There are times when…

There are days when…I am incredibly sad, especially as the holidays get closer.

There are days when…I don’t pray.

There are many days when…I am angry. 

There are many days when…I don’t understand His plan and why hurt, pain, and disease continues.

There are Sundays when…I just can’t get out of bed. It has nothing to do with being lazy, not wanting to worship, or the choice to do other things. It is just a feeling of walking into His house so downtrodden.

Does that make me any less than who I am in Christ? I don’t think so.

One of my favorite devotion books is New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. What I read this morning hit me smack in the feels!

“Biblical faith never requires you to deny reality.

You don’t protect the message of the gospel by denying your own spiritual struggles, and God surely doesn’t need you to defend his reputation by faking it. You must not meditate on the judgment of God. You must not squirm at the thought of his presence. You must not allow yourself to wonder if he loves you. You must not see yourself as unworthy of his care. You must not work to measure up in his sight. You must not think that he acts more favorably to you when you are obedient than when you sin. You must not beat yourself up when you fail. You must not envy the worthiness of the person next to you, as if he or she is more accepted by God because he or she is more spiritually mature than you. You must never run from God in fear as you think of the empirical evidence of remaining sin that you give every day.

There is nothing we could ever think, desire, say, or do that could in any way add to the forgiveness and acceptance that we have received from God based on Christ’s work. You are perfect in the eyes of God because the perfect righteousness of Jesus has been attributed to your spiritual account. You are righteous before God even in those moments when you say what you are doing is not righteous. You measure up in his eyes in even on those days when you don’t measure up, because Jesus measured up on your behalf. Meditate on and celebrate the amazing grace that has completely changed your identity, potential, and destiny.”

It is not my story, my husband’s, or Trey’s that I want you to hear. It’s the story of a like-minded family in Christ who loves the Lord and is struggling like we did 10 years ago – Mike and Beth O’Neill. When I said I get angry, this is why. I hate what cancer is doing to this precious family and I can’t fix it. I can’t heal him, I can’t send him where he will get better treatment, and I can’t change any circumstance that is surrounding their struggles. They walked with us EACH day when Trey battled his cancer and they have continued to pray for us.

Is it okay for me to be angry? Absolutely. I asked the person who walked with us just as close as a family member, (Pastor) Keith Cochran. I consider him family. I asked him about anger. He said, “Yes, I was angry at cancer for affecting another life. Angry at how people try to personalize it. You know, the “I know how you feel, my grandfather had cancer…” It’s not the same. Even if it is, it doesn’t help. People mean well, but either say the wrong thing or say nothing.” I told Keith he was right on point. I put my anger in the category with sadness and hurt…not hate.

I don’t have an answer because I could honestly be eaten up with anger if I let cancer be the source. Sometimes it is just hard to accept that God’s plan is not our plan. Personally, it is hard to see my husband continue to battle cancer, go to treatments every three weeks, and know that Collin must think about it too. I don’t think Satan wears me down. I think I wear myself down. I let my ankle pain and the fact that I have been in a boot since April (after surgery in September) push me into a more depressive state. And then I get angry at myself for being depressed!

I want to go back to what my devotion said. “Biblical faith never requires you to deny reality.” What I need to remember, while my reality may shake my emotions to the point of anger, it will never shake my faith. Never. Christ is my center and he needs me to turn my focus off my reality (that sometimes sucks).

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33

Please join me in praying for the O’Neill family. And remember, as I have said many times, it is okay to NOT be okay.

Oh, did I say I hate cancer?

CaringBridge link for Mike O’Neill below I hope you can access.

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/mikeoneill/journal/view/id/636a69365b8484635e4bb11c?utm_source=JEN&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=JEN+email&token=ZXlKMGVYQWlPaUpLVjFRaUxDSmhiR2NpT2lKSVV6STFOaUo5LmV5SjFjMlZ5U1dRaU9qUXhOelV3TkRnc0luSmxjMjkxY21ObFNXUWlPaUkyTXpaaE5qa3pOalZpT0RRNE5EWXpOV1UwWW1JeE1XTWlMQ0owZVhCbElqb2lhbTkxY201aGJDSXNJbWx6YzNWbFpFRjBJam94TmpZM09URTROVGd5ZlEuT09ZM3FSU2xxeVJhMlRsZWY2WEFSd0VjS1VaVGY1a1VUOFVXOXZMdGpuOA%3D%3D&utm_content=visitsite

Depression and Suicide

img_2685Random conversations.  Facebook messenger.  Email.  Text.  Coincidental meetings. All females with the same issue…loneliness. Many with depression.  We are all the same age and all in the same phase of life.

Out of those conversations came these remarks:

“I go home and just go straight to bed.”

“I go home and just go to my corner of the couch.”

“I never go out with friends because I don’t have any.”

“I sit and watch television by myself.”

“I’m in bed when I go home, just me and my glass of wine.”

“…and since I don’t work, I don’t even have work girlfriends.”

“Maybe we should start a no friends girlfriends club!”

“I feel like social media leads to a lot of depression.”

I’d like to pick it up with the last remark.  We smile and waive, laugh at puppy pictures, “likes” on baby pictures, “love” on scripture pictures or postings, all the while using social media as our backup friend.  Yet we are the people posting the puppy pictures, babies, and even pictures with our husbands that are either never home or never in the same room. I don’t think society allows us to deal with reality because our character will be judged.  Personally, I have never cared.  Oh, I lie.  I do care or I wouldn’t have dealt with depression since age 18.  But, here I am.

According to USA Today, “The suicide rate for white children and teens between 10 and 17 was up 70% between 2006 and 2016, the latest data analysis available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although black children and teens kill themselves less often than white youth do, the rate of increase was higher — 77%.”

We are losing too many of our young adults to suicide and asking why. Yet we can’t deal with our own depression and suicide issues.  It is very hard to help someone else when you cannot help yourself.  I get it.  It is the “walk in my shoes” syndrome. I’m there with you.

If you look at the symptoms in children and adults for depression according to Mayo Clinic, many of the symptoms are the same.  Symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

You might ask, “What does this have to do with me in the bed when I come home?” A lot.  I look at my son and I wonder what he thinks of me.  Then I remember my mother on the couch my entire childhood and it all makes sense.  Depression.

What does God say?

I like what how the Message phrases Galatians 6:1-3:

“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” 

Stoop down and reach out!

How do we decrease the rate of suicide? How do we uplift the depressed? We share burdens.  Are you too good for that?

Even with Jesus, loneliness and depression is very difficult.  Satan is very powerful and he knows how to turn every thought against you.

There are moments of pure vulnerability and uncertainty no one sees but God during your loneliness.  You try to make sense of it all while nurturing raw wounds embedded deeply within your soul.  These wounds may be from many different sources such as death, a spouse, children, or even church.

I have tried to throw myself into scripture and prayer crying out to God.  I’ve tried to be around friends at work to forget the loneliness.

           The struggle is real.  It is real with depression and suicide. 

These are topics people do not like to talk about.  Just like you don’t talk about sex at church, or depression and suicide really.  Well, I will talk about it.

A friend of mine said while teaching bible study that sometimes we like to find our answers when we cry out to God in our darkness by opening up the Bible to a random page and just pointing to a verse.  We then believe that is the scripture the Holy Spirit sent to us as an answer to our problems.  As much as I would like to believe that God works that way in coping with depression, I’m not sure that is His intention.  He wants us to seek Him constantly – in and out of depression.

Do you just want to throw in the towel?

Some days.  I believe God does heal our wounds of depression.  I believe he binds up our beautiful mess with a proper healing.  I know He provides sweet conversation with friends of like mind.  Though they may be few, they MAY be all you need.  It is all in HIS timing.  It might be the day I see Him FACE TO FACE! I can only tell you with my experience, it can be debilitating after losing a child.  The most hurtful thing you can say to a mother is that it is time to get over it and move on.  Nope, nada, ain’t gonna happen. Not soon.  I’ll grieve, in some manner, with an amount of depression, (even a thought of suicide, maybe) for the rest of my life for my baby boy.  But my faith is NOT diminished! I know that God still holds me in his hands and I take comfort in the song that says… “It’s your breath in my lungs, so I lift up my praise, lift up my praise to you only”.

I’m still on the road…a long and winding road.

But be encouraged! Oh Jerusalem!

“But now take another look. I’m going to give this city a thorough renovation, working a true healing inside and out. I’m going to show them life whole, life brimming with blessings. I’ll restore everything that was lost to Judah and Jerusalem. I’ll build everything back as good as new. I’ll scrub them clean from the dirt they’ve done against me. I’ll forgive everything they’ve done wrong, forgive all their rebellions. And Jerusalem will be a center of joy and praise and glory for all the countries on earth. They’ll get reports on all the good I’m doing for her. They’ll be in awe of the blessings I am pouring on her.” Jer. 33:6-9