There are certain things you shouldn’t do when you’re depressed, like watching sad stuff on TV. I try to avoid that sort of thing as much as possible. Actually, I’ve decided that watching a few reruns of “The Golden Girls” is great therapy for those down days.
The other day I was dealing with a very bored, very restless sort of depression. I’ve talked about this before – when you get that way, you don’t really feel sad or that life is just too painful to continue, you feel like nothing is interesting or worth the energy it takes to participate. I flopped down on the couch and reached for the remote and turned on Hulu Plus. (Cool service, by the way.)
I did what is normally a very dumb thing for me to do: decided to watch a documentary called Hitler’s Children. Here’s the description from the IMDB website:
Bettina Goering is the great-niece of Nazi official Hermann Göring. Katrin Himmler is the great-niece of Heinrich Himmler, second in command of the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler. Rainer Hoess is the grandson of Rudolf Hoess, creator and commandant of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Niklas Frank is the son of Hans Frank, Polish Governor-General during WWII, he who was responsible for the ghettos and concentration camps in Nazi occupied Poland. Monika Goeth is the daughter of Amon Goeth, commandant of the Plaszów Concentration Camp. None with Nazi leanings, the five talk individually about what it is like to carry a name associated with the Nazi Party, being a blood relative to someone associated with hate and murder, being German at a time when that in and of itself was seen as being associated with Naziism, dealing with their family regardless of their allegiance to the Nazi Party, and if they feel any guilt associated with the actions of their infamous ancestor.
Now, if you’re in a bad spot, I don’t recommend watching this or anything like it. Nothing will rattle your faith in humanity like stories from the Holocaust. It’s information we all need to know, but sometimes you have to be selective about when you learn certain things.
As much as I was struck by the stories of concentration camp horrors (like 9/11, it never ceases to shock me), it got me thinking about much more than the events of World War II or how humans can be so monstrous towards each other. It got me thinking about how easy it is to rewrite history for the purpose of covering up shameful and abysmal events, and not just on a worldwide or even nationwide scale.
The individuals interviewed for the documentary knew firsthand what that was like. One woman had no idea her father was a Nazi monster until she was confronted by a Jewish bartender who had lived in her father’s concentration camp. Another woman thought her grandmother was just a kind, loving old woman until she dug through her personal belongings after her death and realized she had remained a Nazi until her last breath, even communicating with other Nazis without anyone else realizing it.
If I look back on my life, I can spot numerous occasions of history being rewritten.
It was easier to say that that certain relative was conceited instead of anorexic, for example, because it’s easier to dismiss someone as being self-absorbed than it is to admit they had an illness that nobody really wanted to confront or deal with. It’s easier to say that the religious sect you were brought up in was above-reproach than it is to acknowledge that some of the people you loved and admired had major issues or were hypocritical.
She wasn’t an alcoholic, she just drank a little too much.
We’re a close family because we get together on the holidays, even though we don’t make any effort to see each other any other time and we live only a few miles apart.
She wasn’t bipolar; she was lazy.
I’ve always heard that if you lie to yourself enough, you’ll eventually begin to believe your own stories.
What I love about Jesus is that He is not interested in deny our pain or our pasts. He’s not interested in making us think that we just interpreted things the wrong way. He only wants us to realize that He was there…and that God, the Author, can write a new story for each and every one of us.
You over there – the girl with the absentee father. God wants to be your new Father.
You over there – the boy who was picked on for your small stature and gentle ways. God wants to fill you with strength and power, and use your gentleness to bring about healing for others.
You over there – the woman who has been wrestling with guilt from being sexually abused for 30 years. God wants to restore your innocence.
The devil is a liar. He can make anything seem hopeless, and anyone feel too far gone.
It’s not true.
Don’t let him scribble your history. You can’t erase your pain, but God can write the rest of your biography.