Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Normal" isn't so normal.

Do you ever sit and wonder what "normal" is? Nobody thinks they or their lives are normal. If I had to define "normal" I think I'd call it, the delusion that everyone has of everyone else's life, and the illusion we try to create to match it. Hmmm. Well, as far as putting it into words I think that is the best I've got.

I'll admit, I spend time thinking "I wish my life was just normal." I wish that things were as pleasant as they appear to be on the outside of other peoples lives. "On the outside"......

There are many directions we could take with this topic, but there is one I want to focus on. Depression. Depression is an ugly creature that takes over and steals joy in life. Many people keep their depression a hidden part of their life, tucked safely away behind the fear of the stigma that comes with depression. I too, fear that stigma.
I suffer from clinical depression. I have for years. Once in awhile my doctor and I decide to try not treating it with medication. It always works well for the first month or two...then I find myself crying all the time, or dreading waking in the morning. It's like I'm watching myself become more and more depressed but despite my best efforts to pull myself out of my slump, I fail.

Many Christians believe and profess that faith in God should be all you ever need to be joyful and if you are depressed than there is an issue with your faith. I have been told this by people before. It is a sad thing. It is the last thing that will help you because then you feel like a failure in your faith on top of everything negative you may feel.
I'm stepping out and exposing this struggle I have so that others who secretly struggle will know they are not alone. I think our Christian family would be far better off if we didn't worry about keeping up appearances of "normal" and exposed our faults and struggles so that we can build each other up. What if we let our guards down and truly bear one another's burdens as it says in Galatians 6:2?

For some reason when people find out you are on medication for depression (insert dramatic gasp here), they get this crazy image in their head. Some people just chalk you up as mentally impaired from that point on, and it's almost like they are afraid of you. Some will also try to look down on you. They might even attribute any slight change in your behavior to "your meds". Why is this? Are we not all human? Do we not all have struggles and inner battles?

I often struggle with taking medication for depression because it makes me feel weak. I listen to those who feed me lies and belittle me for not being able to "snap out of it". Friends, there is nothing wrong with treating depression. Take heart, and know that I applaud you for facing your giant. You are far from alone. Many times the people who struggle with depression are those you would never suspect. Often they are the goofy out-going ones that seem to have it all together....on the outside. Those people may go home and cry themselves to sleep, we don't know.

Faith is indeed critical. Not how it is often twisted though. Keep God close as you fight your depression. He WILL help you. God is an important part of the healing process. However, it by no means EVER means you have weak faith because you are depressed.

Let us put away our ideas of "normal". It is too often the image in our head of how things are supposed to be that messes us up. No more illusions and delusions. Be real. Real love, real kindness, real hope. Here's to tomorrow......

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mirror, mirror

Judged. We all judge every day. We size People up with a glance. Clothes, hair, car. We watch actions and reactions. We make mental lists of what we like or don't like. We like to watch people from a distance and tell every one what we think is wrong with the situation or how we think they are handling it wrong. We are judgmental people. It's in our culture, so deeply, that it shapes us. Look at all the celebrity gossip articles, shows, and magazines there are. We are saturated in it.

It's all too easy to occupy our minds with what we think others should be doing rather than focusing on us. It's easy to point out what's wrong with people when we stand on the outside and look in. Consider this scripture.

"Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:2-5 ESV)

It makes you think, doesn't it? When I think back on things, every time I have judged someone, I later found myself in their situation, being judged by others. It's a real quick way to get your eyes opened, and your ego broken.
There are many scriptures on the topic of judging. Even in the bible they had issues with people being judged based on what they wore or where they were from.

Let's be careful to love people. ALL people, as Christ loved us. Christ loved us enough to die for us. When was the last time we prayed for the person that judged us, and hurt us? When was the last time we made efforts to look past our impression of someone and tried to show them Christian love? When was the last time we spoke kindly of someone rather than gossiping about them?

Be a light. Christ is the light and we are like mirrors reflecting that light. What or who do you reflect? Shine up your mirror and let people get a glimpse of what the love of Christ is all about.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

And now for something completely different...

I'm writing this from my phone (as I do all my posts because this is my only Internet), so I am HOPING it holds it's format. If I'd doesn't, I'll try to correct it Monday.

Once in a while I might post a poem of sorts that I wrote. Today is one of those days. I hope you find something in it to lift you up.

All around I compare and see,
All of those that are better than me.

"Don't compare!" assure me the best.
Then they turn with pride, and run with the rest.

"Give me praise!" they shout but don't speak.
Not bothering to encourage those trying, and weak.

An unlikely one steps out and promises to achieve.
She sets up her goals and her far-fetched dreams.

The expectations for this one aren't high at all.
They wag their heads and wait for her hopes to fall.

She gropes the path, reaching for support.
"It's impossible" they say, "this scheme you must abort."

The odds are against her, taunting her steps.
Mocking, jeering, and tearing from the depths.

People come, pass on the left and the right.
Their strides come easier, it's hardly a fight.

Pity invades, and tries to take hold.
She fights her tears and tries to be steadfast and bold.

Then a glimmer, a spark, a fire ignites her heart.
She'll see it to the end, refusing to be picked apart.

Let their vanity and pride be theirs to keep.
Their pace will lesson, what they've sewn, they'll reap.

Her fight is her own, and this she well knows.
So onward she carries. Down the path she goes.

One day she'll pass some soul on this road.
SHE won't keep going, leaving them cold.

She will stop, and match the strangers pace.
For it's what ought to be done, as we all run this race.

Teaching them to quicken their step and almost fly.
Rather than leaving them hopeless with each passing by.

The day will come as she runs her Race.
There will be no shortness of breath; a new pace.

She won't have a medal or great body to show.
But she will reflect on her pace that was once so slow.

The hurt that it had caused, being left so far behind;
Made her think of others and keep them in mind.

So as we try to finish as others.
Let's make time to stop and help our brothers.

Thanks for reading. Keep on keeping on.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Uncommon, common courtesy

Lately it seems I can't turn around without hearing someone express disappointment in people letting them down. It's very discouraging to have someone say they will do something or be somewhere then they either bail at the last minute or just never show up and leave you wondering. Often times you have rearranged some part of your day to accommodate them and then things fall through. It is without a doubt one of Satan's greatest tools. Disappointment. It leads to distrust, and a selfish attitude. We put up our guards and are less likely to help others. When we start putting ourselves above those around us out of hurt or bitterness, things will fall apart. Society trains us to look out for "#1". What has happened to "common courtesy". It certainly isn't common any more. Companies promise products that deliver and and they don't. People promise to always, love, cherish, forgive, and they don't. We are left offended, hurt, and full of "why's". It wears your heart down and you may find yourself asking "whats the point"?It feels as though you are cursed and anything bad that can happen to you, will.
This line of thinking is dangerous friends. It is a trap.

First, step back. These people that disappoint us, Christ died for them too. We are told the road will be even harder if you chose to follow Christ. But, we are told the end of the road is by far the best. We are never told it will be easy, just that it will be worth it. We cannot explain why people act the way that they do. We have all done wrong (Rom 3:23). We must not start to think so highly of ourselves that we don't remember where we have come from. When we are frustrated with people and especially our Christian family, we must humble ourselves and remember that nobody is perfect and that we all need grace. Don't get caught in the phrase "I would never do that".
Now, if you know you have hurt someone, make it right. Try your best not to disappoint someone who is depending on you. Pray for those who have offended you and those you may have offended.

Finally, take heart. When it seems as though nobody keeps their word, remember our Lord. He will never let you down. He will never betray you. Even when you bail on Him at the last minute, he will be waiting for you. He doesn't walk away from us. If you feel that nobody will ever be faithful to you, remember HIS faithfulness. Who are we to be so disappointed in man? How many times have we disappointed our Lord?

When you get stood up, remember to stand up for the One who gave his life for ALL of us.

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. (2 Thessalonians 3:13 NASB)

Keep your chin up, we are in this together.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ashes of a library

Quite some time ago I read a little saying on a calendar. I don't remember if it was a quote or what, but what it said has been with me for a long time. What did it say? It simply stated, "when an elderly person passes away, it is as though a library has burned to the ground." Oh how true it is!
I keep journals of my life. Not because anything exciting happens but rather so some trace of my experiences and memories can be left behind. I find myself wishing that my grandparents had done this. I've lost both of my grandmothers and one grandfather in the past few years. After their passing I really do feel as though I am sifting through ashes of some great library looking for pieces of their story.
In March of this past year I Said a final goodnight to my one of my grandmothers. She had been in a nursing home for a couple of years and when she got bad they called us all in. We sat by her bedside for days, waiting. Waiting for peace to come over her, waiting for that final breath. Sitting there watching her gave me more time to think on morbid things than I wish to confess. However, one observation I made was her surroundings. For most of the time it was my mom, myself, and my grandfather. She laid there, gaunt and tired, and all that summed up her life was either sitting around her or pinned up on a cork board above her head. Pictures of her family were on that board. All of her dreams, wishes, lessons learned and memories were either passed on through story or left buried in her heart.
My heart broke at not only the thought of losing her to death, but also the lifetime of emotions and sensations that would be lost. I knew my grandmother, as my grandmother. I wanted more than ever to know what she was like when she was young, or when she had small kids at home or to ask her for any advice or words of wisdom that came from years of experience.
Finally she passed on and left the frail body of this earth to rest. The library of Patricia Ann Hoffman burned to the ground. As many others have before. And so, I sift through the ashes of her library, searching for pieces of her life.
Our lives are like libraries. We gather knowledge and (hopefully) wisdom. Share it. Above all go visit your grandparents or your other loved ones and learn their story, then write it down.
More than all of this we are left with the Bible. A library. The story of Gods love for man. Share it. Don't leave people left to dig through the ashes for answers. Share what you have learned, and learn from what others have shared. I'm glad God wrote it all down, so we didn't have to sift through the ashes, aren't you?