Without Hope the Soul Is Unwell

At the end of August, we will have been in California for a full year. Others who made similar uprooting transitions before told me it would take at least a year to adjust, two years to finally feel settled, and it’s been true for us so far. The blessings, the benefits, the bright side of living here with family and near friends have been undeniably good though each good thing has been tinged with a darkness around the edges. Depression laying like an abyss in the background of my mind. Nightmares invading peaceful sleep for the kids (and then for us when they cry and scream). Old wounds coming up fresh in our marriage and working hard to know and love each other well again.

June was a particularly hard month— the tension of darkness and stress formed a pressure I couldn’t bear anymore. I lost hope and reason to keep going.

I’m over at the The Mudroom today talking about hope and my soul’s wellness:

I told my husband I felt like shattered pieces of glass lying on the floor with no one to help me, no one who knew how to put me back together. The cracks in myself, in our marriage, in my parenting had come to a pressure point, and the pieces that were held in tension gave way.

My survival technique of sucking it up and doing the next thing helped me get to where I was, but it left me exhausted and depressed. I had no energy to figure out how to disciple my kids in faith, to work harder toward health in our marriage, to know whether I was going through a bout of depression or recognizing a long-term struggle with it. I just knew I couldn’t go any further. I wanted to pause time, to escape for a moment to some place where I could breathe, to break away from the clinging and whining, and be still, at peace. But the fantasies of escaping turned dark, and even though I looked fine on the outside, I wasn’t well within.

Read the rest at The Mudroom.

It’s Almost Christmastime

almost christmastimeMy fingertips are cracked. The weather is cooling, and winter is coming.

The gloom.
The wait.
The ache.
The longing.

I wonder about the Israelites looking for their Messiah, wondering who it would be and if it would happen in their lifetime. I wonder how they felt in exile and what it must’ve been like to be one of those who returned. Does God still mean what He said to us long ago? Do His promises still hold? Is He with us now as He was then? 

I wonder about the heaviness of the silence before the Baby was born- how the older generation mourned the olden days while the younger generation couldn’t even imagine what it had been like, and no one could have imagined what life would be like with the coming Savior.

I wonder what it was like to be Mary, to hold the Promise in her womb, and to be the one who brought Him into this world.

The Light.
The Joy.
The Love.
The Hope.

It’s almost Christmastime, and I wonder how many of us are in the gloom, in the wait, in the ache. I wonder how many of us are hoping for new life and light, how many of us are longing to be saved out of our pits, out of our ruts, out of the loneliness that sits heavy in our hearts.

It’s almost Christmastime, but really, it’s already here. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoicesHe has come. He is with us now. Take heart, dear friends. He is Immanuel, and He is coming again soon.

Seasons of Darkness

Morning does come

This past week my friend Sarah released her new ebook on walking through season of darkness. So much of her story reflects my own, and I’m grateful she’s written it down so that others could benefit. She also recorded an audio companion in which she interviews two lovely women who have gone through loss, and I know that it’ll bring encouragement to anyone who hears their stories.

In light of this, I thought I’d share a bit of my own story of darkness. I’ve gone through depression from time to time throughout my life, but I didn’t realize until recently that it’s something I really struggle with. After I had my first baby, I went through a period when everything was just too much. Too many changes. Too much boredom. Too much of not being myself. Too much of not being able to do things I used to be able to do. Too much of feeling like a failure. I pep talked myself into thinking that I was ok, that I could get through it, but there were countless nights of entertaining dark thoughts and feeling hopeless. All of it took a toll on my sanity and my marriage, and I didn’t think we’d come out of it.

We surprisingly got pregnant again when our first was 6 months old, and after acknowledging that I really was struggling with depression, I decided to do something about it. I unfortunately wasn’t able to receive any counseling at that time*, but I was able to take a step back, figure out my triggers, and ask for help. I learned so many things as I analyzed myself. I learned that I get easily overwhelmed because I don’t know how to set boundaries. I realized that by trying to meet everyone’s expectations of me (both real and perceived), I was setting myself up for failure. I learned that my defense mechanism has always been to make light of the situation and to push through and get through difficulty with a smile on my face. It was an interesting time of learning about myself, how I function and how to seek help from those around me.

I wrote emails to my husband, to fellow staff members, to friends, and to family about what was going on and how they could support me. Help came in the form of prayer, of friends speaking truth and logic to me, of understanding from my fellow pastors, of gentleness and affirmation from my husband, and even of the hormones from the new pregnancy. I started to come out of my funk, out of my deadness, and I started to feel again. I started to cry again- not out of desperation and anger but out of feeling something with God for the first time in a long time. In my frailty, I was met with His strength, gentleness and kindness.

There are still times when I get overwhelmed and feel depressed, but I’m quicker to recognize the patterns and seek community and light. If you’re going through a season of darkness, can I encourage you with this?

When it’s midnight, and the light is hours away, the darkness is thick and trapping and sometimes stifling, but it’s still temporary. Morning does come. (quote from the ebook ‘Oh, Take Heart’)

You’re not alone. There is hope.

*I highly suggest seeking out counseling and good community if you’re going through depression.