Marilyn and Charles had been having trouble for several years. The trouble was not fights or noisy arguments, but playing cat-and-mouse over Marilyn’s changing moods.
The couple would plan to go to a Sunday school class party or a family gathering, but Marilyn would beg off at the last minute. She just wasn’t up to socializing. Charles would feel sorry for her, change the evening’s plans and stay home. After several weeks of staying home, he would become blue. Then she would feel guilty for causing him to give up his social life and she would start going out. But he knew she was doing it just for him, so he would feel guilty and stay home more. It was a vicious circle, actually a battle of wills, his versus hers.
At her first appointment, nothing in the world seemed good to Marilyn. I remarked that she was a miserable woman.
“Oh, I’m a Christian,” she replied. “And I’ve got a nice husband, a good home, and a fine church. I suppose I should be happy.”
“No,” I assured her. “It’s your choice to be miserable in spite of all the good things in your life.”
Over a three-month period, Marilyn slowly disclosed how she was gradually withdrawing from life. The home she was raised in had been one of constant distress; she always seemed to be in the middle of combative parents. She learned it was easier to duck than to take the chance of getting hurt. This protective attitude had carried over into her married life. Now it was simpler to stay home rather than risk being hurt.
One day, Marilyn decided to stop ducking. She said she was going to ask God for help to accept her husband’s social life.
For three months, she was a happy Christian. Then she came back, depressed again.
I helped her see that she was depressed because she changed her mind about wanting to venture out. Again, she cast her burden on the Lord and went away rejoicing. But after awhile she returned, defeated as before.
Her moods continually alternate. She knows how to turn her troubles over to the Lord, and she has proved that it works. But I am afraid that she hasn’t yet taken to heart Jesus’ words in John 15:4, “Abide in me.” Hers is not a daily walk with the Lord. Alternately she casts her burdens on the Lord and takes them upon herself. She empties them out and then slowly collects them again.
To “abide” is to enjoy Christ’s victory over self. We must consistently depend on God in order to consistently experience Him. He can and will live in us if we allow His Spirit to work in us.
The names and certain details in this true case history have been changed to protect each person’s identity and privacy.