Wednesday, February 4, 2015

all things pass.

I page through old journals and spend time with one from a period I can now identify as living with depression.  I read,

"The truth is, leaving Ocean Beauty is allowing me time to sit around and stare in the face my sorrows and anger and most of all, fear.  It sits heavily on my shoulders, suffocating me in spite of my efforts to keep on the move.  I get through my life by offering myself treats, and still life seems to stretch out endlessly before me.  What I long for is a calling--if only I had a project in which to pour myself, I would feel more purposeful and less panicked.  But instead I ponder grad school and berate myself for my indecision and my lack of real creativity or intelligence...I carry around all the time a sense of not being capable, not having what it takes.  I feel a fraud who doesn't actually have anything to offer."

I read,

"I don't know what to do.  Something so complex is taking place here, and I am longing for relief and clear eyes, even as I confess aloud that you have been able to change my heart in the midst of all this discomfort.  I await relief.  In the meantime, I ask for endurance, that I might continue to move forward and choose life--even while challenges and disappointments beset my all feels confusing, heavy, boring, static, stale, too much.  I don't know why I'm in such an emotional state, why stress and anger, irritability and a lack of self-confidence, are ruling my life.  It all feels connected, and it feels like too much to put together.  God, how am I ever supposed to wade through all of this?  How can I know where to begin?  It's a knot and I feel paralyzed at the thought of trying to untie it."

I read,

"The main and persistent questions in my life at this time: Where do I belong?  Where am I headed?  What do I have to offer to the church and the world?  And somewhere very deep inside, I am asking, why haven't you rescued me yet?  Will you?  How can I be a person of hope in the midst of so much ambiguity and disappointment?"


The thought that runs through my mind as I read, over and over again like a mantra, is you never know how long it will take.  When they tell you to wait, when they promise it will get better, they can't tell you how long that will take.  This is why depression snuffs out any flicker of hope so effortlessly, because it feels as though your life is over and nothing will ever lift the heavy wet blanket from your shoulders, your face, your lungs, your heart.

The writing from my journals is close to two years old in places, and I have perspective and understanding and compassion now that I didn't then: how all of it is deeply connected, how I was beginning to grieve and let go of all that was familiar, why I felt angry and unimportant so very often.  My depression was tied together by a ruthless sense of falling short, of feeling convinced that I didn't have what it took to thrive and that everyone would stop loving me once they knew my secret of being totally without talent.  And in truth, I still find myself slipping back into the mud of depression on certain days, feeling listless and utterly hopeless and like I have nothing to offer.  I simply have more practice bearing that pain and reaching back out for the truth, for love, for hope.

I read my journals and I want to reach back into time and stroke my own head and whisper,

You will make it.  It will feel as though is takes longer than it should, but you will emerge from this.  You are not doomed to failure forever.  You will begin to take stock of the pieces of your life in a little room with a therapist sitting across from you, and this will help.  You will start by looking at all the different sources of pain, and you must take a good hard look at all that's been broken before you can begin to build something new.  Much has fallen apart, and sometimes that weekly session will take days of reading and tea and TV to recover from, but there will also be freedom and hope to be discovered in the process of naming your sorrows and fears, which have spent years building up pressure underground. 

You will begin to put the pieces back together by reading and writing long quotes in your journal; by taking a break from church for a while and resting on Sundays; by telling the truth with tears in your eyes and watching your loved ones stay; by learning how to take care of your body again; by whispering the Psalms out loud while you're home alone; by your little cat purring in your lap and your husband's shirt as your Kleenex after weeping and careful, achy, passionate listening from the ones you love.  These things will save your life, and your spirit.

You will face your pain and you will not be swallowed by it. Parts of you will die but you will emerge again--you will be re-born, made new, in big ways and in smaller ways each day.


"Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins all it seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing:
God alone is enough."
-Teresa of Avila

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