Why Depression Won’t Win: An Easter Reflection

I am a girl who feels she is not enough. Perfection seems like it should be possible and yet I fall short. I snap at my kids. I am jealous of other women. I am irritable, selfish, materialistic. I see my sin. I struggle with depression, shame, and fear. And I know I would be stuck in a spiral of hopelessness and darkness if it wasn’t for this one truth:

Jesus loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

 I MAY NOT BE GOOD ENOUGH, BUT I AM LOVED

Jesus saw in me a girl worth dying for. He saw me as a girl who can be redeemed.

In Him I am new. The old is gone, the new is here. I may still carry shame and unworthiness in my heart, but the cross and the empty tomb proclaim that I am valued and set free.

When I reflect on His undying love, I have hope. When I remember His promise of abundant life, joy creeps into my soul. When I begin to comprehend that the grave couldn’t hold Him and darkness couldn’t hide His light, I weep with relief. Because if He could withstand the darkness of death and rise in light, maybe He can bring unending light into my life.

Because of Him, I live.

Christ is risen, friends.

Blessed Easter.

-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the
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Why I Have a Dream

my boys

This is my family.

My boys and my cousin’s son, in their Christmas jammies, completely oblivious to the fact that 50 or 60 years ago this would not have been possible.

Unaware that hate between their races exists in the world.

Instead, they embrace each other. They love each other.

Last week, Jack came home from school talking about Martin Luther King Jr. With awe in his voice, he told me, “He changed the world.”

With the faith and simplicity of a child he came up with solutions for segregation – “he could have just taken the signs down!”

With great thought and contemplation he wondered why we don’t have African Americans in our school. (A largely hispanic/white neighborhood)

And with hope he says now, “The world is better because of Martin Luther King Jr.”

Yes, yes it is my son.

And inside I cry out – we still have so far to go!

But I have a dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” 

Much of MLK’s dream has come true. Many have seen the changes take place. Others are still crying out for redemption. For justice. For peace.

Many of the problems in our world feel too big. The hatred. The oppression. The systemic disadvantages. The lack of compassion. Or help.

But this snapshot of my family brings me hope. This is the next generation of world changers. As Jack asks hard questions, “Why did they kill him?” I see his wheels turning. He is working out the problems, seeking solutions. He is already instituting change in the world in his love for his cousin.

I have a dream.

And I have hope.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 40:3-5

For the first time, I acknowledged my loss…

Day 8 of 31 Days of Connecting31 days of connecting

My journey of 31 days is taking a little turn. Over the next days – as many as it takes – I want to share my recent story with you. It started here, yesterday. Please start there. I pray that hearing my story of connecting – of REconnecting – will help you connect with God, others, and yourself.

In January 2013, I felt life was going really well. Ben was one, Jack was four, my depression was under control, I had excitement for Scum of the Earth Church and sensed that God was bringing something new to our community through a movement of prayer and worship.  I had hope of redemption and faith that God brings things around for the better – hope that I had been missing for a few years. At last God had reminded me that He brings joy to life, not just endurance.

So, when we held our first night of prayer and worship at Scum, I was filled with anticipation and expectation of what God would do.

The evening was beautiful as people came and saught the LORD. And God was moving. He was redeeming. He was encouraging. He was speaking. I was honored to be part of it and more confident than ever that this was where I was supposed to be.

Then one of our leaders asked my husband, Tim, and me to pray for his health. I prayed. Tim prayed. When we finished, he turned to Tim and told him how impactful his prayer was. That there was power in his hands.

He said nothing to me.

I felt myself fall to pieces. My confidence vanished. I was hurt that he didn’t recognize God’s work in me – I feared maybe God wasn’t working in me. I battled with my insecurity and shame until I finally told Tim, “I feel useless.”

Tim then wanted to ask that same leader we prayed for to pray for me. I was horrified and scared to discover where these feelings were coming from. Was I under spiritual attack?

But we asked the leader, and he prayed over me. Then he said the thing I least expected. He said that fear is often connected to grief. He told me I need to consider what I’ve lost in my life and how that has affected me and caused me to fear. My fear and insecurity was not an outside attack, but God was healing me by revealing my deep pain.

I was bewildered. I had never considered myself as needing to grieve. However, within 24 hours, I had a list of lost relationships; more than 20 individuals whose relationship with me had been severed in some way. From middle school friends to professional mentors. From relatives to peers. From best friends to boyfriends. Deaths. Illnesses. Moves. I had said goodbye to so many people and I felt the hurt of them all.

For the first time I acknowledged my loss.

And my pain.

I wrote in my journal:

Sometimes I fear no one loves me as deeply as I do them. That Tim could not be as crazy about me as I am about him. Or that friends don’t want my friendship. Or even, Lord, that I have to earn your favor… Now, being away from family, having few friends, or even close co-workers, I feel afraid of losing more, being rejected all over again…

I began to grieve.

day 8to be continued…

 

Why are relationships so hard?

Day 1 of 31 Days of Connecting

The pain surrounds me.

I’ve yelled at my kids. I’ve yelled at my spouse. I’ve cried buckets of tears. My eyes are swollen. My sister called crying. My friends have called crying. We are all suffering, struggling, in pain and frustrated.

“Why are relationships so hard?”

I know it was not meant to be this way. God did not create us for envy, hate, strife, fear, or conflict. He created us for good. And it all was. But with the bite of that fruit, with that choice to pursue ourselves over love, we recreated the world.

One commentator states that after Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God did not arrive in the garden as one who is on a leisurely stroll playing an accidental game of hide and seek. Instead He came in a storm, with all of the furry and pain of a spouse who has been betrayed by his lover.[1] The world was no longer Eden, perfect. Perfection had been lost. Storms and separation were now the norm.

And we experience it every day.

Tremendously, God has not left the world there, but He immediately set about making things right again; working to reconnect the world. My kids’ bible calls it God’s Rescue Plan. In and through Jesus, we are being healed in our relationship with God. We are being healing in our relationship with ourselves (yes, ourselves). And we are being healing in our relationships with each other.day 1

There is hope. Healing is possible. Connection can happen.

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:18 NLT

[1] Jeffrey J. Niehaus, “In the Cool of the Day?” in Basics of Biblical Hebrew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 398-400.