Anna Clendening is a 20 year-old American girl who suffers from clinical depression and anxiety. For a long time, her difficult situation kept her indoors, feeding fears that kept her away from social interaction. With the help of her parents, she discovered music, and has found it an invaluable tool to cope with her anxiety and a source of confidence and self-esteem. Her performance in
Her performance in America’s Got Talent was breath-taking. Anna’s story speaks strongly to us about the value of facing our fears, and putting them into perspective.
In addition, Anna’s story highlights not only her personal victory, but her whole family’s victory. Only love can heal the deep wounds that scar the heart of a person who suffers depression.
1. Anna’s story is for everyone. Nobody is fearless and has never known a time when they didn’t feel negative about themselves for being afraid. Depression, amongst other things, involves a vicious circle in which, one way or another, we have all experienced. Not infrequently, fears transform reality, and us, into something that it is not and that we are not. It enlarges perceived dangers and diminishes us to the point that we cannot face these. This generates a vicious circle from which it is difficult to escape by our own means. We need another gaze, the gaze of someone to trust in order to escape this self-destructive cycle.
2. I doubt the effectiveness of ‘positive thinking’ and in over-relying on ‘positive ideas’ which people so often suggest to those suffering with depression. What helped Anna? Music? It’s a good question. Personally, I think Anna discovered a great source of confidence in music, and that it helped her to have a more realistic and true idea of herself. However, I believe it was the persevering love of her parents, and the bright image that they had of her, which allowed her to overcome her fears and allowed her to escape the darkness. This gave her the courage to take-up the guitar and to sing in front of thousands of people. She says it herself in the video: “It was my parents that gave me the courage to be here today.”
3. God’s gaze projected in our lives has a similar effect, allowing us to clearly understand our identity, and to place our fears in the right context. The important thing is to let ourselves be looked at. A few months ago, Pope Francis spoke about this; about how important it is to let oneself be looked at by God. Because it is not easy. Because often we are so full of our own ideas that we don’t let anyone else look at us. We think that there is no-one else that we can trust, but this is not true. The worst thing is this: when God’s light, or our neighbour’s, does not penetrate us inevitably the shadows of the devil gain entry.
4. God does not give us crosses larger than we can bear. If we must carry something as heavy as depression, we must trust that God has placed in us and around us the tools to become saints despite this. Moreover, it is often through the experiences that are most painful that we become saints.
5. Hey! God has nothing to do with this…the girl was saved by music and by her parents, surely!? Stop! God acts in our lives in many ways and gives us such simple tools as musical instruments; or such lovely companions as two parents that love us in order to show us His Love. If you are waiting for the clouds to come together and form your name in the sky to listen to God, you are probably missing out on all the other ways that God is speaking to you.
This is what I’ve come up with – I loved the video…did you? Leave us a comment!
This article was written by Mauricio and was originally published in Spanish on Catholic-link.
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