By now it’s no secret that my life has drastically changed for the better in recent months, but my mind is continually spinning day after day after day because all of these changes are ones that I never EVER dreamed possible. I mean, Ephesians 3:20 has become my life verse for a reason. I’m finding myself in a place that just a few short months ago I never even dreamed attainable, and now? Now anything is possible. I have now seen firsthand how God can do absolutely anything, even things that we think are so impossible that we never even think to ask.
But enough about that. Even though my plane landed over a month ago (WHERE on earth has the time gone??!), God is continuing to teach me things on seemingly a daily basis. Some things are small, but some of the things He likes to teach me are absolutely huge and mind blowing and life changing. A little preview for a moment… most of what I’m learning, at least the big concepts and the message I feel He is preparing in me to share with the world, has to do with the balance between faith and mental health. Except that’s a broad category, and I’ve actually been saying that for years. With my recent experiences, sharing that concept is still my heart’s desire, but now God has given my a far clearer picture on the issue. In my conversations with people recently, I’ve been focusing on the distinction between spiritual depression and physical depression, and how sometimes you have one or the other, but more often than not they coexist. More on that later, though, as what I want to share right now takes a slightly different spin.
Let me speak to the title I gave this post. I’m sure most people have heard the phrase “talk the talk vs walk the walk” when it comes to the Christian faith. But for anyone that is not familiar, it’s basically speaking to how so many people out there say they know Jesus and say that they want to live like Him, but their actions and how they choose to live their life speaks volumes otherwise. I think most of us that know the Lord and genuinely want to seek after Him want nothing more in our lives than to be seen as someone who truly “walks the walk”. I myself have had that mindset for years, realizing that the Christian life is far more than my church attendance every week. And many that know me would probably (hopefully!) speak to how I have spent so much of my life doing all that I can to love others like He loved, and to make the beautiful cross and empty tomb and ultimately the forgiveness of Jesus Christ known to the world.
However, as I have learned recently, there is a second way in which we as Christians need to “walk the walk”. And it is just as vitally important as the first way, because – to go back to the airplane analogies – if we fail to put on our own oxygen mask first, we will very quickly be of little to no use to the person whom we are trying to help.
What is that second “walk the walk”, one may ask? Well, a crucial part of the common definition is loving others just as Jesus loves them. So the second one, the one I am writing about tonight, and what He has been teaching me in a very tangible and real way since the beginning of March…
We need to love OURSELVES and see OURSELVES the way that Jesus sees us.
Okay okay okay. Let me talk on that for a minute. Some people may be thinking or going to the place of “we need to stay humble” or “we need to keep the focus off of ourselves”. And yes, I could not agree more. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. Jesus wants us to stay humble, and He wants us to stay others focused. But He ALSO loves us with the most amazing, life changing, mind boggling everlasting love. He wants us to experience abundant life in Him, and in all honesty, I am learning more and more every day that the only way to experience it fully is by remembering to see ourselves the same way that He sees us.
If anyone knows me or has been following my story, this is a struggle I faced for so many years. And for the majority of those years, I had no idea what was actually going on. I just thought my depression was almost entirely fueled by other factors, largely physical factors and chemical imbalances in my brain. And not to say those aren’t there and they aren’t factors – I still believe that they are. But to quote the outpatient treatment program here in Santa Rosa – “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.
Which makes me think of the moment when Jesus tells His followers “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart – I have overcome the world.” And so many other times when He promises that no, this world will NOT be easy. But He will be with us, no matter what, every step of the way.
In my own story, when I realized how much I had been living like a Christian when it came to how I viewed and loved and treated others, but I had NOT been doing the same for myself, I honestly felt so defeated. I had no idea how to get to the point of loving myself like He loves me, and the last few weeks before my plane landed… honestly, right around Easter… I think I felt more defeated and stuck in those days than I ever had before. Yes I finally had the insight, I knew what needed to happen, and I maybe even knew the steps I needed to take… but I was at SUCH a loss for how to make it happen. Almost immediately, though, God opened my eyes to His amazing power and how I was at a loss for how to make it happen because I wouldn’t be the one to make it happen anyway! It was all God. All Him, none of me.
This also is reminding me of my baptism a few weeks ago, the moment in which I said yes not only to the salvation that Jesus offers by way of the cross, but ALSO to the love and forgiveness and grace that He offers us on a daily basis with nothing but open arms. I said yes to living like I’m loved, and I said yes to “walking the walk” in BOTH definitions – loving others like Jesus loved them, but much more importantly, loving myself like Jesus loves me. Not a superficial or conceited kind of love. But a genuine, gut wrenching, He loves me and I am worth something because of Him kind of love.
I will close with a few sentences I journaled Saturday night during the sermon at church. It’s a glimpse into the realness of Mary, and the last sentence… I didn’t think much at all about it as I wrote, but as soon as I finished writing… wow. It’s so powerful, but so true.
“I’m just really really overwhelmed with emotions – flooded. And so beyond exhausted – I don’t know how I’m still upright. But yet… here I am. A daughter who finally knows just how free she has always been.”
A daughter who finally knows just how free she has always been.
Yes, He truly does do wonderful things.