This is the first in our summer reads series entitled 'This summer why not...' Each book (or couple of books) in the series finish the sentence with it's/their theme. Visit our 10ofThose page to find and order them.
When Darkness Seems my Closest Friend (Mark Meynell)
For those of us who haven’t (yet) experienced depression it can seem impossible to understand and difficult to know how to walk with a friend who is struggling with it. Like many mental health issues it can seem so other, so disorientating, sometimes even a bit frightening. In his book, Mark describes in vivid terms what depression has been and felt like for him over many years. His descriptions give a very personal insight into what living, working and ministering looks like whilst suffering chronically. But perhaps the most helpful aspect of the book is how it joins the dots between depression, guilt, shame and the Gospel in a way that really is good news. Mark points to a saviour who is enough even in the most difficult and painful times which gives real hope and purpose.
Even though I haven’t struggled with depression I could readily see so many similarities between Mark’s experience and my own, the pain of genuine guilt, the curse of imagined guilt and the isolation of shame. We seem to differ primarily in the extent to which these things influence and afflict us, in that sense this book helped me realise how many ways we are all much more similar than we are different. It’s given me genuine points of contact to explore with those who are suffering from depression, places where I can come alongside and know that in a very profound way my need is much the same as theirs.
We will all experience or know someone close to us who suffers from depression at some point in our lives. For those who haven’t experienced its effects first hand this book is a window into life with depression, yet also helps show how the light of the gospel can break into the deep darkness. Read it and it will give you compassion, hope and respect for those who are faithful in the midst of depression and, hopefully, make you better at caring for those with depression.
Side by Side (Ed Welch)
Side by side from Ed Welch is a great refresher of some of the things we looked at earlier in the year when we did the Growing Together course. If you want to think a bit more about what it looks like to walk alongside and disciple one another this might make a great summer read. Having read it on my own, I’d encourage you to find someone to read it with and put into practice some of Ed’s advice and wisdom.
The book is split into two halves, “We are needy” and “We are needed” and the first is probably the most significant. Often, we like to help others, to be needed, and that’s important. But at our most fundamental and basic level we are all those who are needy, who need God and who need others. Our pride and our obsession with expertise so frequently prevents us from reaching out to one another. Ed helps us to see our need clearly and gives really practical pointers on how we can be those who are able and willing to ask for help from God and from one another. If at the end of the summer we all were to be doing some of the things in the book more frequently our church life would be reflecting the gospel so much more.