This true story of coming back from deep depression is very hard for me to believe, because it was written and sent to me by Gerry, the very stable, very well respected leader of our church men's fellowship. He's been at it for almost 20 years... every Saturday morning. He's allowed a group of 20 men to set a new norm in their lives, and that's to live for Jesus. I find it virtually impossible to think he had such difficulty earlier in his life. But Jesus can do anything, even for people whose marriages are in trouble and who are considering suicide. - Bill Schaef
Even though I was raised by faithful Catholic parents and was friends with God through high school, something happened after that and I didn't have time for Him, or church either.
My wife (Peg) and I were married in 1973 and 3 years into our marriage it was dying. It wasn't my wife's fault, I just couldn't get any enthusiasm ... I wasn't "in love". I wanted to stop the marriage before we had any children to hurt ...there was enough pain as it was.
My sister invited us to go on a marriage encounter ... little did we know that it was for good marriages to be made better. I remember telling my wife Peg that if this didn't take, we would look for a lawyer ... enough was enough.
That's how we went into the weekend, God came into our marriage somehow (because I certainly didn't ask him) and he healed our marriage – we went around to my parents and brothers and sisters houses and told them on Sunday how much in love we were and how we were going to stay married.
3 years later when our first daughter was born we had a decision to make. We had agreed to be consistent with our daughter in all things - and the Church and Mass were boring – there was nothing there for us.
After trial & error to find some meaning in the Church, I ended up going to a place called Duns Scotus and listening to Fr. Duane Stenzel. He talked about how much God wanted me to have a relationship with him through his son, Jesus with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Both Peg & I were changed in our hearts and the Mass & sacraments exploded with the real presence of Jesus.
God still wasn't finished with me yet – not by a long shot. I had been suffering from depression episodes that would come out of nowhere ... like the floor dropping out from beneath me, I would find myself in a dungeon-type room ... no doors ... no escape ... no hope. There were frightening moments that the thought of ending my life might be the best solution.
On one occasion while we listened to Fr. Duane talk about the healing presence of Jesus, he had us shut our eyes and listen to the scriptures read ... and he read: "The spirit of the lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the lord's favor."
Suddenly I saw a vision of a room with a person huddled in the corner with his knees pulled up tight to his chest. His flesh looked raw, like a severe burn victim ... And in his eyes was a look of sheer terror.
I opened my eyes and saw that everyone else was still listening with their eyes closed ... so, I closed my eyes and immediately, I was back in that room, except now I was the person in the corner ... and I could feel the terror and fear in me.
I noticed a light coming in the room through a door and as I clutched my knees even tighter. I saw a hand reach across my forearm and ever so gently, lift my arm off my knees.
I realized it was Jesus and that I was healed ... of course it took me quite a while as I was weeping with joy.
Since that time, I have not had one episode of depression like I had been experiencing. Jesus came to get me in a place I didn't think anyone could get to. Let alone would want to. I didn't earn His healing or presence – He just came.
Now I know the one who healed my marriage. Now I know the one who healed my depression. Now I know the real answer to that Catechism question ... why did God make me? God made me to love me.
Gerry from Troy, Michigan