Many of us still make goals for the New Year; our resolutions to take better care of our health, to become more spiritual, to read more books, and become more cultured… Every year, I start off with all those objectives and more. I begin the year strongly and my vigor gradually peters out because I am by nature a “fly by the seat” type person. (Though hopefully I am maturing even if its in baby steps on a yearly basis!)
One of my goals for this year is to communicate better with family and friends because with COVID-19, I have become quite a hermit up here on West Mountain. Another goal is to market my novel, which is extremely hard for me for many reasons, but it is something a writer agrees to do when published.
So, since this is the New Year, I plan to share a little bit of cultural, church, and geographical history daily as they pertain to A Misplaced Beauty. That way, I can help those who may have the goal to learn more in 2021 while I am mentioning the characters, setting, and culture of the novel.
Today I chose to write about Charles Spurgeon and depression because I think mental health is more pertinent today than ever, with the social isolation we have during this time and the political issues that burden us. I have seen so many posts on Facebook regarding anxiety, fear, and troubled minds.
Spurgeon is one of the minor characters in A Misplaced Beauty. The book describes the mental and emotional burden he feels as he takes on the pain of families involved in the Sunderland Tragedy. I am attaching a preview page from the novel and a link to excellent articles about Spurgeon’s struggle with mental health.
I especially love this quote from one of the articles, “Spurgeon’s depression didn’t hinder his ministry – in fact, it helped it. Spurgeon’s many faces might have frustrated the artist trying to paint his portrait, but they also gave the pastor a multi-faceted empathy for the problems facing his flock. That’s one reason Spurgeon was “the people’s preacher.” Spurgeon called his depression “a prophet in rough clothing.” His weakness reminded him that, as humans, we are all designed from dust.”
This reminds me so much of my mother, Brenda Cooley, and her ability to take on others’ pain and pray fervently for others in need. She truly weeps with others and carries their burdens (Gal. 6:2). Her ability to do so is a spiritual gift, but it is also a gift that comes from having lost a child and suffered terrible grief.
So, my New Years message for all of us today is to take a lesson from Spurgeon and my beautiful mother: “Find a way to turn the darkness in your life into a comfort and joy for another who is likewise suffering.”