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(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

This past Sunday our church members lighted candles honoring those living with mental illness. Once upon a time, I would debate with myself whether ADHD was mental illness enough to justify lighting a candle. I know it is, but as much a part as it played in our lives, we seemed to have a reasonably functional family life.

Now that we know how a family can be changed by major depression, there’s no question we need God’s guidance as well as prayers—I don’t debate about lighting candles anymore.

While acting to ignite a wick is a choice, I don’t always have such a choice over which songs pop up unbidden in my head. As I’ve mentioned before, songs stick with me easily—whether or not I want them to do so. Maybe it’s the years of running, when a good rhythm can help keep me on pace or when I’ve even used the time to memorize songs. More likely it’s just one of the quirks of my brain—with a mother like mine, no doubt I began hearing music while still in the womb—before I ever saw this world, let alone walked or ran a step.

Raised on music, but fascinated by words, how can I help but be drawn to the combination?

Though memorization isn’t my strong point, words and notes start to sink into my brain when heard in tandem. Even then, I’m more likely to paraphrase than to store everything just as heard or read.

Seeing all those candles lighted by people who also must know mental illness too well stirred up songs and lyrics again for me. I wonder, how many, like my daughter and me, get hung up in the wrong part of The Fray’s “You Found Me” lyrics?

Where were you when everything was falling apart, all my days were spent by a telephone that never rang and all I needed was a call that never came . . .

Still, much of the music in my head comes from hymns and songs absorbed over years singing in church. Since I don’t have many bible verses memorized, often the biblical words I do access come from those songs. Now that I’m back in a choir, I have added more songs and words available to me in random moments.

My favorite bible verse—which I mostly have memorized—is Micah 6:8b: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? And yet, I had never really paid attention to the previous verses until singing them—or not singing them, as it often turns out when my throat stops my song mid-note. Micah 6:7b asks: Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

I know that verse 8 declares no child nor living being must be sacrificed, but then why must my daughter be set upon with feeling so abandoned by my God—the God she felt so clearly as a child yet now wonders where He is. While she questions how He can be her God, I often fall to anger, asking how He could do this to my child, my firstborn, to whom he has given many gifts yet seemingly not the gift of believing that who she is matters to Him and to so many others in this world. Once again, I am stuck on the wrong section of the lyrics.

Just as Micah’s words tell me that God has shown me what is good, The Fray also sings:

You found me lying on the floor, surrounded . . .

I only have to look at all those candles to know that God has surrounded me with others lifting up my family. When we ask where God is, we need to look around us. Just because the healing we want doesn’t happen as we want doesn’t mean God has abandoned us. If we can’t hear Him calling on the telephone, maybe we’re looking for the wrong Caller ID. Everyone walking humbly with us is walking humbly with God. In the end, God doesn’t have to find us because He is always with us—and in all those who walk beside us in our darkest days.

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