loved by Jesus

I saw this on Instagram and instantly thought of the Merton quote: “who am I? I am loved by Christ”.

The above do not define me unless I allow them to define me. And they all call me to turn to Jesus and simply receive His love. I always have a choice to wear the mask that I am given by others or simply to be me.

I follow a number of “depression” themed Instagram pages. They are often extremely helpful. They echo what my counsellor says to me. But it is good to be reminded everyday. Of course, what my counsellor adds is Jesus. And I am thankful to have a faithful Christian who gives me guidance.

what balance looks like for me

I have some real balance at the moment. I still feel “down” at times but I have learned to live with it and not let it stop me. I am still anxious but have some a “bigger view” that allows me to put it in a greater context. Most of that is thanks to a magnificent counsellor who has spent lots of time on me and has encouraged me. And a counsellor who has pointed me beyond myself to Jesus!!!

So what does balance look like for me?

I am by nature quiet. I am not a great talker and like to observe. In fact, I like to sit and read in silence! In the past, with anxiety and depression, I tried to act like I was the “life of the party”. And often looked like an idiot, which, of course, made me more anxious and then more depressed. I have accepted (and that is the real insight) who I am and that sometimes I like to sit and not talk. I like silence and alone time. I try not to be rude – I say “try” as I think I am often very rude. I need other people. But I would rather an intense conversation for a few minutes than a long conversation about nothing much.

I am weird and intense. I think the two go together. My interests are outside the norm. In the past I have tried to come back to the mainline. But, to be honest, the things that interest “normal people” simply do not get me excited. I can keep a conversation going about a particular sport or politics but that is not the conversation I seek. I like ideas, strange people, and intense conversations about Jesus and theology. I like talking about books on philosophy or theology. I will quote with a reference in a general conversation and I know that is really weird.

I have changed a lot over the last three months. And I am not sure where the next three will bring me! But the insights I have gained are a gift from God. And my personality is a gift from God. I might be quiet, weird, and intense but that also brings gifts that I can use for other people. God will reveal where things are going in His time. At the moment I am called to be open to Him and to live now for Jesus.

called by name

I have been thinking a lot about episode 1 of season 1 of The Chosen, “I Have Called You By Name”. I was struck by Mary Magdalene – abandoned by her religion and given up on herself. I really like the scene where she stands at the cliff and looks over the edge. I can really identify with her struggle.

Sometimes, for me, living with depression is like standing on the edge. Not that I want to jump but there is a feeling of being “unloveable”. I have very much felt like I am beyond being loved. I am so broken, so beyond redemption, that no person can ever really love me. They may say that they do but really they are just pretending. And when you have been abandoned by people it is very hard to trust people again.

I remember so many sermons about “anxiety” and “Give it to the Lord” that were really unhelpful. I have been told by a person, in a church, that all anxiety and depression is demon possession. I have often wondered if the person thought I should not attend. Religious people, with the best of intensions, give advice that is often very unhelpful. There are exceptions – and thank God for those – but there are also many who simply do not understand and do not identify with the struggle and the pain.

I have learned that depression is part of me. There is no “fix”. I have to live with it.

The part of The Chosen that really got to me this time was Jesus. At the end He embraces Mary – the person on whom everyone had given up and who had given up on herself. He calls her by name – an intimate act of love. No one – including me – is ever beyond God’s love. No person is unworthy of Jesus’ love – no person is unworthy of hope.

I am extremely thankful for the hope that so many people of faith have given me. Yet it is not them who give me hope. It is Jesus – His living presence with me now and always. His presence in the darkness – on the edge of the cliff. And it is the intimacy of the relationship that brings that hope. He has called me by name and I can call His name.

I know what is coming in The Chosen, that great line by Mary. But this week I am thinking about how a person who was a nobody is a somebody in Jesus. How I am loved!!!

desert day?

Last night’s Bible Study went really well – I felt in the groove and it all worked pretty well for once. It came together very last minute. But, as if to punish me for enjoying myself, my brain turned on me. I dreamt of my past life – my favourite nightmare – and I woke really sad. It was an extremely emotional dream that was very vivid and intensely personal.

When I woke from the nightmare, I prayed. I find the silent moments of the night or early morning great times to pray. And praying with tears has become somewhat of a pattern for me. I know I need to stop telling God what to do. I need to simply be open to Him and let Him do all the controlling. I am very much at a cross-roads and not sure what to do with life.

I have survived two weeks that have been very stressful and emotional. I admit that I am surprised at myself for facing these challenges without going to pieces and without descending into darkness. I am think of rewarding myself for surviving but that, too, is causing me some anxiety. (I have lived so many years with a negative image of myself that I do not think I deserve any reward and I should be happy with what I have.)

So … I am not sure what I will do today. I think I will have a “desert day” – a “somewhat” silent retreat at home. Drink mint tea and read a book. It looks like there might be some sun out today so I could sit outside. I think I need a day of “no-thing” – a personal day with the Person.

I pray you have a Jesus filled day!

I am a passenger

God uses people for the good of others. That is love. He uses them not in a negative way but puts people in your life that He uses for your good. God has placed people into my life for my good.

I have an extremely stressful and anxious day ahead. A day in which I am completely powerless – I am a passenger. But yesterday I spoke with a person involved and I am not nearly as stressed as I thought I would be. This person, without being involved previously and with little information, sees the situation the same way that my support people have been telling me. I trust them but my anxiety often talks very loudly. And my support people have been extremely supportive with a rather strange conference call. I know it is the anxiety and depression talking but I cannot shake, at the moment, the feeling that I am a burden and pain to people.

I have things to do today – I have yet to even start the Bible Study and that is tonight. I have been putting it off because my anxiety has been running riot. But I have learned how to manage it and how to live with it rather than against it. I am looking forward to the study and being useful.

This is the beginning of a very painful end. An end that I have yet to face fully – an end in which I am emotionally invested. An end that I do not desire and in which I have had no say. I am a passenger. So I am seeing it in a positive way – today is the start of a new life. A life that will look somewhat different than I had assumed. A life that is yet to be fully realised. A life into which I carry many scares and pains. But Jesus carries my scares, and my pain, on the cross for me. And that is the point I am starting from.

what does it mean to be me?

I am speaking to the youth tonight on what it means to be a human being. That is a rather big topic so I am bringing it down to a simple question, “what does it mean to be me?”. Maybe a simple question but one that is hard to answer. I think I have escaped into other people’s description of me to not face the question of what defines me. And I have often not heard the voice of Jesus that says, “you are so much more!”.

You know I love the Instagram page “The Depression Chronicles”. It often has ideas that I very much identify with and that help me with my balance. I have extremely vivid dreams – not so much recently – and I overthink. But is overthinking bad? Yes, when it runs around in circles. But it also allows me to analyse, organise, see the problem from any different angles, and engage an idea on a much deeper level.

Overthinking is not bad! Overthinking something that I cannot fix or that is outside of my control is not helpful to me or to others. The gifts that come with it are to be celebrated. My job is to see when my overthinking is negative for me versus when I am using it in a positive way.

I have found that people use words to describe me and I simply accept their view of me. Between their description and my defining myself is a choice – do I accept their view of me? Do I accept that what they say is negative is, in fact, negative? Being me is not a “cooking cutter”.

Anyone that is what I am thinking of saying to the youth tonight.

Being a man?

I just wanted to share the above from Instagram. I really identify with it and I have struggled with being a male who feels things deeply and often, in last three months, has cried. In fact, I cannot recall a day when I have not cried in the last three months.

Now the real insight for me is that I can see the above as a negative. But it is only negative if I force myself into an image of maleness that is given to me by others. All of the above is a positive. Yes, I feel things deeply and I cry. That just makes me human. And some of the gifts that brings to others is a huge positive in my life and in other people’s lives.

I like the above quote because I have moved from seeing it all as a disease that needs to be removed to a gift that needs to be celebrated. Yes, I struggle and I am not like most males or people. But the gifts that being a sensitive male brings much outweighs the negatives and struggles.

I pray you have Jesus filled day!

hermit maybe?

I have a very stressful week ahead. A lot happening that I am not ready to face. I have had a headache for three days that I am sure is the stress related to the anxiety that I am feeling.

So my first reaction is to dream about being a hermit – to live alone somewhere without contact or interaction with other people. Recluse would be a better term – or a solitary. The other option is to enter some monastery somewhere and disappear. The problem is that I do not have a vocation to the religious life – either as an individual or within a community. To be honest, I am unsure if I have any vocation or calling. I have tried to wear various masks during my life – masks that often others gave me or that I thought others wanted me to wear. So I think this would just be another version of a mask that has been given to me by someone else.

I know for certain that it would just be a form of escapism. I like to run away from my problems rather than face them. I procrastinate because I cannot face the world. So I would be running from the world rather than to religious life.

I have learned over the last three months and I am extremely grateful for the people who have helped me. I also carry the pain of people who have decided that they cannot bare with me any longer. And that pain is so real at the moment that it colours everything in my life.

In the end I am alone before God. I have to act – no one else can act for me or on my behalf. I have to face my actions and the consequences. Hopefully I will be able to look back on this time and see it as a time of growth. But right now I am anxious and stressed.

So hermitage – yes or no?

things change so quickly

I was thinking about how quickly things change in life. Not always in a bad way but for me it appears to always be bad at the moment. When I feel I have reached some form of balance, something happens and I am back at the start. Yes, I am back at the start with new skills and more life experience. But I am back at the start. And it is exhausting!

So the above quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came to mind. Yes just stop! Stop and look around. I feel like everything is rushing past me at the moment, like I am missing life itself.

I try to find Jesus in the darkness – allow Him to carry me. So there is that!

… and …

I wanted to add something to the previous post – life is not always as bad as my anxiety makes me think!!!! Sometimes my anxiety and depression lie to me about life.

Thank you to the people who prayed – I do very much appreciate it.

Today has ended up not as bad as I had imagined. Things are moving in the right direction and I am going to get the help I need. Sometimes the system does work! More than ever I am thankful for the people in my life who support me and who have journey with me through it all. The people who write little messages of support, pray for me, and those who give me advice and provide wisdom. I am really not alone in this all. And God is always good, loving, merciful, and compassionate.