The other day I stumbled upon something I wrote when I was 17 that spoke of the things that I dreamt of for my future. It talked of living in a city far away from my hometown, sitting on top of mountains, and using words to change the world.
Greenville may be a far cry from European cities or Seattle, but it’s been the place where many of my wildest dreams have come true. Last night while driving through Atlanta in the rain it hit me that the things I dreamt of to help me survive depression as a teenager are now a part of my reality.
A year ago when I first started therapy my therapist recommended that we break my past and defining memories into different chapters in my life and give them a title. She quickly pointed out that the common word that kept finding its way into my story was “trapped”- trapped by mental illness, trapped by surgeries, by mourning, the destructive decisions of others, a toxic relationship, and a fear of who I really am.
She then asked what I wanted my next chapter to look like- and I said peaceful freedom. And I think I’m finally living that chapter now, complete with all of the wildest dreams I thought up when I was a young girl.
I’ve learned that peace and freedom are a mix of hard work and a gift of God. I am no longer trapped by depression or grief but this freedom is fragile. It comes from dedication, hard work, and a laundry list of difficult choices I must make everyday to keep the depression at bay. Therapy was amazing- it helped me discover all the tools needed to fight the dark parts of myself. It helped me overcome an unfounded prejudice against antidepressants and finally start them.
It also helped me realize that I could give back- that I can offer the same gift I found in therapy. That I could be the listening ear who understands what it’s like to feel trapped and is desperate to find peace. That maybe I can’t change the world- but I can empower people to change their own world for the better.
As creatures meant for community and eternity, the weight of this earth can often feel too great. As seen in Ecclesiastes 3:4, we will have times in our lives where we cry and times where we laugh. We wrestle with the brokenness of our humanity and the supernatural peace that comes from a caring God.
I’m in a time of laughter- of adventure, of knowledge, of youth and of community. I’m working on being thankful by accepting the peace on a day by day basis. I know that there will be times of mourning in my future- I also know that there are still dreams of mine that haven’t come true and weigh heavy on my heart, even if I try to deny it.
For now, I will love my friends and the adventures we go on. I will love the days that are absent of tired eyes and darkness. I will look at the moments in my past that felt like cages and realize they were truly experiences that were needed to love my future clients. I will continue allowing God to reveal who I am and who He needs me to be.
I will trust and hope for a future that is overcome with the peace of Christ- whether that be in a season of mourning or laughter. I will remember that words such as mother, wife, licensed therapist and gentle are no farther away than the words peace, joy, community, and adventure were when I was 17.