reflections on psalm 23

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The Lord is my shepherd
I have fought depression and anxiety my entire life. This Lent has been especially difficult. I have some thoughts as to the whys, but insight does not always (or even often) turn into action, or even any ideas as to what action is desireable. For me, the worst part of depression is not sadness. I think that I could handle the sadness. For me, the worst part is the numbness. One of the good things to me about faith is that it isn't a feeling. If I judged my devotion to God, or His attention to me, by my feelings I would be lost. God granted me an intellect, and so very often I just have to take it on my intellectual knowledge that He cares.
I shall not want
Today is the 31st anniversary of my marriage to my dear husband. God granted me a great gift in this spouse. He is not perfect but then, neither am I. My husband has been my anchor in the storms of life. Sometimes I have treated him badly, sometimes I have treated him well. Sometimes I have seen that anchor as a millstone. The graces of the Sacrament of Matrimony have prevailed over our human selfishness and stupidity so many times that I would have lost count were I trying to keep track. I pray that God will grant us many more years together to try to work out our salvation "with fear and trembling".
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters
I have been having a recurrent nightmare lately. In it, I see the faces of unborn babies at various stages of development. Some are perfect, some are grotesquely misformed. Some are missing parts of their face, their skulls are deformed - too small, too large, grotesque. A few of the babies I can see their bodies as well. Once again, some are perfect and some or horrendously imperfect. The imperfections include a heart beating outside the chest, the spinal cord protruding from the back, the intestines in a membraneous sac outside the abdomen. What all these deformities have in common is that I have seen US reports of babies with these conditions. I have talked to the moms about the news. I have sent these moms to see the specialist in maternal-fetal medicine, knowing that the chances are good that he will only be able to confirm the bad news, that he will not be able to offer any hope for restoration, that most of these conditions cannot be fixed in or out of the uterus. Knowing that even for those conditions that can be fixed, our culture doesn't tolerate imperfection, and even repaired the babies will still have lots of problems.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
In my nightmare, the babies are calling my name. They are asking me why I didn't try harder to save them. They are asking me why I didn't stop their moms from shortening their lives.
Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
I wake up in a cold sweat, stomach churning, doubting my self, angry at God. I know that God does not desire evil but that He allows us fallen humans to exercise our free will. My intellect can accept what my heart rebels against.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Sometimes in my nightmares, I am confronted by the mothers. "Why didn't you tell me?" they ask, "Why didn't you tell me?". I vainly protest "I tried to!" Yet I know full well that I hadn't tried hard enough, that I was unwilling to offend, to risk alienating them from me. God help me, I know that decades ago I was so concerned about their immediate well-being that I neglected the long term impacts of their decisions when conversing. I can hear myself saying, "Do what you think is right" instead of "Think about this irrevocable decision not only for what it might mean today or tomorrow, but next month, next year, 10 years from now, a lifetime from now."
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Lord, let it be so. Please forgive me. I know that I have done evil. I know that I have left good undone. Thank you for the second, third, and umpteenth chances you have given me. Restore those of your children that I have damaged through my sins of comission and omission.
Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Lead all souls into Heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy.
O heavenly Father, grant me the grace of your Perfect Mercy, and spare me your Divine Justice.
Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, be merciful to me a sinner.
For the sake of Your sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

(Psalm taken from the King James Translation)


I am sorry you feel the weight of this with such force. Here is a quote from St. John Climacus regarding repentance. "Repentance is the renewal of baptism and is a contract with God for a fresh start in life. Repentance goes shopping for humility and is ever distrustful of bodily comfort. Repentance is critical awareness and a sure watch over oneself. Repentance is the daughter of hope and refusal to despair. (The penitent stands guilty - but undisgraced.) Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the performance of good deeds which are the opposites of the sins. It is the purification of conscience and the voluntary endurance of affliction. The penitent deals out his own punishment, for repentance is the fierce persecution of the stomach and the flogging of the soul into intense awareness. " This sounds to me like you have REAL repentance - and that is a tremendous grace. Blessings -

Thank you for that Alicia. Definitely a side of midwifery and OB care most of us don't see. Be well my friend.

Happy anniversary. And here all this time I thought John was perfect.


I just read your comments on Annie's blog, and I wanted to tell you how gracious and informative they were. Your concern for Annie's wellbeing is obvious, and I hope she is able to see that and be grateful - not only for the advice and comfort you offer now, but maybe eventually also for all the ways in which you have tried to spare her the pain of an immoral decision.
I guess what I'm trying to say is - be at peace. You have done everything possible to fulfill both the demands of your conscience and leave the door open to be able to help Annie later when she deals with the consequences. If only we were all so mature and kind.

Happy 'versary! We're only working on number 6. 31 is impressive.

Regarding "I have fought depression and anxiety my entire life." Have you ever posted anything about any decision regarding anti-depressants? Perhaps you consider them over-prescribed?

The whole decision on whether to take them strikes me as painfully subjective. There are those who could not function without them, so for those cases it's easy. But there are surely tens of thousands of borderline cases creating a large gray area.

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This page contains a single entry by alicia published on February 23, 2005 1:01 PM.

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