Category Archives: Life Experiences

God and Depression: What Does the Journey Really Look Like?

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Recently, I’ve been going through something I’ve been graciously calling a “funk”. You know, it can’t possibly be depression; I have no reason to be depressed because life is going pretty well; it hasn’t gone on for long enough to really be considered depression; it is not as bad as other people’s so I don’t really have the right to call it depression. Maybe these were little lies to get me by. But now, I’m ready to look at it for what it really is.

I stopped writing. I stopped prioritizing my spending and my daily tasks, stopped thinking of my to-do lists. I stopped wanting to hang out with my friends, but they wouldn’t know; I was happy to see them all the same. I stopped enjoying my practice times, and didn’t really get much done. The house is a mess, the dishes are dirty. The bathroom needs cleaned and the laundry needs put away. I haven’t done my Stats homework in over two weeks.

There is no motivation. It’s not that I’m motivated to not do things, like those times when I push myself way too hard and I desperately need a break–when I’m burning out. There is simply…nothing.

I’m having a tough time explaining myself well, so here is an excerpt from a journal-like post I started to write the other day…(dont’ speed read over this. You’ll miss it.) Read the rest of this entry

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Au Contraire, Rose

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Against whom, Rose,
Have you assumed these thorns?
Is it your too fragile joy
That caused you to become
This armed thing?

But from whom does it protect you,
This exaggerated defense?
How many enemies have I
Lifted from you that did not fear it at all?
On the contrary, from summer to autumn
You wound the affection that is given you.

Against whom, Rose,
Have you assumed these thorns?

I’m supposed to be writing a paper about this piece. Instead, I’m writing this.

If tears didn’t accompany you to the end of this piece, go back and listen again. And this time, let yourself feel.

 

Au contraire!

 

You see, I cannot write at this moment, because I cannot stop listening. Cannot stop feeling.

Not just because the music is beautiful. No, if it were just that, I wouldn’t have been so terrified to play it back in November. (My stage fright only comes when I don’t have adequate emotions to express.)

No, not that–but because I have finally understood what it means.

 

Au contraire!

 

Of all the moments in my life, these are perhaps the most beautiful.

 

Au contraire, Rose! No longer must you hold up your thorns to the outside world! I hold you now. Your thorns do nothing but hurt me…and hurt yourself.

No, my own defenses never protect me from that which I defend myself.

They only defend me from that which can protect me the most.

 

Au contraire! You are so wrong, my dear Rose…you are worth everything to me, please wound me no longer!

I am yours. And you are mine.

I am yours, and you are Mine.

 

What a Saviour I have, indeed–One who makes everything beautiful when I am so wrong.

And what a husband I have, indeed–one who reminds me of my beauty as I heal.

The Search for Identity

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Since I can really consciously remember (since middle school or so), I feel that I’ve been on this quest to understand who I am and how I fit in with the world. I know, that’s not at all unusual for such an age–but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Throughout high school, I wore the clothes my youth group wore. (I tried to make my boyfriends wear them, too. That was weird.) I dyed some of my hair purple. And later, I started dying it more natural colors, and I tried all kinds of lengths and styles. I hiked through some trails and tried taking pictures, thinking I could be a photographer if only I tried. I ate vegetarian because I wanted to be a health nut, like my dad. I played in the marching band, jazz band, concert band, church worship band…I played saxophone, and trombone, and guitar, keys, bass, and even tried drums. I was in honor societies and other clubs that I can’t even remember. All I remember is that I was busy, doing everything.

Some of that stayed. Some of it didn’t. That is normal–in fact, it’s what Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist, calls that age from 12-18 years old the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage. This is the part of our lives where we form our identities, decide who we’re gonna be.

And yet…I had forgotten all of that stuff I did when we had started talking about the stages of Identity in one of my Psychology classes in college. I feared that I had been a case of Identity Foreclosure–where no exploration happens, a person simply accepts the beliefs of his/her parents without questioning, altering, or choosing. I mean, the people who do engage in identity foreclosure do tend to be very successful, happy, and have good self-esteem. But that is so frowned upon by our society–and I tried not to think about how “bad” I would be if that were true of me.

But, after more examination, it’s not–all of those things are typical of the stage of Identity Moratorium, the precursor to Identity Achievement. Moratorium is the period of searching and exploration before one decides on an identity; Achievement is the decision for that particular identity.

I do think that this stage extends into the college age–why else would people be hard partiers, experiment with substances, and try on different religions in college, only to turn out to be someone completely different after five or ten years? I mean, those are drastic examples–but this period is the time when we’re learning about what the world really is and how we’re gonna fit into it. Who we are, in terms of the rest of the world. The factors of finances, being away from family, doing stuff for yourself, and generally being alone weren’t previously there. And now they are, and you’re navigating them and trying to figure out who you are with them.

Maybe I’ve foreclosed on some things. I’ve certainly achieved some things. And…I think I’m still doing some searching on some things, too. I don’t think those stages are an all-or-nothing deal–one can only be “mostly true” for a given person…some are closer to those extremes than others.

So I’m not so sure that the quest for identity ever truly ends. Or maybe, I’m not ready for it to end right now. I’ve chosen some things and am dedicated to them, but I haven’t chosen on some other things. And that’s okay.

I don’t think it’s ever to late to discover.

Being Who I Am, Where I Am: A New Direction

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I feel that the summer months have watched me slowly slip back into my all-too-familiar social silence.

I went to a surprise birthday party last night. It was all people I’m acquainted with, but haven’t actually had a conversation with. A few months ago, I would have viewed it as a perfect situation–it’s weird to talk to someone you’ve never seen, and only sticking with people you know well can become monotonous. Acquaintance is opportunity.

But no…last night, social anxiety reigned and I could barely find my voice. (Except when a couple of young moms started talking about their birth stories. Those were the most interesting things I’d heard all summer–did you know that delivering a baby on your back is one of the worst ways to give birth?–and I forgot about my anxiety. But then, a new anxiety came…ha!)

It’s a really terrible feeling when all you want to do is interact with someone, but all you can think about is that you don’t want to bother them. Or that you’re too young, or not at the same stage of life, and so you are simply naive and don’t have much to offer–after all, they’ve already been where you are; they’re probably “over it”.

Reading back over that, it’s the most sickening sack of lies I’ve ever heard. Yet when they swirl inside your head with no outlet except for a couple of nervous giggles, it’s all you’ve got.

You see…there is a reason that all of those things take hold over me. Not only am I introverted, which makes me prefer to be by myself…I am also a recovering co-dependent. That means that I let people’s thoughts, actions, words, and attitudes determine if I am inherently good or inherently bad at any moment. A day where I am wanted and appreciated is much different than a day where I am unwanted or unappreciated…it determines my motivation, my mood, my view of my work, my self-esteem,…

And my coping mechanism has always been, as long as I can remember, to shut down and stuff my emotions way deep down, in the name of duty…and they always explode later. I’ve gotten better about that, but I still don’t really understand what I should do with them if I shouldn’t bottle them up.

While we’re on the topic of my problems, I struggle with not viewing myself as “good enough” to be a part of certain groups. I spent my entire freshman year of college wholeheartedly believing I wasn’t as good a trombonist as my same-age counterparts. I missed out on a lot of opportunities to perform and learn. Now…I don’t feel like I am good enough to “fit in” with other married people…especially those with kids. I know, it’s ridiculous, but it plagues me. I find these categories that I could fit into, and then I find ways that I’m not really good enough for them.

I wanted to start a blog that has encouraging, heartfelt, life-changing stories. The ones that you walk away from and you feel that life isn’t so bad after all; and now I have strength to face tomorrow.

But now…I’m thinking that I just want to go on a journey. Life is a journey…and it was silly of me ever to think that I should only tell stories after they are over. But if life is not over, my stories are not over.

This is a new direction. This is for accepting life as it is…whether I am where I want to be, or not. Whether I have something encouraging to say or not. Whether I have a point or not. I don’t care about getting traffic anymore. I don’t care about pleasing people; I just want to write.

And so dang it, I’m going to.

Here’s to the journey of life. Through my co-dependency, through my bottled-up emotions, through my skewed view of myself, through my successes, through my rule-following, my character, my introversion, my relationships, joy, anxiety, wisdom, foolishness.

This is everything. Spilling out. Whether it’s good enough or not.

And it’s gonna be awesome.

My Love Story, Part 6: The Engagement

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Part 1: The Hang-Ups

Part 2: Falling in Love with a Savior

Part 3: Love at Second Sight

Part 4: A Spiritual Leader

Part 5: Long Distance

 

I’ve been putting off writing this particular post because I felt that I “wasn’t far enough along in the engagement” to adequately describe it, to sum it up.

And, well, plans changed, and all of a sudden, my engagement is nearly over. But certainly not over in a bad way.

I wish I could live in that moment, where he got up from the other side of the table and came over to my seat to get down on one knee. It was thrilling. Not even the knowledge of its coming when he picked me up in a new dress shirt and sport coat brought that moment down.

People always ask me: “Why are you getting married? How do you know that he’s ‘the one’?”

Married people always tell you, “When you know, you know.” I always thought they were kinda crazy…especially when I thought I knew with the last guy I had. But when that phrase “I want to marry you” is followed by its proof–a period of drastic growth in both individuals and in the relationship–that’s when you really know. And I could sit around for years telling you what I now know to be important before choosing a husband, but I’ll save that for another time.

It was around the six month mark that it actually came out of our mouths. Now, that was about a year ago. And of course, looking at that point in our relationship from the perspective I have now, it’s crazy to think that I could have believed that I was ready to be married. But that’s a good thing. If I could say that we were the same people as we were a year ago, and that we had the same relationship, there would be a problem.

The most honorable thing I can say about our engagement is this: it has been a period of more growth than I could have imagined was possible in such a short amount of time.

It’s awesome to watch Matt step into the “husband” shoes…to take responsibility for me in a healthy way and to learn to love me in the way God desires for us. And likewise, I am slowly learning to respect him and his decisions, and to not try to take control of everything, the way I always do.

But still, one of the greatest things I have battled throughout our engagement is fear.

Not fear of him or myself. Not fear of our failure or fear that it won’t work out or fear that I am marrying the wrong person or at the wrong time. Fear of what others might think of me.

It often seems to me that a canyon lies between what I expect others to think of me, and what others do indeed think of me. But other times, the two are identical. The bad thing is, I always expect the worse: people will lose faith in me, they will think me foolish, they will misunderstand, they will be angry, they will look down upon me,…

It’s such a shame that marriage at a young age is so looked down upon. One author on Boundless said this:

Some people should marry when young; others should marry when older; still others, who have the gift of celibacy, should not marry at all. What I criticized was the trend toward later and later marriages. The problem isn’t that people are marrying late — the problem is that too many people are marrying later than they should. Those who should marry when young are marrying when old, and those who should marry when old are marrying older still. Some who should marry never do at all.

Of course, it comforted me that someone backed me up on my opinion. But what I really needed was for someone to put words to what exactly I was experiencing. And to know that I’m okay.

Another thing my mom told me, before we got engaged, was this: “College doesn’t have to have a white picket fence around it.”

That image of the “strong, independent woman” that gets a degree, establishes a career, and then starts considering marriage–which my dad had painted in my head–was not to be mine. In fact, that sounded pretty boring to me.

In the end…God’s plans are bigger and more exciting than a four year curriculum. And He doesn’t expect me or want me to neglect all other parts of my life while I’m in the land of Academia. I’m so grateful for that. Who knows! He might even whisk us away to some new adventure that totally exceeds our expectations for the future. Knowing Him, that’s probably what He’ll do.

And now…we have come to the end of the Love Story series. I’m kind of sad to see it go, since it has been the biggest part of my blog for the few months of its existence. From here on out, my blog will probably be peppered with various lessons God teaches me through our marriage. For Matthew will no longer be just a person in my life…but my own flesh:

And Jesus answered and said to them, “[…] From the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:5-8, NKJV)

August 10th, here we come!

My Love Story, Part 5: Long Distance

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Part 1: The Hang-Ups

Part 2: Falling in Love with a Savior

Part 3: Love at Second Sight

Part 4: A Spiritual Leader

We spent the summer together, all day, every day. It was wonderful, and we became accustomed to one another. It was nearly impossible to let go, that night before I left for college. To be completely honest, I’ve repressed the memory (unintentionally) and it no longer exists.

There is a lot of bitterness stored up in this part of my life…and a lot of strong–hardly harnessed, truly–emotions that had no outlet then. This is essentially their first outlet. It’s something I didn’t share then, and I wouldn’t have thought to share now (until this series came along). The following information is an incohesive cloud of emotions that overlap and work together to create a toxic mess.

Read the rest of this entry

A Sunny Bike Ride

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So, I’ve been riding my bike EVERYWHERE recently. Work. Walmart. Starbucks. Matt’s apartment. Soon, FSU. Anything is possible with the city bus system and a bike.

When I go to the two “main” places–work, and the bus stop at Walmart–it is mostly uphill. Then, when I come home, it’s a breeze because it’s downhill the whole way. I guess my house is in a weird valley where EVERYTHING else is uphill from me.

So one day last week, I was just…wiped out. My allergies kinda cut my feet out from under me. But I still had an errand to run before I hung out with a friend, so I did.

On my way home, I was really relieved to just coast downhill the whole way, as usual. But whenever I turn onto my street, that very last leg of the trip, it’s a long uphill slope. Like, unbearable. Like, what-the-crap-why-does-my-life-suck misery.

But I knew what was at the end of it. Home. Peace and quiet and air conditioning. And I couldn’t get off and walk my bike now! I was almost there!

It’s the worst thing ever…every time I do it. But God whispered a little something to me as I was pedaling, oh so diligently…

Even when you’re coasting downhill easily the whole way, you’ll still have to push at the very end to get Home.

I’m not sure what He meant. But here is my current commentary.

It’s easy to get lazy when everything’s going great for you. It’s easy to get discouraged when only one obstacle stands in your way. I’ve always worked best when I have a billion different things going on that have to get done. But when my schedule is open and free, and I only have to do one thing…well, it gets procrastinated a little more than it deserves. And when everything is easy but one thing stands in my way, I get way more upset about it than if I had many more things to deal with.

Maybe this is what He meant. But even if He didn’t, I’m both excited and scared to see what He means.

That’s the thing with such a grand and mysterious and loving God: you never quite know what to expect.