Closing Mental Health Awareness Month 2022: Inspiration for the Road Ahead
This year, for Mental Health Awareness Month we asked Disciples to respond creatively to this question: Where do you see God in your mental health journey? We received recorded songs, poems, essays, and other reflections from people across the denomination. This post has resources and content that will help in your journey of finding professional help. To watch our intro video about this series, watch it here.
The Face of God, An Essay by Rev. Mary Alice Do
I have severe recurring major depression, and I have had episodes of depression throughout my life. Let me tell you about one of those times that happened 32 years ago.
During my second year at seminary, I faced a difficult October. It was three years after my husband’s death, and I was both depressed and grieving. And that was not all. I had bursitis in my shoulder, and I was congested, coughing, feeling overwhelmed, and had papers due.
One cold and wet day I really did not want to go to my preaching class. I wanted to just stay in bed. Despite how I felt, I went up to where the class was held in a building that looked like a castle. It was made of roughly cut dark gray stones with a large turret. When I arrived in the classroom, I was coughing, bursitis in my shoulder was aching, and I was wondering what had possessed me to come to class. I sat in my chair wishing the class was over, and it had not even begun. Finally, the professor began to lecture. After a few minutes, he told us he would give us a fifteen-minute break during which we were to summarize the essence of our theology in one sentence. This was not something I was interested in doing, but I was glad for the break because it would give me a chance to escape from class and go home to my warm and comfy bed.
As I was leaving the room, ready to make my escape, I noticed the door across the hallway was open. I had never been in that particular room before, but I had long wanted to see what it was like on the inside. From where I lived at the bottom of the hill, I could see the pointed roof of the large round turret which was this room. I decided to go into the room to have a talk with God about my aches, pains, worries, grief, and depression.
The room was large and circular with extremely high ceilings. Benches lined the wall. When I looked upwards to lift my complaints to God, I saw the most surprising thing. I immediately forgot about the professor’s assignment, that I was intending to go home and the complaints I wanted to share with the Almighty. In the center of the ceiling was a small round stained-glass window with beautiful shades of blue, green, gold, pink, and orange. It was a completely unexpected joy to see! Then, as my eyes began to focus, I realized it was a face looking down at me and laughing.
And in that moment, I saw the face of God laughing, not in jest but in love. It was the face of God looking down on one of God’s children who needs to laugh. As I looked at this face which surprised and delighted me, I realized what the essence of my theology was. It is that God is always at work surprising us with love. As I stood there looking up at this face looking down on me, I saw it was a very silly face on a large helium balloon. The face, with two big eyes, even had two antennae. How I could have seen the face of God in it, I do not know, but I did.
I went back to class and shared that God is always at work surprising us with love. After class, I went back into the room where I had encountered the laughing God. Hovering at eye level was the helium balloon. I took it home where I taped it on my wall to remind me of God’s constant presence with me. I still have it with me on my bedroom wall – after 32 years. It reminds me of God’s presence and God’s love for me.