Friday, February 10, 2012

If everyone else were doing it...

Photo credit here via ACH.
Much to the chagrin of my mama, I’ve always been a huge sucker for peer pressure. My search for significance has been a dichotomy of trying fit in and trying to stand out. If everyone else were doing it,  I was too.

That’s why God brought me to a crowd doing all the right stuff.

I was drawn to people who candidly shared their struggle with clinical depression. I drew courage from their testimonies of victory. Admitting my need for help has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

God’s girls have played a tremendous role in this step. My friend, Sandy, not only prayed for me, she candidly shared her own story. Author Renee Swope’s message in A Confident Heart has also played a huge role in my own brokenness and admission that I need medication to make it through each day. These ladies held me accountable until I had the courage to ask a doctor for help.

God has proved so faithful, good and trustworthy through this journey. The first medication my doctor prescribed was the one my friend actually told me I needed!

After starting antidepressants, I immediately noticed three changes:
1.     I woke up each day excited to get out of bed and live each day. Sleep used to be my favorite pastime.
2.     I felt hopeful again for the first time in many months. I didn’t even know I was hopeless until I felt hopeful.
3.     I suddenly noticed I no longer felt guilty. I used to think all my troubles whether relational, financial, emotional or spiritual were all due to my lack of faith. I tried to hear God, search His Word for wisdom and seek godly counsel, yet my life always seemed to end up in a tangled mess of failure. I daily confessed to God how sorry I was that I just didn’t seem to be able to hear Him clearly and obey Him completely.

These three changes gave me courage to believe the failures of my past do not determine the success of my future.

Still, I was more than a little peeved at God. I did not like this part of my story. I did not want very many people to know I needed to take medication. I didn’t even tell my husband until he quipped, “The girl I engaged has returned!”

I was a prideful mess unwilling to receive God’s message:
I could never walk in the fullness of God’s grace until I received the fullness of God’s love.

I have been a believer for 35 years. It has taken me 35 years of tiptoe-y baby-steps up the side of a rocky cliff stumbling in blingy flip flops and dragging a designer bag full of heavy burdens to reach the edge of the cliff and sneak a peek at the canyon.

Once I dared look down, the final step into the vastness of God’s love was not a timid, shaky, fearful sidestep. No! I threw down my purse, kicked off my shoes and did a giant swan dive into the abyss as God’s love completely overwhelmed me.

After all, everyone else is doing it.

And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:18-19

Please share a story about your own leap of faith.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Hope for My Future: A Confident Heart Week 4

Confident Heart

God promises hope for my future despite the pain of my past.

As I was running the other day, I noticed my shadow. As I made turns along my path, my shadow moved. The darkness attached to me was sometimes in front of me, sometimes behind me.

Just because the shadow was straight ahead of me, didn’t mean I wasn’t running in the sun; it just meant I had changed directions in my quest to burn a few calories and get back home.

That’s where I’ve been these last few months. Running in the sun, yet into the darkness of my past.

Since cancer came and went, I’ve been struggling. Healing physically happened quickly; healing emotionally has taken much longer.

For an entire year, I told myself if I could just make it until…the weekend, Spring Break, the end of soccer season or summer, I would be okay. All of those things came and went. I was not okay.

After clearing my schedule of everything in June of last year, I realized I did not need rest, I needed help. I found a wonderful doctor and who diagnosed me with major depressive disorder and severe anxiety. After six months, I have finally found a combination of meds that is working for me and coupled with christian counseling, I am healing.

As I humbled myself and received help, grace in the form of modern medicine, my hope returned. My perspective returned.

That day as I was running, I realized I had been running from the darkness of my past. Longing for God to use me yet not wanting to admit my weakness, I had lost my focus. Instead of running toward home, I had been running from the shadow of my past.

I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life. Believing mood altering medication was for people who couldn’t trust God enough to overcome their sin, I silently suffered. On the outside I portrayed a confident, successful woman, on the inside I was a self-loathing, prideful mess.

As I contemplated the miracles Jesus performed in the Bible, I began to see a pattern. Regularly after healing a person's physical ailments, He spoke forgiveness of past sins. Jesus taught faith to receive physical healing led to grace to receive emotional healing. He healed physically to usher in healing emotionally.

Choosing to embrace this concept, I shifted my focus away from the pain of my past and toward the hope of my future. Running into the dark shadow of my past these last few months has been hard, yet knowing home and healing are just around the corner has made it worth it.

In chapter four of A Confident Heart, Renee says running from the pain of the past is also running from the healing work God wants to do our hearts. Through her story, I have come to realize my past pain has kept me from living in confident hope for my tomorrows. With her encouragement, I am receiving hope for my future by allowing Jesus to enter into the brokenness of my past and create beauty.

I am no longer running from my own shadow. I am running toward the finish line.

I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself…I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.1 Corinthians 9:26-27 & Philippians 3:12-14 The Message

What struggles have you been afraid to admit that could lead to your own healing?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Appreciate the Gift: A Confident Heart

Photo courtesy of via google
Life. The truest gift. The purest gift. The freest gift I’ve ever received.

I received life as a baby. Against all odds.

I received life as a teenager. Against all odds.

I received life as an adult. Against all odds.

I received life as a sinner. When every odd was against me, heaven was for me. God gave His Son. [For God so loved [Lisa] He gave His only Son that all who believe in Him should not die but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)] I received life. Abundantly.

Living out a life can prove difficult. Tending to over-think, under-act in life, I become overly cautious and under achieving. Some call it hesitancy or fear. Some call it waiting or maturing. There is a fine line between the two. A fine line that separates a life fully lived and a life fully watched.

I want to open my gift. Appreciate it. Love it. Use it all up until it’s crunched, scratched, emptied, repainted, refurbished and recycled. I want to show The Giver it’s my favorite, sleep cuddled up with it and carry it around with me all day long and brag on its beauty, value and usefulness.

Today I will stop asking why and start asking how. I will practice falling off until I learn to ride. I will give The Giver what He desires, my joy and excitement in receiving the gift, my undivided attention and effort while learning to use the gift. I will enjoy the gift accepting it without question in all of its extravagance, limitations, humility and responsibility.

Time to quit focusing on the handicap and start appreciating the gift.

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 The Message-emphasis mine