Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. — Psalm 4:6-8
I awoke this morning from the deepest of sleep. The kind of sleep that feels like you’re a rock buried far below the surface of the earth. Silent. Still. Totally at rest in perfect peace.
A few minutes later I was sitting on the porch enjoying coffee and conversation with my wife in the morning sun. Without thinking, I turned towards her and said:
“I feel like I’m connected with something …. but I don’t know what it is.”
I was silent for a moment, and then it dawned on me:
“It’s me! I feel connected with my own mind, and everything around me!”
I know that sounds like a rather odd statement, but it captured precisely what I felt. It has been three decades since I felt my own soul in its full integrity. Let me explain …
My wife Rose could testify to the litany of complaints I have been voicing for many years:
- “I just don’t feel connected with anything.”
- “The grass has lost its color.”
- “I feel like I’m in a box.”
- “There’s nothing to do and nowhere to go.”
- “Nobody understands me.”
- “I feel cut off from the world … it seems so far away.”
- “There’s no meaning to life.”
These are the signs of integrity lost. I could extend the list indefinitely. These feelings were not always in the foreground – I would often have happy days, but the dark cloud was always in the background, like a shadow in my mind. Rose wanted to help, but did not know what to do. The problem began long before we met. I knew that these were classic symptoms of depression, but I did not believe that the answer was to be found in chemistry. And I thank God that I did not cover up those symptoms of my lost integrity with antidepressant drugs. I suspect it would have made the journey to wholeness much longer. Indeed, if the symptoms were buried I may never have recovered. Antidepressants can, of course, be lifesaving for others so I’m not speaking against them in any way. It’s just that they were not for me, and they are probably not a final solution for anyone. My fundamental problem was psychological in the most literal sense of psyche = soul. Simply stated, I had lost the integrity of my soul.
So how did I find my integrity? It has been a long process which I will be writing about over the next few weeks, but the turning point happened last December when Rose and I began a habit of spending hours talking around the campfire. Our one desire was to help each other speak truth with absolute freedom. Soon we began to discover what we really believe as opposed to what we thought we were supposed to believe. As the months went by, the truth began to be articulated with greater and greater clarity, and on May 3, 2010 I came to a fundamental realization that I had subjected myself to false ideas that I thought I was supposed to believe as a Christian. I consciously rejected sectarian Christianity and have retained only that which bears witness in my own conscience. That’s it. That’s freedom – perfect freedom. For the next three days I felt my soul expanding, opening, reviving. In nearly every conversation with Rose I would remind her that she had a transformed husband. And then this morning I awoke with an awareness that yet another layer of falsehood had “evaporated” over night. My soul is whole. I have integrity. I am a free man.