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Grace Came Down

“Joseph!”

The whisper in the darkness startled him as he closed the door to the shop. He whirled around, catching a glimpse of the young woman peeking around the corner. He began to walk away, shaking the wood chips from his clothing.

“Joseph! I need to tell you something!”

Almost out of sight now, Joseph heard her pleading voice. “Joseph. Please. Stop.” He turned and strode back to the door. Opening it, he motioned for her to follow.

In the dimness, he could see the outline of her face. Mary. His precious Mary.

“Mary.”

They stood in awkward silence for a moment before Mary began to speak.

“I couldn’t tell you in front of them.”

“Them.” Oh, them. “They” always made it so difficult. “Them” and their rules.

“What is it my love?”

“I had a dream. A vision. A visitation. I really don’t know what it was. Just…. something. Something happened and I’m scared.”

Joseph reached out and touched her arm. “They” wouldn’t approve. They would be horrified if they knew he was alone in the darkness with his betrothed.

Mary continued, “Joseph…. it was a heavenly being. A spirit. An angel. Something. He was enormous and glimmering gold and sparkling diamonds. He was ferocious but he was peace personified. I don’t know what it means. I’m scared.”

Joseph pulled her into his arms. Drat “them” and their rules. “I’ll take care of you my darling.”

Her whispers floated in the stillness. “He told me I had found favor with God.”

“Bless you, sweet Mary. It’s about time someone else noticed!”

“But Joseph…. He told me that I would conceive. That I would have a son. I tried to tell him this was impossible, but he said it would be the work of the Holy Spirit. I’m scared. I don’t know what to do.”

Joseph slumped into a chair. What does this mean? Them and their rules. It could happen right here, right now, with them being alone in the darkness. It was convenient and completely possible. But if it did happen, she would be worse than the laughingstock of the town. She’d be ridiculed. She might even be stoned to death. This must not happen.

“Darling Mary. It had to be just a dream. In a few short months we will be married and everything will be as it should be. Don’t be afraid Mary.”

He stood, reaching for the door. Looking out, he whispered, “I need to get home. Mother is probably wondering where I am.” Them and their rules. Again.

Joseph watched Mary’s shadow disappear in the darkness and then set out on his own walk down the dusty path to his mother’s table and the bread and fish waiting for his dinner.

The laughing chatter of his brothers and sisters did nothing to break his contemplative mood. He washed. He ate. He immediately excused himself and lay down on his cot. What if it did happen? Would he? Could he? Could he continue to love her? What was a young carpenter to do?

* * * * *

Several weeks later, just as the sun was beginning to set, Joseph again stepped out of his shop and heard his name frantically whispered. Fear gripped his heart. He stepped back into the small building and a moment later, a dark figure slipped in behind him. He closed the door silently, turned toward her and held her close. “Tell me it isn’t so….”

“Joseph, my love…. I am with child. I’m afraid. Please don’t leave me!” A silent tear slipped out of her eye and glistened in the glow of the sunset. “Don’t let them hurt me!”

Them. Their rules. Why must they be so difficult?

So it had happened. It wasn’t his doing. Sure, they had touched, shyly in the darkness that night several weeks ago. But it wasn’t him. It wasn’t him. How could this be? He sank to the floor, sighing.

“Mary. Join me?” He held his hand up to her.

She sat next to him, tears flowing. He had heard that this happened. Women were emotional when they were with child. It must be so. He put his arm around her and she shivered in the darkness as she leaned against him.

“What am I going to do? How is this supposed to work? Why me?”

“Shhh, my love.”

They sat in silence for a moment.

* * * * *
He was a good man, her Joseph. She knew she was truly a favored one among women. Her friends were betrothed to harsh men. Men who wouldn’t take the time to listen. Men who would rather report rule breakers than be rule breakers. But her Joseph. Her Joseph was different. He wasn’t wealthy. His social class was near the bottom. He was a nobody among the religious people. But he was gentle. He was kind. He didn’t hit and holler like the other men. And best of all, he cared and she could feel it.

“Joseph, darling…. Please love me anyway….”

* * * * *
She walked one way. He walked the other. It was as it was supposed to be that night. She to her mother’s table and the simple meal set and he to his mother’s table where a similar meal was set. They both picked at their food in silence while their families chattered around them. They excused themselves murmuring of long days and early mornings and lay in their cots on opposite ends of town, thinking of the future. Asking impossible questions. Wondering. Hoping.

A baby.

A baby truly, truly changes everything.

Could they marry early and no one would know the difference?

No. Impossible. It just wasn’t done. They would know the reason.

“God!” Joseph whispered. “What am I supposed to do? You know it wasn’t me! I can’t disgrace her. I can’t let ‘them’ have their way with her. They are so cruel. What am I supposed to do?”

He fell into a fitful sleep while Mary, on the other end of town, lay in the darkness caressing her stomach. “I love you already, Sweet Baby…. But what do we do?”

Her thoughts wandered to Joseph. What would he do? He knew she wasn’t like that. He knew she would never do this of her own free will. But Them. They would have plenty to say. She was certain that when they found out, everything about her would change.

* * * * *
Three o’clock in the morning. It seemed things happened at 3:00 in the morning. Joseph woke with a start from a fitful dream. He’d married her anyway. And what was it? The Voice. It had said something about Mary. About the Baby. What was it?

Joseph rolled over but sleep would not come. What had the message been? He got up to get a drink of water, stopping to watch a bright star in the night sky.

“Do not be afraid!”

Wait…. what? Wasn’t that what Mary had said the angel had said to her that night? Do not be afraid.

Do not be afraid.

Joseph took a deep breath.

The light of the star mesmerized him as he recalled the message of the angel in the dream. “Joseph. Son of David! Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife! The baby within her is truly conceived of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to name Him Jesus because He will save his people from their sins!”

This baby would truly change everything. He would change everything for everyone, not just for him and his betrothed. This Baby — He was the long-awaited Messiah.

“Them” and the rules. They didn’t matter anymore. Grace had come. Grace had overtaken Joseph and he knew exactly what was to be done.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Broken Glass

In prayer this morning, the Lord reminded me of John 8:36, which talks about freedom. If the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you are free indeed.

Indeed. If you’re on Jesus’ team, you’re free of whatever obstacle, problem, past experience, other people’s opinions, fear — whatever stands in your way. Those things have already been absolutely shattered.

We see all those things as closed doors. But they aren’t. They are more like panes of glass that cross our paths. And because of grace, Jesus flung a giant stone labeled TRUTH at every pane of glass in our way and the past experiences, the problems, the lies we believe, our fear — all of it lies in a pile of shattered glass at our feet.

Sometimes we see something that we really want and we might lean over that pile of shattered glass and touch the dreams we treasure in our hearts.

I have always wanted to be a mommy. I’ve leaned over my pile of shattered fears and I’d pick up my friends’ babies and snuggle them and sing to them and play with them and I’d be the best second mommy to those babies I could possibly be.

I leaned over because I didn’t believe that Jesus had shattered my fears.

I’ve always wanted to be a nurse and I’m particularly interested in midwifery. I’ve leaned over my pile of shattered “I can’ts” and I’ve touched it.

But I haven’t pursued it fully because I didn’t believe that Jesus had shattered my “I can’ts.”

I’ve wanted lots of things and I’ve leaned over many piles of shattered glass to briefly touch things that I so desperately wanted but didn’t believe could ever be mine.

I wasn’t believing that Jesus had already broken the things that made it feel impossible.

In the past several months, after beginning to realize that I’m already free, I took some giant leaps, hoping and praying that I’d clear the pile of glass and avoid the cuts that seem inevitable if we land in the wrong spot. I bought a house so I’d have a safe place for sweet babies to sleep and play. I became a foster parent. I can do this. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:14) I can be a mommy and the lack of husband is only a pile of shattered glass on the road in front of me.

Those leaps are difficult. I know they are. But I want to leave you with this piece of encouragement:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

He’s given us tools to help us step over the piles of broken glass in our way. The belt of truth. The breastplate of righteousness. The gospel of peace. The shield of faith. The helmet of salvation. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

He’s broken the things that stand in our way and He’s given us the tools to move forward with courage.

My prayer for you is that you will stand firm in what He’s done and who you are because of it. My prayer for you is that the mountains you see in front of you would be transformed in your mind to what they truly are — pitiful piles of broken glass. My prayer for you is that you would know the grace and peace of Jesus as you walk your path.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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So Long, Gramps

My Gramps passed away 4 years ago and a few days after his memorial service, I wrote this about him. I want to share with the world the wonderful person he was.

I could say “Rest in peace, Gramps” — but I know he’s not resting. He’s riding his horse and herding cattle like he did in the good old days.

I hope that each of my readers has had someone who, like Gramps, went to great lengths to show them how special they are. That is the thing I treasure about him and it’s what I hope I am to other people.

So Long, Gramps
Come with me to a time and place where things are simpler. Where you take life as it comes and you love the people in front of you, even if they’re kinda weird. Come with me to a place where you know no one will text anybody about who they saw you with and where it’s quite unlikely gossip about you will appear on Facebook.

Ok, so the only reason texting isn’t an issue is simply because there’s no cell phone service in this magical land. And 80% of the population is over 80 and don’t even own computers, not to mention that if they do own one, they don’t do much more than play solitaire and do jigsaws.

I’ve always loved this place. It’s quiet. Peaceful. You can walk everywhere in town in 10 minutes or less — and a woman can walk alone after dark and everyone knows she’s going to get where she is heading without fear of attack. I know this from personal experience. I have been known to walk from church after the candlelight service on Christmas Eve singing carols at the top of my lungs the whole way and no one ever said or did anything more than say “Merry Christmas!”

Welcome to the itty-bitty town of Pollock South Dakota.

I’d like you to meet my Gramps. He’s a quiet man. Doesn’t say much, but what he says matters. When I was little, his greeting went like this:
Gramps: how ya doing?
Me: good.
Gramps: whatcha good for?
Me: nothin’.

It was our thing. I think that’s the only thing I really remember him saying to me, aside from “pass the radishes.”

Gramps was a farmer. He had a piece of land in south central North Dakota that he loved. He was a farmer to the end — even after moving to the nursing home, he’d tell my many boy-cousins and my uncle (and even my mom!) to check on the tractor battery and whatnot. (When his meds made him confused, he told Grandma to get the cows out of the barley before they bloat!! Grandma said they never had barley, and hadn’t had cows in 25 years!!)

But the most amazing part about Gramps was that he was a servant. He did three church-building mission projects in his retirement. He was the oldest guy on the crew — and he was shingling a roof at the age of 74. Honestly, how many guys would work hard for 40+ years at farming/ranching and then sign up to build churches in retirement? But not only that, when he returned home after a summer of building a church, he would spend his winter mornings visiting shut-ins in the community. He’d play cards with them so their primary care-givers could get out of the house for a bit. One thing I know to be true: no one could accuse Gramps of being self-centered. He treasured people and let them know he cared. Even when he entered the nursing home, he asked every visitor to sign his guestbook — even the other residents that wandered in by accident — and he took the time to visit with each one of them.

In a lot of ways, Gramps is my hero. He risked everything for people he cared about. He even risked relationships with the most special people in his life in order to try to make things better for someone else. The someone else was me. And I am so humbled….

One thing about Gramps and the community of Pollock is that community is important. Grandma told me that for many years, she and Gramps and a few other couples would get together and play cards and celebrate life together. Oh, if the real world could be so…. Normal! In that community, no one would even whisper of what might be going on if two people hung around each other, provided that they had a good reputation to begin with.

Back to Gramps…. Last Sunday, my family told me he probably wouldn’t live. He’d developed pneumonia and congestive heart failure. I went to church that morning and the first passage the pastor talked about was 2 Timothy 4:7-8, which (paraphrased) says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I gave kept the faith. Now is stored up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge will award me on that day.”

That was Gramps’ verse. And when he went to Jesus on Tuesday, September 21, I believe that he was welcomed to the Ranch of Righteousness — where the crowns look a lot like cowboy hats and where he saddled up to herd the cattle on a thousand hills.

I sang a song at the prayer service that talks about heaven being a place where blue is the bluest blue you’ve ever seen and roses smell redder than any other rose. How can we mourn our loss when their gain is so great? Of course, we are sad and we miss him. But if we could just see that place, we couldn’t cry for him!

So long, Gramps! I could see you smiling as I sang and I knew you were so proud. I love you so much and I’ll see you again one of these days.
XOXO
~your most favoritest oldest granddaughter

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Eyes of Grace

While talking to Miracle Child one day recently, I asked “can you say ‘mom’? I know you can do it! You’ve done it before. And Mom would be really impressed if you said it!”

Miracle Child is nonverbal and just makes happy noises or sad noises for the most part. I encouraged him to say “mom” for a few minutes and then he squeaked out a tiny little “aaaaawwwwm.”

I was overjoyed, not because he did it perfectly and not because he did it well. I was overjoyed because he responded to my prompting and did the best he could. I was overjoyed because I knew that if he had the capacity to do so, he would have been yelling “MOM!” at the top of his lungs.

I Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

As I thought about this incident, the Lord was saying to me that my joy at hearing Miracle Child simply trying reflects His joy when I “try.” Sometimes I completely fail at what I feel He’s telling me to do. But man looks at the results of our effort. God looks at our desire to please Him. Man looks at the outward appearance. God looks at the heart.

Put another way, if you’re truly seeking to honor God, there’s no such thing as failure. The result of your efforts may not be stellar, but a heart that desires to please the Father is always a win.

I call it looking through eyes of grace. Grace sees the heart and is pleased when you want to — even when the only thing you can muster is a tiny little “aaaaawwwwm.”

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Heart Disease We Don’t Realize We Have- And The Medicine to Fix It

At one time, we too, were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3

At one time, I, too, was foolish. Disobedient. Deceived. Enslaved.

I’m not saying that I have it all together now. I’m still foolish. Still disobedient. Still deceived. Still enslaved.

But now I realize it.

At one time, I didn’t have a clue.

I didn’t know that the reason my life was full of malice, hatred and envy was because I held so tightly to the things I thought were true, good, right, pure, lovely and fine. I didn’t know that sometimes people who are foolish wiggle themselves into positions of authority and then teach you foolishness. I didn’t know that while obedience is good, being completely surrendered to someone else’ plans for you was foolish — and dangerous. I didn’t know that that kind of surrender put people in the place of God and kicked God to the curb like He was about as valuable as a pile of crap.

I didn’t know that hyper-purity would bring intense longing for companionship and crushing loneliness.

I didn’t know that my knowledge of the Bible and dedication to my interpretation of it did nothing but drive others away, leading to further loneliness.

I didn’t know that my righteous works were nothing but filthy rags to God and that other people were just as turned off by it as He was.

My insistence that I was right and everybody else was wrong was a symptom of a heart disease that I didn’t know I had.

My understanding of pride was that those who refused to acknowledge that Jesus alone is good and Jesus alone can save you.

This is a true definition of pride. But what I didn’t know is that it went so much further than that. The idea that I could make God happier with me because of what I’ve done (or not done) was pride. I didn’t know that my going to extreme lengths to practice purity was pride. I didn’t know that my insistence that I was right and everybody else was wrong was pride.

I didn’t know that I had a heart disease — and I didn’t know it was killing not only me, but it was killing my relationships and it was damaging other people’s relationships (or potential relationships) with God.

*~*~*~*~*

In college, I was your typical “Ex-Fundie” student. I had left fundamentalism, but I still carried the weight of graceless justification on my shoulders. I worked. I worked hard. I felt pressured to be a “light in the darkness” — but what I really was, was an old smokey and sooty lamp that served no purpose but to make people take a second look and shake their heads muttering “Huh?!?” as they walked away.

I didn’t have any idea what “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” meant. The part about it not being about us, but being a gift from God so that no one can boast about their own righteousness went completely over my head. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

But one autumn morning, everything changed.

It was a morning like any other — except for one thing. The night before, around midnight, two freshmen had been making their way back home for the weekend. One moment they were talking enthusiastically about their future together — they were high school sweethearts and very much in love — and the next moment, the boy lay lifeless while his girlfriend clung to life just long enough to get to the hospital.

Two lives ended as a result of a head-on collision somewhere in the emptiness of the Minnesota countryside that night. Two families devastated by the loss of children, siblings, cousins, niece, nephew and grandchildren. Many were devastated by the loss of friends, support systems and encouragement.

I didn’t know them. I had never heard of them until that morning when I was supposed to deliver the campus mail and I was told to set the mail for that Freshie in Porter aside.

I ended up attending the campus memorial service several days later. At the service, the families talked about how their brother and sister, their son and daughter, their niece and nephew had truly loved Jesus and their goal in everything they did was to point people to Jesus. They quietly loved Jesus. And they loved others like Jesus would. They had chosen Colossians 3:12-14 as their life verses. Their goal in life was to demonstrate the following to everyone they made contact with:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if anyone has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

I had never heard those verses before. Of course, I’d read them dozens of times, but I hadn’t noticed them before. As the family talked about the ways their loved ones had demonstrated these verses, I began to realize that I was sick in the heart. These two young people had embraced grace and they did everything they could to extend that grace to everyone — not just the people who agreed with them. Not just the people who were kind to them. Not just the people at church and not just to their family and friends. They extended grace to sinners just as often as to saints. They extended grace to the broken just as often as they extended grace to the healthy. They oozed grace. They bled love. They breathed in Jesus and breathed out grace and love.

And I was sitting there, convicted of my own failure to love.

The family had given every person in attendance and paper with some pictures and those verses printed on it. Their prayer was that those who didn’t know Jesus would read them and come to know the God of grace and mercy.

I walked out of the building that day with tears streaming down my cheeks. I sat alone for a long time, reading those words over and over again.

Jesus asks us to be compassionate. Kind. Humble. Gentle. Patient. It’s supposed to be such a “thing” for us that it doesn’t just come out of our mouths, but it is something that we wear. It is visible to everyone, all the time, regardless of what we do, think, say or feel. We should be people who forgive quickly and love boldly.

Every day.

All the time.

That day was a game-changer for me. I could no longer identify with the Holier-Than-Thou Homeschooler I had attended class with. I could no longer identify with those who only had the capacity to love certain people.

It wasn’t about what I knew anymore. It was about who I knew. It was about knowing the love of Jesus. It was about finding ways to show that love to others. Every day. All the time.

Sometimes my heart has an irregular rhythm — where one moment, I rock it, and the next I’m quivering back and forth between doing it right and doing it easy. Sometimes my heart burns with envy and hatred. Sometimes it gets clogged with selfishness and unforgiveness. If I was diagnosed with heartburn or clogged arteries, a doctor would give me an antacid or a cholesterol medication. If I had a heart rhythm problem, I’d be given a pacemaker. But God’s medicines are a little sweeter than a doctor’s medicine, though sometimes it might be a bit harder to swallow. His medicine is:

Compassion.

Kindness.

Humility.

Gentleness.

Patience.

Forgiveness.

Love.

Above all, put on love, that binds them all together in perfect unity.

That’s God’s recipe for healing heart disease.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Departure

When I was a little girl, every time I visited family for a weekend or a reunion or…. any other reason I might have been there, when it came time to pack myself up again and climb up into the van to go home, I’d freeze. I’d panic. I’d get sick in the tummy, I’d cry and sweat and sometimes I might have vomited.

I really don’t remember if I vomited or not.

I was anxious. I didn’t want to go home. Home wasn’t very…. homey.

I felt like no one loved me, no one wanted me. Nothing that mattered to me mattered to anybody else.

But when I was with the family, I was treated well. I was hugged and talked to and loved on and taken seriously. I craved the attention, the love and the support I got only from the people I didn’t see often.

Today it’s different. I have my own home. My home is a safe, warm, welcoming place. I’m surrounded by amazing young women who fill my life with joy. I love my home. I love…… love…. love it.

But….

There are people who come around who make me even happier. They make me laugh. They make me feel important, smart and talented. For a few hours, my heart is full. My mind is challenged. My soul is overflowing.

And then they leave.

And then I’m back to the old days when I used to get so sad and anxious when I left.

Back then, I was given a taste of what it was to be loved and accepted and then I had to walk away from what my soul desperately craved.

Today…. the thing my soul desperately craves walked out the door, leaving me back in the days of childhood. Wondering. Wishing. Will there ever be a day when I fall asleep content, cozy and soul-full and wake up feeling just as content, just as cozy and just as soul-full as I was when I went to sleep? Will there ever be a day when dreams become real?

Will there ever be a day when he decides that he just can’t bear to continue walking away?

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Grace For Even This

A long time ago, I loved to write.

As a child and teen, I had no outlet except for the blank page, and I filled many hundreds of pages with scribblings. Letters. A story now and again. Pain. Trauma. Loneliness. Desperation. Longing.

For a period of time, every single day, I wrote
God, give me patience!
in big letters on every single page, many times on each page.
I also wrote it in small letters, backhand letters, right slant letters, drunk-like scribbles, chicken scratch, beautiful swirly letters, block letters, angry letters, desperate letters. Broken letters.

I was going through some of the most difficult days I’d ever had.

God, grant me the serenity….
Ah, serenity. I could use some of that.
To accept the things I cannot change….
To accept… everything?
Courage to change the things I can….
Is there really anything I can change?
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Is there a difference?

When I got to be about 17 years old, my life was a mess. I don’t remember much from that time, except that I delivered newspapers twice a week and I made my first attempt at writing, editing and publishing. Those things were the…. happy times.

There were dark times. Many, many dark times. Times when I was paralyzed by fear. Anxiety rolled me up into a little ball and I’d spend most of my time curled up on the floor behind my bed or just laying on my bed, thinking. Depression gripped me. The two — anxiety and depression — gathered me up in their icy fingers and pulled me behind a translucent curtain that allowed me to see only grey shadows of all the wonderful things everybody else was experiencing while the voices of desperation and panic and fear eerily whispered in my ear.

That was then.


I didn’t know how bad it could get.

As days turned to weeks and weeks into years, experience piled on top of experience. Pain upon pain. Sadness upon pain and worry and loneliness. Desperation on top of sadness and depression on top of disappointment.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
Every hope was deferred.

Tears upon tears, wounds wound with bandages that served only to keep the pain in and the outside out.

A decade turned into two.
Heart-sick and broken.
Words came no more.
What had once been delightful ideas, hopeful thoughts and beautiful pictures turned into two word sentences, repeated over and over again.

Help me.


Help me, in backhand. Help me! in curly-qs and swirly letters. Help me! in desperation, in brokenness, in pain. Help me! because there were no other words that my brain could put together.

Just.
HELP.
ME!

Hope deferred.
It makes the heart sick.
It makes the mind sick.
It makes the body sick.

I have a mental illness.

Looking at my history, it makes sense that I would.
My other grandma was crazy enough that I was scared of her.Childhood trauma often leads to mental illness of one kind or another.
And, of course, hope deferred makes the heart sick.

Five years ago, I had it all together. I worked. I paid my bills. I budgeted and paid off thousands in loans. I went to church. I was involved in ministry at church. I sang, I prayed, I served, I loved.

And then my world collapsed.
When my world collapsed, my already fragile psyche teetered one more time before one by one, the support beams came crashing down.

I was so “down” that I was down and out.
I was down in the dumps and out of commission.

But I tried. Oh, how I tried.
I did well enough that only two people suspected that something was off. One was a man I knew very briefly and the other was my best friend. The man was the first one to confront me. He told me to go get help. I saw a psychologist who referred me to a medical doctor for a prescription.

I was terrified to take it. Because demons. Because spiritual sickness. Because it was all my fault. Because addiction? Because unknowns.

The day I filled the prescription, I prayed that it would work. I took the first capsule, drifted off to sleep and the next morning, I woke up and noticed that the sun was shining and the fact that the sun was shining made me happy.

I couldn’t remember the last time something actually made me happy.

I lay in bed for several minutes with a goofy grin on my face, then I got up and went about my day like being happy and having a peaceful mind were something I did every day.

It worked for a while.

Then stress. Then desperation. Then pain.

Everything I had experienced before was magnified by 10.

Then more stress. More pain. More unknowns.
(Another magnification by 10)
Medication change, additional medication, an as needed medication added.

Every change helped — for a while. But eventually, I’d revert back to where I had been before. Many times, I’d hit an uncontrollable downward spiral.

That is where I am right now.
I had the most recent medication change in April, and by August, it isn’t working so well anymore.
True, I can at least put words together again. That’s a comfort. It means that in some ways I’m better.
But….
But- the sadness and fear linger.

I worry.

I worry that no man will ever want to love me.
Should I even entertain the idea of hoping for romance?
I worry that something will happen at work and I won’t know what to do.
Should I even be a nurse at all?
I worry that I won’t be able to pay my bills.
I should never have bought a house.
I worry that if by some fluke I get married and get pregnant, I’ll go off the deep end.
Maybe I could just give up that idea.
I worry that people will hate me because I’m scared.
Is isolation a better choice?
I worry that my car will break down, my food will make me sick, I won’t be able to afford lunch, my doctor won’t know how to help me, pastors might exploit my willing and generous spirit. I worry about the kids I love, about bird flu and cancer and the possibility of having a horrendous winter.
Oh, how I worry.

This is my life. This is what mental illness is like. It’s hard. It’s awful. It’s terrifying.

The past few days, I’ve been thinking specifically about romance and babies and laughter and happiness.
It all seems so elusive to me.
It’s really not fair to ask a man to love me. Not with all the cray-cray in my brain.
It’s not fair to ask him to choose between living with an unstable and moody woman for 9-10 months while she gestates a baby or giving up the possibility of having biological children. How would you even make that decision?
It wouldn’t be fair to the child if I were to take medication while pregnant — because birth defects.

Who would even want to love somebody like that????

I stewed over this for a couple of days. I thought about possibilities for alternative treatments. I thought about lots of things. I studied gene mutations to see if maybe that could be “it.”
Because I want to be better.
Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have a peaceful mind!

After work today, I sat down to read a few scriptures before going on to the next task. I thought about all the things I’ve looked into and all the problems and issues I have and how happiness is so far out of my league. I thought about a lot of things.

And then I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me….
But you try.
I do.
You know what it is and you are learning what your triggers are.
I hope so!
You are always trying to find answers and you’re willing to do whatever it talks to get better.
Yes! I don’t want to be another version of the other grandma!
You aren’t simply giving in to it like so many others do.
Gosh, I hope not!
It’s ok.
Oh, how I hope so!
Grace covers even this.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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