September 14, 2015

Learning Through Observation

Today is Monday, and it is a good day. I mean, I am alive, and I am feeling better (than last week). I am still emotionally worn out, depressed a bit about the young man who committed suicide (from our church), and the impact his actions have had on the entire church community. His service was Saturday, and there were over 400 people who attended it, many of them friends of this young man. How he could believe that he was not loved, wanted or cared for is beyond me at this point. He did leave a note, and the details haven't been released to the public or church. I don't want to know the details, truthfully, but it would help with closure for those who are grieving his loss the most (his Mom, Grandparents, etc.) I am struggling with the finality of his decision, and every time I step into one of my classes, I think about the young men and women in front of me. Perhaps one of these young people has considered or is considering taking their own life? The thought just saddens me, and I want to make sure they all know that they are loved, wanted, and needed in this life. Yes, I want to make sure that everyone I meet knows this fact, and that they know that the God who created them loves them and that He has a unique and wonderful purpose for their lives.

I have been feeling down the past two weeks. At first, I thought it was because of my schedule at GCU. I am up early on MWF, so I am out of the house by 6:15 each day. I am not a morning person, and I tend to wake up and get into gear slowly. I don't fully get into my routine until around 11 each morning, and that just means that these early mornings are tough on me. Plus, I am tired from teaching 3 days a week, back to back classes, and standing on my feet. I feel pretty horrible most days, and naturally, I assumed that this is what was bothering me. Then, of course, we had the young man's death, and that seemed to bring a dark cloud over top of everything. I tried to push past it, but this cloud of sadness seemed to permeate everything I did.

This weekend was good for me. I rested, and I accomplished every task on my to-do list. I slept well, and I took my time, just going through the motions slowly and with ease. I felt good about my progress, but I still had these lingering doubts, these feelings of insecurity, and these emotional ups and downs. It has been difficult to process my thoughts, and I haven't been able to blog (my outlet) each day. I think all of this has fueled my feelings of inadequacy, and left me thinking that I am not good enough or valued in my work, in my efforts, in my life.

I am not sure why I feel this way, really, I don't get it. I am normally such a strong person, confident and bold, but then I crumble like this every so often. I absolutely just fall to the ground in a puddle of mush and crumble. Why? Why does this happen to me?

I started to think about it this morning. I am here in the GCU Library, and I am sitting at the desktop computer section, typing away on a student computer. It is not the best situation for me because the chair is uncomfortable and the table height is not quite right for me. But, it is okay, and I am able to do my work. I'm drinking coffee, eating my Lara Bar, and sitting here thinking that my life is going down the tubes. Is this truth? No, it is not. Yet, this is how I feel. I feel worthless today, just worthless. I cannot put my finger on it, but I feel like the world is sitting squarely on my shoulders and I am unable to stand up due to the weight of it all.

The Seeds of Doubt

Yesterday, our Pastor gave a phenomenal sermon on the Seeds of Doubt (John 5-6). You can catch the entire sermon series here:

The message yesterday from John 6:60-71 was the seventh in the series and it focused on difficulty in the life of the believer. In truth, it explored the paradox of Christianity, the dichotomy of good and evil, pain and joy. I think the message was especially apropos given the situation I am in, and where my mind seems to be at these days. I came away from this message realizing that the two enemies of faith in the life of the Christian are doubt brought on by fear, and doubt brought on by the difficulty of the Christian walk. I am a perfect case example of both because I have been racked with fear, and plagued with doubt because of difficult circumstances and situations.

As I consider this message in light of my current situation, I am able to see that the reason why I feel so awful is this: I am struggling to process the fact that a young person, a seemingly well-adjusted, well-loved, and happy young man took his own life as a way to handle some trial or difficulty he was experiencing. Second, as I respond to that tragedy, I cannot help but consider my own life, all that I have to do and complete, and the fact that I am worn out, worn in, and ready to give up. I am physically beat, and that means that I struggle each day to pull myself together and "keep on keeping on." I think about this young man, and how in his very short life, he had not experienced "enough" difficulty to be able to put his current troubles into perspective. I mean, whatever it was that was bothering him, plaguing him, and making him feel that the only way out was to take his life -- in no way -- could have been significant enough in the light of the marvelous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I mean, the only way you understand this truth is to walk with the Lord for a long, long, long time.

This was the point of the Pastor's message yesterday. The disciples who turned back from following Jesus in John 6:60-71 did so when they recognized that their expected outcome was not going to come to pass as they hope it would. They learned through observation that the Jesus they were following was not going to finish His life on earth with that triumphal entry, but rather, it was going to end with a wooden cross. The truth of Jesus' life, and His message to the crowds, the Jewish leaders, and His followers was not joy, peace, happiness, and good life -- but rather it was death -- death to self in order to receive eternal life.

Yes, the message of Salvation is death to the self, but a life lived in surrender to God.

I was sharing this experience with my good friend, and I said that it seemed like the moment I committed my life to Jesus, surrendered my all to Him, was the moment when my life went from bad to worse. Yes, in the short span of a few years, my seemingly awful life (and it was sad and miserable) turned sour and fell apart. I went from being a disgruntled and dissatisfied SAHM to a divorced woman in a span of 9 years. My life, for all intents and purposes, was in the dumper. What I thought had been a decent life, a life that was not perfect, but not horribly bad actually was just a cover for dysfunctionality. In the end, I walked away from a marriage that was dead, and I walked into the unknown with faith in the One who had held my hand through the most difficult, most devastating, and depressing time of my life.

If I place this major event in light of the totality of my life, I can easily understand that this one event outweighed every other major event I had experienced. You see, as a young teen, I was often depressed too. I considered ending my life on numerous occasions, yet I never did it, mostly because I knew that the pain would hurt my family, and that I believed it was not what God wanted for my life.

I went through a number of difficult events growing up. I was abused physically. I was sexually assaulted and molested as a young teen. I was injured severely in a car accident, and I have lived with chronic pain every day since then. I suffered from infertility, a miscarriage, and finally gave birth to a beautiful boy. I almost died three times. Once while I was being operated on for my knee, once during child birth when I suffered trauma as a result of a very difficult birth, and once when I suffered a severe asthma attack. I suffered horrible rejection, pain from criticism, and over the course of my marriage, I lived with a family that believed it was normal to call you names, yell at you, and treat you as though you were nothing. I hid my shame, my dark secrets, and even the lies that I was expected to keep -- I buried it all down deep -- and I did my best to put on a happy face. In truth, I lost the most important thing to me, my self-concept and identity. I became a "nobody" because everything that once was me, part of me, had been stripped away. Then if things couldn't get any worse, I gave my life fully, wholly, and completely to the Lord, and my marriage crumbled, and I found myself without an identity, without any worth, and without any hope. I was left empty, spent, and without any frame as to who I was or what my purpose was in living.

My life was at the lowest point possible when it turned around, and I started to climb out of the muck and the mire. My life began to take shape, and I began to learn who I was again. I started over, and in doing so, I became this new person, this vital, affectionate, and compassionate person. I found myself -- but only after losing it and all the garbage that had been attached to it. In the end, I became the person I am today, and I embraced all that was good in my life, all that was blessed, and all that was filled with hope, optimism, and joy. I became a brand new creature in Christ Jesus -- but only after the dead man/woman -- was buried with Him. The old man had to die, so that the new man could rise up and take hold of the life God had planned, purposed, and prepared.

I am that new woman. I am that new creature. I am now working, living, and abiding in Him -- not for my own desires or designs -- but to bring Him glory, praise and honor. I do everything to bring Him praise.

As I think about this today, I am confident that I am right where the Lord wants me to be. I may not be bold, be confident, or even be good this day, but He is good, and because He lives within me, He brings His goodness to me and to everything I do in His name. Therefore, I do what is good because of His influence, His presence, and His plans. It is all about Him today, and while I may not feel 100% better (yet), I am on my way to learning through observation, how to find that "sweet spot" of goodness in every single day that the Lord gives to me. I say today,

Psalm 118:24 -This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

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