Saturday, January 10, 2015

Book

I've been doing great for the last year, unfortunately though I've developed some very bad habits having struggled with depression for so long. I want to jump off the diving board back into the life I had before things got really bad. My responsibilities haven't changed at all, I'm still a wife, mother, homemaker, teacher… The problem is that I have so many things to do that I'm overwhelmed and don't know where to start. I've tried to plan out my days to include everything that needs to get done, but it always ends miserably and the depression comes back for a visit. Since it takes me a while to learn things this has happened way more than once. I forgot how to swim.


I've come to the conclusion that I need to go back to the dog-paddle to get back into shape. When I first got married I learned how to be a wife. When I had a baby I learned how to be a mother. When I finally got a home (long story), I learned how to take care of it. My point is that none of these things happened all at once, they came one at a time. And while I know in my head how to do these things, the action is the hard part. I've spent so many years in bed with my mind closed off to the world that I've become mentally and physically weak as a result. 

I love to read. Unfortunately there's not a whole lot out there for Christians to learn how to recover from a lengthy mental illness. I don't want to read a humanistic counselor telling me to set aside "me time," and that I need to forgive myself. I'm past that! I've spent 17 years trapped inside my own head for goodness sake! I need to get out of myself and be with others. But it's hard. 

That's why I've decided to break up my recovery into small chunks and work on one thing at a time. Just like you can't expect a couch potato to run a marathon overnight, so too you can't expect someone recovering from depression to step back into life where they left off. For one thing we're weak. For another thing, we are not the same person we used to be. The depression has changed us. We are going to have to figure out how to do things that will work for us now. I don't have the energy of a twenty-something anymore!

So that's my idea. I hope to give regular updates on this blog. So if you're interested you can follow along, and maybe we can learn together.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Progression

It's like a weight. A very light weight, so light in fact that you don't notice it at first. Maybe not for a long time. It's not like the weight on your chest that you sometimes get when you do or say something bad to a friend and need to reconcile with them. That weight is strong at first, especially if there is some kind of offense involved, but then it fades as resolution occurs. And it's not like the sharp stabbing of grief in your heart when a person close to you dies, although that may come and go at times.

No, this weight is light as a feather at first. Like one morning you wake up and realize you've had a little harder time getting out of bed for the past week or two. You make it a priority to go to bed earlier at night. But that doesn't help and you tell yourself you're just under more stress than usual lately and shrug it off. After a while you find yourself tired during the day too so you start taking naps in order to make it through till bedtime. You know something doesn't feel right but you can't put your finger on it. Irritability sneaks in and sits on your shoulder at some point too. Some people feel like sandpaper and the tiniest of things start annoying you till you explode with anger. You know it's not their fault but you can't help it. Then Guilt takes its seat on your other shoulder and refuses to budge.

Fog creeps it's way into your head next. You take a little longer to think clearly, or get a joke that someone throws at you. Words you want to use are within sight but Fog is standing behind you with it's hands covering your eyes. You just can't catch the words no matter how hard you try. Everyone you know has this problem, you rationalize, but it's happening more often than you'd like to admit.

By now the weight has settled itself firmly on top of your head and you reach your hands up there to try to feel out what it is, but it's an amorphous membrane filled with something unpleasant. You can't make out what it is but you know damn well you don't want to accidentally puncture it. Finally you admit to yourself that something is wrong. And this is when Guilt whispers in your ear, "you're not doing something as well as you ought." So you accept the conclusion that you're in some kind of sin. Out comes the Bible and you read and pray, read and pray, day after day, day after day. Heaven is silent. Not a word.

Weeks turn to months. The thing on top of your head has grown significantly. The weight of it has gotten heavier, so heavy in fact that your back couldn't bear the weight of it and you've fallen onto your hands and knees. Life is getting unmanageable because you're unable to walk upright anymore. Heaven is still silent, not a peep. Guilt gloats. Irritability is now a roaring fire, anyone who comes too close gets burned. Fog invited some friends to the party and now they surround you, taunting you. Conversations and ideas are so hard to follow that you've almost given up.

On the outside, to the world, nothing looks wrong about you. You've gotten really good at smiling your way out of all the light, "Hey! How are you?" questions. Chit chat is shallow because you know deep down in your heart that nobody really cares how you feel anyway. And if they did, what could they possibly do to help? Give you Bible verses? You're already doing that, faithfully you could even say. Shame tells you that you don't want anyone to know how bad a person you are since not even God talks to you anymore. You feel like the Holy Spirit has stepped out for a very long cigarette break and is trying to decide wether or not you're worth coming back to. If people really knew the darkness inside of you they would run away in terror. Some people though, only a few, tilt their heads and squint as if they are trying to tell if there's something "off" about you or not. So you give them your extra special smile. Also, the funny thing about this weight is that it's turned the ground under your feet unstable. You are now sunk up to your chest in the dirt but nobody seems to notice it.

So this is how you live now, and it's been years since that feather fell to your head. It's become so normal that your children have stopped asking why you don't smile anymore. And then one day you notice that you aren't just up to your chest in dirt anymore, you are now lying on the bottom of a deep, dark hole in the ground. You're unable to move because the weight that was previously on your head has melted into your body and solidified. Your mind is numb and your heart is a cold, hard lump in your chest. The Fog is so thick that you almost can't see the light far above you anymore. Guilt is using you as a body pillow and is constantly whispering bitter nothings into your ear. Irritability, strangely enough, is sitting a few feet away from you. Apathy has evidently taken it's place and has handcuffed itself to your wrist. It is fiercely territorial and you now belong to it. And heaven is still silent.

After many years God has saved me from that pit, praise Him! But honestly, I still feel like this sometimes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Come away..."

"Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while." Mark 6:31

The disciples were weary. They had been traveling the countryside preaching repentance and preforming miracles. All their comfort and security had been taken from them before they left. They were to travel without food, extra clothing or money and they were to trust in the hospitality of strangers for their basic needs. It couldn't have been an easy job. Traveling must have taken a toll on their bodies as they walked from village to village. Preaching repentance must have taken a toll on their minds as they sought to persuade men to abandon their sins and turn to God. And preforming miracles must have taken a toll on their spirits as they cast out demons and healed the sick. I'm sure they were exhausted when they returned to Jesus to tell Him all they did. And I'm also sure that He understood completely.

"Come away..." He said, to a place to rest from the demanding journey. They imagined a place far from crowds of people pleading for help, far from the educated elite who only wanted to argue, to a desolate place where they could find peace and rest. That must have sounded wonderful to the weary disciples!  Imagine the great sense of relief and anticipation they must have felt as they were sailing across the sea, the wind blowing away their tension and fatigue as it drove them nearer to their place of rest.

Then they saw it. A dark moving mass on the shore where they were to land. Dread began to creep over them as they drew closer and closer to shore. The disciples recognized the familiar sight of a great multitude of demanding, needy people. How their hearts must have sunk into the pits of their stomachs! How angry and defeated they must have felt at having their hopes for a much needed rest vanish away!

But Jesus didn't see it that way. What He saw was a flock of lost, sick, and desperate sheep in need of a shepherd to care for them. Jesus was moved with compassion and sat down to teach and comfort these miserable people. He chose to set aside His own personal discomforts and desire for rest in order to minister to those who were in more desperate need of help than He was.

The disciples, though, were not as overcome with compassion as Jesus was. They became resentful and bitter as Jesus continued to minister to the people. And as the day grew late they went to Jesus and asked Him to send the people away as if they were concerned about the hunger of the masses. But Jesus was more concerned about the hungry souls of these people. He told the disciples to feed them, as if it were a simple thing. I think He was trying to tell them something.

The disciples couldn't believe what they heard! Was Jesus kidding? How were they supposed to feed all these people when they could barely feed themselves? With what money were they to buy bread and fish? They had none! But Jesus knew what was in their bags as well as what was in their hearts. He instructed them to pull out their food, which, when combined amounted to five loaves and two fish. Hardly enough to feed twelve men let alone the multitude. Their provisions were immensely inadequate for the task which Jesus gave them, and they were not happy about it.

Nonetheless, to their credit, they did what Jesus instructed and divided the people into groups to make serving them easier. Then they watched in amazement as Jesus blessed the food and proceeded to multiply it above and beyond what was needed to feed every single person. And when everyone had eaten their fill, the disciples were left with much, much more than they had started out with.

The lesson? When you are exhausted, hurting, and in need of rest, don't be surprised if Jesus calls you to "come away" with Him and set yourself aside to do an impossible act for which you are vastly ill equipped to do. And in that Christ will not only preform a miracle, but He will provide for you exceedingly more than what you had started out with. In this case, not only did Jesus speak healing words of salvation to these people, but He also provided nourishment to everyone involved out of seemingly nothing.

Maybe what the disciples thought they needed, rest and refreshment for their physical bodies, was not as important as the rest and refreshment that their spirits needed after having worked so long and hard ministering to others. How do we get rest and refreshment for our souls? By watching Jesus do His miraculous works in our lives and the lives of others.

Why is this story important to me? Well, lately I've been working really hard to change my faulty way of thinking about certain things. So much so that it's been taking up most of my days for the past several weeks. My thinking has been so twisted and deluded by depression that it has become the glass through which I've viewed the world, God, and myself for many years. A challenging task to change this, yes, but a necessary one.

The thing is though, that just when I get to the place where I feel like some of the tougher things are coming to an end so I can possibly move on to rest from these particular efforts, another hurdle pops up that demands my attention and prevents me from following my own plans. And just when I've dealt with that hurdle another pops up in a different area. What's going on? How discouraging! I don't have the stamina and ability to deal with even simple, every day things let alone deeper issues! I can't predict or control how or when each issue pops up. Is this how life is supposed to be?

Yes. As long as there is sin in this world, as long as there are people to deal with, as long as there are trials to overcome, we will have to accept the fact that we may not always get the kind of rest we want when we want it. The good news is that we're not alone in this life, Christ is with us. He's the one who steers our boat from shore to shore. He's our example on how to set our own needs aside to minister to those who are in worse shape than we are. He knows our needs better than we do and is able to provide for us exceedingly and abundantly above all we could ask or think. 

Because maybe when we think we need rest and refreshment, what we really need is to sit back, do what God asks of us, give him our meager abilities, and watch Him preform miracles. And that my friends is where true rest and refreshment for the soul comes from.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Attacks

Isn't it funny how things can be going along relatively smoothly for a while, then BAM! We're hit upside the head with a blow from seemingly out of the blue. It seems random and pointless and personal for a moment until we step back to fully consider where it's coming from and why.

Here's the deal. The enemy of our souls knows exactly where our weaknesses are and he's going to use every means possible to shame us and to give God a black eye. We must remember that the spiritual realm does exist, we shouldn't ignore it, but we shouldn't be afraid of it either. (Romans 8:31-39)

So I've come to the conclusion that I not only have to deal with my unredeemed flesh and my faulty brain, I must also deal with the outside attacks to my spiritual life. I'm not writing all this to sound like a martyr and have people to feel sorry for me. God forbid! It's just a fact of everyone's lives that they have to deal with these things and it can be helpful to put them in perspective so that we can see them for what they are and to deal with them in a healthy biblical manner. If we don't then we will fall victim to the lies of the enemy and we'll begin to believe all the lies that run through our brains as a result. Believing these lies, for those of us prone to depression, will result in feelings of bitterness, anxiety, anger, despondency and feeling worthless and hopeless.

Who needs that? We must have a firm grasp of the truth in order to avoid these things. What is the only source of truth that we have? The Bible. It is solid, infallible and never changing. My own feelings? They're fickle, I cannot trust my own feelings and opinions completely. The ideologies of other people? They're fallible too. In fact, no two people will ever agree with each other on every topic all the time. Ever. Truth cannot be relative. That's an oxymoron. Truth never changes. What in the world do we have that never changes? Only one thing, God's Holy Word. That said, let's see what truths we can learn from Scripture to deal with our issues. Oh my goodness, there are so many awesome verses it's going to be hard to narrow it down to just a few!

I've tried to break it down so I can wrap my brain around them better. Of course these things can be so intertwined with each other at times that it's difficult to pull them apart and make sense of them, but on the whole this is what I've seen to be true. There are three things which we must wrestle with as human beings. Our flesh, our minds, and outside influences.

1) Our flesh, physical bodies- even though or spirits have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, our flesh is the part of us which is still waiting for the transformation which will occur when we go home to be with the Lord. Our flesh has not yet been brought into submission to God and will therefore always be struggling against him. I must remember that as long as I live on this earth I will struggle with with my flesh. I will be tired, cranky, emotional, selfish, anxious, irritable... all those nasty things which make having a godly attitude difficult at times. Physical and mental illness fits into this category as well since the cells in our bodies are not working the way that God created them to work. There are many verses that can speak to our physical conditions.

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate... For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." Romans 7:15-25


"For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord... For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies... So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:5-18




"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." Romans 8 (the whole chapter is awesome!)

2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Philippians 1:6; 3:20-21; 4:11-13; I Thess. 5:16-18


2) Our minds- this can be more difficult to deal with because oftentimes it is more subtle and false ideas can appeal to our fickle feelings for validation. That's just dangerous! As Christians our minds desire to love and serve God. But sometimes a question or idea will present itself which seems to throw doubt upon God's character, and that in turn brings all sorts of confusion, misunderstandings and distress if we don't confront and deny them.

I'm also learning that our brains are so complex that we can actually train them to think a certain way when confronted with a particular issue. Somehow I have trained myself to think I'm a horrible mother just because I don't have all our family photos organized neatly into photo albums. How ridiculous! I'm learning how to recognize these false beliefs and feelings and remind myself of God's grace whenever I begin to feel worthless. We must preach the Gospel to ourselves over and over again so we don't begin to doubt the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice! It will only result in unbelief if we don't line up those thoughts and test them with the truth about God as revealed in His Word. Because remember, His Word is our only trustworthy source of truth.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete." 2 Corinthians 10:3-6


"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins." 2 Peter 1:3-9


Ephesians 6:10-18; Hebrews 4:12-13; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 10:23; James 1:5, 12; 3:13-18; 1 Peter 2:1-3

3) Outside influences- other peoples opinions and actions which affect us. These can be so overwhelmingly distressful that it can be physically painful to think about. We care so much about what other people think about us, and when we find out that those opinions are not favorable it can be heartbreaking. Especially when those people are close to us. We must remember that it's ok if people don't agree with us on certain things, but it can be downright brutal when someone attacks our character or intelligence or spirituality. Not only because of the obvious shame and hurt they have caused us, but because we know that someone we love is being used as a tool of the enemy to cause us grief and confusion. I myself have been accused of being too religious by some, and not religious enough by others. Thankfully though, Scripture says I don't have to worry about pleasing others!

"If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain." 1 Timothy 6:3-5


"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12


2 Timothy 2:24-26; 4:12-13; Titus 2:7-8; 1 Peter 3:8-9; 4:12-14; James 2:13; 3:13-18; 4:6; Romans 12:9-21


The moral of the story? Don't be surprised when you encounter trials of various kinds (I Peter 4:12-14). If we truly believe in Christ as our Savior then He has forgiven us from our sins and we are free from guilt and shame (Galatians 5:1). We must continually wash our minds with the purity of the Word of God lest we fall into the trap of unbelief (2 Peter 1:3-9). Jesus tells us that if we follow Him the world will hate us simply because it hates Him (John 15:18). When people slander me because of my beliefs I must remind myself that their issue is not necessarily with me but with God. I'm just an easy target because I'm there in front of them. But we are not to be overcome by evil, we are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Land of the Living

Hello all! Just thought I'd pop in to say that I haven't abandoned this blog entirely! Truth is, when I'm in a place where I'm completely overwhelmed with life I tend to shut down and neglect everything, even the things that I love. But now I'm doing much better due to a new medication.

I went to my doctor to get refills for my old medicine, fluoxetine, and I told her how I feel like I'm better than I used to be (not morbidly depressed anymore) but that I'm not as good as I know I should be. I felt like I was sitting on a fence, representing the ability to function in a reasonable manner, with darkness on one side and happy contentment on the other, but falling more into the bad days and never reaching (not for lack of trying) the side for which my soul desperately yearned. I did not believe that I was in any sort of rebellious or bitter sin against the Lord, I honestly tried to live a godly life. But no matter how hard I prayed and repented I didn't find relief from this burden.

My doctor put me on a new med, trazodone, to take in addition to the old one. This was to help me fall asleep at night since I tend to lie awake until 2 or 3 a.m., my mind spinning in a whirlpool of anxiety, anger, and all manner of horrible things which wasn't relieved by my earnest prayers to Heaven. The trazodone did indeed help me to sleep, but excessively! For the whole first week I slept 11-12 hrs. a night, sometimes with a 3 hr. nap during the day but I still felt so groggy and tired that I was afraid to drive. I called my mom (a nurse) and she told me to call my doctor because this tiredness was no good. So I did and the doctor told me to take 1/2 a pill earlier in the evening before bed. Miraculous!

I immediately felt tremendously better. I fell asleep at an appropriate time and woke up 8 hrs. later feeling amazingly refreshed, which I can't remember ever happening to me in all my adult life! And will wonders never cease- I was happy! Truly and blissfully contented with my life. I kissed my husband and children and sang as I went about some household chores. I've been in this place for almost 2 weeks and I pray with all my heart that it continues!

I don't recall ever really feeling this way, even as a child, and certainly not as a teen. I married at 18 years old and was pregnant 3 weeks later, and that's when I believe that the moderate depression that I had always lived under turned into the monster that controlled my life for the next 15 years. But now that I feel what it's like to be truly happy, and see that it's a direct result of medication, I can dispose of all the nagging little whispers (sometimes screams!) of doubt and guilt that I've always had a spiritual problem rather than a medical problem. My life's circumstances haven't changed one bit. I still have to deal with all the problems and heartaches I always have, but they don't overwhelm me to the point of incapacity at this point.

The question is, why has God allowed me to struggle with this for so long when the remedy was so simple? Why has my family had to suffer so much from me? The truth is, I don't know. But this I do know- God is good. I know He has a plan and a purpose in ALL things, especially the difficult and tragic ones. If we were never to suffer, how would we ever learn to trust Him? How could we proclaim His goodness if we never experienced the trials and trouble with which to compare it?

But this leads to an even bigger, and more important question- Can I still trust Him if the medication fails to work in the future as well as it does now? Can I still proclaim His goodness if I never feel this way again? I cry to think it might be taken from me for one reason or another. The thought of going back into the darkness terrifies me. I have tasted real joy, and it is so precious to me now. Can I survive if I never taste it again?

Only the knowledge of God's grace in keeping me close thus far can give me the assurance that I need to trust Him with the rest of my life.


"I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the LORD: 'O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!'
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD  preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living." Psalm 116:1-9

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Overwhelmed Into Confession

Do you ever get so completely overwhelmed with the chaos of life that it paralyzes you into inactivity? Sometimes I feel that everything seems like it needs to be fixed, perfect, finished RIGHT NOW. My home is literally falling apart around me; my family is starved for my attention; I've dyed my hair orange, again; my children look like orphans; I've gained ANOTHER ten pounds...... frustration... lethargy... mental anguish... futility... exhaustion...

*Sigh*

I can't think, I can't move, all I can do is hide in bed and cry.

When was the last time I cracked open my Bible you may ask? Sadly, it's been a few weeks. Hmmmm.... I guess it's worth a shot. I need help....

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered." Heb. 5:7-8

Oh.

"Suffering is something unnatural, the fruit of sin. God has made us for joy. He created us not only with the capacity, but the power of happiness, so that every breath and every healthy movement should be enjoyment. It is natural to us, it was so to the Son of God, to fear and flee suffering. In this desire there is nothing sinful. It only becomes sinful where God would have us submit and suffer, and we refuse." -Andrew Murray

"Strong motivation is offered for earnest prayer (5:7) and he encourages his friends to draw near continually to the gracious presence of God in prayer. He recognizes the importance of prayer in the rhythm of the Christian life. In order to fulfill their vocation Christians need the quality of experience provided by prayer. Prayer creates a sanctuary when no actual place of sanctuary is available. In the rhythm between exposure to pressure and tired resignation from spiritual conflict, Christians will find in prayer a quality of refreshment that flows from God's invincible mercy and sustaining grace, and they will receive the help that arrives at the right time." -William L. Lane

Our family took a vacation on the coast a couple weeks ago. We camped close enough to the beach that I could lay in my sleeping bag at night and hear the surf crashing against the rocks, over, and over, and over, with no end. The sound of the unrelenting waves nearly induced a panic in me a couple of times. I've been to the ocean many, many times but had never experienced this feeling about it before. Why now? Because that's how I feel in my head all of the time. Thought after thought crashes into my mind, each demanding immediate attention, an immediate answer. Trivial things to most people, but so many things all at once overwhelms me to the point that I must, must force it all from my mind as aggressively as possible. If I don't, then I turn nearly catatonic and don't hear or see whatever is going on around me. I turn off and almost can't respond to those around me.

My husband has learned when this is happening and is so incredibly patient with me. He orders me to my room, shuts the door, and takes care of the kids for me. Severe guilt at not being able to care for my family washes over me, anger and frustration at myself so intense all I can do is cry bitterly. After that I'm usually able to think a little more clearly, and am gently reminded by the Lord that I need Him desperately. Only then do I think to pull out my Bible and read a little, just a little, then pray. I ask the Lord to take this away from me, but I've dealt with it for so many years I've gotten used to the answer of "not yet." Then I beg for forgiveness for my sin in all of this, and He reminds me that I really do have an illness. Yes I do have need to repent for my actions and words, and sometimes for unbelief that He is good. But the illness itself is not sin. Some of the guilt fades away, just a little, but a little relief feels like a mountain is off my back. I am able to breathe again, just a little.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grief

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved." Philippians 3:20-4:1
 
As some of you know, dear friends of ours recently lost their baby. He was born 10 weeks premature and had severe brain damage. Patrick and I have always known that because we had lost a child as well that we would be called to minister to families going through similar difficulties. But that also means re-living the grief over and over again. It's been an emotionally exhausting past couple of days, but I am so very blessed that they have allowed us to be with them during this time and would gladly do it again for anyone when called upon, even if all I do is sit there and hold their hand.

Death is not something to be afraid of. It is the shedding of this mortal life and going to be with the Lord of Heaven and earth. What a glorious event! I look forward to seeing the face of my Savior! We just miss our loved ones so terribly, and that's what causes the pain. We think of everything that could have been and our arms literally ache with emptiness and longing for those we can't have or hold ever again in this life. But pain and sorrow are not to be avoided as if they are something evil, they are to be accepted and endured as we lie in the safety of the arms of our Father. He will use the sorrow to mold us more into His image. Wasn't Jesus a "man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief?" (Isaiah 53:3)

I believe that accepting the will of the Lord is the most important thing to do in this situation. Yes, God can and has preformed miracles in the lives of His children, and when He does it is a wonderful, glorious event. But that doesn't mean He always will, and as odd as it sounds, His not preforming miracles can glorify His name just as powerfully as miracles can. Because in truth, the important thing is not whether a person lives or dies, it's how we respond to His will for us and how our faith in Him grows during the times of those trials. 

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7

Does God promise healing? No, He promises peace. God's major concern is our hearts. The child or loved one that He takes home to be with Him? As hard as it is to accept, they are much better off in Heaven with God than they ever could be with us! So what's really best for them? Do we lift up our hands and worship the Lord in these circumstances? Or do we attempt to manipulate God into changing His plans by "not giving up hope?" His plans and purposes are not altered by our fervent prayers to the contrary. The purpose of prayer and faith is to bring our hearts into acceptance and alignment with His will. The battle is within our hearts, not whether He will heal or not. He can and does heal, and it's a good thing to hope that might be the case, but that's not always His intentions. How do we know His will? We may not until everything is said and done, but He will give us peace if we trust Him.

Don't misunderstand me though. As long as there is a chance for a relatively healthy life, even with the possibility of disabilities, we should do what we can to take care of the precious life that God has given us and praise Him for the opportunity to serve Him in that capacity. But I don't believe that we should continue to keep a life going "at all costs." How fair is that to the one who is suffering tremendously? If it's obvious that God wants to take them, let Him. Trust God that He knows what He's doing. Don't shake your fist in accusation of evil on His part or in defiance of His will. Whatever God chooses to do is good. He is a good God who loves His children, and He truly has our best interests at heart.

Lord, give those babies kisses for me. Thank you that I will see them again one day. And please Lord Jesus, come quickly.