Weak and Foolish

The mom just looked at me while I tried to tell her what I ‘plan to do’ with my life.  Honestly, that has to be the scariest question you can ask a teenager!  And as I explained the calling I feel God has put on my life, the woman’s eyebrows just moved farther and farther up.

See, I was trying to summarize this whole calling in a relatively short amount of time, and that’s hard to do, because it’s a long story.  The version she got was that when I was very sick (most definitely the darkest time in my illness), God placed a clear calling on my heart.  He told me that I was going to the Newlife International School of Midwifery in the Philippines.  This in itself is a long story, but it’s not the point of this post, so I won’t tell it in detail.  Suffice it to say, I know that it was God that moved in my spirit, and I do not doubt one bit that that is what I heard.

Okay, so Philippines it is.  After spending about a year and a half researching and preparing for this particular (tiny) school on the southernmost island of the Philippines, God switches it up a little.  Ever had one of those things that just drops into your lap, and won’t go away?  Somehow it starts to come up EVERYWHERE, and you start to pay attention?  Yeah.  That.

All of a sudden it became clear that going for a Certified Nurse Midwife degree in the States (versus the Certified Professional Midwife degree in the Philippines) is the direction my life is going.  And when I say clear, I mean crystal.  People were coming out of the woodwork, giving me this message right and left!!  Okay God.  You have my attention.  CNM it is.  Begin research process.

Things begin to fall into place, and I’m on my way.  Completely confident and satisfied in the direction my life is going.

Enter nosey mom.  This woman is not my mother (thank you Jesus), but here she stands before me, interrogating me about my plans.  We’re in a quiet hallway surrounded by many friends laughing and joking, but I feel like this is a test of my worth.

She finds out that my current plan is to go to my local community college for a few years, get my associates in nursing, and transfer out to a bigger medical school for my bachelors in nursing and then masters in midwifery.  I swear this woman’s eyebrows are going to jump off her face.

She looks at me and says, dead serious, “Why in the world would you want to go to community college?”  I can see it now.  I am that kid.  The one homeschooler NOT starting off at a prestigious medical school from the beginning.  As if I’m defective.

Well, community college is cheaper, and will give me a few years at home to prep for living on my own.  That, and I’m not ready to jump into society.  That, and the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE kind of put it in my path…  Other than that, no reason.

Again, her eyebrows.  But now the lips get in on the action too – puckering into an unattractive, wrinkly mass of lipstick.  “You know that if your PSAT scores are good you can get a scholarship.”

I didn’t take the PSAT.  I was too sick at the time to get out of bed.

“Well, your SAT scores then.  National Merit Scholars can go to any school they want.  That’s how my daughter can afford her school of choice.”

How nice for your daughter.  Woman, I didn’t take the SAT.  I know you’re supposed to take it somewhere between 2 and 7 times before you graduate, I just never did.

And I see it written across her face.  Defective.  I am the screw-up of this prestigious group of homeschoolers.  I am the only one here who hasn’t taken the PSAT and the SAT.  I’m probably the only one who’s not a National Merit Scholar!  I haven’t duel enrolled my whole high school, I haven’t applied to any colleges, and I’m not getting a scholarship to the best college in the country.

“Well I’m sure you’ll do great.”  Interpretation – have a nice life you screw-up.

This encounter took place several months ago and has weighed heavily on me since then.  It threw me into a deep depression that lasted for several weeks.  I didn’t have the motivation to eat food.  The things this woman had said were so hurtful and damaging that they pushed me into a level of hopelessness I haven’t been for almost a year.

When I told my mom about it she was ready to punch someone out (thank you Jesus that this is the mom I do have!).  She enabled me to dig through my emotions until I found the root of the whole issue.  What is the real problem here?

I haven’t done enough, I’m not in the right starting place.  How can I graduate in a few months?  I am so behind!  Everyone is better than me.  I’m not good enough.

This is the lie that was seeded into my heart by that ‘concerned’ mom.  In her efforts to somehow better me, she had dragged me down.

My beautiful, wise mother reminded me of something so important, I’m amazed I had forgotten it.  I am not on this path in my life because of laziness or lack of trying.  I’m not here because I’m not good enough.  I’m here because God has put me here. 

It may not look like the ‘best’ way to do things.  But how can my life be judged through the lens of what others are doing?  Should I accept the World’s good over God’s best for me?

I may not be doing what people think I should.  This is where God’s put me.  So this is where I’m going to stay.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the
weak things of the world to shame the strong.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27

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Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

Spring is in the air!! Flowers, rain, the birds, the bees, all that jazz. On days like this it makes you feel new, fresh, clean! A song that came to my mind thinking about it is this (If you don’t know it, watch it!  If you know it, WATCH IT!):

Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows

CATCHY! Come away from watching that and it’s going to be stuck in your head. If it’s not, we’re doubting the existence of your brain.

Yet, on days like this, there is something that continues to come to mind. Coming out of winter should mean a renewed vigor for life and love. So why do so many of us struggle with irrepressible depression?

I know. I said it. The ‘D’ word. In a world where ADHD, mono, AIDS and cancer are openly discussed, there is one disease that is the shame of our society. The one sickness that nobody wants to talk about. Depression.

The hardest part about depression is that it’s not an ailment of the body – it’s a sickness of the mind. Most people who struggle with depression are perfectly fine physically. But their mind, their psyche, their spirit, the very essence of their being is ill. And nobody wants to talk about it.

So I will.

Believe me, this is not a judgy “how dare you be depressed” kind of discussion. I understand these people I’m talking about, because I have struggled with severe depression for several years.

I don’t know that I’ve ever really talked to anyone about it. I understand the shame that comes along with it. What will people think of me? How can they understand what it’s like? Won’t everyone see me as a horrible person for feeling this way?

Depression is a prison more than any cell ever could be. Your body can be broken. But as long as your mind remains intact you are free! So when the very thought of living makes you want to cry, there is nothing left.

I would lay in bed and not even have the strength to pretend to care. Things needed done! There was life to be lived, people to meet, school to finish, pets to feed, family to be with. Yet my only thought was….nothing. There was nothing left in the horrifically empty existence of me.

I had no one to turn to, to tell how I felt. No boyfriend. No really close friends. I’ve gotten out of touch with my best friends since moving, and haven’t made any solid ones here. I have friends – the kind you go to the movies with, or laugh over stupid jokes. But not the kind you can sit down and pour your heart and soul out to.

Lost. Broken. Alone. Hovering in the pathetic no-mans-land of existing physically, but being (in essence) dead.

Is there hope once you have become entangled in this so-called life? Is there a way to pull out of the lethargy and stupor? Is there passion to be found?

In truth, depression is the biggest lie of all. A way of thinking, of feeling, that promotes self degradation and hatred. Saying that we aren’t worth anything, that nobody loves us.

Having these thoughts and feelings isn’t the problem! It’s what we do with them. Do we allow these ideas to consume us? Do we promote them, encourage them, allow them to fester and feed off our discontent? Dwelling on these thoughts creates a monster of oxymoronic proportions.

This is a world where the victim believes they are worth nothing, yet spends all their time focused on self. Not a wholesome focus, but attention nonetheless.

There are ‘cures’ for depression in this age of modern convenience and medicine. But is the answer to our problem really a pill that makes many people suicidal?? How is that the fix for depression?

What if – and just bear with me here a second – what if we stopped paying tribute to our thoughts of depression and suicide? What if we recognized our tendencies towards self, and began to focus on others? Serving people in more need than ourselves, volunteering in every way possible. Giving ourselves over, but not to death. Over to the pursuit of helping others find hope and life.

What if we broke out of the lie that says we’re alone? That says we’re unloved? What if we just talked to someone – confessed our deepest shame. What if we ignored the impulse to isolate ourselves, to give up, to pull away. Isn’t this prison really of our own making? So let’s be the ones to tear it down!  Find someone, anyone, and talk to them!  Commit to talking to them even, no, especially when you are depressed.  If you don’t have a friend or family member who is there for you now, then go out and find one!  Be the one to end the vicious cycle of loathing, and re-enter a world of living.

I went to my mom recently and told her about the depression that was weighing me down. Stress over the ACT, college applications, work, school, relationships, life in general! The first thing she offered to do was pray with me.  And after that prayer I was filled with a renewed hope, a renewed vigor and passion for life.

I am a Christian and have found my salvation in Christ since I was four years old, but this does not make me impervious to the tendencies of my Flesh!! The only question is – will I be mastered by my Flesh? Or will I take control over it?

The scripture I always turn to, and that brings me the most hope, is Psalm 13.

How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,

for He has been good to me.

We are alive.  And we are here for a purpose.  Will we be beaten down?  Or will we rise up in the strength God has offered us so freely?

/sīˈkädik/

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