9/11 – It Is Well With My Soul

I hesitate to write a post on 9/11. Almost every other blog, news station, or tv/radio channel will have some memorial, some commentary. You can find a million other thoughts to read or hear about on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Why add mine to the mix?

I don’t honestly know. But I’m going to.

Every person who remembers 9/11 has “that place.” It’s “that place” where they first heard, first saw, first understood what was happening. For me, it was during AP U.S. History homework in my junior year of high school. I was desperately trying to finish an assignment that was due, all the while unaware that U.S. history was being made. At first when I glanced at the tv my mom was watching, all I saw at first was a building seemingly on fire. It took a while before I realized what building it was and why fire and smoke were streaming out of it. All else faded as I realized the magnitude of what had happened.

It’s now ten years later. It’s almost criminal of me to try to put words to all the pain that happened on that day and the decade to follow. I simply cannot. I cannot offer words to those who lost loved ones one that day and in the days that came. I can only offer something I’ve been thinking of lately.

During this own time of struggling with depression in my own life, I have thought of the song “It Is Well With My Soul.” I’ve often wondered how someone could sing a song like that in the midst of life’s darkest hours. How could one’s soul be “well” with terrible things happening? What I finally realized was this: the song is not about being “ok” in the midst of terrible things. It is about being made right with God. The only way it can be well with my soul is when my soul is made well, right, whole, and holy before God. And it can only be done in one way: through Jesus Christ.

Whatever your pain is, whatever your moment with 9/11 was, I offer you the question: is it truly well with your soul? We don’t have to be “ok” with what happened. We don’t even have to have peace about it. But I pray you have the greatest peace of all–knowing that you believe in Jesus Christ, who died a death for YOU…to make your soul well before God.

Being real

I’ve been considering blogging again/more. (I once read that the cardinal rule of blogging is to never talk about lack of blogging or about renewed efforts/decision to blog more, but there you go.) I knew that if I were to really, honestly blog, it might involve a large amount of honesty and “being real.” I wondered if I was ready for that. In the past it was so much easier to be real about my struggles, and I’m not sure if age and wisdom or fear has tempered that. But here I am, and I thought I’d give it a shot.

I’ve had another recent run-in with my old friends, depression and anxiety. The collision was to the point that I had to withdraw from another semester of school and temporarily pull out of my job on unpaid sick leave. I have now spent two weeks at a Christian counseling center in CA, getting more intensive and concentrated help to overcome the depression and anxiety. It’s been hard; it’s been grueling. Most days I’m exhausted from the work and the therapy. But there you go, and here I am.

I used to talk a lot more online about my depression punctuated by bouts of anxiety. Again, I’m not sure what has tempered that more as the years have gone by. But one thing I still believe is that open and honest conversation about these kinds of things can help erase some of the stigma associated with it. It can help others open up about their own struggles; it can help us feel less alone. So I’m writing and letting you know what I’m going through. I hope that if you’re struggling, it will help you know you’re not alone. I hope if you know someone who’s struggling, you might be encouraged to reach out and offer to be a listening ear. And wherever you are, I hope that it helps us all realize that we don’t have to let fears or stigma define us. Real is real. Let’s be real, and maybe we’ll all end up a little better for it.

And most of all, I need to say that God is faithful. No matter what, God is faithful in ALL things. Always.

‘Hoping someone is listening’

Today, I read the Wikipedia article on Twitter. The last sentence gave me something to chew on. It said that Twitter had been “satirized…as an addiction to ‘constant self-affirmation’ and said tweets were nothing more than ‘shouts into the darkness hoping someone is listening.’ ”

Of course, I proceeded to then tweet about it:

It’s been said that tweets are “shouts into the darkness hoping someone is listening.” What do you think?

While I am mostly waiting to hear other people’s responses, these are a few other questions/thoughts I have on the matter:

Since when is it wrong to hope?

Since when is it wrong to be heard?

Since when is it wrong to shout into the darkness in a belief that we’re not alone?

 

What do you think?

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.

Light Up The Sky

There has been a lot of pain this week. I have seen and heard of people facing cancer, of those who have faced taking loved ones to the emergency room for a variety of reasons. I know of a man who’s father just lost his job, and of another man who is dealing with the ongoing complications from his father’s open heart surgery.

I know of a man whose daughter discovered her child had died in her womb. In addition to losing her baby, during the procedure to remove it, there was a medical mistake that ended up in destroying and removing part of her small intestines. Now she hangs in the balance, fighting for her life. She was able to have the 5% of her small intestines remaining reconnected to the large intestine, but a transplant will probably be necessary in the future. She will have a long and difficult healing ahead of her, emotionally and physically.

I know of the people who fight the inner battles, the ones that don’t take them to a doctor or surgery or the emergency room. They suffer through their own emotional pain, because of a broken relationship, because of hurt in a relationship, because of their own struggle to accept and forgive themselves. These are the people who look into the mirror and despair of ever being who they wish they could be. These are the hopeless, the ones who silently curse and condemn themselves daily, or the ones who cry out long sobs at the end of the day when they are alone in their apartment, kneeling on the floor. These are the ones who fight to live day to day, to live the fullness and wholeness they long for.

I have seen all of these this week. I can identify with some. But most of all I am overwhelmed by the pain of it. We each have a journey; we each  face our own private struggle. And I ask what can possibly be done in the face of such trials and wounds.

I heard this song on the radio this week. It doesn’t make everything ok; it doesn’t give answers to the pain. But to me, it offered a reminder of Hope.

May we also remember to help light up the sky for others, that we may make this journey and find strength in walking together.

When I’m feeling all alone
With so far to go
The signs are no where on this road
Guiding me home
When the night is closing in
Is falling on my skin
Oh God will You come close?
(Chorus)
Light light light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me You are with me
I I I can’t deny
No I can’t deny that You are right here with me
You’ve opened my eyes
So I can see You all around me
Light light light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me
That You are with me

When stars are hiding in the clouds
I don’t feel them shining
When I can’t see You beyond my doubt
The silver lining
When I’ve almost reached the end
Like a flood You’re rushing in
Your love is rushing in

(Chorus)

So I run straight into Your arms
You’re the bright and morning sun
To show Your love there’s nothing You won’t do

(Chorus)

That You are with me