Today we observe the commemoration of Saint Margery Kempe, a presence within the Christian faith and life for a variety of reasons, not least of which how well her wailing was known to the people in her vicinity. Her wailing, the extent to which she was accused of heresy but never convicted, and her poignant visions of God create a character within my faith that draws again and again a further curiosity out of me.
But most remarkable to me is that she is considered by some to have written the first autobiography in the English language, known to us as The Book of Margery Kempe, which is believed to be fully dictated due to her being illiterate. Maybe it is the fear of illness and treachery that lies outside my home or the way the walls of my rooms seem to inch a bit closer day by day, but the presence of Margery finds me in what might be a similar season: a season of reflection, of offering a life into the world praying the Holy Spirit might dictate my existence.
Hearing Margery’s story, I find a deep space of empathy when I think of her challenges with mental illness. As a person with an anxiety disorder, depression, and chronic pain, I read about some of her visions and consider them not too far from the dangerous wanderings of my own mind. When I read that Margery saw numerous devils and demons attacking her, telling her to leave her family, her friends, and her faith, I envision all the ways I sometimes draw furthest away even when my greatest desire is to grow closer to those I love and the God of my heart.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about depression, it is that it is an unreliable narrator. The story of depression is not much different from devils and demons attacking me, lying to me, telling me to skip reaching out for help and instead spiral through the reasons why no one would notice if I never reached out again. The worst part about the voice of depression, the voices of the devils and demons, is that I know they are lying, but the lies are loud.
The savior of my depression is none other than Jesus Christ, the voice that speaks ever louder over devils and demons, trampling them down under his feet. In the midst of hallucinations and other voices that were unreliable narrators, Margery Kempe had a greater narrator to govern her story: the almighty presence and love of God. At the end of the day, the story of her mind was not the story dictated. Somewhere along the way, Jesus Christ stepped in as mediator and advocate, narrator and friend, to speak truth into her story before it was recorded.
In these times we face, we can call on Jesus Christ to step in as mediator, advocate, trustworthy narrator, and friend. Wherever the wanderings of our mind take us, we can entrust the entirety of our headspace to the God who numbered every hair on it. There is nowhere God cannot go, no part of our lives God cannot ransom, including the storehouses of our hearts and minds.
If you are struggling in mind and heart today, I encourage you to go inward, but to enter into those dangerous spaces with the reminder of the presence of God that sits beside you through every season of your life, in every part of your body, and through every thought. There are devils and demons that might attack you, that might lie to you, that might call you out of connection and into further isolation. In those moments, take heart, knowing there is no world of isolation that is not a place where you are joined to God. Ask God to speak to you as mediator and advocate, renouncer of all evils, trustworthy narrator of the very life God designed and offered to you.
[Image Credit: Katolophyromai, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]
Thank you for sharing this very personal post. It was just what I needed to read this morning.