Excerpt: 'The Cure for the Chronic Life' by Deanna Favre and Shane Stanford


The depression signals a degree of loneliness that permeates her soul. You can see it on her wherever she is. At times it debilitates her; at other times it runs her life in quiet ways, not peering above the surface, but you are always sure it is there. When she feels like this, she is fragile (even more so than usual) and insecure. Life seems to control her or, at the very least, she is held hostage by the day.

But the other side of the coin is just as dangerous. During these times, she sparks her strength and moves into the world with a fierceness that is strong and certain. But she is not well enough for the battle; she puts up a good fight but ultimately realizes she has taken on an enemy that is much stronger than she is. During these times, our friend will empty herself, usually for nothing much in particular, until she runs out of steam and is left drained physically and emotionally.

Thinking about the chronic life, we all live this pattern, especially if we bow down to the false gods of our own strength and knowledge every morning. We are not enough; sure, we have been over that. But that doesn't seem to matter on those mornings when the day looks either too dark to get out of bed or too easy not to jump over the skyscraper. The truth is that we are still somewhere in the middle, but our heads and our hearts don't know it. And so we jump, either back down into the well or into the bright sky, unaware in either case where we will really land.

By this point, the chronic life has us in its grips. The great pendulum that swings between our weakness and our strength is under its own gravity, and we doubt as to whether we can stop it. We can't—not by ourselves, anyway, and it will continue to swing and make a mockery of our lives until we either beg or jump off this ride.

The trap between loneliness and our false sense of self-sufficiency makes life neither easy nor really worth living. Absolutely, this is not normal. God has something more in store.

Worry Number Six: Participating in Uncontrollable Addictions

SHANE: My grandmother used to say that there are some things you just don't talk about, like Uncle Ed's drinking or Aunt Martha's gambling. I never really understood why we couldn't talk about it; after all, everyone—and I mean everyone—knew about both.

When I would ask my grandmother why it was such a secret, she always replied, "Some things, sweetheart, are just better kept quiet."

I've thought about this answer for many years. My grandmother was exactly right. After a while, I've learned that some things are just better left in the dark, unsaid and very quiet. Not because they will get better that way. On the contrary, only the light will make them well. But what do you do with a secret or a broken heart or an addiction that is too much for you to deal with or even admit? Most people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol live extremely functional lives. And yet, they are always on the edge. Life has pushed them there, and they teeter between the next hit and the next plunge.

The chronic life is very much like this. We remain in these patterns long enough, and they almost take on the air of addictive behavior—a habit too much to handle or break. It is not that we want to live there either; we don't like what the aches and cravings do to us. But we are petrified at the thought of withdrawal or the uncertainty of taking a new road, the path of which is the only way to be clean again.

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