Twenty-one-year-old Harrison Bellve came to Christ at Miramar Corps last year. In this essay, he discusses the ‘darkness and beauty’ of discovering God through his own experience of anxiety and depression.
I’d like to make two statements followed by a presumption: one, I don’t know if my mind’s cognitive behaviour generates thoughts and feelings similar to other people; two, I can’t be certain I am completely alone on this mental endeavour—both dark yet synchronously beautiful. Regardless, I can confidently presume that talking about it will impact someone.
You see, from the times I reach out to other people—which, believe me, are not few and far between—I learn the power of vulnerability and of sharing honest thoughts, feelings and experiences.
There is a perception that men aren’t expected to share their emotions, but I question why this must be the case. I look to Genesis 1:27 which says, ‘Male and females he created them’. And Galatians 3:28: ‘ … nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’.
To be Human is to Feel
We see that God created both man and woman in his image, with equality. He considers us all one in Christ. No male should feel like they can’t share their emotions. Nor should any female. Ultimately, it is an intrinsic, undoubted and extraordinary fact that we are all equally human, and humans feel equally. My purpose is to be vulnerable and to help others be vulnerable, too.
We feel happiness, confusion, love, sorrow, hurt and pain. We feel everything. Features of our design enable us to feel an extensive range of emotions—but this can be difficult to navigate for many people. If we struggle to comprehend what we are feeling, it can cause doubt as to whether it’s okay to feel a certain way. The truth is it is okay, it’s always okay. But people don’t know that unless it’s talked about.
There are aspects both intrinsically beautiful and dark that exist in God’s world—it just depends on how we look at them. A forecast for torrential rain is an unattractive prospect for a bride and groom getting married on the beach. Yet, simultaneously, it’s an attractive prospect for someone spending a day off work with snacks and a movie. While one thing is beautiful to someone, it may also be dark to someone else.
For people struggling with depression, the same thing can be both beautiful and dark at different times, or at the same time. For example, empathy is helpful when you’re ‘feeling out’ a social situation. But it’s less helpful when you feel too much.
Or even just something small, like emotive language that can be used to elegantly describe emotions that are less-than elegant: like describing how depression can feel like stepping out onto a sun-beamed pavement overlooked by blue sky, yet the radiance of its beauty is dampened by a heavy vignette, as though you were scanning lightness through a filter of dark blur. It is both beautiful and dark.
Or peering at the world from your window, observing the bustling busyness of people going about their day, feeling so desperate to join them, to move with them, to fulfil some kind of purpose. Yet feeling an overwhelming desire that keeps you stagnant, unable to leave your home, your bedroom, or often even just move from horizontal to vertical.
I describe depression like this because it is honest, it is important and it is real. It is helpful for those battling with mental health—and, more so, for those confronting the craving to numb the pain. For some people they’d do anything to not only wave the white flag in the battlefield of the mind, but to find something big enough to suffocate it entirely.
A year ago I discovered this to be God.
God is not a Life Hack
One of the first things you will hear me say when I offer my understanding of God is that I don’t believe he is a ‘life hack’ that solves everything and makes everything okay. I say this for three main reasons: firstly, my questioning of the statement itself. What determines a problem significant enough to require perfect solution? What defines something as ‘okay’? Secondly, through the relationships I developed as an almost 20-year-old ‘not yet Christian’, I am regularly surrounded with ‘not yet Christians’. I do not want to sell them a concept that provides them with earthly expectations of perfection, which will not be met, and which could direct them away from discovering God themselves. Finally, my personal experience, and therefore my truth, is that not everything will become perfect by becoming a Christian.
What I also believe to be truth is that God is Love. He created us out of love, for love. So through all the darkness and beauty, let us not be surprised that our hearts crave love. We are submerged in a smothering society, which constantly cries for relief, yet doesn’t recognise the hand of rescue offered. I couldn’t recognise it until a year ago, but once I did, I grasped it tight.
I haven’t always maintained my grip. At times it has been easier to walk with his hand on my shoulder instead—or letting him watch me from afar. Admittedly, I’ve let go completely sometimes, as walking with him often appears counter cultural for a young adult in 2019—let alone within my own social structures of family and friends.
Finding God has often provided more challenges than I ever faced beforehand, but as I say, finding God is not a life hack. Finding God is a Friend, a Father and a King worthy of all worship. Finding God is finding someone who tells you that you are loved, you are chosen, you are powerful and you are valuable. If you haven’t yet found God, believe that to be true anyways—that’s important.
It is also important to know that it is okay to not feel okay and it is equally as important to talk about it. It is important to know while you may be in the midst of a war in your mind, you are strong and you will overcome the battle. As 2 Timothy 1:7 says, ‘For the Lord has not given you a spirit of fear or timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline’.
Power, love and self-discipline has done a lot for me. I believe it can do a lot for you too.
The title of this article comes from a line in the song ‘Let Go’:
So let go
And jump in
Oh well, whatcha waiting for?
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown.
So let go, yeah let go
And just get in
Oh it’s so amazing here
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown.
– By Guy Sigsworth / Imogen Jennifer Heap