Friday, November 14, 2014

Double Edged

I have this friend. She is beautiful and special and a magnificently thoughtful mother. She and I shared too few moments together when she lived here, and she has long since moved to the other side of the country, but we have a bond. 

We both love and adore our savior and our children. And we both have our gray sky days.

Depression. It's a heavy, weighted word. It can sometimes be overlaid with shades of shame. And it is an often misunderstood disease. Even I don't understand it, and I've been treading its waters since puberty. 

For me and my own particular journey, depression is not something that makes me sad. It is something that makes me nothing. It slowly leaks all of the color and joy from my world, and presses me down so hard that I am foggy and sleepy and restless. It pulls me away from family and friends and makes me a quiet and gray person who lives on the edges of life, not IN IT.

The problem with depression is that it is also sneaky, gradual, and relentless. It can tug pieces of you away until you don't fully realize you have unraveled. It starts very small and you gradually give up more and more to it. You may realize these defeats for what they are- a new cycle of the disease- or you may be full in it when somebody else points it out to you. Either way is hard, but the former is best. The more you know your disease, the more armed you are to fight it. 

My friend and I share this battle. Despite both of us being very strong in our faith. Despite us both being good, dedicated mothers. If prayer could cure depression, neither of us would have it. If focusing on our blessings could make it go away, we would never have to fight it off. 

I've struggled with why I have this particular challenge forever. The other morning I woke up to a gray day. I knew I'd have to fight for energy to push through. I was praying about it when I felt God speaking to me. An idea I had never had before.

What if I was struggling with this because it was forearming me to be able to help my children when they battled it? 

In one single moment, this battle I have been fighting for 25 years turned into a blessing. 

Depression is hereditary, coming down to me from both sides. It's almost a given that one of my children will have to go head to head with it at some point. 

And I will be able to help them so much more than if I didn't know what it was like to feel gray in a world full of sunshine. 

I texted my friend, who confirmed for me that her mom tells her the same thing all the time- that she has so many more tools to help her children should they need it. 


I've been changing my perspective about God lately. Trying to work my mind around the fact that HE  sees the whole picture- every single moment of my life, every mistake, every struggle. None of it is a surprise to Him. He sees the masterpiece as He paints it. I only see a postage stamp sized view of it. 

I know I don't ever fight this disease alone- but now I know I may be fighting it for a PURPOSE. 

This realization is just more confirmation of how God carries me. Every single thing, good and bad, in my life can and should be used to propel me forward. Mistakes teach us what not to do, what doesn't work, and the beauty of grace. Blessings teach us gratitude. And struggles teach us to rely on God and dig deep for His help. 

All of it can be used to teach our children about life. Even the things that we have been shamed about- our struggles with depression, our feelings of worth, our deepest hurts. 

I love an amazing God, who helps me to overcome all things. But who also uses the broken things of this world to teach me more about who I am, and what I can do. In turn I can teach my children the same thing. 

John 16:33 - These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Jeremiah 33:6 - Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.

Isaiah chapter 9:

2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, [and] not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, [and] as [men] rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.

5 For every battle of the warrior [is] with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but [this] shall be with burning [and] fuel of fire.

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


The tears started hard and fast in the carpool lane. A wave of sadness and loss that I didn't expect, had no inkling of, and couldn't hold back. I was holding my rosary, praying for those both in and out of my life. And grief swelled like the ocean in my soul. 

So I cried. Behind my glasses. Big sobs and hard tears that felt....awesome.

I've been living behind a wall. A huge, crushing, brick edifice I built myself. I put it up, stone by stone, out of self protection and fear. 

Sometimes love seems like an invitation to pain. An outstretched hand to a crushing blow. An offering that will surely, one day, be rebuffed and rejected. 

So I built this wall to keep everyone out. With evey instance of pain and rejection stone went higher. 

Until I was insulated, isolated. 

Safe. But alone. 

This is not how God designed me. This is not being true to the nature Christ died to give to me. I am not meant to hide my love, to squash my feelings, or to turn my back.

I've been led here, to this point, by life. But that doesn't make it right. 

I've been crushed. What I thought was true and good and whole has been lost. What I created and nurtured and strove for- relationships of depth and mutual care- have been removed from me. 

I've been pruned, down to the very bottom of myself. 

And lately when I pray I have asked God how much more I have to lose. In return I have lost more. 

I have asked Him when it will end. In turn it hasn't. 

I've asked how many times I can get back up. In turn I have struggled back to my feet more times than I can count.

Pain is not easy. Pain stretches the parts of yourself that have never seen the light. It brings forward all of your deepest fears and worst flaws. It shines light on your beliefs and your hard held bondages. It frays the edges of your faith, and then unravels it.

Until you build and edifice to live behind. Then you are protected. From the world. From others. 

But what I have realized is that this edifice is also between me and God. Between me and the best parts of myself he has given me- my heart for love and service. My desire to always be the first one to help, to give, to serve, and to nurture. 

My heart has been so hardened, so angry, and so numb. I could stay that way forever. I could keep others out and enjoy the solitude of my tower.

But I would be denying myself the very best parts of life in Christ- freedom to love. To love and know when you are hurt or rejected by the world, that God is always and forever the balm and healing for that devastation. 

I can live in the freedom of knowing hurt will come. Pain will surface. I won't be protected from what life has to give- but I will be healed of its injury.

I don't have to be afraid anymore. I don't have to be scared of rejection. I don't have to worry about others opinions. I've lost it all. I've experienced it all.

And I'm still here, with a God who will stand outside of my wall and knock. Who will remind me that this is not who I am, or who I was designed to be.

I've locked my heart up, refused to cry. I've stored up feelings of hatred and disgust and deep betrayal. It has kept me safe from having to feel. 

I don't want to be like the world. I don't want to hold myself away from others out of fear. I don't want to be scared. I want to live. I want to serve. 

So I prayed for the wall to come down. And in turn, I began to feel again.

To soften. To mourn. To hurt and to grieve. 

To cry in carpool. To cry in the shower. To cry at Christmas music and diaper commercials. To begin to say, again:

I love you.

I am here.

I am open. 

I began to soften back into the beauty of this life, to allow the horrible and the perfect and the mundane to effect me again, and not numb myself. 

To say everything, no matter how silly or sentimental I may seem. To be vulnerable. 

Because behind that wall is who I am slowly leaving behind. The person who hid and raged and stopped caring.

Outside there is a chance of being crushed, and being hurt. The world offers no guarantee of safety or of help. 

So it's a really good thing I don't belong to the world. 

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Galatians 5:1
[ Freedom in Christ ] It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

I can't live in fear of hurt. And I can't be in bondage to what others may do or think of me. And I know I cannot love behind a wall.

So the choices are clear: to soften, and allow the love of Christ to be in me and flow through me again. To be vulnerable to pain. To offer my hand and my heart and service without being afraid of the repercussions to my heart. 

To be open to being crushed, by stepping outside of the crushed wall I've been hiding behind. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Dear Lily,

I remember hearing when I was pregnant that I would fall into this chasm of love the first time I saw you. I anticipated that, waited for it. And it didn't happen. Of course I loved you- would have died for you within minutes. But this deep and wide feeling of attachment that would undo me? No.

That came on night four when you came home. Your daddy was asleep and I was getting ready to nurse you. I looked down at you and this wave crashed over me- not a small thing. A tsunami of gratitude and love and KNOWING that I had never felt for another human being on this earth. I looked at you and thought- "This. This is it. What I have never known. What I have needed to my bones but never could speak." And it was you, in your tiny little body.

You became as important to my living as air. You have become my compass and my guide to what is important and right in this life.

You have made me a better person, just by living. 

We've had a ripple through our family this past year. A whirlpool of shifting tides. I know you have felt it and I know I've done the best I could to explain it to you. You will remember this time- hushed conversations and finding mommy crying at times. You will remember that your feet didn't feel so solid on the ground for a while- that you could feel the tremor of the earth as our lives moved and stilled. 

You may never know the details- but you will know this: our family can weather anything. The four of us are together, always. No matter what comes, it is us. Us and our God and our faith.

You have taught me so much in these times. You have a powerful sense of justice and fairness that most adults do not posses. You are entirely driven by your own sense of right and wrong and you always err on the side of compassion. I've watched your navigate tough waters- waters you should never have to, with an ear to your own conscience. You are wise enough to love even past being hurt.

I look at you and want so much to be like you.  

If I could give you one thing to take through the rest of your life it would be peace. Peace deep enough to carry your feet and your heart through the dark places every life travels. Peace that comes from knowing your identity is grounded in faith and family and that you can make mistakes and be forgiven.

Peace of heart, mind, and soul. 

I want you to know I would do anything for you. My love for you is a million times more than that moment in the dark 7 years ago. It is enough to protect you from anything and not count the cost to myself. It is enough to give you all of me for as long or as much you need.

I'm so lucky to be able to go through this life with you, to watch you grow. To see what kind of woman you will be-will you climb the pyramids of Egypt or will you rock babies all day? Who will you find to love? Will you marry or will you go on adventures alone? 

The one thing I know for sure is that I will be here, with you, for it all. 

I love you, sweet girl. To the moon and back. Forever.