The Truth of the Dark Voice

It was an amazing day at church this morning. It was Rally Day, the first day of Sunday School, the first day of a brand new Sunday School program at our church, with new teachers, a new curriculum, and a new style of teaching. It was Youth Sunday, an annual event where our teenagers plan and lead worship. It was the first day of a brand new youth ministry program. It was “Bring a Friend” Sunday, a new thing our Evangelism Committee tried. We even had an ice cream social after worship. And from what I saw, everything went great. It was an amazing day.

But I am miserable right now. Because here’s the truth: I made at least two mistakes this morning, and that’s all I can remember. Here’s the truth: the Dark Voice in my head is telling me right now: you should have known better. I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry for what I did wrong. I know rationally that these mistakes are minor, honestly. I know rationally that I can learn from them, and grow. But it doesn’t matter, not to the Dark Voice. Because all he hears are the mistakes. He paid no attention to what went well, because he was trolling all morning for missteps. He found two, and he’s also rummaging around in my memory now, trying to search for more. He’s encouraging me to check my email regularly to see if anybody is reaching out to me in anger or disappointment.

I recently read a post on Facebook about pastors and depression. It mentioned a whole bunch of ways in which pastors face stress, and are susceptible to depression. Things like long hours and high expectations; They seemed to all be accurate, but they missed a really important piece: some of us are susceptible to depression not because we’re pastors, but because that’s just part of our psychological makeup.

Sigh. This is the truth. It doesn’t matter what happens: the Dark Voice is always here.

10 comments

  • Michael, you mentioned twice in this post, “the truth.” There is a vast difference between facts, and the truth. The things stated in your post are the facts. They are the things day in and day out that are in your face. They are more than willing and able to tell us how and why we can’t. But the truth, is that facts don’t really matter! When our truth becomes greater than our facts, we find ourselves freed from the “Dark Voice.” While that voice is always willing to show us our faults, (which may be facts) the truth is, I believe more about the God inside of me than my fear of being wrong. What you can NEVER do, is make your facts, your truth! ….and the greatest truth you will find is “whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.”

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    • I hear where you’re coming from regarding the truth of God’s love for us vs. the “facts” of our own struggles. But unfortunately, it’s not nearly so simple for someone with depression. It’s just as easy to tell someone with cancer “Just believe the truth of God and your cancer will be cured!” Or, somebody born without a hand, “Just believe the truth of God and your hand will grow!” Faith in God does not take away the disease of depression.

      I do appreciate your caring, but this is something I live with despite my faith.

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  • I too live with the dark voice you describe and have since I was a child. Those who do not experience that voice cannot understand there is no remedy for permanently silencing it. It is not an option. But there are ways to silence it for a while.
    Two practices I have made part of my life are mindfulness practices to rest my mind from the negativity and cognitive behavioral therapy to learn to replace negative thoughts with more rational, positive ones. Be at peace with your soul and with Christ my friend

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    • I have also explored mindfulness, and have been doing CBT for many years. Another thing I’ve found helpful is writing about it. Funny how we were geographically so close for all those years, and never connected about this. Then again, I didn’t understand my own problems nearly as well in my 20s as I do now.

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  • We all make mistakes. I for one am looking forward to you bible study and I know you will do a great job.

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  • I’m glad everything went well. I wish we could have been there.
    Mistakes are mistakes. One thing I have always liked about you is that you have always laughed off mistakes. But I too have that dark voice so I understand how you feel when it’s your mistake. I swear I remember all my mistakes way back to kindergarten! Never forgiven myself, yet I’m the first to comfort someone else when they are feeling bad for their mistakes. Don’t know if I’ll ever change.

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