09/14/12 Depression Sucks, But It Doesn’t Have To Be The End

Cat, with its mouth open

Cat, with its mouth open (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello everyone. The summer brought a lawn that I nicknamed Tumbleweed Connection and a drought in my blog. My writing vibe was dry and dead. Inspiration seemed as elusive as fitting into size 12 jeans… just not happening!

I wondered what it would feel like if I were to write a meaninful blog sharing insights into a life pursuing a relationship with God and then I realized I don’t even know what that looks like. Who can define such a relationship? Isn’t it rather relative, a matter of perspective? For some, it could be the ‘twice-a-year-letting-your-backside-hit-a-church-pew’ (Christmas and Easter). For others, it’s prayer 24/7. For a few, it’s talking to God throughout the day about all matters great and small.

I fall into the third category. It doesn’t make my way any better or worse than the rest of the world. It just makes it my way.

What if I measure it by how happy I am? I don’t think that would work either. I’ve had the summer from hell. A very bad bout of depression that isn’t quite over yet. Something about a dark night of the soul comes to mind.

Depression is so hard to explain to a person who’s never had it. It’s having every blessing you could ever hope for, yet you still feel on the verge of tears and ready to walk away from everything, crawl into a cave and hope there’s a landslide, so that the opening to said cave would be covered up and you could hide endlessly from humanity.

It’s looking in the mirror and wondering about God’s sense of humor in making a mutt like you, while looking at others and feeling sure they have all the answers. You’re the only one who could possibly be this stupid. You trudge along and try to get through the episode. Part of you wouldn’t care if you didn’t.

Then something happens, it can be miniscule or gargantuan, the happening is different everytime. Maybe it’s hearing a dear friend is really sick or an acquaintance has lost a longtime job and may lose their house. Or maybe it’s when you’re delivering the newspaper with your son and you make the acquaintance of a cat, an adorable feline who wants… DEMANDS your attention… you give her fifteen minutes of cuddles and then when you try to leave, she proceeds to put her teeth in your leg. For whatever reason, this doesn’t even phase you. You patiently have a conversation with this feline, explaining that this behavior isn’t cool, that if you’re going to hang out together, she must keep her teeth in her mouth and not on your leg… and you guess you’ll just have to come back next week and give her some etiquette lessons. The whole time, she sits there gazing at you like she’s actually listening! You walk away feeling a little bit lighter and smiling, not really sure why, but life seems a little better, suddenly.

In that moment, I talk to God; laughing about the absurdity of speaking to a cat as if it understands me, wondering how many people saw this daffy woman …. being who she is… and suddenly life doesn’t seem so bad.

I bet the prayers of friends might have had something to do with it. Maybe God knows better than anyone what the best way is to reach your hurting heart. It might be crazy as heck to everyone else, but it works for you. 

Maybe you can pass the blessing on and pray for someone else having a bad day/month/year/life. Maybe, just for today, the depression doesn’t win, God seems a little closer and you have a smidgen of insight into why you’re here.

To straighten out cats with wayward teeth!

Abundant blessings to you. 🙂

10/15/11 What Images Does The Word Prayer Convey To You?

Image by mojoey via Flickr

I started to write this post about the week I’ve had and how it ended with me resorting to prayer and soul searching. In doing so, I looked at the picture gallery for a photo to go with it. What an illuminating experience that turned out to be. Putting search words in such as “prayer”, “‘praying”, “prayerful” produced many photos of people praying, but it was interesting to me that they all appeared to live on the other side of the world. Then there were the multitude of photos showing statues, buildings, candles and flames, centuries-old paintings of pious people looking serenely toward Heaven.



I didn’t see any photos that looked remotely like me. Or resembled the settings I usually pray in.
Which got me to wondering? Where do you pray and how do you look when you do so?
Are you on your knees with head bowed? Standing? Hands clasped? Is it a prayer of your own words or is it a corporate prayer said in unison with the rest of your church? What images come to your mind when the word “prayer” is mentioned? Is prayer something that brings you closer to God? Or do you shy away from it, fearing you may not know how to pray correctly or that you won’t know what to say?
There are no right or wrong answers. I can share with you that I am a person who prays often. Some prayers are quick, some are whispered when I’m looking for strength or self restraint. Praying for others does not come naturally to me. I honestly will pray for folks or situations if I tell them I will, but I’m afraid I don’t seem to go beyond the basics with it; though I think I’m getting more comfortable with it as time goes on.
I remember feeling absolute mortal TERROR whenever I thought someone might ask me to pray out loud in a group. ME?? Miss Never At A Loss For Words would suddenly be struck dumb at the fearful notion that people would discover what a crappy job I did at praying aloud. As if there was some sort of score card to give me a grade on how I did….. did I hit the right note, sound holy enough, say “Lord” enough times. Do you see some of the ways I waste my mental minutes on Earth?
I chose the photo in this post because in the end, I do a lot of praying in my car. And no, it’s not, “Holy Crap, did you see that?” or “Jesus, Take the Wheel”.  I pray for grace, mercy and the ability to go through the day not being a total schmuck to everyone I encounter. When I’m feeling scared, lonely, or in some kind of crazy wicked pain, my car is where I rant and rave to God, asking Him to help me make sense of it all.
My favorite places to pray are in my quiet room at home, with the windows open so that I can hear the birds. I imagine God’s there with me, sharing a cup of coffee. I love to pray in nature settings. I pray while I’m doing dishes, looking out my kitchen window at the woods behind my house.  I try to remember to say prayers of gratitude for enjoying more blessngs than any one person deserves. I pray in the bathroom at work, thanking God for a job I love and where I get to be myself. That is such a luxury. 🙂
Oddly enough, I don’t seem to pray so well at church. It’s like, my mind knows I’m supposed to be praying, so my brain wanders all over the planet. If I haven’t eaten, I listen to my stomach rumble. If I’ve been drinking coffee, I ruminate on how awful my breath probably is and I pop a piece of gum in, before the service is over, so that I don’t knock anyone over if they come up to speak to me after church. I am not proud to admit this. I see the most amazing prayer warriors at my church, Vineyard Westside. These lovely people make themselves available up front after each service for anyone desiring or needing prayer. I ventured up there tonight. I don’t like to ask for prayer, as I imagine that what I want prayer for will sound silly or worse yet, people will find out my life is not perfect. What a dope I can be. It was so comforting to share my request with two of the ladies and have them pray for me. I cried like a baby. I think I was crying on the outside. I had my eyes closed. I know I was weeping on the inside. Maybe some of it is just being willing to be vulnerable and ask for help. Afterward, I felt such a peace that has been eluding me lately.
I would love to hear about your thoughts on prayer and the images that word brings to mind.

9/16/11 Sometimes The Serenity Prayer Is All I’ve Got

Sometimes an acquaintance I call “Pain” comes knocking and The Serenity Prayer is all I’ve got to answer it with. Pain can visit for a moment or it can stay for years. This is one of those times. There is a person I love very much who’s chosen a life of drugs. If you’re fortunate enough to not know anyone who’s destroyed their life in this way, then this blog may not speak to you.

If you do know the living hell for the friends and family of a person who has chosen this path, then please bare with me while I do an open share.

I do not know what to do with this pain today. It’s nearly unmanageable. It seems like an oxymoron to say I’m feeling completely numb, but that’s how it is.

I’m not sure why I’m writing. Maybe because Pain is silently screaming out of my pores, making my eyes leak tears, it’s so hard to breathe and my heart feels twice as heavy as it physically is.

I can not choose another person’s actions. I can offer love, drive them to meetings and church; believe them over and over when they tell me they’re sober.  Never mind that the words sound like the practiced speech of a parrot; their hollow face and stranger’s eyes tell me I don’t have a clue that I no longer know this person.

I naively thought in the past that because I had issues with eating and excess weight, I could somehow understand their plight. No, I do not. Food never cost me my family, multiple jobs, a place to live, trips to jail and the ER. Food didn’t turn me into a liar. Well, maybe I shouldn’t be so quick on that one. The last words weren’t a judgement on someone. They’re a: “I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO.”

This person is in intensive care as I write this. The memories of the person I used to hang out with and swore I loved unconditionally collide with the zombie who’s taken over my loved one.

I don’t know what to do. I reach for my serenity coin and repeat:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.