Sunday, March 23, 2014

oh... it's hope!

Guess what. Well, it isn't much of a secret. But if you do think it's a secret, everyone is trying to hide the same one. And if you know it's not a secret, you may be spending a lot of time telling the world about your own isolated problems. Well, Surprise! At this point its more a fact- observable, obvious, and beautiful: We all have issues. and not ONE of them is unique. Sorry, my story is no more poetic or tragic than yours and vice versa. For years I suffered under a self imposed rule that I was too complicated to be understood. I had deep problems and woes that I clung to, and I would put them in my beautifully crafted journals, tuck them away on a shelf and no one would ever read them because they were mine. my own. my precious....

Woah. Ok getting away from the Gollum reference here, do you see what I mean? I went back a few months ago and looked through those journals and I was almost ill reading through the sappy language I reveled in, the boy in college I was in love with but who never knew, the hard break up I feared more than anything, the pain of feeling misunderstood as the pathetic black sheep of my family, the caged bird who only wanted to fly... just once above the feel the wind on my wings..... UGH. you get it. Lord have mercy. But this was and is a part of my story. and we all have them. Of course individually we are all unique and you will never find two stories alike. Just like those solitary snowflakes I would doodle in my journaled past. But in that uniqueness, there we all are- together.

One of the chapters in my life (my real life- not the doodled one) is the day I admitted I needed help for depression. There you have it folks, a tortured artist. Now I'm not belittling my own aches, but Lord knows I've spent enough time indulging them and participating with the torment of anxiety and depression. This expression is an experiment in change- in being real and honest and very vulnerable with all 4 of you who read this blog. But as I am a verbal processor, its helping. Depression is a very real biochemical disorder. Whether it is the cause or the symptom is not medically understood, but the longer you stay there, the more damage is done. The brain acts with neurotransmitters to give information to the next neuron in line and when there is a lack of this one called serotonin, the information doesn't get processed down the pathway and there is this mess of jumbled feelings and thoughts that give rise to sadness, despair, paralysis of motivation, and just plain blahs. I found that I was extremely tearful and hard situations just were made harder by not being able to move forward. This was compounded by feeling isolated and that no one could understand so I didn't share these feelings with anyone and felt this pressure to just get over it on my own. Then my conflicting self would give great advice by telling me I was being stupid, and no one should suffer this much over one lost relationship, people go through this stuff all the time, there's something wrong with me if I can't move forward. Get. Over. It. And even if I had the thought years ago "Maybe I'm depressed" I couldn't be! I was a christian - and I thought a pretty spiritual one. I was covered by the Holy Spirit and christians don't get depressed. "I've got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart" remember? After years of off and on bouts with highs and lows of emotional turmoil (and more beautifully crafted journal entries) I was done. It took a few more precise blows to my heart and soul to render me down for the count, tapped out. I needed help. And that admission was just the beginning of yet another painful and long and awful process that I would have happily avoided by hiding in my isolation of black sheephood.

I don't think I need to go into the process, both medical and therapeutic, but I will say that I have still had my ups and downs and more recently found myself tearful again. In Peru I worked with disabled children that broke my heart on a daily basis, I came home and had to put my dog down which ripped open some very delicately healed wounds, I now work in a nursing home where a little old lady started crying during our session and just asked God to let her die. (which makes you feel like a really excellent physical therapist) And I cried. I live with a family of children who watch Disney movies and I had a good weep to the part in Tangled where Rapunzel's father sends off the lanterns hoping for his daughter's return. I hate when the news is on in people's rooms, I have to hear these horrible headlines in 5 seconds and with no time to process them and just keep on going. We live in a society where there is not time to grieve. There are 250 people who either died on that Malaysian plane or didn't but their poor families! I ache for them! The world assaults us with terrible things and what do we do with them? Some people are just going to keep moving forward, cold and calloused to the pain around them. Is it a product of my depression that causes me to cry or hurt for others? Am I "just too sensitive" like a dear friend once told me (and I won't let her live it down)? What is the answer here?

This week I was listening to this talk by Tim Keller called "The Cross, the way to endurance" and I might have glimpsed the answer: its Hope. In depression, I live in a sad sad world- with circumstances way beyond my control and too overwhelming to do anything about except maybe cry. and journal. In Christ, I still live in that world, I still will grieve and maybe glimpse what it means "to partake of the sufferings of Christ" but it is for the joy set before me that I can endure. That there is a hope of a just and righteous God making these horrible things right. He is the only reason I can get through a day, and that learned behavior of choosing hope and choosing joy is what will be my anchor, my way forward in the Lord. He is "one well acquainted with grief" and as much as I hate the ache and the pain that I know so well, its in this depth that I walk with my Lord. My Hope is in Him. I have several Morgul wounds (sorry for another LOTR reference) that may never fully heal, but in the process of walking with him, I remember His scars for us. Maybe this is what it means to boast in our weaknesses, because his strength in perfected in weakness. so when I am weak, then He is strong.

Now can we sing Maranatha? Come Lord Jesus, Come.

ps. I'm not the only one right? feel free to share this! Or if you have any stories or similar struggles I'd be so encouraged to hear them! please email me!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Onward and westward

About a week and a half ago I was sitting in a Super 8 motel, a blizzard with its historic 18 inches of snow piling outside, in Martinsville Virginia. Martinsville: home of a pretty big racetrack (apparently, though I never had the pleasure of attending) Barely a month before that I was in South America, seeing the beauties of a land called Patagonia, feeling like I was in some sort of Narnian Neverland. Only a few weeks prior to that, I was dealing with the seemingly impossible issues of a different culture and life in Peru, loving on children who were so special to our Father in heaven, though so poorly attended to on earth. Why this recap? Because at this moment I’m in a lovely resort, overlooking Oak Creek in Sedona, big beautiful red rocks in the distance, and my heart is so stilled at this sight. Knowing that our God, who loves us to our deepest being, is the same majestic God who put the foundations of this earth in place. I’m struck with how many of these plans the Lord saw in my heart, but have been perfectly laid out by my Father.

{Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. Ps 102:25

The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. Isaiah 14:24

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Prov 16:9}

When I was in Martinsville, it was a tough situation that I really did want to literally quit. I was working in a facility with questionable practices and less than quality care. No sooner did I decide not to actually quit the job, but instead to quit scheming, quit controlling, or quit trying to even ‘make the right decision’ that the Lord gave me an out only a few days later. My contract was terminated!!! I bet there has never been a happier person to be terminated before ever ever! Even still, had I quit, I would have been required to work a full 2 weeks. Instead, I could set the terms of my departure and 3 days later I was gone. The Lord had provided me a job in California, one that I had turned down only 1 week prior because of my decision to stick it out in Martinsville. The job is with a friend of mine who is the rehab director at a skilled nursing facility and the job a temporary maternity leave coverage as a PT. My heart has loved being west and the Lord knew this, and HE laid the plans to head this way again. Even with my hesitations to drive that long and long and even longer road again on my own, his timing and will was undeniable. So I find myself here, reflecting on all these things and the goodness of my Father who loves me so much, and has laid my steps, and IS trustworthy and good.

{For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalm 84:11

How much more will our Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.  Matthew 7:11}

A quick word on my Scout:
What a hard and unnatural decision to put an animal to rest. After literally months of trying to find him a home, Scout began to show more deterioration than I was willing to admit. I wanted so desperately to find him a home and someone who could love him like I did, and just let him sleep, and eat, and wander. He wasn’t an affectionate dog, and I warmly called him my wolf since his domestic qualities were limited. Even when I was grieving the decision I had made, he walked somberly away from me. I couldn’t help but laugh at his indifference but also acknowledge his ignorance of what was going on. The Lord touched my heart with how similar his love for me is. Our sometimes coldness to our loving Father does not change His ever present, unconditional love to us. And He has our best interest at heart. I knew that no one would love Scout like I did, and I knew that he was uncomfortable and getting worse. But I will never not miss him, and will always be reminded of my Father’s love for me, through his memory. Oh man, he was such a weird dog, but he was mine.

Thank you all for praying and helping me through all these months and supporting me from home! Richmond will always be home for me, and you all are so dear and so special to me! I pray the Lord would bless and encourage you through His working in this rogue gypsy vessel that I am, and I’m so thankful for each of you. Love you all very much!

{Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

"Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. "Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. "But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end. Ps 102: 25-27}