When You Least Expect It

I stopped writing for a little bit. I have pondered just stopping completely. Just walk away. Reasons? I don’t have anything positive to say. No sense in dragging people down with my negativity. I have a lot of stress in my life that is tied into other people and their stories, and I have no freedom to share their stories and so I can’t talk about and explore all the reasons their stories are stressing me out. And probably the most honest, I feel myself in a deep dark place of depression and why would I want to share that with the world? 

Depression is a weird thing. I can stand back and be analytical. Yeah, the times that I get depressed are when I am emotionally stretched too thin. Too much on my plate. I’m overwhelmed. But then, there have been plenty of times that I have been in that position and not fallen into deep depression. So what’s the difference? How do I stop it from descending on me? I’ve tried hard to practice Self-care. I’ve tried very hard to keep my load at a bearable weight. I’ve tried very hard to be proactive about keeping depression at bay. And then there is a “Last Straw” moment and I feel myself sliding down into a pit. 

Today I sat in my chair in my room, opened the curtains so the sun would shine straight in my face. I sat there with my eyes closed and thought about Hope. 

Hope is such an elusive thing. I don’t know how to summon it up when I am at my lowest. But somehow, it has a way of wafting past my face when I am least expecting it. Today, as my eyes saw bright spots against my eyelids and the light warmed me up, I felt a stirring of hope. I realized that all my thoughts about God and his love for me and my inability to accept that on some fundamental level, all of that angst was not something I had to solve today. Today I could just focus on being thankful and praising God and that was enough for now. 

I decided to cancel my membership with the personal trainer app I’ve been using the past year. Not because they weren’t awesome and super helpful to me, but because I realized I needed to move forward with something different to fit where I am now, a year later. And instead of failure, it felt hopeful to start looking for something new.

Today I have decided that all the other myriad problems that are weighing me down can get fixed another day. Or never at all. Just deal with the problems that are right in front of me at this very moment. Cliche. But still true. Story of my life, trying to remember that and walk in it. 

Hope showed up with some sunshine today. I don’t know why. But I’ll take it. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’ll take what I can get. And on the days when hope doesn’t show up, I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other. Seek out the light. Trust that it will show up when I least expect it.  

Fat Fridays: Mental Health Check In

Happy Friday everyone. 

It’s 8:45am and I’ve already had a busy morning. Made homemade muffins for the kids for breakfast. I’ve got a big batch of yeast bread started, sitting in a bowl on the mantel to rise. Walked around picking up all the winter clothing that was left on the floor yesterday after we had a small batch of snow (only happens a couple times a year for us). Lit all the candles in the house in an attempt to chase off the gloom from this cold gray morning. I’ve cleaned up several messes from my son’s puppy that we are babysitting during the day while he’s at work. And also let my cats in and out the door about 5,000 times. 

And I’ve been trying really hard to not be snappy at my kids. This is their second snow day home and in my current mood, I’ve found it challenging to have to deal with arguments, fussing, and just a bunch of energetic kids bouncing around the house. (Stop throwing playing cards at my candles, No, we are NOT playing basketball in the house, yes, we ARE going to clean your room, No, we are NOT going to do a science experiment that involves setting paper on fire.) 

I am struggling a lot with depression and irritability. I’ve been working on getting back to healthy eating, cutting out sugar and processed foods again, and my body is in shock and not happy as it is deprived of all it’s junk again. I know I’m making progress, I’m starting to crave healthy food again and I haven’t had a hard time staying away from the bad suff, but it always puts me in a bad mood when I come off sugar and junk. I have a feeling a lot of that is just physical things happening in my body. 

I’m coming off the High of the Holidays and feeling a predictable blah-ness from resuming normal life again. 

The last two years have been pretty traumatic and so I find myself facing this new year with a lot of hesitancy. What craziness is going to happen this year? 

We’ve got an upcoming court date for our foster daughter and I’m having to face a lot of inner-demons as I resolve to make my voice heard instead of staying quiet. 

I imagine everyone has a list of reasons for why their mental health is not doing so great right now. 

What am I doing about it? 

Well, I’ve been really focused on keeping my home in a constant state of tidiness and order and coziness. It is calming to me to sit in a clean room with candles lit and some pretty things to look at. I tend to be very comfortable with clutter and chaos, but lately I’ve been going the opposite direction and needing everything orderly and in its place. 

I’ve gotten back into daily Bible reading. I have a 12 month Read the BIble in Year. Each day has a date and a passage from the Old Testament, the New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb. I have decided to start in the month of December and work my way backwards, cause that just feels more doable for me. I am finding this reading time to be a time of calm and peace. 

I am working hard on getting our whole family eating healthy again, and one of the things I’m focusing on is baking our own whole-grain bread again. I used to do this a lot, years ago, and then stopped. I find that I need to bake about every two days in order to keep up with the kids. There is something very soothing about making bread. It makes me feel grounded and connected to the earth. Weird? I don’t know. I just know that I am enjoying it and find it soothing. 

The last thing is I am trying to keep life as simple as possible. I’ve had to hit pause on keeping up with community events and concerns, what’s happening in our country, and just focus in on my home. 

And even doing all that, it’s still been a struggle. But, I’m hopeful. My body is going to adjust to the healthier diet again, we’ll get past our court date, spring will come again. Life keeps moving. We just have to take it one day at a time. 

Envy

 Last year my son was in 5th grade. It was a really rough year for him. His class had a lot of violence going on. Fights in the classroom. Fights in the lunchroom. Fights on the playground. I’ve had two other kids go through 5th grade at the same school and they did not have this problem. It seemed to be This Class and This School Year that was having a bad time. The only problem was, all these kids from 5th grade were going to go up to Middle School with my son the next school year and take their problems right along with them. My son was depressed and withdrawn the entire 5th grade school year and we did not see how Middle School was going to help things improve. 

So, here comes the new and improved government Child Tax Credit.  It’s unexpected money. We’ve been living without it, we can continue to live without it. We decided to use a bulk of this money to send our son to a small Christian Private School that is close to our neighborhood, but not IN the neighborhood. 

It has been a night and day difference for him. His academic standards have raised significantly and he is rising to the challenge. He is in a small classroom with kids who behave and are friendly and accept him with all his quirkiness. He has started doing sports and is well liked at the school and has become a happy kid. We are delighted that he is at this new school.

Having him at this new school has opened up a whole new can of worms though. School envy. Discontent. This longing to just pack up ALL my kids and send them to THIS school where they can be safe, happy, well-cared for and they can just thrive in a healthy environment. Apparently though, these kinds of learning environments are only for kids whose parents make a certain amount of money. You can see how it’s really easy to fall into a bad state of mind over this. 

Today I had to stop and take a moment to be thankful for our current income level. It is sufficient to clothe and feed us, give us a home to live in, cars to drive. We even squeeze in low-budget family vacations. If we made more money we probably wouldn’t live where we are. And our location has given us the opportunity to serve people around us in a meaningful way. I know that my kids have been a positive addition to the schools and classrooms that they are in. I know that not having excess money has made us a lot more ready and willing to help others who are living at even lower levels, because we understand where they are coming from. We’ve been there. 

As always, it comes back to faith. Do I have faith that God will provide what each of my children needs? This year he has provided a way for my 6th grader to be in an awesome environment where he is thriving. My 8th grader chose to homeschool and I have been very impressed at his level of self-discipline and scholarship. He’s also been given an opportunity to have an internship at our local Chilren’s Museum which is a perfect fit for his interests and abilities. Each one of my elementary kids have been put in a place where they are getting what they need and are happy. My highschoolers are thriving Despite all the challenges their school is facing. I can’t complain. 

Falling into envy is really easy when I’m not staying in the NOW. When I forget to take stock and be thankful for what I have today. When I get so focused on future worries that I forget that I have everything I need, today. When I spend my time looking at what other people have instead of realizing that, today, I have everything I need. So, here’s to casting off envy and walking forward in a spirit of thankfulness and faith. 

WARNING

I have been feeling nervous lately about having a blog. People are actually reading it. That makes me nervous. I know myself too well. I am so human. I do not have my life together. I am inconsistent. I lose my temper. I’m irritable. I have big bouts of laziness. I blow it with my kids every day. Our family lives at full throttle, very small margins. Lots of risks. Not much of a safety net. In short, there isn’t much that I would say, here you should copy me. I hope very much that my kids don’t repeat all the mistakes I made and that they map out very different lives from me. 

I think what keeps bringing me back to the keyboard is the desire to say, hey, we are all messed up. No one is perfect. But look what Jesus is doing with my mess. Look, this is what sanctification looks like. The daily process of being changed by God’s work in my life. And even this, the sanctification process, I want to show it from a real perspective. No. I don’t become a Christian and then suddenly become this perfect, holy person. In fact, the more I walk with Jesus, the more perfection feels farther and farther away. In truth, every day I get a bigger and bigger understanding of how Unholy I am. And how desperately I need Jesus to cover all my junk with his own holiness. 

Case in point. This past week has been horrible. I have been depressed. My depression has made me revert to bad eating habits which have then made me feel sick. Every morning I got up, got my kids off to school, ran the basic errands, and then crashed in bed until I needed to pick up my kids from school again. I have been walking through a fog and I feel like a failure. How many times have I written about this? You would think, by now, I would be over this and moving on in victory. Healed. Redeemed. Triumphant. 

Apparently not. 

At the same time, a dear friend shared an article about how we keep saying we want God to “Use us”, kind of like employees, but God wants our focus to be on KNOWING him. And it’s out of that knowing that we end up offering service to God, not out of a sense of obligation. And this week, even as I have been dragging low to the ground, I have found myself thinking about who Jesus is, talking to him, feeling his presence with me, and bewildering as it is, not feeling his disapproval of me. Even though I have definitely not been performing or offering any kind of service this week. 

I guess I want to say that I am the poster child of a Messed Up Person Who Is Still Loved By God. Or, this is what God’s Grace looks like in a regular person. And I’m sorry, but it’s not neat and pretty and perfect. It’s sloppy and messy and kind of ugly sometimes. But all that imperfection also serves as a constant reminder that I am saved by Grace, not because I’m this hard working amazing person who follows all the rules, keeps all the laws. No. I’m saved because Jesus decided to save me. And because HE is good and holy and amazing and perfect. 

As I write this blog, I’m sharing myself with you. And that’s kind of scary. Very often I hit the publish button and then instantly have a panic attack. Why did I write that? I shouldn’t have posted that. I need to erase that. Right now. And somehow I fight through the panic, and God gives me peace. It helps to get feedback from you all, and find out that you think the same, have been dealing with the same issues, you know where I’m coming from, etc. I appreciate all of you. I’m thankful for this mutually affirming community we have formed. 

I guess I just want to put out a WARNING label on my blog. 

WARNING: the following material is written by a really imperfect person who is stumbling along through life and trying to figure things out as she goes. Please take everything with a grain of salt. And lots of grace. 

Thanks. 

Emotions Lie

This post is probably a bit off color. Taboo. Things we don’t talk about in mixed company. Sorry. Since this blog is about my life, I get to pick what I write about. 

What has been on my mind this week is how difficult it is to be a woman who is having monthly cycles. For me, once a month, I have an entire week where suddenly my emotions and feelings lie to me. They tell me that I am angry, depressed. There is no hope. Everything is bad. I am a screw up, a failure. I feel tired and run down. Life feels very bleak. And without fail, it usually takes me at least three days before I make the connection…Oh, right. I’m not REALLY depressed and angry. It’s just that time of the month. But the domino effect has already begun. I try to make myself feel better by eating something sweet or some other special treat. I have no energy so maybe I miss a day of exercise. And then I feel worse. I’m so undisciplined. Why can’t I stick to my diet? I’m so lazy. I couldn’t even get out for a walk. 

And then I figure out what’s going on. And it takes me several days to unravel the mess and get myself back on firm ground. And then I move on with life, forget what happened, only to be hit again a month later. 

And reading this, I think, well, duh why haven’t you been more proactive to chart these things and just plan ahead for them? All I can say is, I’m not the most organized person, and life is really busy. I chronically don’t pay attention and then get hit every month. 

And sometimes, the “everything should be fair and equal” part of me rears up a bit in anger. Why is it just women who have to deal with this? And why were we made this way? It seems to be a rather broken system. 

I think this is one of those topics in which I’m going to have to wait till I get to heaven to get the answers.

In the meantime, all I can do is dwell on what I have learned from this aspect of womanhood. 

Here is what I have learned. Emotions and feelings are not reliable, trustworthy or honest indicators of how my life is going. And I constantly have to remind myself of this. One of the things I say to my kids, A LOT, is “Let’s speak some truth over this.” When they tell me about a nightmare that has scared them. A fear that is crippling them. They give me a list of everything that is wrong with life…Ok. Let’s speak some truth over this. Let’s sort out reality from fiction. Let’s count our blessings so we can see that we are actually living in a place of blessing, not curses. Let’s dwell on what God says about us, not what the world says about us. Let’s attack these bad feelings with truth. 

Something we hear a lot in our culture is “Just Follow Your Heart!” And by heart we generally mean what you are feeling. Which seems really weird when feelings are so random and unstable. They are connected to what time of the month it is. Whether we had a lot of inconveniences thrown our way. Whether someone else decided to behave badly toward us. Feelings and emotions are great tools, but only if you don’t take them too seriously. Yeah, I’m feeling really yucky. But that doesn’t mean life is really yucky. It could mean I’m fighting off a cold, my hormones are shifting, my lunch didn’t agree with me. We just have to keep in mind that every surge of emotion needs to be paired up with some truth speaking. 

No More Christianese, Please

Lately I have really been struggling with “Christianese” . These are the set platitudes that Christians murmur to each other all the time, catch phrases that we say without giving much thought to the meaning. “God has really blessed you!” “I’m believing God for a miracle!” “You just need to press in and pray!” 

I am “blessed” because my husband recovered quickly from Covid. What about those who lost their husbands to covid? Are they Not blessed? I am “believing God for a miracle”. And then the miracle doesn’t show up. Must be because you didn’t believe enough? I see that you are really struggling in this area, you just need to press in and pray! And if you continue to struggle in this area it means that you have a bad prayer life and you just really aren’t a very spiritual person. 

I have this image of tapestry in my mind. And, this is not an original image to me, I’ve read many illustrations about seeing life as a tapestry. But here we are staring at the bottom side of the tapestry and everything is backwards and messy looking. We can’t see the other side where the beautiful picture is being made. And I feel like we have everything backwards. 

What if someone being miraculously healed, saved from the brink of death, is actually not the great prize we see it as. Think about a Christian who knows they are going to one day be walking face to face with Jesus, living in paradise. They’re at death’s door, and they are miraculously saved. It almost seems like a big let down. Oh great. I was hoping that my work on earth was finished and I could finally go get my reward, but instead now I have to wait even longer and do even more work. 

We pray for people to be saved from trials, but scripture tells us over and over again that it is during trials and tribulations that our faith grows, our maturity grows. We are refined, the dross is burned away. We are sanctified. But, in our upside down view of things, we see those trials as lack of blessing, lack of prayer, lack of faith. 

Can I just say, “Christianese” can be really offensive. When I am bowed down to the ground with depression, barely able to move and someone suggests to me that I just need to get into the word and pray more…that is not helpful. How about, I see that you are really struggling and I imagine prayer and Bible reading are really difficult right now. I just want you to know that I am standing in the gap for you and lifting you up in prayer. Here, I’ve written out this Bible verse for you, I hope it comforts you. Is there anything in the physical realm I can do to help you? Do you need help getting hooked up with a counselor or a therapist? Can I check in with you regularly so you know you are not alone? 

When my loved one is at death’s door, please don’t tell me that you believe God is going to heal them. What if he doesn’t? Is God still good if my loved one dies? Am I still loved and cherished if they die? Does their death signal a lack of blessing or protection? How about, I am praying night and day that God’s will be done in your loved one’s life and in your life. I am praying that you both have fresh revelation of how loved you are and how secure you are in God’s hands. Can I read Psalm 139 aloud to you? So we can be reminded how deeply and intimately God cares about every detail of your life? I am praying strength and peace for you! What can I do physically to help you? Meals? Help to get to appointments? Financial assistance? 

When I am going through trials and tribulations please don’t act like I have somehow fallen out of favor with God because I am going through these things. “I just need to pray more so that God will forgive me for whatever I did wrong and put me back on the Nice and Easy path that I crave.” How about some encouragement along the lines of, God must have some really important plans for your life because I can see how he is strengthening your faith, maturing you and refining you into an even stronger person than you were before. I can see how you are growing through these trials. I am praying for supernatural strength for you and praying that God will use these things to draw you even closer to him. How can I help you physically? Is there anything tangible I can do to ease your burden and let you know that you aren’t alone while you go through this hard situation? 

I know that every platitude that has been told me has been done in love and good intentions. I’m not mad when people say things that were meant to be helpful, but just aren’t. I see their heart, I know they care about me. But, we can do better guys. Let’s really think about what we say before we say it. 

Fat Fridays: Fatigue

I do not like being tired. I hate it. It feels like I have to do a task that requires 10 units, but I’ve only been given 4 units. And then what do you do? 

Fatigue is one of the leading reasons I started pursuing a better diet and exercise. I needed energy. Really bad. My poor diet messed with my blood sugar. I would eat too many carbs and then my blood sugar would spike and I would feel like I was about to pass out and I would have to lie down. My lack of exercise made climbing the stairs at my house a major event. I felt like I was dragging myself through each day. 

So, I changed my diet, I started really keeping tabs on my carbs, trying to not go over 30grams per meal or snack. I started exercising and felt my endurance growing by leaps and bounds. I now started running up the steps at my house. I stopped taking naps every day. I started averaging about seven hours of sleep, instead of needing eight-plus. I started taking a handful of supplements, like B vitamins and Vitamin D.  And while I will never be accused of being the Energizer Bunny, I felt fine getting through my day. 

And then this past couple weeks happened. Last week I was on a stress-high from the recent gun-violence in my kids’ highschool and our community. Then this week that stress turned into depression. I have barely been able to get out of bed in time in the mornings. I do all my early morning stuff of getting kids off to school, getting young kids fed and settled in, and then I crash mid morning. Fall asleep. And though I don’t sleep too long, it takes me several hours afterwards to get myself up and functioning again. 

I’ve been rolling with it. Been sitting on the couch reading to my little boys instead of trying to tackle grammar and math lessons (I homeschool my six year old). I haven’t attempted to fold the six baskets of laundry, just made sure the kids grab something clean out every night for the next day. I haven’t tried to do any heavy-duty cleaning, just the basic daily tidy-up. My personal trainer is still sending me daily workouts, but twice I’ve traded in a tough workout for a long walk instead. And I’ve just been trying to be patient with myself. Depression is something I’ve fought before and I know it will pass. 

But, I have to say, I’ve been a bit surprised at the fatigue. I think, in the back of my mind, I always presumed that all my fatigue came directly from lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet. I never thought a lot about stress and depression being a significant factor as well. But, I think it is. 

The big reminder I’ve had to give myself is, even though my diet and exercise aren’t giving me energy right now, it would be a hundred times worse if I went back to my old lifestyle. I am still nourishing my body in the way it needs, moving it the way it needs. Fatigue is not an excuse to stop. It’s a motivation to keep going. No reason to make this any worse than it already is. 

Resting in the Favor of God

Lately I feel like my life has been reading like a soap opera. What happened this week? Oh, you know, death, violence, tragedy, mental health emergencies, major appliances broken…

Yesterday my 2nd grader was playing on the playground at school. Two cars drove past the school, shooting guns at each other. The kids heard the gunshots and ran inside, school went on a soft lockdown, lots of police were present as the kids were dismissed from school. You know. Just another day. 

On the same day, we had a child with a mental health crisis, and it came home to me again, that our health system is letting the kids down. Our school has a program where a therapist comes to the school from one of the big providers in our area, and meets with the kids at school and does home visits during the summer. Awesome program. Except the therapist quit her job in November, and they still haven’t replaced her. And my child is falling through the cracks. Our own doctor’s office only does mental health visits over the phone or zoom, which doesn’t work well for small children. After a flurry of phone calls, we have found a new place we are going to try that does in person visits. Thank goodness. 

And this just seems to be our everyday life now. 

This year I have felt an urgency and conviction to actively work at keeping myself in a good place mentally. I am prone to depression and anxiety and have learned that these are things I have to constantly be working on to keep them at bay. With a lot of pushing and shoving from the Holy Spirit, I started a new exercise and diet program in January that is giving me good results. I started taking high school Algebra 1 online, just for the challenge, and I have enjoyed the sense of accomplishment, every time I pass another exercise or another quiz. God has been convicting me of my choices in entertainment, and I have been working on a big shift in what I read, which is a whole story in itself, but I have been working on filling my mind with more wholesome things. (Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8)

This is my testimony, despite all the craziness, I have not been shaken. I know when I was younger, things would happen, and I would wonder if I was being punished for some wrongdoing. I would wonder if all these troubles were a sign that I was not walking in the right direction. I believed that if I was a Christian, then my life should be mostly blessed, simple. And if it wasn’t, then I must be doing something wrong. 

I don’t believe that anymore. God is good but his goodness doesn’t always look like the Perfect American Dream. The bible is pretty clear that we are going to have trials and hardship and persecution. 

“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

Right now I feel like I am in a place of faith building. Each day I feel almost bewildered at how normal I feel. Things happen, and I step back and shake my head, when is all the crazy going to stop? But, then I keep moving and keep tackling whatever is in front of me. And I marvel that God is still keeping me in a place of peace. Yes, I am worried about what is happening in our nieghborhood with gun violence. Yes, I am concerned over many things, but my head is still above water and I’m still swimming.  And that is all God. 

My daughter has been playing a song recently and the refrain is stuck in my head. It’s from the Psalm 30:5, the first half of the verse:

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;

Funny as it sounds, I feel very much like I am resting in the favor of God. Despite the soap opera thing going on. 

Depression Anniversary

This morning my Facebook memories popped up and showed me that three years ago, I made my first “public” post about my struggle with depression and our decision to put our children in public school. 

I read through the comments again this morning. (All 78 of them!) And what stood out to me was how much of a need we have for people to honestly share their struggles. Knowing that someone else is struggling makes us feel less isolated, it eases some of our shame. 

Keeping that in mind, I’ve decided to give you all a “Depression Update”. 

One of my big disappointments in life is that I haven’t had a full recovery from my depression. While I haven’t been as low as I was three years ago, I still feel like depression is something that I have to actively keep at bay. And when I am not purposeful about taking care of myself, it creeps back in. 

Things I do to keep depression away:

Take a night off. 

Wednesday nights are MY nights. My husband gets home from work and I take off. I very often end up at Panera where it’s ok to sit with your computer or a book for a long period of time. I have a couple different friends who often meet me there for an evening of chatting and encouragement. Sometimes I go walking in the park alone or with friends. Sometimes I just leave the house, go buy myself some supper somewhere and then sneak back into my house in the back door and hide in my bedroom, feet up, reading a good book. 

The whole point though is that I can do whatever I want without feeling any guilt about leaving my husband home alone with the kids. (He gets his own night off.)

Give myself lots of space. 

I do not keep a perfectly clean house. I do not run a tight ship. I do not have a perfect schedule. I do not have a full, busy schedule. I am very purposeful about keeping my daily routine as free from stress as possible. I have found that the only way I can maintain a 24hrs a day, 7 days a week parent-of-many-children lifestyle, is to keep my day as calm as possible. Lots of wiggle room. Maybe it only takes us two hours to get all our homeschooling work done.  I give myself four hours. That way we can take lots of breaks, follow rabbit trails if we want, have time to deal with phone calls that might come in, or a quick chore that has to get done. I do not do well when I have to follow a tight timeline. Occasionally it can’t be avoided. There are doctor’s appointments, extra curricular activities, school meetings. If I have a day that involves me running full stop all day long, then I make sure that the next day I have nothing extra going on and I move slower. 

Date nights

The other day I told my husband something that I don’t think I had ever put into words before. “You are essential to my happiness.” And it’s true. When Andy walks in the door at night, my shoulders visibly relax. He makes me laugh. He uses his words often to tell me how important I am to him, to tell me how he feels about me. And I am encouraged and I feel loved. We need time together. We need to be able to unplug from parenting for a minute and just be two adults who like spending time together. Now, I know that for parents with young children, getting out on a date can be impossible. We went years not being able to get out. Now, we have teenagers who can babysit and we try to get out once a week for a date. But, sometimes money or schedules keeps us from being able to go out. Then we have bedroom dates. And by that I just mean we get the kids to bed, maybe get a snack, watch a movie together in our room or just sit and talk. The main point though is that we are purposeful about setting aside at least one night a week that is ours. 

Daily Devotions/ Daily exercise

Taking time every day to read the Bible and pray feeds my spiritual self. Taking time every day to get my body moving feeds my physical self. Sometimes I don’t do these things. But, when I do, I feel happier and have more energy. 

Talk to a therapist/friend equivalent

I still have monthly or bimonthly phone visits with my therapist. And I always think, before the call, do I really need this? And then afterwards, I am always glad that I was able to talk to her. It is a great help to have another adult look into your life and help you process challenges and get a perspective that is focused on the good of you and your mental health.

Practice Thankfulness

This one is actually an outpouring of my Christian walk. The Bible tells us repeatedly to give thanks in all things. As God has been teaching this to me over my lifetime, I have not only learned how to lose a bad mood or a bad attitude, but I’ve also learned how to stop and just take pleasure from small things. The way the sun is shining just-so on that tree. The sound of fall leaves crunching under my feet. The smell of woodsmoke. Watching my children practice acts of kindness to each other. Being thankful, noticing the goodness around me, these have gone a long way in helping me to not succumb to depression. 

In the end, all of these things are tools, not cures. I have days when I crawl back into bed in the middle of the day. Or I end up sitting in my chair, doing nothing. But the difference between years ago and now, is that the next day, I can usually get up and keep moving, instead of it dragging on and on and on. 

Maybe I will struggle with depression the rest of my life. But I have hope and peace that God will help me through it, one day at a time, one strategy at a time. 

Why are we so Angry?

My last post was essentially an Angry Rant about people Angry Ranting on the internet. Yes. I see the hypocrisy here. Of course, when you’re angry, it’s kind of hard to think clearly. All you can think about is your anger, and what’s fueling it, and you just want to lash out. And I did. And I’m sorry. While I had many friends that could empathize with my position, I knew that I had written it in anger, not love. So I removed the post. 

 

It’s got me thinking about why am I so angry? Why is everyone else so angry? It’s also got me a little more sympathetic for everyone else’s Angry Rants. Yes. I see. When you are angry, it’s hard to be kind and respectful and thoughtful. 

 

I’m going to try again. 

 

Take 2

 

So, why are we so angry? 

 

I can’t speak for everyone else. I can tell you some of the things that have made me angry recently. 

 

I am angry about a pandemic that has shut down my normal way of life. I am angry that the leadership is so divided, that I have no trust in how my country is dealing with this. I am angry that the news media is so biased, I have no trust in what they are saying and now I feel like I am sifting through mountains of information, and it’s just a guess as to which one is true or false. I am angry at the stories of Police Brutality that have come to light. I am angry that I really wasn’t clued in to what was happening. I am angry that I seem to have no tangible way of making the situation better. I am angry at how politicized the whole thing has become. Instead of a human rights issue, the media (on both sides) seem determined to make this a Political Party issue. I am angry at how divided our country is. And there doesn’t seem to be any way to fix it. I am angry that we are turning against each other on social media, drawing lines in the sand on issues, that many of us just really don’t fully understand. 

 

I am angry at how this shut down has made my life so much more difficult as I try to raise a large family. I am angry that I am exhausted and the light at the end of the tunnel seems very far away and it keeps flickering, like it might disappear. 

 

I am angry at myself for not being “better”, “stronger”. Why do I have to be so weak? Why do I have to struggle with depression? Why can’t I rise above my circumstances? 

 

Before I took my post down, a friend commented on my Facebook page that he disagreed with my sentence I had written that said, “We are better than this.” He pointed out that we are actually worse, and it’s only God’s grace that has kept us at any kind of level of civility (paraphrased). And I had to agree. He’s right. We are all so capable of so many horrible things: anger at each other, racism, superiority complexes, oppression, hatred, murder. 

The other day I was faced with a confession by a fellow human being, they told me of a horrible deed they had done and I was shocked. Shocked into silence. You did what?? How? I just sat there. There were no words to offer sympathy and justification for the deed, just horror. And suddenly, I found myself preaching the Gospel. This is why Jesus came. All of us have done bad things. Every single one of us. And none of us can fix it. None of us can make all those bad things go away. We are completely helpless. And Jesus came. He lived the perfect life for us. He died on the Cross and paid the price for these horrible things that we have done. He wiped the debt clean. He removed the offense. He is the only one who can make us pure again. We need to come to him. Confess our sins. Ask his forgiveness. Accept his forgiveness. Have faith that he has made all things right again. 

 

That’s where we are at as a country. We have done horrible things. We have turned a blind eye, we have walked in pride, we have vented our anger, we have mocked and scorned each other. There is no way to fix this. People who are concerned about White Privilege feel that old debts need to be repaid. How?  It is too big, too messy, too arbitrary. White Privilege is in essence the privilege of the ruling class which has been going on since the beginning of time in every single country that has ever existed. How can we go back and fix every single wrong? And yes. It is definitely wrong. It is sin. It is evil. 

 

I would say that it can’t be fixed. Every single one of us needs forgiveness. You might say, I’m not a racist! I don’t have any privilege! Or maybe you are black or another one of the minorities, and you say, Hey, I didn’t do anything wrong, I’ve just been wronged against. 

 

Maybe, in the matter of race, you are completely innocent. But can you say the same for every other area in your life? 

 

All have sinned and Fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

 

I look at the mess we are in. All the anger. I am overwhelmed, there are no words to fix it. And so I will preach the Gospel. Because, sappy as it is, Jesus truly is the only answer. And I’m not talking about a religion. I’m talking about the God who says, “Love Me and then Love your Neighbor as Yourself.” And then he gives us his Holy Spirit to give us the power to do those two things. 

 

And as I focus on Him, some of the fear eases away. And as fear eases away, I suddenly don’t feel like I have to lash out. Yes, I can still be angry at injustice, wrongdoing, violence. But, I can also get a bigger perspective. This is a spiritual battle. (As a friend reminded me today!)I need to be praying for my enemies, not gloating over them. Each person I meet is a soul that needs Jesus. My anger isn’t going to save them. But my love and compassion might.