“Kindred Spirits, Always” (In Which I Discover How Much I Need Friends)

Well I had promised you a post today, and I even had one in mind that I wanted to write about. (Maybe I still will, and you can see it next week or maybe even get two posts in one week.) But it didn’t get written because I fell asleep and took a long nap. So originally I decided I would write it tomorrow, but since I’m lying in bed and can’t sleep yet, I decided I might write a different post from my phone (thanks WordPress app).

Tonight I am especially thankful for my friends. I’ve kind of gone through a rough depressive episode over the last few months, and I dealt with it by withdrawing from almost everyone but my immediate family. Maybe I needed that time completely to myself, but now I regret dropping out of the lives of so many that I cared about. Perhaps it could have made things easier if I was connecting with people the way I should have. We weren’t meant to do life alone, but in my dark days, I was trying to.

Slowly over the last month I have begun to reconnect with people and friends, whether that’s online on Facebook, by finally shooting them a text again, or starting to hang out once more. Friends are important, and they are a gift. I want to learn to be more real with them, to allow them to support me in my struggles and that they can let me support them as well.

It is worth learning to let people in. It’s worth learning to trust them, to trust they won’t run away when things get hard. Some of them really do want to be there for you no matter what…let’s learn to let them. And to be thankful for them.

I finally texted one of my dearest friends tonight after being silent for a few months, feeling so guilty for neglecting such a special friendship. I asked her to forgive me. She responded right away, starting with “Precious Katy…” and sweet forgiving words of love. She ended “Let’s catch up more soon ok? I love you… We are kindred spirits always.”

Her sweet response drew me to tears. That’s what I’m so thankful for: the blessing and gift of unconditional friendships and love. May we seek to be that, to cultivate it, and to hold onto it as we treasure it always.

Thank you to the friends who have always been there for me. You know who you are. I love you and am thankful for you.

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100th Post – Living a Better Story

I had a conversation with a good friend of mine the other night. He was speaking about his sadness over a person who, as he put it, was “stuck on making rules instead of encouraging people to live a better story.”

Those words reached out and grabbed me.

I was particularly fascinated by the words “encouraging people to live a better story.” I found this tied in quite nicely with To Write Love on Her Arm’s words about “I am living a story,” and “your story matters.” Have we thought about the fact that we are living a story? And if we are, what do we want our story to be? What do we want our story to say?

My friend further elaborated on an idea he’s been pursuing in his own life, of taking the phrase “I want to be the kind of person who _________________,” and using it to build out who he wants to be. He went on to example, “If I want to be the kind of person who volunteers his time generously, then what do I need to do about that?”

It made me stop and ponder my own life. What kind of person do I want to be? If I were writing my story, how would I write out the next few chapters? What will it look like?

I am reading a fabulous book right now (at least, fabulous 6 chapters into it). I love fantasy books, particularly because there are no limits. What if we set ourselves into “fantasy writing mode” and wrote our story with no limits? No I’m not saying we could all design super-powers for ourselves (if we could, I’d have dibs on flying), but what if we took away the boundaries of some of our believed-lies and self-doubt and REALLY LIVED?

I want to find out what my story looks like. I want to find out what it means to live. I hope you do, too.

Ready for it to be done

I’m not gonna lie: it’s hard. And a lot of times I wish I was someone other than “me.”
I get really tired of depression. I get really tired of fighting it, and fighting anxiety. I’m tired of the pain in my chest when I sit panicked by the world.
Please just leave me alone.
I want to get better. I really do. And I try, and I fail, and I take more medicines, and I pray that they work.
My chest hurts so bad right now. It kills me to sit here every minute. I just want it over with. I’m ready for it to be gone.
It hurts, and it makes me want to cry. I’m ready for it to be done.
I just want to be normal, but I know that everyone hurts. Everyone hurts. But they’re not the ones sitting here in a battle that’s gone on for weeks. They don’t have to count the number of days since they broke their own skin for blood. Or maybe some of them do. But if they do, they’re like me — they know the pain, they’re tired of the war. We’re ready for it to be done.
One day it will end — hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Praise Him for the day that will come where sorrow will be no more. Every tear wiped dry, every eye clear, every heart glad. I can praise Him for that.
But for now, I sit here…and the pain in my chest just aches.
I’m ready for it to be done.

Chase your dreams…?

So hard to know…
I’ve been pondering this message a lot lately: “Chase your dreams.” AKA, pursue what you’re passionate about, do what you love, etc. So I get all inspired and ready to run off and pursue something I REALLY love and/or something that sounds amazing…and then I remember. This is real life. There are big picture goals that sometimes mean sacrificing things along the way. There are times you have to think of others instead of simply what you want to do.
So I’m torn between these two. I hear of opportunities that sound like more of what I want to do, or simply sound like amazing things I”ve dreamed about…but is it worth the risk and sacrifice of leaving where I’m at now? It would make changes for my family. It would require some hard decisions about the current degree I’m pursuing. It would mean giving up the security of a job and an education that is paid for. Those are things some people would kill for…could I really just give them up?
Now what do I do? Do I dream? Or do I stay firmly grounded where I’m at?

If you can take me as I am

I’m gonna write this a little bit more like I used to write some of my posts. I used to be really open about the things I struggled with; I wrote and dealt with them more in my posts. But I learned that sometimes there was a time and place for that kind of disclosure, so I pulled back some. Also, some of it became less intense, less all-encompassing, less severe, so I had less to write about.

In case you haven’t read most (or any) of past blog posts (on here or MySpace) about my journey (and/or if you don’t know me), I had my first deep depressive episode at 14. At age 17, I spiraled down and was diagnosed with “major depressive disorder.” Since then, I have continually been on medicine, in and out of counseling/treatment as needed, and dealing with the low(er)(est) times of depression as they came.

This week, I felt the depression kicking in. Hardcore. Had several very low days in a row, and then yesterday my mood was determined to kick my butt. I had to go home from work, having worked myself up with anxiety to the point of getting physically sick. I went home and tried to numb myself out with a TV show…but of course it was sad, and then suddenly I was crying…and then I was sobbing. Like, the gut-wrenching sobs that you think are going to tear your heart out. I’m familiar with it,  the pain that takes over my mind and spreads into my chest, the despairing anguish. I double over just to contain the agony, to keep it from tearing me apart. And the world is bleak, and I’m more than alone, and I’m hopeless. I sleep just so I can shut my mind off, and shut the world out.

In case that’s not enough info for you, at this point I’ll take it a step further: all I wanted to do was die. I long for death. I constantly fight to not go back to the self-injurious habits I’ve had in the past. When I think off the years and years of this cycle, of feeling and falling into and living in these dark, dark places…where my mind betrays me and won’t think in Truth or accept any Goodness or Hope…where I lose motivation or joy in anything…when I think of all these things, first I fight not to hurt myself, and then I beg God to take me home. I beg Him for relief, I beg for death, the one thing that will take me to the place I long for, the place without pain. And I hurt, and I’m angry, that this is a battle I have to face day after day for far too long.

25-year-olds aren’t supposed to pray to die.

And yet, here I am. In that place. Again.

I asked people to pray for me. I prayed for today, that I could make it and endure after the terrible, hellish bleakness of the day before. And it was ok. I still had some of the lowness, the anxiety. But I started to smile some. I started to make people laugh, which made me happy. I had people show they care, and that made me feel loved. And then I met with a group of people, and for part of our meeting, we dove into Scripture and talked about an amazing passage and what it meant.

And I came home tonight and felt…peace. I sat here with a smile on my face where last night I sat in tears.

To me? That is a picture of God’s grace. He doesn’t have to be the lifter of my head, but He is. He doesn’t have to give joy that sustains me, but He does. And He doesn’t have to be the Love that still saves me every day from myself…but He is. He is beautiful, and the most precious thing in my life. Nothing compares with Him; I have no reason to keep living and fighting without Him. But He is mine, and I am His. And that is good news, my friends. It is beautiful, life-changing news.

If you need to know how He can change your life or save you, get in touch with me. And if you’re needing some encouragement, I’d be happy to pray with and for you.

Also, a special, precious tool in my life has been To Write Love on Her Arms. If you’re struggling with some of these issues, this group has encouraged me along my journey for the last 4 years. They would be a great place to turn.

Thank you for letting me be real. I hope I have not shared more than I should have, but I hope that if I can let you see me at my rawest, you will see even more how good God is to replace the dead ashes of my life with Beauty…and I believe that Beauty is knowing Him.

Not there yet

I know a lot of people who are in the process of trying to figure out what they want to do in life. Let me tell you: I am, too. I haven’t figured it all out; I haven’t gotten it down. I’m simply not there yet.

I was pretty sure I would have had it all figured out now, by age 25. I had planned on already having my graduate degree in counseling, probably on being married for at least two years by now. I was fairly certain I would already know exactly where I was headed for the rest of my life.

But I’ve found out God doesn’t work like that. Most of the time, He’s taken my pretty little plans and turned them upside down. Anytime I thought I had the timing just right, my world shifted a little and everything changed. Five years ago, my five-year-plan looked nothing like where I am. Definitely never thought I’d be in this kind of job, only in my second semester of grad school, with a very vague picture of life beyond this moment. Definitely never thought I would be “not there yet.”

But there’s a lot that’s happened that I never could have planned for. I’ve made some of the most amazing friends and relationships in the last few years of my life, most of whom I would have never met if life turned out how I planned. I would never have worked in an amazing children’s home for 15 months where I got to invest in and love some of the coolest kids ever. I probably wouldn’t be creating the even-more-special-than-it-was relationship with my sister as we live in our little one bedroom apartment and share a car back and forth from school and work. I’ve also learned lessons and gained passions I might never have been granted had I walked another route in life.

I talked today with some friends about how God seems to reveal His will and do things last minute. My life has constantly been changed and re-arranged in the “last minute” happenings that forever altered my course. I’m still not sure how I got here, or where I’m headed.

But I do know a few things.

I know I want to spend the rest of my life loving people and pouring my life into them. I want to run hard after the kind of life I don’t think is possible, just so God can prove it is…with Him. I want to pursue the best; I want to make a difference. I want to live my life in integrity, and truth, and hope, and faith. And most of all love. I’ve been loved beyond my imagining, and I want to chase after the understanding and “living-out” of that love. I want to help heal the hurting, and help them grow in hope. I want people to know the One who changed my life, so their lives can be changed, too.

So maybe I’m exactly where God wants me. Maybe what looks like a rather transient place is exactly the destination I was supposed to be at: right here, right now. And I’m going to trust that each step of my life is going to be crazily planted in front of me, if I only I have the faith and strength to keep walking. Because the fact is, I’m a pilgrim; on this earth, I’ll never be anywhere except standing in the midst of God’s love. I was made for another world; and in the meantime, I’m simply not there yet.

Pondering the Status

If you’re anything like me, you ponder your status in life. And by that, I mean THE status…the Facebook status. (Twitter updates are also acceptable.)

I joke about it, but I do spend time thinking about what I want to update my status to be. Will it be something funny that happened that day? A witty thought? Some clever, deep, insightful comment? A verse or quote I love, a song lyric stuck in my head? It’s to the point where circumstances and my thoughts just become more food for statuses to be put on Facebook or Twittered about. (Let’s pretend that’s comical rather than pathetic, ok? K.)

So tonight, I had just finished reading a great book called Crazy Love. And I was trying to figure out how to put the millions of thoughts and emotions I had into a status. I had just read dozens of thought-provoking, deep, challenging statements and ideas…which one was worthy to be entered into a text box and shared with all my friends?

And somehow the result ended up being…I couldn’t let my next status be about me. The only appropriate response I could think of was to use my status to see what I could somehow do for someone else. My status ended up simply being: “How could I pray for you today?”

It’s too easy to spend my day contemplating what my status is or will be. But I can’t think of a better way to spend my day than focusing more on the status of other people’s lives, rather than my own.