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The Grief of a Broken Design

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I’m going to begin with some vulnerability- I’m back in therapy. This was a choice that wasn’t easy. I knew I had struggled with depression in the past, but I believed that to be behind me, as I had a round of extremely helpful therapy my freshman year of college. This time, I simply thought I needed a little extra guidance to get over a more recent hurt.

A part of me believed I would go to my initial appointment and receive a simple “You’re doing pretty great! Let’s meet a couple of times to help you move on from this, and you should be good to go.” I didn’t expect for my therapist to recommend weekly sessions and for me to begin discovering years of repressed grief and pain or the reality that I never truly overcame my depression- that my depression just went from a debilitating numbness to an ever-present sadness that most people, apparently, don’t feel.

It’s not easy for me to admit that I’m haunted by the people I’ve lost. That I’m a master at compartmentalizing grief or what I perceive to be emotional weakness. That I’m left guarded, pessimistic and so different from the creative 15-year-old that I used to be. That I’ve been depressed for 7 years and, even after running as fast as I possibly could throughout college to distract myself, my depression was waiting for me the moment I ran out of early morning tours or late-night meetings.

I’ve begun to realize, though, that of course I’m haunted by the people I’ve lost. Or terrified of an evening left alone with my own thoughts. Is it really that strange that I can’t sleep because my nights are filled with the faces of the people I couldn’t save and I couldn’t fix? Is it so surprising that, even after 7 years and doing everything right, my depression still waits for me to fully submerge back into it in my weakest moments?

To be human is to experience loss but loss isn’t what we were built for. We’ve got to go back to the beginning- what we were designed for.

Our God breathed Himself into us. He breathed into us free will, humor, joy, passion, creativity- every aspect of Himself so that we are made in His likeness.

But we must not forget that our God is one of community and relationships- He is a Trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit have alwayslived together in perfect in unity, being both different and the same.

This need for eternal, everlasting community was built into us, too. In fact, after the creation of Adam, our Father looked down and saw that there was a need- Adam was alone and that wasn’t good. So, Eve joined Adam in the Garden and the design was clear- people were designed to be in perfect unity with both God and man.

But, sin came crashing in and broke the design. It’s easy to think of sin in a juvenile way- the bad choices we make, something that offends God or something we need to fight against. But sin is so, so, so much more.

Sin is death. Sin is the malignant force that steals away your loved ones and forces you to say goodbye. It’s the life force of your depression, grief, physical illnesses and the thing that causes your soul to cry out for what once was. It’s what keeps us ensnared in a cycle of wrong choices and self-destruction. It’s what keeps us from our design to be in perfect communion with our Maker.

We’re told in 2 Corinthians that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. 2 Corinthians explores how we are given what’s called a thorn in our flesh, a messenger from Satan himself. Not a lot of detail is given about what exactly the thorn in is, but it is made clear that the thorn doesn’t go away. The biggest take away is, in my opinion, that a messenger from Satan is out there waring against you. This doesn’t mean throwing random challenges or temptations at you, either.

These are challenges and temptations that come from someone who’s followed you since birth. They know every weakness of your heart, the wounds from your past and the anxieties that you just can’t overcome. They know how to stir up your grief and then place sin in your path and disguise it as a pretty escape. They know that you’re haunted by the people you’ve lost or the ways you’ve been betrayed. They know that your brain feels a little broken- and that you’re always dancing on the edge of being engulfed by total numbness.

But, God’s strength is made perfect in this weakness. He understands that we weren’t meant to sustain the grief and pain of this world because He’s the designer. His strength is made perfect in our weakness because every day He’s making us more than what we have become- He’s redeeming us back to our design. He’s giving His strength every moment so we’re not swallowed by our grief, our mental illness, or our sinful addictions. He’s there to lift us up and remind us that we’re more- that we’re His Beloved.

My depression isn’t me- it’s a broken world keeping me from my design. Your sin addiction isn’t you- it’s sin keeping you from your design. The loss of the people you love that ways heavy on your heart is always going to way heavy because you weren’t designed to bear the weight of it- but Christ can bear it for you.

I hope that if you’re struggling with grief, or mental illness or a sin that’s controlling your life that you feel brave enough to ask for help. That you realize it’s not weakness that’s keeping you from victory, but the simple fact you’re fighting something you were never designed to fight.

There’s relief in asking for help and there’s freedom in confronting the dark parts of yourself. I fear my depression and my grief because I remember when I was so sick I was fighting against terrifying thoughts and a seemingly undefeatable numbness. But now I know that I won’t find myself back in that place- I’m in therapy, I have friends that watch out for the signs of me slipping into a darker place and I have a family that supports and cheers me on. But even more so, I have a Father that whispers to me every moment of every day that the Light is coming- that I’ve healed so much since I was 18 and that there’s so much more healing on the way.

The Art of Existing

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It’s been a while. In fact, it’s been almost two years since I’ve felt the burning desire to create something and launch it out into the world.

In the past two years, I have experienced the beauty of a first love and have then felt the agony of a first heartbreak. I have worked tirelessly towards dreams and have then had to accept that some dreams are called dreams for a reason. I’ve had friendships fade and then watched new ones grow. I’ve missed my mom and dad, but have also adored that with each year comes more independence. In the past two years, I’ve completely lost myself and have begun trying to figure out who I am again.

Here I stand on the edge of the rest of my life. I feel like I’m on the edge of the cliff, and that I’m trying to work up the courage to move forward. Some days I feel like just closing my eyes and waiting for the cliff to crumble below me and force me to drop, other days I feel fearless and ready to leap forward into my future.

I thought at this point in my life, senior year, that I would have it all figured out. That I wouldn’t still be the same dreamer I was as a child. That I would be practical, ambitious, and ready to lead my own life.

Is it ok to be 21 and still trying to figure out who you are? Is it ok to finally be and have everything you’ve ever wanted and then wonder if it’s really what you want? Can you be fearless and terrified at the same time?

The other day I found something that I wrote when I was about 16. “I have decided that our world is obsessed with successful specifics. We chase after successful marriages, successful careers, or even successful children. We devote our entire lives to these successful specifics, instead of chasing after a successful existence. I want a successful existence, and I see my successful existence in the stories I tell, and the words I love. I see my successful existence in being everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I see my successful existence in telling my grandchildren, if I ever have any, about the different poems I pinned onto trees in every foreign city I called home- even if it was only home for a day. I see a successful existence in purely that- existing successfully.” I was surprised how the younger version of myself understood what I’ve been wrestling with so deeply these last few months.

I’ve been struggling to blend my dream of “pinning poems onto trees in foreign cities”, with the practicality of supporting myself with a reliable career and my desire to eventually start a family.

I’m a giant bundle of contradictions, and I have no clue if I’ll end up in a corporate PR firm in South Carolina or working at an orphanage in the middle of a jungle in South America. I don’t know if I’ll go off to Europe or live in the same town as my parents. I don’t know if I want to fall in love young, or if I want to experience the freedom of living alone.

I don’t know what’s next or exactly what I want, and I’m ok with that. I know that I have gifts and talents and that I want to impact the world- I just don’t know where I can best impact it yet. I don’t want to plan my successful specifics and miss out on living a successful existence.

So, that’s me. A 21-year-old who wants to both dream and live practically. Someone who’s just trying figure out where she fits in this world. A storyteller who’s trying to master the art of existing.

Growing up is so full of unknowns, but writing has always helped me understand my emotions, desires, or dreams a little bit better so I’ll be documenting my journey as I try to figure out who I am and where I fit in this world. Maybe you don’t know what you want either and we can feel a little less alone as we try to figure out what our successful existences are together. I may not know what I want, but I do know that nobody likes feeling alone- so maybe this helps you feel a little more understood and a little more seen.

Because, no matter what anyone tells you, it is ok to be 21 and still trying to figure out who you are.

 

Hashtagged Hoaxes

One of my favorite quotes is “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth is still putting on its shoes.” by Mark Twain. I think this perfectly sums up our current age of technology with frightening accuracy, considering Twain died almost 7 decades before the internet was invented.

In the Western world, we live in a society that is entirely dominated by viral content and television screens. We find new products to buy, people to befriend, and ideas to believe all through our various illuminated screens. Information is instantaneously accessible.

Through tools such as Facebook’s trending topics and Twitter’s hashtags, we can tap into popular belief systems and see what topics people from all over the world find important.
While the age of information can help curb curiosity and draw immediate attention to current events, the internet is renowned for spreading false information at rates never experienced before.  

A quick google search for “biggest internet hoaxes” will result in dozens of hits showing people believing stories, only to later find out that they have been completely duped. This is a regular occurrence- so why does it surprise when we realize that our political, sociological, and philosophical beliefs can be based on lies, as well?

We accept lies in advertisements. We accept lies when it comes to products and what we’ll be receiving. Not only do we accept the lies of our politicians, we have been conditioned to expect it.

We, as Christians, accept lies about tolerance and other religions.

I see this trend of tolerating and even loving lies as something very concerning in our culture.  Better yet, I see this trend as something that needs to be fought against.

That is the point of this blog. It will be anything but perfect. I’m sure that at some point I will accidentally put forth a lie and call it the truth and I hope that my readers will hold me accountable of this. I might be critical of a belief you hold dear. I might be critical of a belief hold dear.

Regardless, I hope truth inspires you as much as it does me.