Earlier this year, shortly after the moment that life began to all make sense, I finally started to sense a little more direction for my life. It was weird at first… I mean, as this quote from Tumblr describes it, “growing up suicidal is kinda weird cause I didn’t think I’d still be alive right now so I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my life or where I’m going because I never planned on being here for it.” And for much of late May and June, that’s the place in which I found myself – a whole world ahead of me, but zero idea what to do or where to go. Think about a horse or a giraffe, how moments after it’s born the mother helps it and expects it to stand up, but the poor thing has legs that barely know how to work so it just stands there confused and cautious and scared… that was me.
Slowly, though, that direction started to find me. And while I finally know WHAT I want to do with my life, in many ways I’m not sure I’ve ever known less about HOW that can best be accomplished! But that’s okay, because that is God’s job. It’s His job to lead us and guide us and teach us… it’s our job to be willing and to say yes.
So as I’ve had beautiful conversations with so many people about life and about how strange it is to know the WHAT but not the HOW, I’ve described that “what” by way of what one could almost consider a life mission statement, or mission theme. It’s something that for so long I had zero idea could exist and be a thing, and it’s something that I see lacking in the world and especially in the church in some pretty significant and often scary ways.
That theme, the theme and lesson that drives everything I am and everything that I do? It’s today’s gift, the sixth gift on this journey. Basically… it’s the driving concept behind Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, the concept that two seemingly opposing and conflicting things could simultaneously be true.
I will pause here to dispel any concerns or worries – I’m very familiar with the concept of relative truth and absolute truth and what I am talking about is absolutely NOT that.
What I’m talking about is the principle and truth that I can talk about and address the spiritual component to my battle with depression WITHOUT invalidating the fact that my depression is a very real and even physical illness.
What I’m talking about is the idea that life is messy and backwards and broken and painful, but that in every one of those things it is also simultaneously so incredibly beautiful.
What I’m talking about is the permission to be human. God did not tell us “do not grieve”, He told us “do not grieve as those without hope”. He told us how to grieve in a healthy way, not to skip the process entirely.
I’m talking about the truth that it’s okay to feel our emotions, even the pain and the frustration and even the anger. It’s okay to be angry when we face tragedy in our lives – tragedy is so far outside of the life that God intended for us, but it’s a reality of life on earth.
I’m talking about the truth that tells us it’s okay to feel those things – but that doing so never once invalidates our faith, how much we trust Jesus, or the validity of our claims of Jesus being Lord of our lives. We can be just as much in love with Jesus as we question and wonder why things happen and even cry… sometimes we might even be MORE in love with Him in those moments.
See, dear friends… it’s this truth and this concept that pulled me from the depths of despair what is really still just a few short months ago.
I say in full faith that being able to realize all of this, the concept of “beautiful dichotomy” as I like to call it… it’s what saved my life. It’s what has allowed me to continue living and breathing and loving Jesus.
So if you take away nothing else from my exploration of all these wonderful gifts, remember this one – day six. Remember that it’s okay to feel the emotions that we were created to feel. It’s okay to hurt, it’s okay to be angry.
But in those moments of pain and darkness? It’s also okay to lift our hands – with tears streaming down our face – in praise to the One who created us and who holds the universe in the palm of His hand.
For so long I would hear people talk about how praise is such an incredible antidote to anxieties and fears and to the dark of depression, but I was always so scared to walk towards that posture because I feared that in doing so I would somehow invalidate the realness of my illness or the intensity of my pain. What I’ve learned in 2019, though, is that nothing could be further from the truth! Because when we lift those hands in praise, tears and all, something starts to happen. We start to remember who we are… and Whose we are.
God is so good, you guys. In early March as I began to enter into this season, finally realizing all that I needed to face, I was terrified. I was still terrified for so long that somehow I would end up invalidating the realness of my own depression. But what actually happened? Almost the exact opposite. As I began to finally internalize Whose I am, that He chose me and that He loves me and that He forgives me every single day for every single thing… did the depression disappear? Not at all. In fact, here in Virginia I’ve seen some pretty dark days. But walking into this beautiful dichotomy… for one, it unlocked my toolbox of tools that I’ve learned in therapy. After years of learning tools but never ever using them because I didn’t believe I was worthy of anything good or that I deserved any relief ever… that toolbox got unlocked. Now I can cope, now I can live a life for Jesus.
As I’ve said… this is the gift that I’m perhaps the most passionate about, at least as far as a passion for sharing it and all that it means with the world. When I get talking about this, when I have an opportunity to share it with someone – especially someone for whom the truths are like healing balm on the wound of a broken heart – that’s when I feel most at home, like I’m living out the purpose God intended for my life.
This past Saturday I was out running a few errands, and I was hoping to find some black dress pants (because church in the winter… brrr!). I happened to score this crazy flash sale on an AMAZING pair of pants… $20 for something like $90 pants. It was crazy, and I was super stoked. Who doesn’t love a good deal??! So, knowing the information might come useful, I texted both of my sisters to let them know. I hadn’t talked to them in a while, so it was nice to say hello, but it was also kind of… random, just texting them out of the blue about this random sale.
Over the years I’ve heard people share stories like that in regards to sharing Christ and sharing the gospel with those who don’t know Him. And not going to lie, this past Saturday when I texted my sisters, this was running through my brain a little.
But now as I sit here… writing this post, sharing another piece of my heart with the world… it’s that exact same situation.
I lived as a Christian with saving faith – the salvation through Christ – for most of my life. But despite that, my life still came far too close to being tragically cut short from a battle with mental illness. So moving forward, as I continue to ponder the WHAT and the HOW of what I do with my life… I know that sharing this gift has the power to transform and even save lives. This gift has Jesus at the center, absolutely. But it goes so much further than just being saved from an eternity in hell.
This truth and this gift allow us to live our lives more free than ever before. It gives us the space to be human and still be loved more than we could ever comprehend.
I think about the heartache, the darkness… the hell of the last seven years. I hope and pray all the time that I’m able to continue living a life free from that bondage. But it is living through that hell that allows me to see and experience the gift of beautiful dichotomy. And because of that? I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Be blessed tonight, dear friends. And be loved – more than you will ever know.