassured
that I am not alone in this battle, but I don’t want to know the
mortality rate. The beginning is as murky as its continuation. I
can’t pinpoint a cause, a reason as to why this persists only
that it was and is persistent. I thought I did everything right,
go to church, get good grades, and other “good kid” things and
yet here I am. Scathed and scarred in this turmoil, unable to
“just get better” as I often hear by both the my own and other’s
voices. They tell me that safety and comfort are success, “The
American Dream” they proudly proclaim. I found the illusion,
the lie, and I am far too good of a liar to fall into it the pride
whispers. I thought seeing through that would free me, but
they just substituted the lie for another, more subtle deception.
“Work hard for God! Earn your penance!” the new anthem rang,
with just enough truth to deceive this “good Christian boy”
that I thought I was. They didn’t need to do anything else. I
brought myself down, and I continue to.
I feel the war, a voice of my own creation. Designed to
provide the punishment I feel I deserve, constant and brutal.
There is no forgiveness within the walls of my heart. The king
of destruction reigns there and he is I. The I that demands
superiority, that consumes all, that is proud of these facts. I
found the depths of depravity and demanded more. I screams
and drowns out all others. “They are weak” I says, “We don’t
need them”. I dives further and further into seclusion
guaranteeing there is no other than I. The alpha and omega,
the beginning and end is I. And too scared to challenge this
self-made god, I allowed him to take hold.
Photo by: Sierra Clanton ANATHEMA 16
- Continued from page 17
Who would I be without I?
Defined only by this persona of spite and hatred, I found
comfort in the evil I created. I thought I could control him, pen
him in and confine the hunger. Another lie. I knew no bounds
and grew until I was sure there was nought else but I within
me. I had become accursed, void of all good and value. I
thought this might end I and his warpath of my soul but soon I
demands to consume those around. My last vestiges of love, I
screamed for corruption, to bring them down to my level. “Why
should they experience joy and goodness when I cannot? For I
am control, I am destruction, and I am like God!”
Fear is the fuel that keeps the machine moving. Fear is
what keeps me alive. Others telling me to “just get better”
amplify the fear that I might never. I am locked in this
accursed state. Change is weakness, admitting that I might
not be perfect. An impossibility for him. Creating my own
mountain might as well have been the goal. Nothing short of a
miracle was going to break the momentum I had.
And what a miracle it was.
Through grace and love He, the true "I AM", spoke to me.
To hear the voice of another after such a cacophony was the
only thing I wanted. I knew this was the beginning of the end
for I, and he knew it as well. The flood of deception could not
match a single drop of the truth. The end is inevitable, nothing
can stop truth. Victory will be had one day; maybe in this
world, maybe not. I knows this and he will take everything he
can with him. No longer a passenger to my own desires I have
been enabled to take the fight to him. My meaning is found on
the battlefield. Fighting to make a slave of the once god of my
heart. This isn’t clean, this isn’t easy. Blood flows from the
wounds old and new but I have been given freedom by one
greater than I, and I refuse to give it up now.
Photo by: Sara Emiko Nimori ANATHEMA 18 Words by: Aaron Betts
ANATHEMA 23 Words and Artwork by: AnnaKate Ruzga
Eyes Above Waves
Peter scraped together enough trust to meet His Savior’s gaze,
and even then, not on his own waning strength.
Did he ever wonder if it would always be this hard,
wrench shipwrecked eyes away from rising waves?
Or were the sea’s crude depths ever
a welcome temptation for an overwhelmed soul?
And what if the ocean curls in the back of my throat,
followed by fear’s roaring tide washing in,
and what if the command will eternally be the same,
no matter how many times I ask—
must I always keep eyes above the waves?
Too many days,
I don’t truly desire shelter from these storms;
Because storms justify the darkness raining in my eyes,
a treacherous threat to sink the sinner.
The paradox: I know how to swim,
so I need not drown.
I know where to find the Life Savior
-- oh ye of little faith--
He has already rescued this soul!
Must cut loose the weights adorning my neck,
Let them sink to depths
I shall never taste;
I cannot disregard the finished work.
Peter tore his gaze away,
away from the God who orchestrates these falling skies,
yet in wavering faith he still lived to see the shore.
And this is hope, a saving net of grace faithfully cast beneath
And still I swim,
heaven reflecting off the ever-changing waters,
as it folds into the horizon like the day’s last, loveliest bow.
Light this radiant is never quite gone,
because even when I cannot see the Son,
a remnant of his Glory
Photo by: Sierra Clanton ANATHEMA 24 Words by: Sara Emiko Nimori
…and the boat was already a considerable distance from land,
buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.
When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.
“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them:
“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came
toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and,
beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of
little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
[Matthew 14:24-32 NIV]
Photo (Top) by: Sara Emiko Nimori ANATHEMA 26 Photo (Bottom) by: Sierra Clanton
L e t u s , a m i d s t s u ff e r i n g , s t i l l h o p e
It was six in the afternoon when I skidded to a stop in
front of my professor’s office—and as I bent down to slip my
paper under the door, I noticed something fascinating. The
setting sun was streaming into the room’s only unshuttered
window, spilling out from under the door in a ray of light that
illuminated the dark hallway. It was reminiscent of childhood
stories, a mysterious floodlight from the depths of a cave, the
promise of something good beyond...
Our eternal hope is like that: a tantalizing promise of
something greater, something beautiful, something that
makes the current struggle well worth its pain. We have only a
foretaste of this assurance, and it seems much of our faith
struggle is spent with faces intimate with the floor, like
children squinting through the crack under the door, straining
for the light we crave, pleading with God to let us taste and see
and momentarily forget our current trials.
But what if we still feel the weightiness of depression?
Whoever said that hope was the absence of all sadness, the
right-making of all wrongs? Perhaps the biggest lie we feed
our minds is the idea that hope and depression are mutually
exclusive, so diametrically opposed that they couldn’t possibly
This line of thinking leads to the conclusion that we
must either have hope or be depressed. This causes us to
question our faith—how can we be mature Christians if we are
this depressed? Or, we question the seriousness of our struggle
—can we really call this difficult sadness depression, because
after all, aren’t we living with the hope of the gospel? We
should know better than this!
Furthermore, when depression is broken into different
categories like clinical and circumstantial depression, we tend
to discount the latter as a phase or something about which we
can sentimentally murmur, this too shall pass. There is a seed
of truth in most lies, and this is no exception—Ecclesiastes 3
clearly lays out the principle that there is a time and season
for everything, and those seasons are never permanent. But
the troughs of circumstantial depression are not suddenly
shallower with the realization that the trial is not permanent.
Let us not discount the suffering of the struggler by telling
them to just move on.
For those to whom depression has taken up a more
permanent residence, they may perpetually feel like the
forgotten, the lifeless limb in the body of Christ, or worse, the
cast off because their struggle drags on for so long. Too often,
they resort to secrecy, so as not to burden others with the
depths of their pain. People will tire of caring if this drags on
for too long, they tell themselves, chewing slowly the lie’s
But this is the truth: that we hold in our hearts the
irrevocable promise of eternal hope. Yet, that hope was never
promised as a safeguard against trials. Quite the opposite;
Romans 5 describes trials as the means through which our
faith is refined, our perseverance strengthened, and our hope
secured. R.C. Sproul states, “Suffering is absolutely necessary.”
And so it is. And it produces hope, rather than extinguishing it.
For us who by grace are currently walking in a good and
fruitful season, may we not stand idly by while our brothers
and sisters in Christ grasp for strength like atrophying parts of
the body. For us currently treading through what Pilgrim’s
Progress calls the Giant Despair, let us not allow ourselves to
become invisible in our suffering. Let us suffer humbly—
focusing still on serving others, guarding against depression’s
ability to turn us inward to shudder at the depths of our own
depravity. Let us suffer transparently—sharing our burdens
with one another bravely and without fear of condemnation
(Galatians 6:2). Let us suffer intentionally, realizing that
depression need be neither shame nor setback, but a means
toward sweeter joy, and perseverance (James 1:2-3). Let us,
amidst suffering, still hope. The most hopeful thing we may do
is to dedicate each day to Him, and armed with these promises
drag our heavy hearts out of bed.
Every believer will feel the weight of depression at some
point in life. And when we experience this, we ought not give
in to the lies the Enemy whispers to our hearts; we ought to
ponder how much value we put in our feelings versus the
Word’s truth. At times, it will feel as if depression has won, and
hope has died. But that is not the end of this story; eventually
the light under the door gives way to the eternal and Son-filled
presence of our Deliverer.
ANATHEMA 28 Words by: Sara Emiko Nimori
You Tread With Us
Abba, You're closer to me than the skin everyone else sees
You're everything that is true in my heart
in the depths of my lungs
You are the wind that I breathe
the shiver that rises is Your beauty that I feel
and it is life
to rest in the powerful arms of One
who is more real than me
that is glorious freedom
my blood is your grace
the rain is your mercy
my wounds bleed
Your rain falls
when those mix on human skin
the ground trembles at the sound of Your healing
and demons are put to shame as the very clouds speak Your
then the breath of life blows the rain clouds away
let the stars speak
let the stars speak
as we are caught up in the sky with you
in timeless eternity
my feet are off ground
and I’m walking on air
the view is explosive from up here
you carry me
you carry me
Spread Photo by: Sara Emiko Nimori ANATHEMA 31
then, I will be most thankful
for the rain that washed me
the moisture to my skin
because the vision I see
the people on their knees
the draught is cracking
the ground is breaking
and there is death
though my heart breaks for the pain that I see
it’s still beating
it’s still beating
Sovereignty knows what true life is
time will tell
that even this pain
is real freedom
the freedom of vision
Lord Jesus, this is your presence forevermore.
Even in the aching parched valleys,
You tread with us— unshaken.
ANATHEMA 32 Words by: Sierra Clanton
The Great Release
Perhaps the quiet dripping is just enough cause for an
umbrella, so that we clench our fists tightly in efforts of
protection against the sad rain. Maybe the release of a
loosened fist, and an open and honest heart, gives way to
freedom. A freedom where one can finally recognize the
cruciality of vulnerability in the presence of a trustworthy
soul. Vulnerability-- contagious healing. When will we realize
that loneliness ends when we imagine the full presence of our
creator? And when we recognize His presence in community,
this is the unveiling of the soul— the healing touch, the
intimacy, and the weightlessness it takes to climb to new
heights, burdens lifted, in the name of Freedom Himself.
Mercy is a sweet, sweet gift.
ANATHEMA 34 Artwork and Words by: Sierra Clanton
Rise & Fall
I’m chatting with Melanie in her stylishly furnished apartment in Hyde
Park, with a panoramic view of Lake Michigan. I met Melanie last semester
when we shared a class together, and was immediately struck by how kind,
warm-worded, and chic she seemed to be. She gives off an aura of calm,
and has a likable and infectious personality. But it’s often those who seem
the most ‘pulled together’ who struggle in secret the most. Saturday night
found me sitting across from her on the bed in her son’s room, having a
hard discussion about depression, surrounded by the toys her four-year-
old son loves. His artwork graces the walls; it’s an innocent contrast to our
conversation—an attempt to unpack this heady topic and how it’s affected
Sara: What attracted you initially to this project?
Melanie: Well, I was drawn to the topic and was able to identify
with it…but that was also the same thing that made me want to
run in the opposite direction. What kept me here is that I wanted
to share my story, in hopes I can help someone through their
S: And I think you have a unique story...what was your experience
with depression growing up? Did your parents ever talk about it?
M: Growing up, depression was taboo. It was…you’re having a sad
moment, that’s not Christian. God doesn’t want you to be
depressed; that’s a wicked way of thinking. People around me
weren’t very nurturing with addressing it. I think that too could
have attributed to my becoming even more depressed, because I
felt like I had this dark secret. But I kept going, wearing the smile,
until I went away to college. But I was so depressed on campus. I
had just wanted to get away from home.
S: So there was a pressure to be perfect?
M: So much pressure! I was made to feel different. I was the first
to leave and go away to college. I knew there was a shift in
identity…I wasn’t fitting the mold that was set by my family. And
that led to depression. I ended up coming back home and working.
Then I went to cosmetology school. I originally did hair and
makeup and worked on [movie] sets; I was following my mom’s
footsteps, and she was proud, but I hated it. I got no satisfaction.
PR came along when I moved back to Chicago.
S: What was PR like?
M: It was exciting. I feel like it’s my duty to help get people the
best representation and to do my best by them—because I see
them as God’s children.
S: Right, you glorify God by serving them. But did you ever see
depression affect your clients?
M: I have worked with people who couldn’t get out of bed for a
live interview, or a magazine or a radio interview…I remember
working with a rap artist who was suffering with depression. She
didn’t feel like she was doing a great enough job in her acting
performance. In between each take, she would turn into a
different person, and cry… she needed a team to lift her up.
- Continued from page
S: So depression becomes common ground for you to connect
with struggling clients.
M: Yeah, absolutely.
S: And I think that’s a very good purpose for your experiences, in
that God doesn’t waste anything. No one wants to listen to a
perfect Christian, but people are more willing to listen to the
S: What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions
M: I think [my clients] believed that if they got more money, or
became more successful, or if had a certain lifestyle... that would
diminish whatever pain or agony they deal with. Some people
think you have to be of a certain stature to not be affected by
S: Yeah, I think it’s easy to get on an emotional high in the
successes of life, but it’s also easy to fall.
M: Exactly...I remember one day coming home and thinking…there
has to be more than this. And I have to be in [this industry] for
more than just the red carpet, and award shows.
S: So we talk about how the Christian ought to look at depression
differently…in that Christ is our hope. But did you feel guilty for
M: Yes! I thought, if I tell [my pastor] this, and what’s depressing
me, then I’m going to hell!
S: Is that theologically true?
M: No; but it took me years to realize that God is so opposite of
the harsh spirit my church made him out to be. God is loving, and
forgiving. And he is more nurturing than my church projected him
S: Why does God allow us to struggle with depression?
M: Definitely to help other people; depression can align you. You
come face to face with God, and you have no other choice... It
strips you. He has taught me as He rebuilds me. I mean, do you
feel like church is a hospital?
S: I think it is a place for the broken and wounded to go…not as an
instant fix-all of problems, but as a place where truth is spoken.
M: But re-entering the church without remembering the hurtful
past is really hard.
S: Yeah...when we look at how we should deal with depression,
we need to trust other believers, and confess our sins with each
other. I think that’s what Galatians talks about when it says,
‘confess your sins, and be healed’.
M: And I think, how can I help and assist in making that change so
no one else can go through some of the things I went through?
There are so many young people that are lost in the church..
begging for help—and for their hurt to be recognized. And I feel
like my church experience didn’t.
S: So do you think depression drives us to Christ?
M: Totally. And it does so in a personal way…it’s not my parents’
religion. Now it’s my personal relationship with God. I’ve grown
as a result of it. Struggle is not sin. The more I trust in God, the
more I can move forward...Depression is a rise and fall process,
but there is triumph in the end.
ANATHEMA 38 Interview between:
Sara Emiko Nimori and Melanie
Satisfied In You
"I have lost my appetite, and a flood is welling up behind my eyes."
That is the start to the song "Satisfied In You" by The Sing
Team and like so many songs before, it revealed a truth that I
could now engage with. Music has the ability to meet us where
we are and whisper realities to our hearts. And I needed a new
reality this past February, when I found myself in the middle of
what was supposed to be a feast of spiritual growth, but turned
out to be a realization of my own apathy.
I had a week off of classes—and in their place—a week of
teaching from some of the best theologians around the world. I
couldn’t connect though. While it felt like everyone around me
was coming alive in the presence of such teachers, I was absent
spiritually. The only thing worse than not being able to engage
spiritually is knowing that you have no reason to feel that way.
And so my good friend Despair crept back into my thoughts.
I know the end of that road, but thankfully God is good. He
brought the truth of His word to life through this song. Psalm 42
—specifically verse 11—had been a favorite of mine beforehand,
but upon hearing “Satisfied In You”, the psalm became real. No
longer were they just words on a page that simply sounded
good; they now spoke volumes of the writer's choice to praise
God, despite feeling inner turmoil.
My struggles with depression have often left me feeling
disqualified from worshiping God. When joy and peace are far
off, worship feels wrong. Crowds of people singing praise
became the perfect example of how alone I felt. Psalm 42 gave a
parallel experience from the ancient world and one that I could
make mine as well.
Worship is still distant, and a struggle. But it is now a
struggle that I chose to fight for. I will not let my emotions, or
lack of emotions drive me away from my Savior anymore.
Despite the sorrow, despite the fear, and despite the emptiness I
feel, I will make a choice over my flesh—and that choice will be
God. Because even when Despair is all I can feel, my satisfaction
and purpose are found in Him.
Artwork by: AnnaKate Ruzga ANATHEMA 40 Words by: Aaron Betts
God, help us see. Save this land. Speak love that comes like a tide
without words, because I can’t. Maybe it’s that I simply don’t know
how just yet. So in my wandering ignorance, help me stumble into
some Kingdom-shifting truth. Help me find the things to say.
Until my thoughts find a voice.
Photo by: Sara Emiko Nimori ANATHEMA 41 Words by: Sierra Clanton
Hopeful thoughts on the vibrance of ignition, resting in the power of the Spirit of God.
Imagine a road. A highway. An adventurous and
mountain-esque one. Challenging, rough, rocky, leaping,
soaring, and then dipping again into a river or lake, it seems.
Creation that is complicated in its drastic variation, but
I see a figure of a pale young woman standing on that
one way highway among those mountains, and the unknown.
She looks like me. Her head tilts to bring the gaze of her eyes
down, and she stares— perceiving the abrasions on her hands,
knees and feet. Some scarred over, healed and some still
bleeding. Some fresh, and some re-broken-- all with a
depressive and fog filled unity. And then she turns her head
swiftly to look back over her shoulder. Her neck cranes. The
view she sees is black and white. The outline is there, the
people are there, and the weapons are too. The unfinished, the
undone, and the left behind. Even the patches of ground that
were never paved in clarity are in rear-view vision— with
confused footprints in the mud through the wandering. In her
eyes, there is the sting of regret but the tears are of
thankfulness. It’s all precious, and it has all left a mark. A
stencilled imprint on her heart. It is all is disappearing into
the fog. It is all real in her eyes, but because of the perspective
— only in black and white. No matter the longing, what she
sees over her shoulder, the past is never going to be as vivid as
the red blood on her hands. She shouldn't stare backwards for
Even the future is not going to be vivid colour for her. It
is not going to be full clarity. Her Daddy didn’t promise her
that. He asked his little girl to place those things in His hands,
and to wait for comforting peace, rather than clarity. And He
asked her to live fully alive— not sitting in a longing for the
future or for the past.
So, Kingdom child, right now in the present please take
it all in. Breathe in and know that this moment is the most
vibrant one you will ever feel. You have a momentary chance
to experience each second as it passes away. Temporal
concepts are our composition, and passing away is our
physical function. As each fraction of a second moves
frictionally forward to the next, a new chance is given to
absorb the vibrance of colour perfection as ETERNITY and
TEMPORAL life merge to create each moment of your living.
With harsh and bold colours comes the tingling of every single
one of the 5 senses that we possess. The ignition of a bright
blazing fire. Engage them all. Feel the ecstatic energy escape
your fingertips with each breath! Comprehend the glistening
particles of light that are entering into your mental zone
through your eyes— the spherical globes that were created by
your Abba for your experience of full life.
And then— rest your soul, smile, and know that it is all
beautifully good. Even the blood.
And the young woman on the road. When tuned in to the
present, she is forced to let go of her concerns about the
future. She watches, observes, and glistens as the rain falls
down her face. The tears from her eyes leak the joy from her
bones as they overflow. Her tears then mix with the grace—
because she feels intimately everything. She feels a hand
interlocked with hers. And then a squeeze from the fingers.
She knows that sensation as perfect peace that surpasses all
understanding. For parts of the living, she cannot feel the
ground under her feet. That is because she is being carried
away to be healed. At other times, she stands with her mat in
her hands like the healed leper, as the Lord prompts her to
walk on her own two feet in His authority like in Luke 5.24.
And when she does, she runs. She runs with her arms
stretched out wide because the glory of that love, and of that
Living Water that is covering her skin, and filling her soul with
perfection. That is complete freedom— being aware of the
Living Christ, and knowing that He is gracefully good. Being
presently reactant, loving His people, and caring for the
broken. To obeying the call to be His body, even when that
means being a hand, as He carries someone away to be healed.
To laugh because of the joy, and to cry because of the pain-- to
sing and make harmonies together as long as we live and have
breath in our being because of the majesty that it is to be alive
- Continued from page
Anxiety and guilt are not characteristics of eternity, but
glorious peace is. Freedom is. Joy is.
I am asking God to refine my heart, and to create in me a
supernatural desire and longing for those elements of eternal
Heaven. Why embrace the painful ones? Will you fall, dear soul
— or will you fly?
The reality of a saved life is putting the persistent
longings of our flesh into His hands, and living by the Holy
Spirit. Because “in Him we live and move and have our being…
‘for indeed we are his offspring.’”
Black and white is dim and hazy. It grabs the issues of
the heart and of the mind, and it entertains them to the painful
point of no return. Why settle for a grey scale when you can
drop the weight, and live in the bold and vibrant colours as
they are being painted by an artist’s hand— in the present. To
live IS CHRIST and to die is gain. What more vibrancy could we
want?! What more passion? What more love?
Spread Photo by: Sierra Clanton ANATHEMA 47
Each step that we take is a moment that the Lord has
ignited into a flame of living reality through the friction of his
temporal plan, and our eternal life. And it is FOR Him. Each
moment one spends staring longingly or unsatisfyingly
backwards or forwards is a moment lost in present living
flame. Don’t let the vivid colours pass away. Watch the King in
His ignition of full living glory. Watch as He speaks, as He
heals, and as He brings the people around us into the
resurrected glory of knowing Him. We have the life to stand in
awe— watching the clear blue of the grace like water drip off
the green trees as the sky rains down the golden GLORY of
God. We watch as the stone grey mountains with white caps
move, and then bow down before the presence of their
almighty King. And we hear the music of the trees as they clap
their hands in AWE of it all. The ground— breaking, and
splitting and crying out for cleansing— to be soaked with the
grace and sanctifying mercy of its Creator. And the whole
earth cries with an addiction to his goodness, and a
mesmerised smile comes from the face of the clouds as they
watch. The water runs living. Taste and see that the Lord is
Let’s run, shall we? In praise with outstretched arms?
Because our Abba is so good to us. He is making us new. This
is hope for today, tomorrow, and eternity-- the vibrance of
ignition by the power of the Spirit of God.
ANATHEMA 48 Words and Artwork by: Sierra Clanton