October 28, 2009

halfway there

We only have 8 weeks of school left in the semester. Eight short weeks to finish [and start] my research project. 8 weeks to do final projects. Take final exams. Teach a high school class once a day. Prepare for teaching all day/every day starting January 4th. So much to do.

The neat thing about life right now is that I don't feel miserable. Something kind of clicked, and all of a sudden I'm happy again. It's almost disconcerting how quickly this can change. Sometimes I feel like I'm two separate people.

I'm not complaining though. It feels good to be productive and happy. It's quite possible that I'm manic and this is just a high before another bottom-drops-out low...but I'm just hoping that this is the medication working. For right now, that seems like the best option/solution. Let's hope it doesn't screw me up.

October 20, 2009

momentary afflictions

On Sunday, Bryan taught in the book of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

He talked about how for the believer, the rewards in Heaven will not be jewels or stones, they will be the words from the Lord: well done, faithful servant. I thought about that, and it resounded in my heart. When I stand before Jesus, I don't want a crown or wealth or status in Heaven...I just want Him to draw me into His arms, and I want Him to tell me that I did well. I struggled well, and that I was faithful. I want to see the story with eyes anew, and I want to hear Him tell the story...my story. I want to hear from His perspective what these struggles were. I want to know that something special, something unique, was birthed out of the death that I die each day. And I want Him to know that the only reason I learned to struggle well was so people would see Him through my sadness.

I hate "super" spirituality. I hate false fronts and cliche words. That is not where my heart finds rest. I don't find rest in quoting Romans 8:28. I find rest in the arms of the One who wrote those words to me. It's not a trite quote that brings me comfort, nor is it a solid resolve to do the right thing. It's in knowing that God wove me in my mother's womb...it's knowing that when asked whose 'fault' it was that the boy was crippled or blind, Jesus answered "It's no one's fault--it is so that God will be glorified."

I don't believe that this illness is anyone's fault. Rather, it is God's purpose and gift for my life. Oh, that I may learn to struggle well, to remain faithful in the really tough times, and to continue to look to Him, even when the darkness hides His face from me. Oh, that I may learn and truly know that God is the God who hears my cries. He is the answer.

October 16, 2009

the cutest

Yesterday I taught the entire class period at the school where I have my Spanish practicum. I had to video tape the whole hour for my Methods Prof. to view, so last night Jeremy and I watched it together while I took notes. It was pretty hilarious to hear what kids are saying in the background when I'm trying to facilitate activities, and funny to see the guys in the back goofing off while...well, actually, all the time.

So last night were laying in bed, and I thought Jeremy had already fallen asleep when I he said, out of the blue, "Kayla, you just did a great job teaching today. I'm really proud of you."

It was the cutest, sleepiest voice I've ever heard. I Loved it with all of my heart.

I've been feeling...happy. At least for the past two days. It feels really good...but also really strange. Strange to see things through a different lens, to feel the stark contrast between my thoughts a week ago, and my thoughts now. I wonder if I have had a "swing". It's possible. I started taking meds again, but I don't think they could be affecting me this way already. Either way, I guess I don't care. It just feels good to be able to laugh and be positive and kind and not want to be in bed all day. It feels good to be alive. Finally.

October 15, 2009

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so muck seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

st. francis of assisi - 13th century

community

I've been struggling with the concept of community lately. I find the definition generally provided by the Church to be weak at best. Is gathering with a group of believers really the definition of community? Even if the only thing we talk about is how much we like the decorating, or what type of invitations so-and-so is using for their wedding? Is that community?

What about all of us sitting around with our Bibles, talking about a passage, trying to figure out what it means. Is that community? Or does community actually entail something deeper, something raw, something honest? Can there be community if people don't talk about their stuff honestly? Is there true, God-honoring community when people pretend that all of this stuff makes sense?

I find it hard to be around Christians sometimes. Hard because I don't get prayer like they seem to. I guess I don't have the faith that it takes to talk flippantly about struggles of the past, as if that's the biggest struggle we'll ever face. I don't believe with all of my heart that God hears us. Oh, I know that He hears us...but I don't know it in my heart, in a way that brings comfort like it does to others. Apparently no one else struggles with wondering whether the Bible that we have is accurate, or whether we really have the ability to sit down in our ignorance and determine what the author was trying to say without any prior training or knowledge of the culture, language or history of the book. Apparently I'm the only one.

But if I'm not the only one, then why are people so afraid to say it? Why can't we all be honest about this and finally get to the root of issues? Why are people even afraid to admit that they have issues? I don't get it. And I have a hard time connecting with people when I share my heart honestly, bear our junk before others, and they all just smile and nod knowingly and reassure me that "they're here for me." As if they are the helpers and I am the one in need.

Oh God, please save me from safe Christianity. I don't want to life another day pretending to have it all together. I'd rather be raw and messy than a tidy-sit-in-my-corner-and-pray Christian. Please help me to love radically even those that make it difficult to call myself a Christian.

October 13, 2009

like a seed

I've been giving God the silent treatment these past few days...maybe a week. For a while I had really come to terms with this diagnosis. I had decided that if Jesus asked me to "die" every day for the rest of my life...even if this meant emotional depression every day for the rest of my life, that I would accept that as being from his hand.

But this is a hard resolve to keep, and slowly my heart slipped from that stance, as the lies kept being whispered in my ear. He doesn't hear you. You'll never be happy again. Your husband regrets marrying you. It would be better to just end your life now than be miserable for the next sixty years. For a while, I was denying these lies and trying to replace them with the truth. But to be honest, when the lies start hitting at 6:45 in the morning and continue until 12:00 at night, day after day after day after day, it's pretty exhausting.

So last night I lay in bed, and my heart was just as hard as stone. I had had a great evening with Jeremy, but as usual as I settled into bed, the tears started coming. Usually the thoughts that plague me are, well, that was a worthless day. Your life is worthless. Nobody even cares that about what you did today. It was all meaningless. So then I cry and feel miserable and fight suicidal thoughts. It's a lovely cycle.

I laid there crying, apologizing for being such a terrible wife, trying to believe my husband's affirmations that he loves me, that he's in this with me, that he doesn't view me as a burden. Eventually I gave up crying and rolled over to go to sleep. And as my thoughts fluttered around and I fought tears, I felt the Lord asking Why won't you let me near?

Because you made me to be a sad person.
I replied. Because you won't take this away. Because there is not actually any future for me.

And then, in a miraculous moment, truth actually broke through to my heart and I remembered that He loves me, he knows my innermost thoughts, he is writing a story of hope and restoration for me life. I remembered that when something dies in God's kingdom, He always raises something better to life through that death. Just as Jesus told us that a seed must die in order to bear fruit...Just like Paul said: that we always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

And so I came to grips once again with the death of Jesus that I am being asked to carry so the life of Jesus will be revealed in my life. Not an easy thing to do, and yet it is what Jesus is calling me to. And so I will stand up again and continue to move forward, even when I'm sad, even when I'm hopeless, because I know ultimately my hope lies in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

With a sigh of relief I let go of the lies and clung to truth. And I let God near for the first time in a long time, and was reminded that "In His presence is fullness of Joy, at His right hand there are pleasures forever." [psalm 16]

October 9, 2009

pink peonies



last night, after a very long (I repeat, very long) day, I returned home to find a vase with three pink peonies sitting on the table. a gift from my husband, who knew my heart needed a lift.

I am so thankful for the man I married. He has been a sweet comfort, encouragement, and rock to me these past two months...well, ever since we have been dating, actually. But especially in the last two months, as I have struggled through the depression and distress of the diagnosis, been on and off meds, been in bed crying, stayed home from work, he has not just supported me, he has loved me and seen me through the tears. When I look at myself in these low times, I see and feel like a very worthless human being. Hopelessness runs rampant in my heart, and it's often difficult to even see the future as something good. Jeremy doesn't see me this way. He sees me through the eyes of Jesus. He believes that there is something good ahead...that even this season right now is good, because God is good to us.

I love him so much and can't imagine being safer or more loved by a man than I am with Jeremy.

thanks God.

October 6, 2009

press on

Four and a half weeks ago my doctors and I decided that since my body wasn't responding to medication well, it might be a good idea for me to stop taking the meds for a stint of time, just to see how I would feel without them. I was hoping for a glorious recovery, to suddenly discover that I don't feel sad or depressed, that I can life a normal life and be happy without a pill. I started to feel more energized and normal at first. Now I just feel like I'm in a pit. I'm so frustrated and so tired. All I want to do is sleep. I took a sick day yesterday, but life goes on. Here I am at work now, tired and not really wanting to be trudging along in this struggle we call life.

So we're trying to decide what to do now. What's the right decision when medication makes me tired and zombie-ish, but not being on meds doesn't feel so great either? There are so many people out there who feel like taking pills for a mental/emotional struggle isn't godly. If I could just trust Jesus enough, right? But that doesn't seem to be how this works. I do trust Jesus, and we pray for healing. He is my refuge, my hope. But still, my options feel very limited. Jeremy doesn't think I should quit school, which seems like a nice option to me. I am contemplating eliminating work... but it's hard to make rational decisions when everything inside me feels a teensy.bit.crazy.

I used to hate quick-fix Bible verses. It bugged me so much [and still does] when people would quote scripture flippantly, as if saying a few words would fix everything. The truth is, there are no quick fixes. But I do find solace and a bit of grounding in Truth--not quick fix verses, but life-giving Truth.

For the LORD will not reject his people;
he will never forsake his inheritance.
Unless the LORD had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O LORD, supported me.
[psalm 94:14,17-18]

For now it seems that the best option is to press on, believing that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will carry me through this season of inner-death and struggle. Maybe He will raise me from the dead as well.

October 2, 2009

Psalm 94:19

When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.