The Little Glass of Nothingness

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Disclaimer:  This writing is actually just one essay of a 40+ chapter book which is in the works.  The working title is, Finding Sunshine in an Otherwise Gloomy Life.  The writings are from all angles of depression and the various reasons one dips into depression.  This particular writing addresses what can happen when we blot out our past instead of actually addressing it.  This is never a good thing.  This was at a particularly low time when the past decided to make its way to the present.  I cannot share any more on this, but please know this:  I am alive and well.  Well, maybe not well, but somewhat healthy!  

Not entirely too long ago, while sitting in the middle of a church meeting, waiting for its end, my mind drifts to home, where I envision the bottle behind the dark kitchen cabinet, and my mouth waters in anticipation. If I figure the mathematical equation correctly, I have enough Cabernet to have a glass after the meeting, and another one the next night.

Since hubby is out of town, and I refuse to purchase wine at the store, I must make do with this minuscule amount. Because, what if someone at church sees me in the alcohol aisle with their small child in tow across the way in the deli section? I cannot have this happen. So, the plan is to entertain myself with either Chopped or House Hunters and enough of the precious dark liquid until I feel my head begin to relax.

Actually, if I am being entirely honest with myself, and who is going to read this anyway to not be completely authentic, I think I may have a problem with alcohol. Possibly even the beginning stages of an addiction.

Why?  Because, every time I have a drink, I am pained by guilt. Now, this may be heightened by the fact I was raised in a Baptist household, and good Baptist girls do not drink anything stronger than grape juice. But, this time it is exasperated when I didn’t sip my wine, but drank it as one would a glass of orange juice after a morning meal, before heading quickly out the door.

That was hardly the problem though. I wanted the second glass. I didn’t want to wait another night. So, I told myself it was okay to have Thursday’s glass on Wednesday. I mean, this is good, rationalization concludes, because I can prove I don’t have a problem by getting rid of it right then and there and going completely without the next night.

Right about this time of irrational thought, an unexpected dilemma unexpectedly arrives in the form of a toothache. The specialist believes I have a fracture, even though it has yet to show up on an X-ray. But, since there is not 100% accuracy on this diagnosis, I will continue to hold out on dental work and just baby it. This is a great idea when all is well, but at the moment of intense throbbing, I second-guess my decision.

What I’ve discovered, when it does erupt in unexpected agony, is if I brush my teeth and down some Aleve, the pain will eventually subside. But, I already poured this second glass. Now what? It will hardly be enjoyable after a brush with Sensodyne. So, I sit in the uncomfortable leather chair and push the limits on pain by applying pressure with my fist to the gum area, mentally begging it to alleviate.

Ahhhh–it refuses to leave.

This is where I make an unwise decision. I chug the contents as one would a bottle of Gatorade at the completion of a marathon– in Phoenix. As a result, blood-red drips make their way down my chin and onto my clothing. Ashamed, but slightly numb, I place the near empty glass in the polished stainless sink, convincing myself that I don’t have a problem because I left a small amount in the bottom of the glass. And, if I really have an issue, I would not leave a drop, let alone an entire sip.

Still, my conscious accompanies me to the bathroom sink as I brush the remnant from my taste buds.

Now, entirely alone with gnawing guilt and throbbing pain fighting for attention, I override both as I make my way to the pantry and pull out a box of cookies—organic chocolate chip. I down five round, slightly dry circles of sugary delight in under a minute. Ah, much better.

Guilt-ridden, slightly intoxicated and partially pained by gluttony, I enter a numb slumber, only to awaken with a pang of conscious—or maybe it is just a hangover.

What is wrong with me? I think about drinking all the time. I can’t wait until it is 5:00pm because that is an acceptable time to have a drink. I know one glass of wine is not a big deal. Heck, I would guess many people even have two. But, the other night I broke the mental line in the sand by having three.  And, I could have had more.  I feel as if alcohol is taking charge of an area I have always had control.

That, and I used to be intoxicated enough with Jesus that I didn’t need anything else to fill me up. But, that was before the journey through the valley of my past occurred. Now, I am disoriented.

I don’t like this version of me.

Yesterday, while on my morning run, a phrase from a while back infiltrates my meandering spirit:

“My will needs to be stronger than your desire.”

Yes. As much as I desire to numb away anything and everything, I need to focus on His will for me.  He doesn’t want me stumbling around in a superficial, self-medicated effort at momentarily relief from all that ails me. No, He wants me to be fully awake.  Fully alive.  Even if the pains from the past hurt.  It is okay.  They will not hurt forever.

God, I don’t want to seal my heart off from feeling hurt through the temporary numbing of myself.  I don’t want to end each evening by entering a slightly comatose condition. I want You to awaken me again. I want You to sear my heart with the passion of being fully alive like I was before I knew what was wrong with me.

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Is it Possible to Love Someone to Death?

Is it possible to love someone to death?

I love you. I love you. I love you.

Okay, so what is wrong with love?  Sounds all nice and warm and fuzzy and all.

Well, I guess, nothing in and of itself.  But, if I love you, and I see you head down a path that will lead to an eventual train wreck and wreckage results not only to you, but innocent bystanders, and I sit back and not shout out a warning, but remain quiet, because I love you, am I really doing you a favor?

Am I making sense?

Okay, maybe a better illustration will help–like one from Jesus.

Here Jesus is hanging out in the Temple when a bunch of hot-headed Pharisees enter with a woman of questionable character.  She is an adulterous hot mess.  They are ruthless, unkind and obviously unloving.  Hearts of stone they have.  Hands of finger-pointing-judgemental stones they carry.  They want her dead.

Stone her already.

We know this story,  now don’t we?

Jesus writes something on the ground that causes an internal, cut-to-the-heart conviction, and an external exit as each one quietly leaves the room after he addresses them in one full swoop:

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Then, we see him turn toward the woman and give the gentle assurance we expect from Jesus:

Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you…”

I can just feel her heartbeat transition from the racing of adrenaline caused in turmoil to a racing resulting from the kind we experience when we fall in love at first sight.

But, because Jesus is so fond of her, he does not stop short of saving her life, he offers her a chance at freedom as he finishes his conversation and sends her on her way:

“Go, and from now on sin no more.”

Jesus loved this adulterous woman so much he did not condemn her.  But He loved her so much he did not allow her to remain on a train toward destruction either.

He guided her direction toward freedom in one full swoop of love and truth combined.

Because if he just picked her up and hugged her and loved her, without speaking an ounce of painful truth, she would eventually continue on that runaway train toward destruction, and who knows who else would lie dead in the aftermath.

May I say this:  We don’t point fingers of judgement when we hold loved ones close and point them toward the honesty of their situation.

We may rescue a few souls from unnecessary carnage as a result.

I love you too much to sit back and say nothing.

Stop Talking Dirty to Me

The oldie, but obviously not a goodie, “Talk Dirty to Me” by Poison hums along in my mind reminding me of days gone by.  Don’t you hate when a song enters in, and takes residence in between the left and right hemisphere of the brain as if it is entitled to squatter’s rights?

Don’t you hate it when the lyrics enter within the left and right ventricle of the heart and reek havoc on your emotional health?

Enough already.  I am not dirty.  I am clean.  I am forgiven.  I have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

“Quiet!” I cry out to the internal sabotage.

She continues on as if she cannot not hear my pleas to stop.

I’ll show you.  I’ll take a bath.  Because, logic says if I clean myself up until I’m squeaky clean, the condescending criticism will go down the drain.

Instead, my value circles and circles downward until an unhealthy residue leaves a circle of shame at the bottom of my self-worth.

Fine.  You want to play that game?  I’ll show you who’s in charge.  I’ll buy a new outfit to cover up those filthy feelings.  After all, reason says that when I look good, I cannot help but feel good.  Right?

But the material makes my skin crawl.  I wonder if I am allergic to the fabric of freedom in Christ?  Where is the burlap?

A thought occurs which surpasses the fingers-on-a-chalkboard condemnation–

It is time for a new song.  I cannot think of a better voice to whisper to me the truth of the situation but David Crowder.  I am looking forward to hear this anointed fellow with the ZZ Top beard and worn out baseball hat sing live in a couple weeks.

Until then, the song which I hit the play button on a continuous basis, to permeate deep within with the light of Jesus to where residual guilt and shame still linger in dark corners of brokenness, is “Here’s My Heart.”

Here’s my heart, Lord 
Speak what is true

I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

A Fireside Chat on Depression?

Fireside chat, fireside chat, fireside chat—this phrase has been circling around me begging me to run to google for a definition.

Basically, the definition is simple:  An informal conversation.

Okay, got it. So, since I am in the throws of writing a book on depression, is it possible to have a fireside chat about this dark subject? If my experience with the fireplace in my new home is an indicator, maybe—maybe not.

When we walked through the house the first time, the gas log insert was so appealing. The idea of actually having a fire without the mess of the debris and splinters of wood strewn about made my heart warm. But, it was short-lived since the homeowner took the insert with her. Now, she did not disclose this on the many documents, and we had every right to it, but after mentioning it with her realtor, how could we not allow her to keep it since she pleaded her emotion on us. These logs had memories attached to them, and since she was a somewhat recent widow, who am I to cause needless pain by demanding my rights? So, we decided to replace them, until we discovered the exorbitant amount these suckers cost, and it looks like this fall our good ole fashioned logs are on the autumn horizon.

I was laying in bed last night, recalling the initial months in our new home have not been as anticipated. I have yet to be happy. There seems to be an edge of dreariness in the air. Maybe something horrible happened here we do not know about and I need to perform an exorcism to work off the deadly spirits that have attached themselves to the walls.

I am rambling, yes, I know. Most likely because I want to share my informal thoughts while simultaneously weaning off my meds by doing it the doctor’s way by taking one every other day, and today is the day I am to take one. I can tell because my head gets foggy and am a bit lightheaded, which almost feels like a buzz, and I’m not entirely bothered by this, but I want to be responsible, but cannot seem to find where they are. “Someone must have stole them,” hubby says when I call him. He always says stuff like that.

He knows I always misplace stuff. So, unless they are found, I will just go without and cold turkey my way through this with hopes all will be well by the end of the week.

Okay, post op update: I am off meds completely. I am clear. Like the film placed over the cell phone to protect it from harm has been removed and now I feel the clarity of thought and feeling. This is good.

Yes, this is good.

I went on a run this morning, and this is the crystal-clear view that provides an insurmountable amount of warmth to my insides:

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If I Could Take Away Your Pain, I Would

She sat across from me in uncomfortable silence.  Maybe it was my makeshift meal of leftovers from two nights ago, which resembled enchilada mush, that she was silently thinking of a way to refuse to digest without hurting my feelings.

I ask her if she is okay.

“Yes, I am just tired.” she says.

I can leave it at that, but, this is not the time.  So I ask her again.

As the first tear makes its way down her cheek, I know the truth.

If I could take away your pain, I would.  

I would shoulder it in my heart so you could be happy, free from this continual mental remorse.

Friends tell her to pray more.  She says she does.

I know she does.

Maybe another medication will help.

She wished she had an illness that was acceptable.

One that doesn’t dispense guilt for feeling bad.  One that says it is okay to curl up on the couch into a comatose ball until the pain subsides.

If I could take away your pain, I would.  

You do not need to feel ashamed.

She feels this way because she knows she has a good  great life.  “This is just a first-world problem.” she says.

If that were entirely true, why are the Bible’s pages trickled with sad encounters?

Thirty minutes later, her tears lead to a sigh.

“Can I hug you?”  I ask.

Her tired nod allows me approach her and enter a full embrace.  After an acceptable time of comfort, I pull away.

Oh, honey, If I could take away your pain, I would.  

God, you are the God of all comfort, and I know you weep when your children weep.   I ask that she feels the warmth of your embrace, holding her near, as she struggles through this pain, and smiles again. 

Until then…

Before I Fade to Black

Up before the dawn initiates, I make my way to the driveway and look around.

Majestic is my inward response to the vivid display of creation showing off its wonder. The horizon slowly yawns with a dusty splash of cotton-candy pink cloud formations as its backdrop for the radiant sun to awaken. On the other side of the heavenly skyline is a moonlight still shining white; not yet ready to rest in the black backdrop somewhere else in the world.

This may be the best visual illustration of my emotional wellbeing.

The darkness of despondency has not completely went to rest, yet, the dawn of a new day and all the possibilities are igniting in my soul. It has been a long season wandering around with the small glimpse of light to guide my heart around in the darkness.

I feel the energy propel my movement, yet am a tad anxious. “How long will you stay in the light?” my sanguine self wonders. She is not ready to fade under the black backdrop. She has been on a role completing a marathon of responsibilities in record pace. The thrill compels her to continue, occasionally looking to the horizon for signs of the impending sunset on her wellbeing. Maybe if she is quiet, the darker side of melancholy will not awaken again. She can only hope. So, her aspirations continue on a mission to change the world.

At one time I would attempt to place melancholy to bed prematurely by painting a porcelain-tooth grin on her, but, I’ve discovered this only frustrates her mood. And, I am beginning to see she has a certain kind of beauty to her. Maybe, it is the darkness that makes her draw close to the small amount of light, like one would center around a candle before electricity gave light at night. The glow is not as bright, but there is a certain intimacy in the small space that illuminates places deep within.

I’d love to be merry go rounding the orbit until death draws me home. But, the whirlwind of turmoil with its ups and dips sees to be the trajectory of myself. I guess it makes for an exciting adventure.

Lord, until you bring me home, help me to be all I can be.  When I am trapped in darkness, help me be a beam of light, pointing directly to your Light. One day, I know, I will be surrounded by Your Light, and will no longer feel the weariness of night. And then, you promise to wipe my tears away forevermore.
Until then…

A Less Sensational Story of Jonah

We have an old tree in our new neighborhood that stands front and center for all to see. With the exception of a small amount of shade, this scraggly-limbed, woody plant looks like a Charlie Brown version of the oak variety.

But, for whatever reason, it tugs at the heartstrings of both hubby and I.  So, we spent entirely too much to give her a chance at a longer life span by having her main limbs pulled together with a wire line. By doing so, the hope is she will not only survive, but thrive.

I’m glad we have a God who gives us multiple chances at life.  

Look at Jonah.  The man fled from God, and yet God didn’t extinguish his lifespan in doing so.  Even after a storm, and a whale of a tale, God gave him another chance to take his wiry limbs to the horribly wicked citizens of Nineveh with a message of truth and repentance and hope.  And, ultimately another chance at life.

Begrudgingly Jonah was obedient, yet, not without a hint of judgement.

I get it. They were hardly the cream of the crop.  Rotten individuals didn’t deserve another chance.  Wipe them off the face of the earth already–the world would be a better place.

Interestingly, afterward, Jonah goes off and pouts.  God provides a vine so he is not burnt.  Jonah feels relief.  Then in the life illustration God withers the vine from existence.  Jonah at this point loses all his faculties over a dead vine. It went like this:

Jonah:  “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

God:  “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.  But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die.

Jonah:  “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.

God:  “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”

God:   “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

He cared more for the vine.  Makes me wonder if his ancient reaction is similar to ours today.

We are off balance in this world.

I get it, a lion doesn’t deserve to die a needless death.  But, neither do the countless millions of unique fingerprints that do not get a chance at life outside the womb.

They deserve a first chance to live and breathe.

I am grateful to follow a God who desires NONE would perish.  No, not one.

God, resuscitate our heartstrings for life.