when hope gets lost

i think there is an expectation* that a retreat or missions trip creates a spiritual high that returns with you and lingers for a few days post trip.

and while i had long let go of that expectation, i find myself curious at an opposite effect happening post-lake champion. instead of feeling spiritually high, i am feeling spiritually turned off. starting saturday night it’s like i keep hearing these thoughts to just leave the faith, just quit. and tonight at small group, the topic of suicide came up a few different times and instead of being shocked and grieved, i related.

i don’t want to call this a spiritual attack, out of fear or over-spiritualising things, but i don’t want to ignore that as a possibility for my recent hopelessness and relapse into depression.

i know i’ve been disassociated from life lately. i’m trying, i really am. it’s just hard when hope gets lost.

 

*i have long loved and personally subscribe to the following two pithy statements: “expect the worst, hope for the best, and accept whatever happens;” & “expectations breed resentments.”

holes to holy

written circa february 2013

My Sunday-school classroom has a toy where you put shapes into their respective holes. The red square goes in the square hole, the pink triangle into the triangle-shaped hole. The kids all love this toy and enjoy figuring out which hole is the key to getting their piece inside the box.

As I have come to see, these children may just be teaching me more that I am teaching them. God is showing me more through them than the other way around, as I had once believed. As I watch each child struggle to put the diamond into the rectangular or the oval hole I am reminded of how I have tried to put this or than into my own empty spaces. As I see the delight on these precious little faces as they match the hole to the correct shape I am reminded of my Savior’s face when I allow Him to remove the poison I’d been filling myself with and allow what really belongs there – his own substance – to flood my being.

We all have holes. They are in different places and are different sizes, but nonetheless they are all places where we lack. We try to fill them will different things, but in the end our unique holes all need the same thing: the grace-driven love of Jesus Christ, his substance, his blood, his unique, tender, healing touch.

Two summers ago when my mom developed MRSA from a spider bite she only discovered this virus by a gaping hole that opened up on the back of her knee. To me, this is what I think of when I think of my own holes. Different places in my body, different areas on my heart, have these open sores and deep caverns. They weep, the bleed, and they hurt; and I try to fill them with stuff. I have tried to fill my holes with the touch and approval of naked men, with anything that money can buy, with knowledge, with alcohol, with food, to heal them by starving myself and hoping they’d disappear. I stick my finger inside these open wounds just to feel alive and see my hands covered in blood. But my blood doesn’t heal, it can only clot. All I was doing was further infecting what I would be unable to heal on my own.

I need the antiseptic of Jesus’ blood to cleanse me. I need the image of Jesus on that cross – taking my sin and shame upon himself – to remember who and who alone heals and fills. When I tried to fix myself on my own I just gave myself more holes and a worsening infection. The holes opened and oozed. But when I finally came to Jesus, saw how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been pursuing me, my holes were cleansed and slowly they were filled in with what is holy. What once nearly killed me became bruises – battle scars to remind me of where I have been and marks to show others that I am not perfect but continually being restored and made whole in Christ alone. Soli Deo Gloria.

We all have our holes. We all have our bruises and scares. We all have a story. Let the master craftsman in. We will all be limping to the table of eternal feasting and grace, and it’s okay. We carry our bruises in different places, but only as a reminder to what once was and what Christ has done. Where are your holes and how have you tried filling them? Do you know how much God loves you and wants to be The Great Physician to heal your wounds?

integrity.

as i continue to see these tragedies happen day in and day out, as i see and hear people damning, condemning, and speaking only evil on the internet and in real life, i am grieved. i am grieved for the lives cut short, for the people who are being wounded, for the people who are so filled with hate that they have no room for humility to see where they may be wrong.

and i am grieved in my own spirit that i have spoken angry words, that i have spoken things that were mean-spirited. i’m grieved that i have been part of the problem in my words and deeds.

this is my heart breaking for my actions. this is my heart breaking as i realize that i am the rich young ruler, and i no longer want to be. this is my heart breaking for the all the beings of the earth, human and non-human animal, who suffer and are mistreated.

and i want to say that i’m repenting of consumerism. i’m repenting of speaking hate (death). i’m repenting of talking more than listening.

from now on, i’m going to listen more than talk. i’m going to ask more questions. i’m going to give more than i get. i’m going to speak only life. i’m going to speak honestly and with integrity. i’m going to let Jesus be more and myself be less.

beautiful things.

“i’m not who you think i am”,  (what i really want to say),  11:11 hopes and wishes, a symphony of sound, abandoned buildings, accents, acoustic guitars, adventures&roadtrips, anthropology, apple blossoms, apple cider, aries, art, art journaling, autumn nights, awkwardness, baking, ballet flats, bedroom floors, being completely free, being silent, blood, blowing bubbles, books, broken people, bubbles, butterflies, calligraphy, cats, chai, cheesecake, chopsticks, christianity, coffee in the evenings, collar bones, coloured pencils, coloured sound, colouring books, comfort, compliments, control, correcting grammatical mistakes/spelling errors, crayons, creative writing, creativity, crisp autumn mornings, cupcakes, daisies&daffodils, daydreaming, digital photography, disposable cameras, dreamcatchers, dreams, ducks, extra large mugs, fairy lights, feathers, feeling dizzy, figuring things out, film photography, fingers stained with ink, flowering trees, fluffy clouds, foreign languages, foreign places, forests filled with magic, fresh smoothies, getting lost in novels, god, grass stains, gratitude, green tea, grey, gypsies, handwriting, hazy summer evenings, hip bones, hyacinths, icicles, imaginary friends, imagination, inspiration, instrumental music, introverted souls, jesus, journals, la langue française, lace, laughing, laying in the grass, listening to other people tell their story, lomography, long car rides, long walks, love, lowercase letters, luna lovegood, marvelous things, matcha, mental disorders, meringue, mist, mix tapes, music, new york city, old diaries, old photos, ophelia, organising, paper birds, passenger seats, penpals, perusing bookstores for hours, philosophical discussions, philosophy, photobooths, photography, piano playing, picking fresh fruit and eating it right off the plant, piles of books, play-doh, playing with cameras, playlists, poetry, polaroids, post-it notes, procrastination, prose, psychology, purple, quotes, rain, rainy days, random words, reading, reading by candle light, reading strangers’ blogs, riding bicycles, riding bicycles in skirts, rose red, rose white, sarcasm, scars, secrets, self-improvement, shameless self expression, shapes in clouds, sharpies, sheep, sitting on pavement under street lamps, spirituality, stained glass, starbucks, stars, starry nights, stationary, stepping on crunchy leaves, stickers, stuffed animals, sunrises, sunsets, sushi, swimming at night, swings, talking to myself, tea, tears, tetris, texting, the endless sea, the food network, the smell of a campfire, the smell of new books, the smell of used bookstores, the sound of typing, the sound of wind chimes, thrift stores, thunderstorms, train tracks, typography, unsent letters, vanilla, vintage bicycles, vintage dresses, walking alone in the morning, warm baths, watching people, wildflowers, wonder, words, words from the heart, writing, ★, ♪, ♫ = ♥

2016

2015 was a year of ups and downs, discoveries and questions, recovery and relapse. It was a year that went so quick and so slow at the same time. It was a year that saw me working several different jobs. It was a year for re-kindling relationships and letting go of others.

I learned about myself, about money, about life. I went back to my hometown for the first time in three years and I realised just how much of my heart is still there. I took risks and I stayed quiet. I lived in the fog of deep depression and in the whirling vortex of white-hot mania. I started therapy again. I remembered how to write and how to make art. I worked on starting my own business venture.

I made progress and I failed. I sinned and I fell short. But I learned. I lost my faith and I started slowly working to find it again.

2015 was a year of thinking over doing, of existing over living.

It was a year of loss. But unlike years past, it was a year of growing in the loss and the sin. It was a year of dissociation, viewing my life and loss from above, from which I could gain metacognitive insight into my self. It was a year of new diagnoses and learning more about my various parts and personalities. It was a year of fragmentation and, finally, being able to put into words and voice that disconnection.


2016 will be the year of the heart. It will be a year of practice, of making the abstract concrete. It will be a year of doing.

2016 will be the year where I take the 18-inch journey and mend the broken strings connecting my head and heart. It will be a year of synthesis, bringing together the fractured parts of me, of undoing the compartmentalisation of self and wearing the same face with everyone.

2016 will be a year of honesty. It will be a year spent learning to be honest with myself, with others, and with God.

2016 will be a year of faith. It will be a year of finding faith again, of asking questions and learning to sit and meditate in the Truth. It will be a year of learning to love and be loved. It will be a year of seeking that childlike faith where I can sitting on the lap of Abba and just be.

2016 will be a year of letting go of perfectionism, of letting go of pain and lies. 2016 will be a year spend learning about the full weight and meaning of grace.

unexpected lessons and… my little pony?

As I was doing some housecleaning today I set up a documentary on Netflix. I browsed the documentary channel until I came to one called “Bronies.” Now I had seen the term being thrown around online and knew a little bit of this strange subculture – teenage and adult men who enjoy the latest version of My Little Pony. 

I started watching and after a few minutes I was actually engrossed in the show. I originally thought that this documentary would be good for a few laughs, but as I watched the men talk about what My Little Pony meant to them and what they were now doing as a result of this passion for the show I really learned something.

One, I learned just how ignorant cultural stereotypes really are and how detrimental they are to people. We can judge and make fun of these men, but in the end they have a passion and they are doing something with that passion. One young man used it to pursue his passion of remixing music and composing music, one young woman started designing and painting My Little Pony figurines, another young man found something that he could connect with – a hard feat for this young man with Aspergers Syndrome. 

Watching this documentary really taught me a lesson in judging others – namely don’t do it! It doesn’t matter what your passion is, whether is be Star Trek, football, Pinterest, Ryan Gosling, or, yes, evening My Little Pony. This is something that this person is passionate about and they are doing something with that passion – something good. Why mock that?

Another thing I learned is the male/female gender roles and the fear of homosexuality needs to end. I believe that there is something very wrong with our society that a man who isn’t chauvinistic, who isn’t into “manly” things is regarded as feminine and therefore someone to be bullied or someone less than. People are wired differently and just because someone doesn’t fit into one small box doesn’t make them less than. 

In a culture that diminishes the arts we need to reclaim anything that supports the arts. Creativity is a key to a happy, healthy life. It is what is behind a person who makes their dreams a reality. Without creativity we become mindless automatons. Encouraging creativity and independent thought is something I personally support because it allows changes to be made and people to flourish. 

So, whatever your passion may be: pursue it. Support creativity. Don’t judge someone because they aren’t passionate about what you’re passionate about. Don’t judge someone because their passion may seem strange to you. Love changes the world, not hate, suspicion, violence, and separation.

relationships are hard.

A we each sipped our drinks and the conversation turned to the heart level. Isn’t that always the way? There must be something about a coffee shop and friends that leads to a more intimate conversation.  

She started talking about relationships and boys and dating and I tried to keep my head from spinning away. But relationships are hard. From the idea of them to the actual down and dirty of boy-girl pairings, relationships are hard. They are messy, confusing and difficult, and I felt the years slipping away from me and suddenly I was in an entirely different place and time.

I remember my first relationship like it was yesterday. I was a freshman in college and he was a friend of a friend.. We dated for two months from Christmas to Valentines Day and I think I am still reeling from when my status was “taken.” 

He never pursued me. I don’t even think he liked me. I think I was just there and he was there and he felt sorry for me. I will be the first one to admit I made a lot of mistakes while I was dating that boy, but I don’t think they should still haunt me to this day.

 My models for relationships haven’t been the best and I am afraid I don’t know what a happy couple is supposed to look like. My own life has been fraught with me making bad choices when the choice involves men and sex. 

I can still remember the moments of each encounter and I can remember everything I have done and I am so filled with shame. 

What would be your advice to a young woman about relationships and guys?