A word on forgiveness…
Last week I made the very hard decision to go back on medication for depression. This was not an easy thing for me to do, because I so detest the side-effects of antidepressants. But, the time had come to either do something or to go to bed and never get back out of it.
Since we cannot afford for me to have a stint in the hospital or for me just to go to bed (we can’t afford for my husband to stay home from work to take the kids to/from school, or to come home from work every single time I have a breakdown and am crying hysterically down the phone), it was necessary to do something.
So, yesterday, I bit the bullet and went to the doctor. I was officially diagnosed with severe depresion (scoring a 24 out of a possible 27 – the higher the score the more severely depressed you are) and was given the prescription.
My attitude to it is this: I know how I am supposed to think, I know what and how I am supposed to think, but my brain will not work that way; it needs some serious help. This is the first step to getting better; this will open the door for me to be able to make myself think the way I should think. This is the first step – on a journey – to better days.
Yesterday morning, in my quiet time before getting out of bed, I felt God give me this verse of scripture:
Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles.– Zechariah 9:12 NLT
I am a prisoner of depression. But, I still have hope, and I have God’s Word; His promise of blessing.
No, I’m not happy that I’m on an antidepressant that I know, while it’s helping, will affect me in ways I do NOT want to be affected. But, I have hope of deliverance, from both the depression and, eventually, the crappy side-effects of the medication I have to take in order for me to cope with my every day life.
Hope is not synonymous with wishing. Real hope is not the same thing as wishful thinking. The difference between hope and wishing is as much as the difference between a dream and a fantasy: the former is inherant with power and possiblility while the latter is just smoke and sandcastles.
I still have hope. And, I have a promise which keeps that hope breathing.
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
Be still, and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10
During a recent time of worship, I wrote a song based on this account of Martha and her sister Mary from the Gospel of Luke. It is also based on the first part of Psalm 46:10.
My desire has always been to be like Mary but, I have to admit, I have spent more of my life being rather Martha-like: anxious, stressed out, overwhelmed, frayed and frazzled. And, then there are my really bad days.
This song was birthed equally out of my desire to more like Mary and my Martha-like desperation. It’s a heart-cry and, since writing it, I can’t get it out of my head.
“Like water rolling off a duck’s back”, so the old saying goes. I’m not much like a duck (well, other than I may waddle a bit when I walk, and then there’s that quacking thing…and, my lips, of course). I wish I was more like a duck. How great it would be to have bad experiences just roll off like so much water and not be affected because my God-designed waterproof feathers keep me from getting soaked, damaged and overwhelmed by the badness.
I wish I was more like a duck.
Last night I had a rather embarrassing, humiliating and demoralising experience. To make matters worse, this pickle I found myself in was not my fault (hey, I’ll hold my hands up and admit often I’m the one to blame for my pain, but this time it wasn’t the case). I cried most of the night, kept awake by my anguish.
The whole episode reminded me of a time when I was about 15 years of age and was to sing at a special meeting for Veteran’s Day. Now, I have always been good (or, at least I was so when I was younger) at remembering my words. I never forgot one. Up until that night, when almost every word in the song flew out of my head in an instant leaving me up there blinking into the spotlight while no words came out of my mouth. Some people blamed my age or lack of experience; the truth was I had been singing professionally since the age of four. I had no excuse. This, unlike last night’s experience, was my fault. I had no one else to blame but myself. The experience marked me. I was so embarrassed it made me sick. I have never fully recovered from that night over 20 years ago. So much for “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, eh? What a load of bull-poo!
Of course, that experience when I was 15 was not the end of my musical career. The fact that I was so young worked in my favour even if people were mistaken in thinking that it was youth – and therefore – inexperience that had caused my nightmare situation that night.
Last night was the same, but different. I didn’t forget my words. And, there was very little I could have done to change it other than to not sing at all or stop when my guest accompanist began the song we were doing in the wrong key forcing me to sing it way out of my comfortable contralto range (where we had rehearsed it – and, man, it sounded awesome in rehearsal). The song was part of a bigger programme, so it wouldn’t have done to stop and start again – so, the professional “went on with the show”. Of course, there’s no explaining this to people who don’t understand music. I simply sounded crap (“who told her she could sing?”). There was no way to save my musical/vocal reputation. For this night, and those people, it was ruined. And this time it wasn’t even my fault.
Now, I don’t want anyone to get the mistaken idea that I am badmouthing my extremely talented keyboardist. The man is simply talent on legs. He played what he played absolutely exceptionally (and any decent second soprano could have handled it easily and beautifully, but I am a contralto) it was just, unfortunately (for me and my rep), the wrong key. Believe me, there’s a lot of difference between F and C.
I sobbed most of the night, feeling kicked in the teeth by life again – marked, irrevocably, and not feeling in the least bit duck-like. Humilation is just so utterly sh*tty!
I didn’t get much sleep, obviously. But, after I did mercifully drop off to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, surprisingly enough I woke up without immediately starting to cry again (although, I did tear up a bit as the morning progressed), and I felt led to read Lamentations from the Bible (well, if anyone is lamenting, it would be me…).
My own people laugh at me. All day long they sing their mocking songs. He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink. He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
Well! Here I am rolling around in the dust like Jeremiah the prophet was, humiliated, in sorrow and pain…yet. What a great word that is. Yet. Jeremiah chose hope again and so can I. Why? One reason:
I remembered my grandfather when he would comfort me when I was little, and he’d say, “You’s bein’ wuv-ved” (wuvved – pronounced like wuvv-ed). He didn’t have a speech impediment and he was quite well-spoken and a very intelligent and well-educated man. But, when he was affectionate with his family, he used language like this with us. I still hear him say it, though he has been gone these many years, when I feel very vulnerable and very unloved. “You’s bein’ wuvved.”
This morning it was as if my Heavenly Father was saying to me, “Autumn, there’s hope. All is not lost. This situation has affected you greatly and maybe you can never forget it, but you can put it behind you today and start afresh, because you’s bein’ wuvved.”
So, we have established that I am not much like a duck where it counts but I am somewhat like an ancient prophet. We have pretty much made it clear that humilation sucks big time, and – judging from past experience – we can pretty much assume that I am not likely to “get over” it anytime soon. YET. We have seen yet. And, that one little word makes a big difference going forward, because I can’t go back and change anything.
Thank God for yet, for hope, for grandfathers, for music, for ducks and, most of all, for wuv.
Wow, 921 problems corrected, immediately – with the click of a finger, in the blink of an eye. This morning, after clicking the notice given by my anti-virus for maintenance, my computer screen began speaking to me. I thought about how I wish I could fix my 921 (at least) problems by clicking a button; I wish human maintenance and mental and emotional health was that simple; I want to hit a button and have my mind defragmented!
However, when the day went on and the defrag continued into the afternoon and the evening, this is what hit me:
While the 921 problems were rectified almost instantly at my click, this defragging biz takes time and is a longer process (especially when there is “severe fragmentation”). A sermon was forming…
So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.
At the cross, 921 problems (and more) were – instantly and forever – taken care of when Jesus said, “It is finished.” There is no power in religion, only in relationship, and the way was made, then and there, for all time, for that relationship to happen. So, what now?
So now, people like me (with issues and “severe fragmentation”) have hope. But, the defragging (restoring of the soul) is something that doesn’t just – poof – happen. It’s a process that takes time. Just as the computer files have to be carefully worked through, so my “internal system”, my “hard drive” aka my soul (in other words: my mind, will and emotions) take some major sorting out. Or what? I will run sluggishly and I will, more times than not, crash.
Because of the finished work of Jesus, spiritually, I am peachy keen (that’s a theological term, don’tcha know). And, ultimately, I know, one day, I’m going to see this:
BECAUSE OF THIS HERE:
…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
But, right now I am here:
And, I am promised that “the problems are being fixed” and am advised (over and over again): please wait…
Psalm 27: 13-14:
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
And, there are many, many more places where waiting upon the Lord is encouraged and instructed. So, here’s my little paraphrase, in light of my ‘puter’s defrag lesson:
St. Autumn 1:1-2:
Wait upon the Lord and you shall be defragmented. The problems are being fixed; please wait.
What is waiting? Well, the original Hebrew in these places where it says “to wait” more literally means to be expectant. So, it isn’t just a resigned sitting around. It is an expectant trust.
This is GOING TO HAPPEN (He’s promised it):
But, it doesn’t just happen with the click (it only STARTS with the click). It’s a journey that He is committed to, that so must I be if I want an optimized operating system minus interference. I must…
And so, my response shall continue (with expectation) to be:
I wait for the Lord , my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
“In Him I meet wholeness that swallows up my brokenness.” – Autumn Dawn Leader
I call out to God from my depths. The depths of despair. The depths of depression. The depths of depravity. The depths of myself. The depths of my humanity. And, in Him I find mercy, forgiveness, help, hope and healing; I find full redemption.
In Him I meet wholeness that swallows up my brokenness.
“People are just so… human.” – Autumn Dawn Leader
Seriously screwed up?
I remember that idiotic book that came out some decades ago entitled, “I’m Ok, You’re Ok.” I have always wanted to write one in retaliation titled, “I’m not OK, and neither are you!”
I know, it is a very Christian term to use the word “fallen” to describe humanity. But, look at the world, PEOPLE! I’d say that fallen describes people better than any other word. Fallen below what? Well, as a Christian, I believe fallen (FAR) short of the glory of God. But, whatever you believe (and, I am seriously not wanting to get into any theological debate of any sort – there are other places to do that…and, I repeat, that place is NOT my blog), humanity is a wreck, and the condition is most easily seen when more than one of us decides to engage with any other one of us. Because, as I have said before, no one has an untainted perspective. We carry our messed up selves into every interaction, whether casual or more intimate. What a recipe for potential disaster.
This sounds depressing, doesn’t it? Well, I would say, you are reading my blog, aren’t you? However, while there is great potential for disaster, there is also a decent amount of potential for great good. And, while I am most definitely NOT what anyone would dare to call a “people-person”, there are one or five of you (give or take 2 or 4) who I am so very grateful for, and this pre-posthumous existence is made better because of your existence.
People are just so…
We certainly aren’t very lovable. But, my my, when I think that Perfection clothed Himself with humanity for me. Wow! The death, the pain He suffered… unimaginable in it’s fullness and entirety, but – had it been me (who has no fear of death, who welcomes it as the end of the pre-posthumous existence), I’d have been thinking… “But, soon the suffering will be over!” The thing that gets me, that amazes me, is that He chose to be human – with all the weaknesses and frailities and potential for massive screwed-uppedness. He did that (and didn’t screw up) for me… to raise me above my humanity.
This post went a bit further than I had planned. I trust it went exactly where it was meant to go.