As I now committed to following Hebrews 12:12-13 which says, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed,”I got dressed and trudged out to my father’s tire shop, prepared to return to work, trusting God to show me the next step.
God didn’t keep me waiting long. In the following two days, three people unknowingly pointed out the major obstacle to my “really living.” It was very simple and very wrong: I was trying to draw my worth from my performance by doing things at an extraordinary level.
I realized now that my goal of redoing the woodshed roof in 3 or 4 days was totally unrealistic. A team of carpenters couldn’t have done it in that time. And I realized that my inability to achieve goals set at these high levels made me appear to be a failure in my own eyes, so on a subconscious level I was protecting myself from future failure by retreating into sleep.
The same had been true of a lot of the things I tried to do in life—setting unrealistic and mostly unachievable standards– and when I didn’t reach them, I felt like a failure.
For instance, a customer would come into the tire shop and want four new tires. My goal was to have those four tires mounted, balanced and onto his car in 15 minutes. Doable, but only if everything went just right, which wasn’t often. All it took was one phone call to make me unsuccessful in reaching my self-centered, foolish goal.
The important question for me was, “What difference did it make to accomplish this in 15 minutes?” The difference was only in my mind and emotions because I craved significance. It was an artificial, destructive goal.
With this new insight came a solution: I decided to set small, realistic goals for myself and begin to build up a series of small but real achievements.
A customer wanted four new tires. OK, my goal now is to jack up the car. Success! Now to take off a tire and rim from the car. Success. Now to dismount the tire. Success. Mount the new tire. Success. And put the new mounted tire back on the car. So it went, one small success after another.
In following this new way of thinking, within three months my heavy depressive feelings slowly receded until I had no feelings at all. In some ways this was worse, like walking a tight rope with no support on either side. But I kept on doing what was right, and soon positive feelings began to emerge. In another three months I was back to more or less feeling normal, with good, positive emotions.
For the first two months I had taken the anti-depressant the doctor had prescribed. It made me very restless; in order to just sit through the Sunday service, I had to walk the three miles to church.
One day I forgot to take my pill and one week later I experienced a big drop back into depressive blackness. When I later decided to stop taking the pills altogether, I found that I had become addicted! It was an uncomfortable time of weaning myself off of it.
This drug only dealt with the symptoms of my depression. In contrast, application of Biblical truth dealt with the cause of my depression. I was glad that God had freedom for me: both from the depression and from the drug!
Now that He had led me out of my prison of depression, life began to move uphill at a steady pace. Work in the tire shop went well. I was asked to work with the youth group in church. My prayer life continued to develop and I was continually experiencing new insights from meditating.
I was moving towards really living! Just as it is declared in Hebrews 12: “…we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?” In the Greek this word means “really live!”
Picture: Dad and helpers in tire shop