It's been two months since I last alluded to depression in this blog, and five months before that I spoke about it for the first time. So, honestly, I was due - depression may visit less frequently now but it's hell-bent on staying in touch. I hesitate admitting this. Doing so still delivers pricks of shame, though the needles have shrunk. I'm also not sure I'm ready to admit depression as a theme in my writing - too honest, too cliche. Of course, it makes sense: our lessons, our wisdom loves to lie in the shadow side of our personality.

This week was no different. As I pushed against depression's weight, I found myself wondering about hope versus useless desire. When do we name wanting to change a personality trait, a situation, a relationship, as one or the other? And, therefore, keep trying or begin to let go, accept? 

The answer is rarely simple. It depends on a myriad of factors, uneasy answers to complicated questions: Which is kind? To who? Which is safe? Brave? Sane? Am I self-aware enough to know the difference? How long have I been trying? How long is too long? How set is she in her ways? How set am I? Is my hope enabling him? Is this institution, this dynamic, dysfunctional beyond repair? Perhaps only if I stay? Or, go? Maybe it's just not my fight? Which is loving? Which, if anything, will work?

I think these are good questions, however seldom we know the answers. I also think there may be a better one.

Years ago my sister painted me an image I found on an old Chicago travel postcard. It's a girl in a red dress standing in front of a half stormy, half sun illumined Chicago skyline. Looking at it, you almost can't help but wonder, "Is the light coming or going?" I was immediately attracted to it for reasons both obvious and still unfolding. 

Sometimes we need to hold onto hope. Sometimes we need to let go, to accept. Knowing which to do when is difficult. But, I wonder if this painting offers the single best question to help us discern. We ask it, or the God it makes perceptible, "This trait, situation, dynamic, relationship I want so desperately to change, should I keep trying or let go, is it a hope or useless desire?" We ask it and wait. At first, there is nothing. Then, we perceive a shift; the painting's pulse questions back, "Which one will bring the light?"   


What's stirring in you? Can you discern a loving intention in the midst of it? Share it and do it, or keep listening for it.

My offering: Bring to mind a situation, trait or relationship you want to change. Hold it there a minute. Is it a hope to keep working toward? Or, a useless desire to let go, to accept? Use the above painting, or one that speaks to you, to wonder and listen for which one will bring the light.  

Once you decide, a little encouragement...

If you feel it's time to let go, listen to "Useless Desires" by Patty Griffin. (Yes, I stole the phrase from her.)

If you feel it needs your continued hope, continued effort, listen to "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz.