Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Depression's Gift

As some of you know, between April 2014 and March 2015, I experienced a deep depression that was nearly impossible to crawl out from under. The best way that I can describe my experience with depression is that it felt like someone covered me with a heavy, soaking wet wool blanket.

Heaviness. Darkness. BLESSING.

Wait, WHAT? Blessing?


During that year, I leaned into the Lord. I crawled up on God's lap and leaned in to His Love. I read. I camped out in the Psalms. I conversed with God. I journaled. I pondered. I rested.

See, God makes beauty from ashes. He turns tears into gladness. He redeems. He restores.

The blessing {gift} that I received at the end of that dark tunnel of depression was this:

Well, I mean, God didn't actually send this necklace to me...
{I had this necklace made as a reminder.}

The gift was a deep, heart knowledge that I AM LOVED. I am loved even if I am NOT productive.  I am loved even if I am not effective in ministry. I am loved regardless of whether I accomplish what I think God expects me to do.

I am loved...just 'cause. I am loved because He loved me first.

Depression is a huge de-motivator and debilitator--you don't get a whole lot done in the valley. Whatever illusions you had about how your 'work and service to the Lord' was worth something...whatever erroneous theology you believed about how what you 'did' equated to 'how much you were loved' quickly fades away. You are left with nothing. Nothing to show to others. Nothing to show to God...except...yourself. And it is then that you realize that YOU ARE LOVED.

I learned that God was far more interested in me being WITH Him--the God of the universe--than what I could do FOR Him.

This isn't everyone's experience with depression. I realize that. This was MY experience...and I am eternally grateful for it. However, I'd encourage you to ponder what it looks like to be loved by God.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Flavored Guilt

A few days ago, I posted on FB about 'all things pumpkin spice'.  I found these pumpkin spice flavored Keebler Fudge Stripe cookies that made clean eating' a forgotten concept. The whole 'pumpkin spice' industry went gangbusters while we lived in Nicaragua where Autumn doesn't exist. So this fall is the first time we experience the full force of the 'pumpkin spice movement.'

So what does pumpkin spice have to do with guilt?

Well, after I posted on FB, one of my friends in Nicaragua replied, in good humor, to my post. Reminding me how 'those on the other side feel about posts such as these.'  ENTER GUILT.

It was then that I realized that I am hovering between two worlds--the one I left in January and the one I now find myself in currently. In that first year of living in Nicaragua, I remember making the analogy of a trapeze artist. I had let go of one swing in the U.S. but had not yet grabbed fully onto the next swing in Nicaragua. Now, I find myself on that trapeze again. I have let go of the Nicaraguan swing and I have, perhaps, grabbed hold of the U.S. swing. But I am still hanging there--swinging back and forth. I feel suspended, in a way, between the two worlds--the world of pumpkin spice and the world without autumn. It is an interesting and conflicting place to hang. See, it is when you swing here in the 'in between' that things like pumpkin spice cookies take on a whole new meaning and weight.

Perhaps, for the general public reading this post, it seems I am over-processing this whole pumpkin spice thing. Perhaps, it is a re-entry thing. Perhaps, it is again one of those things that can't be explained outside the world of those who have lived and returned from serving cross-culturally.

Either way, it will probably be a while before the 'special treats' of the seasons here in this world get taken for granted in our home. After all, eggnog isn't on the shelves yet!