I don’t have a story for you today. I want to have one to share with you but today’s truth is that the story that is heavy on me is still being written and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense just yet. I have faith that it one day will but for now it’s a tangled web of words in my head that make me want to take a nap.
Category Archives: thursday’s truth
“Any conflict you run from is only going to be waiting for you in a future season.” Steven Furtick, Elevation Church
I just attended a writer’s conference and was away from home for a week. I enjoyed being away, but I thought a lot about coming home. Not in the way you might think, though. Typically, I am super pumped about coming home. Sleeping in my bed, being with my people and doing my thing in my home. But this time, I thought about coming home more along the lines of sort of not wanting to come home. That sounds bad and I guess it kind of is, but hear me out.
The conference was so good. I was with my people. Not my home people but my other people. People like me with a similar calling and similar passions. Other writers. As well as long-time friends and new friends. It felt like home to me. I didn’t want to leave. It was so good to be away from home. To get away from my normal routine. From my normal life. Let it be noted that I use the term “normal” loosely. After living a life of crazy overseas adventures, these last two years of being home in the US, I’ve struggled with feelings of being stuck. I thought a lot about how good it was just to get on an airplane and how good it was to get out of my life for a bit. Getting away enables us to gain a fresh perspective and allows us to come home seeing things differently. I wrote more about that in a previous post, When Your Whole Face Smiles. It’s just good to get away. And normally it’s good to go home.
Sometimes we can dread coming home – “home” can either be figurative or literal. Home might not be safe. Home might not be comfortable. Home might not be pretty. Sometimes my home doesn’t feel safe or comfortable. That’s not intended to be a confession of any kind (so don’t worry Mom) it’s just the way of life. I thought about what I might be coming home to that would be challenging. I thought about what I might be coming home to that wasn’t as fun as being away. I really liked where I was. North Carolina and Georgia are beautiful states! I remember the first time I went to North Carolina I thought that it must be what heaven was like. Then I went to New Zealand… But when the conference is over and the airline emails you that it’s time to check, you have to go home.
Maybe we leave our figurative or literal home because we’re going somewhere beneficial or just for fun but maybe, like Jacob, we’re running from a conflict or a hard situation. The truth is that even Jacob had to go home and face his conflicts. He and his brother, Esau, had issues. You know, just your every day “I’m going to hunt you down and kill you!” type issues. NBD… Jacob feared for his life.
But check this out. The Lord came to Jacob in a dream and told him some amazing things about fulfilling His promises of offspring and blessings. He also promised Jacob this:
Just as the Lord promised Jacob that He would not leave him until the promise was fulfilled, the Lord promises you and me the same thing. The Lord will be with us and never leave us until He has done what He promised.
We can’t run forever. Whatever conflict we run from really will just be waiting for us in another season.
Let’s face the truth, you have to go home. And so do I. And God will be with us.
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” Genesis 28:20-22
What’s your stone? Your pillar? For me, it’s a date. The date of this post as a matter of fact. The anniversary of an event that I find myself trying to run from every year. This date shows up every year. Weird how that happens. 🙂 As I encourage you to go “home” know that I am encouraging me to go “home” too. This stone, this post, will be a pillar to remind me that God is with me, He will not leave me and He will keep me safe until His promise is fulfilled.
For more encouragement, here is the message by Steven Furtick at Elevation Church that gave me some inspiration for this post.
Over my 41 Christ-following years, the parable of the Prodigal Son is one that I grew up hearing on a regular basis. It was almost always taught from the standpoint of the prodigal son, the son who left with everything, the son who wasted his lavish gifts from his inheritance and the son who still found his way home to his loving Father.
While that part of the story is very true there is another side that is also very true that we don’t hear about as often. There are always two sides to a story, right? The other side is the legalistic, Pharisaical, graceless brother part. If I’m honest, or truthful, as this post is meant to be, I’m more like that legalistic brother most of the time. I play by the rules, finish my tasks, I’m on time, I fulfill my commitments even if it kills me, I do my best to tick all the boxes and not just any boxes but just the right boxes, and I’m usually shocked when others don’t do the same. It’s quite exhausting actually. In my adult years, I have realized that this is just a tad unrealistic. While I have learned so much about the amazingness of grace over the last few years, I’m still a work in progress.
The quote in the image above is taken from this spoken word video. It’s worth your time.
We waste our gifts. We waste our gift of time, our gift of love, our gift of provision, our gift of health.
We waste our grace. We waste the grace that is given from God. We waste the grace that is given from others. We waste our opportunities to give grace.
Whether we’ve wasted gifts or wasted grace, THE TRUTH IS
that the Father never wastes gifts or grace.
He longs to welcome us home.
I’m not writing from one who has this down but from one who is on the journey. Working it out. Trying.
If you’d like to read the Parable of the Prodigal Son, you can do so here. Luke 15:11-32
No matter how bad our day is, our month, our year, our life… it could be worse.
Over my years and through my personal struggles, God has always been faithful to give me perspective. Even if I didn’t ask for it. But most of the time I did. I don’t take pleasure in knowing that someone is worse off than me. Not at all and quite the contrary. It brings me comfort to know that someone has gone through “it” and is still surviving. Still putting one foot in front of the other and stumbling forward.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
No one ever promises us that we will not have trouble, that life will be easy. In fact, we are told that we will have trouble and life will be hard. Even if you aren’t a Believer unless you had ridiculously optimistic parents, we are raised to know that we will face adversity in life. And if you had great parents, you were taught how to work through those adversities. But often an adversity comes that we just weren’t taught how to navigate. Didn’t expect. Didn’t choose. Didn’t want. And it’s bigger than big. Bigger than life. Consuming.
We humans are quite resilient. Our hearts can take on so much and still keep ticking as long as we have hope. You know this to be true because you’ve lived it. I’m sure you have. If you’re reading this, your heart is still ticking and you know what hope looks like. Maybe a glimmer of hope, maybe a truck load but we all know hope. We all have. How resilient are we anyway? To answer that question, look around you today.
Have you ever seen the movie Date Night? The Fosters, played by Steve Carell and Tina Fey, and are sitting at dinner playing “What’s the story?”, guessing the stories of those at tables around them. The problem with that is that they’re guessing. That has very little to do with perspective, but I use it as an illustration (maybe a bit lame but hey, I’m only on my first cuppa so just go with it) that we should take our eyes off of ourselves for a minute and look around. Look around and get involved with someone else’s story. Not their pretend story but their real story. Look around and get out of your own for just a few. Man, we can get so bogged down in our own muck, can’t we? All too often we can’t see beyond the end of our nose.
In my moments of being consumed by my adversities, some days God has put perspective right smack in my face but most days I have to pay attention and be looking for it. It could be the sweet face of one of our sponsor girls in Kenya. Talk about perspective. It could be having to strap my own kid into a full upper body prison of plastic and metal before bed while I go curl up in my comfortable bed to sleep. Perspective. It could be that couple who has walked through hell and back in their relationship or is walking through hell to get back but they made it or they aren’t giving up. That’s perspective. It could be knowing that right now, all over the world and right “down the street from me”, young women and girls are being forced to do things they probably didn’t choose to do with their lives and bodies. All the while I sit in my comfortable and air conditioned living room with our two dogs napping peacefully, sipping my coffee in peace and typing this up on my MacBook laptop with my feet propped up. Yeah, perspective.
My problems just don’t seem so huge when perspective is in play. Not that my problems, your problems, aren’t problems. Not that they aren’t very real and not that they still don’t need to be dealt with, but our problems just aren’t so overwhelming and hopeless when we see them through the lens of perspective.
How do we get to the place where we can be patient in affliction?
A big plate of perspective with a generous side of gratitude.
This is one of those times when I tell you that I’m not rockin’ the whole be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful bit. But can we lift each other up today? Offer each other a helping of our own perspectives? You pray for me and I’ll pray for you sort of deal? Can we lean into to the one who has promised us that He has overcome the world?
I sure HOPE so…
What is your perspective today? Please share in the comments. Let’s encourage one another.
This is a story about friendship, depression and medication. Odd combo, I know.
Thursday’s Truth: We need close friends who are willing to tell us if/when we need medication.
We need close friends for many reasons but for the purpose of this post it’s because someone needs to live life closely enough with us to know when something is off. Someone needs to know us well enough to know when we’re okay so they’ll know when we’re not okay. Often it’s not so apparent to us. It’s the “can’t see the forest for the trees” scenario.
I have never had to take much medication. I’m thankful for that. But after our second child was born I went through postpartum depression. I had a 2 year old who didn’t want to miss one second of the party and a newborn who had just joined the party and liked to hit the buffet every couple of hours. Put those together with a husband who was either at work or on call all. the. time. and I was one tired mama. Tired often leads to depression.
Although I did have close friends then, I didn’t need anyone to tell me I was off. I knew something was wrong. In a moment of clarity, I remember sitting in our recliner just staring. Brainless. Motionless. Lacking all motivation. I realized I had been in that place quite a bit. Somehow I managed to snap out of it when the kids needed me. The will to love my kids over myself was and still is very strong. I’m so thankful for pictures and video from those days. I remember watching one of their birthday party videos one time and being shocked that I smiled and looked happy. I just don’t recall smiling that much. Or at all.
After months of that, I decided to call my doctor. I went to see him and he told me I could either join the gym or go home and pack for the mental institution. Although the thought of having some alone time and meals prepared for me was appealing, I chose the gym. 🙂 He also gave me 30 days of Prozac just to “get me over the hump”. Do you remember when Prozac first came out? I don’t even know if it still exists today or not but one of the side effects then was suicide. I only told two people I was taking it. 1) Because I didn’t want everyone to freak out and think I was a nut job (even though I was). 2) Because back then (20 years ago) if a Christian took anti-depressants, it was a sure sign that they weren’t spending enough time with God. and 3) Because I needed a couple of people close to me to watch for signs of suicide. Exercise and my “hump” medicine worked. I lost weight, got healthy and felt like a new woman.
This past weekend I had a mini meltdown of sorts. My week had been awful. I’m in the beginning stages of “mean”opause. (I’m not super happy about what the next few years have in store for me and those close to me but I know lots of women do it and everyone seems to survive so it must be doable. But can I just give a blanket apology in advance now?) Anyway, I was tired. Things just don’t work out so well for me when I’m exhausted. My brain goes into neutral and my heart kicks into overdrive. I happened to be away with my Mom and sisters for the weekend and my sister sat on my bed and basically said, “Girl, you need medication.” 🙂 She really just suggested it because she’s nice like that (and/or was within punching range) but that’s what she meant.
The thought of possibly getting to the point of depression again scares me. It’s a low I don’t want to get to ever again. I’ve been on the brink of it for the past couple of years because, with all that’s gone on in our lives, I’m tired. Really tired. And I know it’s a real possibility.
So to be proactive and hopefully get myself in a better place at the starting line, I have decided to exercise more (read: some) and I ordered some natural remedies today and will give them a go. I’m not a fan of medication, but I am a fan of having someone close enough to me to suggest that I might need it. I asked my sister to help me notice if the natural remedies are helping. It’s a hard thing to measure so I may not notice.
Do you have someone in your life who knows you well enough and will sit on the bed with you and tell you, “You need medication!”? Someone you can trust if they do tell you that something is off? Someone to walk this with you? I pray that you do.
Update April 2017: In May 2016, nearly a year after I shared this, we were in the throes of planning an overseas move. I felt myself spiraling with anxious thoughts. If anyone asked me how I was doing, my first thought was “overwhelmed”. I spoke to my doctor and we agreed that the natural remedies were a good idea but that a low dose of medication would be a better idea in this season. I cannot even begin to express how life-changing this medicine has been for me. I’ve said multiple times how much I wish I would have had it since I was 16. The moral of this story is to keep having conversations, listen to those you trust, keep seeking health, keep fighting for YOU. You are worth it.
In all seriousness… for someone who is in the deep pit, this post might seem light-hearted, but I know full well that depression is not light-hearted. It is heavy and we need someone to help us navigate through the weight of it. If you feel you are or might be suffering from depression, please seek help. Seek help until you find it. Seek help until you feel better. Keep living until you feel alive again. Do not give up. There is no shame in loving yourself enough to ask for help. Don’t go this alone. If you don’t have a friend who can be honest with you, can I be that friend? Let me tell you that it’s ok to hurt, it’s ok to be where you are. It’s just not ok to stay there. I will post some resources in the comments to this post. Also, anyone is welcome to comment with resources they have found helpful. Please check back and know you are seen, know you are loved and know that you are certainly not alone.