Tag Archives: hope

Hope in the Emptiness

When you live with depression, nothing in life is as it used to be. You try pushing through the pain and living your life as usual, but it becomes a nightmare you can’t wake up from. The people closest to you may notice something is wrong, but they don’t know how to help you. 

Someone once told me that depression is like a broken leg. If your leg is broken, you stay off of it, you use crutches and allow it to heal. You don’t try running on it and then get angry when it stays broken. Depression is the same thing. When you’re depressed you need to give yourself time to heal and recover. You can’t just push through it and keep living your life as usual – it won’t heal that way. You have to acknowledge it and care for yourself. 

The hard part about caring for yourself when you’re depressed is the guilt. No one else can see the pain you’re in. No one else knows how bad you’re hurting. The people around you just want you to be happy and they don’t understand that that’s physically not possible for you. So you spend time in bed even though there are dishes that need to be done. You sit in the shower for an hour, crying, even though the house needs to be vacuumed. You watch TV even though the laundry needs to be put away. 

You’re trying, with everything you have, to appear to be a functioning member of society, when in reality you’re just wasting away. 

Nothing makes sense anymore. This isn’t the life you once knew and you’re wondering where you went wrong. You have a good life. You have people who love you. So why are you so miserable? Why can’t you find happiness? 

Well, it’s not about you. It’s not about your life. It’s not about how loved you are or how many people care about you. It’s a legitimate medical condition. It’s the chemicals in your brain. It may take medication to help you fee whole again, and that’s okay! 

You are worth so much more than what depression tells you. Don’t let yourself believe the lies. Don’t let yourself succumb to the emptiness. Seek help. Let others in. Talk about it.

 
I promise, it won’t last forever.  


Will You Hope With Me?

It’s been over 7 months since I penned my last post. If you want to know the truth as to why, it’s because I’ve been fighting an intense battle within myself. A battle of whether or not to eat the meal. A battle of whether or not I should run the mile. A battle of whether or not I should continue living. 

As most of you already know, I struggle with debilitating mental illness. For many years, my life has been a struggle of ups and downs. I’ve been okay and I’ve been completely crumbled and broken. I’ve been happy and I’ve been engulfed with despair. And now, I’m in a place where I have never been before. I have no fight left in me. I’m tired. I’m scared. I want to be free. I want to feel joy. I want to be healthy. But to move on and experience life, I have to push through all the things I’ve spent nearly 29 years running from. 

So, in order to be the me that God made me to be, I’m taking a leap of faith and going to a residential treatment program for eating disorders. I’m leaving within the next week and that terrifies me. But THIS is the only life I have known. THIS is the only me I have known.

I am a control freak. There are very few things in this life that are within my control, but one of those things is my eating disorder. I hate my eating disorder, but I love it at the same time – which is something that most people cannot understand. It’s like being held hostage and unable to break free, but once it takes its hold, the captor becomes comforting and reliable. When the rest of the world is chaotic and nothing makes sense, ED brings me comfort. ED is like a trusty friend who will always pick me up when I’m down. ED loves me and I love ED. It’s a dangerous and toxic relationship that I don’t know how to get out of. 

I feel like those closest to me want answers. They want to know why. The want to know how. They want to know the “truth” about why I feel the way I do. But explaining these things to someone who has never stood in my shoes and experienced the things I’ve experienced, is the most difficult thing in the world. 

From a “logical” perspective, all of this seems ridiculous. I feel lonely, so I isolate. I feel hungry, so I don’t eat. I feel full and satisfied, so I purge. I feel anger, so I want to hurt myself. I am capable of stepping outside of myself and seeing how all of this makes absolutely no sense. But that doesn’t change the dynamic inside my very sick brain.

Although it may not look like I’m really trying, I am. Although it may look like I’m just blaming others for my problems, I’m not. Although it may appear that I’m trying to “get out of” being an adult, I’m not. 

If you’ve never had a mental illness or addiction, there really is no way that you can understand the horror that goes through my mind every day. However, I appreciate your support and compassion. I don’t need “tough love” or hostility. So if that’s what you have to offer, please kindly go away. 

Right now, I am fragile and extremely over sensitive. It’s hard to think rationally or logically when your brain and body are malnourished. So please stop telling me that I should “know better” or that I should “be able to control it” – because right now, those statements only add fuel to the fire. 

I am very unstable – thus the need for treatment, to get to a place where I am stable; to get to a place where taking my own life does NOT seem like a viable option. 

I am sick. It’s not just my mental health anymore, my physical health is beginning to crumble as well. And  even though it’s taken me many years to admit it, I can finally see that I need help. I need help and I deserve help. I deserve love and happiness and joy and acceptance. God says that I am worthy of love and its up to me to decide whether or not I will believe Him.

If you’ve known me for a while, you are probably tired of my “excuses” or fed up with my “inability to take responsibility for my actions.” I can understand what it looks like from your perspective and I am sorry that I haven’t “gotten better” yet. I’m sorry that you have had to bear the pain of my mistakes. I sincerely wish I could take back every time I have caused you pain. But I can’t. All I can do now is try to move forward and hope that, one day, we can all find forgiveness. 

All that I ask is for you to please, try to see things from my point of view as well. Please give me space to be able to move on. I am trying to learn how to set HEALTHY boundaries with those I love. Please be patient with me. 

I have hope that I will be able to experience freedom within this lifetime. Will you Hope with me?


He is With Me

Sometimes she wonders
If she is alone
Living here on this earth
She’ll never be home
The pain and the heartache
Stings to her core
She cries and screams out
“I can’t take much more.”
She empties herself
At the foot of His cross
With a trembling voice
She whispers, “I’m lost.
Where do You want me?
What am I doing?
Day after day I feel
Like I’m headed for ruin
My body feels weak
And my emotions are numb
I’ve hidden for so long
The pain can’t be undone.”

Her words just pour out
She hopes that He’ll hear
The agony she is facing
From years of despair
Too scared to move
She can’t face this alone
He puts His hand on her shoulder
And says, “you’re not on your own.
Rest in Me
And let me carry you through
I love you, I saved you
I know you’re confused
When you are weak
I am your strength
When you are scared
You must simply have faith.
I’m always at your side
Even if you can’t see
You’ll know I’m here
If you’ll reach out for me.”

His words felt like peace
And in Him she collapsed
“I’m so tired of fighting
I can’t change the past.
I’m clinging to my life
And by that I’m dying
I say I’m okay
But I’m only lying.
Take me, hold me
I want to give up
Why do I keep trying
To be good enough.
If I was thinner
If I was pretty or smart
Then and then only
Would I have clean heart.”

With His arms around her
He comforts her cries
“Sweet child, I love you
Let go of the lies.
None of that is true
You must know by now
For your soul to be saved
I poured my love out.
The shame that you carry
Isn’t yours to bear
Let go, let me catch you
I know that you’re scared.
Your heart was broken
When you were so small
You vowed not to trust
Swore you’d never fall.
But, daughter, just look
Where has that gotten you
Your broken heart
As pushed away My truth.”

“I know that you’re right,”
She cried out to Him
“I’m afraid of my past
And of all my own sin.”

With His gentle hand
He wiped the tears from her eyes
With His arms around her
He showed her the truth from the lies
“We’re in this together
Lean on me in faith
Trust that I love you
That I’m with you each day.
I’ll never let you go
I’ll never let you drown
Trust me to carry you
Across shifting ground.
I have you in my hand
And I’m holding your heart
This life may hurt you
But we’ll never be apart.”


7-in-7 Day 5: Almost Within Reach

I want to tell a story
Of the power of grace
You may not believe it
But I’ll tell it anyway
At one time I thought
I could be good enough by myself
I didn’t need Jesus
Or anyone else

You see, not long ago
I was lost in this world
Broken by shame
I was a scared little girl
A smile on my face
Would tell the world I was fine
But the shame in my heart
Would tell me that I’m lying
I had endured abuse
And tried to take my own life
I had heard talk of God
But didn’t believe the hype
If He was so great
Why were my arms lined with scars
If He was so loving
Why was I falling apart

So I just kept on reaching
For the next thing I would need
To be happy, find peace
As I watched my soul bleed
At some point I would find it
Joy, love, and peace
If I would only try harder
It was almost within reach

“Almost within reach”
That’s a funny thing to say
It means the same thing as
“It’s too far away”

My mind was convinced
That I could fix all my problems
I didn’t really need to face it
In order to solve them
I could push them away
And ignore the burning pain
That rose in my heart
With the break of each day
It was almost within reach
I had almost achieved it
I was almost enough
I really couldn’t believe it

“Almost within reach”
Means I’d still fall on my face
When I jumped out to grab it
I’d land in a pool of mistakes
If I had only tried harder
If I had just been better
I’ll reach it one day
I’ll just try over

What was I reaching for?
What did I want to achieve?
Every time I thought I made it
I still landed on my knees
Peace, that’s what I wanted
Peace in my heart
Peace that would stay
In spite of my scars

That’s when I met grace
It was “almost within reach”
Almost, but too far
So God reached out for me
He said, “this is yours,
Stop trying to earn it.
Let me love you where you are
And you can have it.
You are a sinner
You can’t be good enough
But if you’re willing to see it
I’ll show you true love.
Look at the cross
And the love that was shown.
My Only Son gave His life
To make you my own.
To you, new life is given
It is freely yours
Only because Jesus died
To conquer the war.”

New life, grace, mercy?
What exactly did that mean?
Could I really stop trying?
Could I really “just be”?
The answer was yes
That’s all He wanted from me
God simply wanted
To give my soul peace

“Almost within reach”
Was always a lie
Peace couldn’t come
From clinging to my life

I don’t pretend to understand
Why God is who He is
I can’t fathom His greatness
All I need to know is this –
I’m not who I was
His grace changed my heart
Jesus loves me, He saved me
And He’s healing my scars
Day after day
His mercies renew
And day after day
I find peace in the truth


Miscarriage vs. Abortion

I haven’t written a “compare and contrast” essay since middle school, but I’ve had some thoughts weighing heavy on my mind and I can’t think of a better way to express them…so let’s compare and contrast two very tragic experiences – miscarriage vs. abortion.

On the one hand, abortion is a choice that a woman makes to willingly take the life of her unborn child and abortion is the unplanned, spontaneous loss of the baby. But on the other hand, abortion and miscarriage both result in a stopped heart beat and the loss of a life that was beautifully woven together by the hands of a creative God. They both result in a woman wondering what could’ve been.

Let me give you some examples:

A young wife found out she was pregnant, and although it was unexpected, she was thrilled by the thought of the new life growing inside of her. She touched her hand to her belly in excitement and anticipation of the changes that would take place in the coming months. The undeniable beauty of the pregnancy glow began to shine across her face as she filled with glorious anticipation.

Until the day she saw blood. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she tried to process what it meant; she already knew. She went to the emergency room while her heart cried out for God to protect the small life inside her. Minutes felt like hours as she sat in the waiting room with her knees to her chest, trying to hold back her sobs.

Finally, the moment of truth. She was lead to an exam room and the doctor brought in the ultrasound and he said the words she had been dreading.

“There is no heartbeat.”

The world around her seemed to go black. Doctors and nurses were still talking and doing their jobs. But she couldn’t make sense of any of it. The words, “no heartbeat”, were playing on repeat in her head. A nurse reached out and sympathetically touched her arm. She was startled back to reality by the touch and the tears started. Her hands slid down her abdomen to the same place they rested just a week before. Instead of life, she now felt a void – like a small piece of her heart was missing.

The process of an abortion is much different. Abortion requires the heart-wrenching choice to choose death over life. A choice that, at the time, may seem like the only answer. A choice that looks like an “easy out”. A choice that will stop the beating of a tiny heart. A choice that, like miscarriage, steals a piece of her heart.

I won’t go into as much detail here about what the scared, pregnant, college girl goes through as she decides the fate of her unborn child. I’ll let you read about the scars of abortion separately.

Abortion and miscarriage have nothing in common – until you look at the aftermath. The young wife who lost her baby at five weeks due to miscarriage is depressed and confused and angry at God. She does not understand why and she struggles with her doubt. But what may come as a shock to many, is the scared girl who chose to abort her baby at eleven weeks is also grieving.

The woman who chose abortion may not grieve immediately. She may not grieve for many years. But when she grieves, when she feels the weight of her choice, she will feel the same confusion and anger. When she grieves, she will trace her hands over her abdomen, feeling the place where her baby once rested soundly. She will crumble into a pile of regret.

I was both of these women. I was the scared woman in the emergency room who desperately wanted to hear the strong heart of my unborn baby beating under my belly. I was also the scared girl in the abortion clinic who just wanted to find a way out.

And in both situations, I grieved. I didn’t grieve my abortion for five years, but the grief was the same.

So what’s the difference between the five week old baby that I miscarried and the eleven week old babies that I aborted? One was wanted and one wasn’t – that’s it. They were both people. They were both little bodies that were, just like you and me, hand crafted by God for a reason and a purpose.

When I miscarried, I told friends and family what happened. I was given a lot of support, hugs, and prayers. But after my abortion I hid in silence for five years before I let myself grieve and when I did, I was still too ashamed to ask for much support.

The point I want to make in this is that, whether a child is lost due to miscarriage or abortion, or even still-birth, the life of ANY unborn child had value and purpose. A woman who aborted her baby and the woman who miscarried both have an equal right to grieve the loss of their babies.

The only answer to the grief, no matter the method of the loss, is the truth of the Gospel and the hope that can only be found the Christ. God can handle our doubts and our anger. The only choice we have, if we want to find true healing and not just a band aid, is to trust God with our deepest hurts.


I’m a Bad Mom

Parenting has it’s good days and it’s bad days. There are ups and there are downs. There are times when I’m pretty sure I’ve blown it and times when I feel like I’m the greatest mom ever.

Parenting is hard. I wish someone would’ve sat me down and explained to me just how hard it was BEFORE I became a mom.

I don’t know much about parenting….as my kids are still young and I’m pretty much just rolling with the punches as they come.

But there are a few things I do know:
1) I’m not perfect. I can’t be perfect. I will make mistakes as a mom. I will mess my kids up. That’s not the important part, what’s important is how I handle it after the mistake has been made.

2) My children aren’t perfect. They are human beings – little sinners just like me. I can’t expect perfection from them. I can’t expect them to do everything I tell them to do or listen to everything I say.

3) I am a sinner, saved by grace, and my job is to teach my children about the Giver of that grace. My job is not just to tell them about Christ, but to show them. I need to show them what grace is. They will remember my actions much better than they remember my words.

But if I’m being totally honest here, I’m not very good at being a gracious parent. I’m a control freak, a perfectionist, an introvert, and socially awkward. I fail my children daily when I lose my cool. I fail them when I try to obsessively control the world around me. I fail them when I avoid talking to other people because I get anxious.

I love my children. Every time I fail them, I feel a part of me break inside. I beat myself up over and over for making the same dumb mistakes. Why? Why do I do it? If I know that God is gracious and I want to teach my children about His grace, love, and mercy, why am I so reluctant to accept it myself in the area of parenting?

Because I set ridiculously high standards of perfection for myself. I expect myself to be the perfect mom so when I mess up, I feel the weight of my own guilt and shame come crashing down on top of me.

So here’s what I want to say to all the other moms out there – GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE!! Trust God in your mistakes. Use those mistakes as tools to show your children who God is.

I know this is easier said than done. Even now, as I write this, I am trying not to berate myself for all the ways in which I was a “bad mom” today.

Let’s stop comparing our hidden life, our sins and failures, to the external life we see of another mom. You’re not the only mom who feels like you’re ruining your kids lives. Reach out a hand to another mom and I can almost guarantee that she feels the same way.

Our job as parents is to point little sinners towards grace…little sinners that are often little versions of ourselves because our sins have rubbed off on them. They know our triggers and push our buttons and while our love for them is never a question, our own sin doesn’t always want to show grace.

I’m not a perfect mom. I don’t have perfect kids. But if I do nothing else right, I pray that I will at least show my kids the meaning of grace.


7-in-7 Day 1: Hold on to the Promise

7-in-7 Day 1….I’ve been in a poetry rut lately, glad for 7-in-7 to help draw it back out of me.

The Promises
As a child she was confused
She just didn’t understand
Why she always felt scared
Lost in a foreign land
There were times that she prayed
Hoping maybe He’d hear
That He’d reach down to her
And remove all her fears
But she didn’t trust
And she believed even less
That God cared for her
Her life was a mess

That scared little girl
Became lost as a teen
Blinded by the anger
From the hurt she had seen
She learned to smile
Through the ache in her soul
Convinced it’d get better
If she had more control
She hid all her emotions
She was too afraid to feel
But when you hide for too long
You forget what is real

So into adulthood
She carried the lies
And she blurred the line
Between truth and disguise
She tried all she could
To find approval and praise
But she never could see
She wouldn’t find it that way
With all that she had
She wanted to believe
“God, if you’re really there
Please come to me.”

Because He is faithful
And true to His Word
He showed her His love
Like He said He would
When she was dying
Drowning in shame
He came down beside her
And He bore her pain
He carried her out
Of the darkness she lived
Showed her she was made
For more than just this

You see, this is a story
I know all too well
Life without God
Was my living hell
Every sin that I had
Weighed down on my back
I tried to save myself
But the ability’s what I lacked
He gave me love
When I deserved death
And He showed me grace
When I had nothing left

The moral of my story here,
It’s as simple as this:
At the end of your rope
Just hold on to the promise
The promise of love
The promise of hope
The promise that no matter what
He won’t let you go


All I Need

God is all I need; I know that. But I am still scared of this world. I am tired of this world – the pain, heartache, sickness, and death. I’m ready to go Home, to my eternal Home where death is no more.

Sometimes life seems so surreal. It’s so hard to fathom the things that happening right now. We always think these things can never happen to us – until they do. My family shed many tears in the last 36 hours with the diagnosis of my sister’s brain tumor. We are all scared and wondering why and how this happened.

I can’t answer any medical questions. I don’t know why and I don’t know how. I don’t know what the outcome will be and I don’t know how we will all hold up through it all. All I do know, the only thing I have to hold on to when life hurts this much, is that God is with us. He is here. He has a plan. And He is active through all of this, even though we may not see it.

I need grace for every day. Some days I need more than others, but He ALWAYS gives me exactly what I need to keep on keeping on. So yes, I am scared, terrified even, of what the future of our family will look like, but I am trusting the One who holds my heart. I trust that no matter what happens, His grace will always be enough.

All I Need
In times like this when I can’t see
All I have is hope in Thee
I’m letting go and falling hard
I need to know You’ll catch my heart
I’m trusting you to be right here
With your love to calm my fears
I need Your arms stretched out to me
Embrace me now and let me see

Walking blindly through the rain
The grip of love holds my pain
I’m scared, I’m desperate, I’m confused
Waiting to see what You will do
The only One who’s conquered death
Gives me hope for every breath

Life is hard, I want to flee
And all I have is rest in Thee
I lay my life here at Your cross
And trust in You to find the lost
Fighting this world all by myself
Leaves me crying out for help
I’m exhausted of all my strength
And trusting in Your priceless grace

Walking blindly through the rain
The grip of love holds my pain
I’m scared, I’m desperate, I’m confused
Waiting to see what You will do
The only One who’s conquered death
Lifts me up to give me rest

Hear me now, hear every plea
All I want is peace in Thee
In the chaos of this place
Help me now to seek Your face
Your love all I’ll ever need
I’m crying out on bended knee
Though it seems like it’s the end
You are there at my defense

Walking blindly through the rain
The grip of love holds my pain
I’m scared, I’m desperate, I’m confused
Waiting to see what You will do
The only One who’s conquered death
Gives me peace, He’s never left


Leaving a Legacy

When I leave this world, I want to leave a legacy behind me. I want to live in such a way that when people look at me, they don’t see me. I don’t want to be remembered for the things I did, but I’d rather be remembered for how I loved. That may sound incredibly self-centered, but it is actually God-centered.

I recently went to a funeral for an amazing man, who started the Celebrate Recovery ministry at my church. Celebrate Recovery has changed my life. I came to Celebrate Recovery not believing in God; actually, I didn’t believe in Him and I hated Him at the same time. Through Celebrate Recovery, I have learned to see who God is and how He loves me.

This one man has touched so many lives. I only met him once, but he impacted me more than he could’ve ever known. He loved imperfect people like Jesus and shared grace and hope whereever he went. His legacy will live on forever.

A Legacy
A man is a man
We’re all flesh and bone
But some leave a legacy
Like a carving on stone
Some men live their lives
As an offering of love
Sharing grace with each life
Who is blessed with their touch
That’s who Tom was
His heart will always live on
Because of the impact he’s making
Even after he’s gone
Day after day
God is molding my heart
Changing me, through the ministry
That Tom was called to start
I didn’t have to know him
For his life to touch mine
Because the life that he lived
Showed me a love, so divine
The works of his hands
The loved that he shared
So the whole world would see
That God loves and God cares
Tom knew that God blessed him
So he loved others like Christ
Not knowing the world would change
By the effects of his life

Men like this are rare
Their legacies are far reaching
And even after they’re gone
Their lives don’t stop teaching
The hearts that he’s touched
Have turned around to touch me
So I can share with another
How I’ve been set free
But really, what I’m saying
Is look at the love
From a Father who’s grace
Is always enough
No, Tom wasn’t perfect
But his love sure did shine
And even though he’s now gone
His legacy spreads like a vine


Things I never knew

I know that I can’t possibly be the only person in the world who looks back on their life and thinks, “wow, how could I have been so stupid.”

My life, at times, has seemed to be crumbling beneath my feet and I tried every possible thing in the world to ease the pain…except God. For some reason, seeking help from God wasn’t even something I ever considered. I don’t remember what age I was when I decided that there was no such thing as God. If there was a God, how could He allow such pain in this world? How could He allow so much hurt in a little girl’s life – hurt that she had no control over. What kind of God is that?

I wish I could go back in time and talk to the 16 year old me. I would tell myself that God really is there in the midst of the pain, anger, and fear. Quit doubting Him because of how much you hurt. He never promised life’d be easy, but He did promise that He’d see you through.

You see, Jackie (that’s how I spelled my name back then), you’ve experienced your fair share of hurt in life – but God never wastes a hurt. I know that you can’t see it now, but God will use you to speak into other peoples lives.

Hold on kid, life will be alright. I know you don’t understand it right now. But one day your eyes will be opened as if for the first time.

Sincerely,
Your older self


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