Moving Beyond The Melancholy

Melancholy is no bad thing.


For some reason, I had a sense of melancholy yesterday, and I’m not sure why.

When I looked up the word melancholy in Google, here’s what it said:

a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause.

Yep.  That seems to define my feeling for part of the day yesterday.

I didn’t realize it until Leanne asked me around lunch time, “Are you okay?”

(I’m thankful to have people around me who can ask me these simple yet important questions.)

Now, I could speculate on what may have caused this feeling.  I was up late watching my NCAA bracket fall apart after a very busy work week, so I was probably tired.  Things are changing in our family as Isaac prepares to head to college in the fall and Leanne considers the next steps in her career path.  I have a lot of things on my “To Do List”, and I sometimes feel like I am not making the progress I’d like towards crossing things off this list.  A couple of my team members at work are going through some challenges, and it makes me sad to helplessly watch from the sideline.  I could go on with other ideas as to what brought on the melancholy, but I won’t for now.

I think feelings of melancholy are a normal part of the human experience.

King David shared feelings of melancholy throughout the Psalms, and you can read about it in other places in the Old Testament.

Then David tore his clothes. And all his men tore their clothes.  All of them were filled with sadness. They mourned over the whole nation of Israel. They didn’t eat anything until evening. That’s because Saul and Jonathan and the Lord’s army had been killed by swords.  2 Samuel 1:11-12

We all go through ups and downs, and our sleep and eating patterns probably contribute to our mental condition.  In some cases when the sense of melancholy lasts for a while, I think it’s important to get some professional help – a therapist, a counselor, and possibly more intense psychiatric help.

To set your mind at ease, this is not where I’m at.  In fact, I’m doing quite well today.

Sometimes, we simply need to stop, to think, to pray, to get away by ourselves, or to change something small.

In the midst of my melancholy yesterday, I decided to take a hike by myself.  Leanne was out with her girlfriends, and Isaac was busy working on other things, so I headed off to the Audubon Sanctuary not far from our house where I was able to take a three-mile hike.  I saw two other people the whole time, so most of the time it was just me, nature, and God.  The time alone gave me the opportunity to listen, to breathe, and to re-calibrate myself.

I don’t want to live in the melancholy, but I want to experience it every once in a while.

The melancholy reminds me I’m human.  It teaches me to be thankful.  It reminds me that I’m blessed.  It forces me to slow down and to make adjustments (even minor adjustments) to my schedule, to my perspective, and to my approach to life.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Psalm 62:5