Posts Tagged ‘misery’

Perched

 

 

This is a letter to myself. A letter to myself that I am sharing with you in hopes that it might help you as it is slowly helping me.

 

Today I was at my wits end. Recently I have been struggling with intense overcast feelings to the extent of not wanting to leave my bed and feeling as one without hope. I blamed these feelings that I felt on many circumstances that I was drowning in. External pressures, external loss and disappointment. I was a victim of my circumstances. And I couldn’t overcome it. As a Type A personality I do very well at burying my feelings and emotions under work. I schedule my days to leave no time to think, reflect… or to breakdown. My mind is always moving, always achieving. But I couldn’t shake the cloud that had been following me. It was persistent, vigilant, shaking its hand at every ray of sunshine that tried to lighten my way.

 

Then something happened that took me from sitting under a cloud, to sitting under a cloud, as it began to downpour. With no coat or umbrella, I felt like shaking my hands at God. Was I not low enough? How well was I handling the cloud, that made you decide now was the time to bring the rain!

 

During this pity party, which was hosted and attended by me and myself alone, I came to the realization that my perception of the intensity of my circumstances stemmed from one issue. I tried to quiet all of the external voices for one second and the only voice left was my own. And I was screaming one thing. “God why have you discarded me! You have left me!”

 

The only reason my circumstances were drowning me was because I no longer believed that I had a lifeguard watching over me, ready to dive in and buoy me up. I felt that God was absent, uncaring, and un-invested. I felt like I was fighting a battle myself when I should have been letting God fight for me. But how could I sit back and let God fight for me if I didn’t believe He was on my side? Or even if He was on my side maybe He was unfeeling. He didn’t have anything to lose in this game! When I am doubling-over in pain that’s just me hurting, me alone. Why should I let him direct me if I have to face the aftermath by myself? When Job had sores on his body (Job 2:7) and his breath was putrid. God was unaffected!

 

I shocked myself with my thoughts. I pride myself on being pretty well read biblically. I could have quoted to you: Isaiah 49:15, which says “Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” Or Lamentations 3:32, “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.”

 

But the problem was the Bible is just a book, unless you believe in the power of the words there in. In my pain I reached out to someone, which in and of itself is incredibly unlike me. But I needed someone to remind me of those words. But not just the word, the power behind those words. I needed someone to tell me those words and hear in their voice that they believed that which they were saying to be the truth. Like a match to a candle I was reminded of what I had long sought.

 

Romans 8: 38-39; “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

I wish I could tell you I am equally as persuaded as Paul was when he was writing this verse; after facing beatings and imprisonment. I am not there yet, partly because I haven’t been tested on that level. I don’t want to be to you like Peter who swore twice He would not deny our Lord and Savior, only to deny him thrice (Luke 22:54-62). But I will tell you that though I still remain perched under my cloud, the rain has slowed and when I reach out beside me I recognize that I am no longer alone.

 

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Light

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Being suicidal is not an event. It is a mindset. It’s a way of thinking, and it is a continual experience. But it is also preventable, or rather treatable. It takes having someone or something to hold on to. It takes knowing that there is an end point. An end to pain, suffering, and loss.

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Why do some people hold on, while others let go? Having known people who have decided to take their own life, there is one thing I know for sure. You can never tell. You can never tell who will always hold on, and who will eventually let go. Their smile is still bright, and their laughter still carries you away. Because pain can be hid. It can be smothered, and it can be contained, until one day, when it can’t.

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Under modern U.S. law suicide is legal. Living is a choice, and you have the right to no longer make that choice.

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Before I learned to swim I once drowned. I remember knowing I was going to die. I fought it. I screamed, but I was underwater so no one heard. I kicked, I struggled, but I kept drowning. Now, years later, I know how to swim, and the fact that I was drowning seems so foolish. If I had been calm, if I had opened my arms and trusted the process, I would have found myself floating to the top. But at that time I had no knowledge of a way out. I had no way of knowing that there was still hope. I knew I had lost. And I accepted it. But somebody saved me. Someone was looking out for me that day in the water and they dived in and saved me. It wasn’t my father, or my mother, or even a friend. Just a stranger who was looking out for me.

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At times when I want to let go I always call out one particular name. A name I know will never fail me. I call out to him, screaming, asking him to prove himself. That he is out there. That he cares. He feels like a stranger but I ask him to speak to me, to say something. To tell me everything is going to be okay. And every time, without fail. I don’t hear a thing. It is silent. Utterly and completely quiet. But before despair settles in I feel this calm. Like a wave rushing over me I feel his peace. More than words in my ear he reminds me of times past. Times when he brought me through my trouble, and the mess I’d created for myself. And though all my troubles don’t immediately become okay, he turns a mountain of sorrow into a molehill. Instead of utter darkness I see hope, I see light. 

Comforted

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“I want to speak yet nothing comes
I find no words to express the depths of darkness
Sometimes I feel the pain is so great that everything will break
The smile is a big cloak that covers a multitude of pains”

Do you know who wrote these words??
I was listening to a TEDx talk on Hope and Hopelessness by Murray Watts and he read this quote. And then he turned to the audience and asked us (I’m saying us like I was there–but I watched the talk from the comfort of my bedroom. Definitely felt like I was part of the audience though).. He asked us, “Which famous 20th century figure penned these words?” And guess who it was?? MOTHER TERESA.

Yes, the same Mother Teresa who won the 1979 Nobel peace prize, who was referred to as the “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta,” and who is admired by both the religious and non-religious for her lifetime dedication to helping others. The very same Mother Teresa who said “peace begins with a smile,” “let no one come to you without leaving happier,” and that “the smile is the beginning of love.”

The truth is Mother Teresa was human, just like us. After hearing this talk I searched for more of her writings in which she shares:

“There is so much contradiction in my soul, no faith, no love, no zeal. . . I find no words to express the depths of the darkness. . . My heart is so empty. . . so full of darkness. . . I don’t pray any longer. The work holds no joy, no attraction, no zeal. . . I have no faith, I don’t believe. . . my cheerfulness is a cloak by which I cover the emptiness and misery. . . . I deceive people with this weapon.”

It’s kinda sad. That someone could be so outwardly amazing, but so inwardly broken. I think though that how she felt describes many people today. People who are so busy keeping up pretenses that they don’t have time to fall apart at Jesus’ feet. It is possible to have a genuine smile that crinkles your skin when it reaches your eyes. It is possible for you to be truly cheerful and be positive about life, even when circumstances are bleak. It is possible for the emptiness to go away, and to swim in faith and love.

I wanted to tell you about Mother Teresa, because in case you’ve ever felt hopeless, you’re in good company: You’re sitting next to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Job in the land of Uz, Paul in Macedonia (where he was “harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within” – 2 Corinthians 7:5). But in the next verse, Paul shares with us an assurance that still applies to us today: “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us.” (2 Corinthians 7:6)

May God comfort you.