My heart is in my stomach. I’ve got lead in my veins. I step in the shower and try to scrub away all the painful thoughts. Scrub my head so hard my scalp is raw. Rub my body down until my arms are sore. Let the water rain down my face and I don’t even mind. Sit down, I’m panicking, elbow on my knees, I can’t even weep. Turn the water off. Dry my body off. Send a message, short and to the point, try to walk in love and not in fear or anger. I get so shaky I can’t stop my legs from breaking my balance. I lay down. Shake more violently, pray to God for some inner peace. Feel so alone and no one can see. Reaching out feels desperate, but I need it. Turn to my notes in my phone to write because it’s easy, but it can’t give me a hug now. It can’t talk me down. It can’t give me council, but it’s half past 1 in the morning and I feel like nothing is working. My heart rate is slowing to normal, my eyes grow heavier and God let’s me know he has me when I feel cold. He has me when I feel old. He has me when I think I should be farther along then I am. He has me when I’m desperately holding onto all that I know. He’s always faithful, always stable. He is The rock on which I stand.
Sometimes Jesus revives us in a moment, but sometimes, he gives us eyes to see how he’s been sustaining us through our season of struggle.
Being in a place of hopelessness, or grief, or pain is often accompanied, in one way or another, with questions or feelings helpless. I’m not saying it’s a necessary thing, or that it is a “this, then that” statement. I am saying, due to the human condition, we often revert to negative introspection, especially when dealing with more serious things, like depression or anxiety.
The past few months have been amazing in specific ways, but really challenging internally in different ways, dealing with some mild separation anxiety with my twin getting married soon, some loneliness, but mostly just feeling some connection to the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, and even more specifically the way the Avett Brothers described him in their song “Tin Man”. One line specifically goes, “I miss that feeling of feeling.”
This past weekend I took a spontaneous road trip with my cousin. I knew I needed it. I knew I needed something to jumpstart my feeling and remind me of the joy I had known to be, not just on the outside of me, but deep within me. It’s a joy that leads to tremendous peace, and I hadn’t felt it in a long time.
Throughout the trip, through music, podcasts, conversations and practical love from strangers, something changed within me. My circumstances didn’t change in my life, but after attending Jess Ray’s album release concert for her new album, “Parallels and Meridians” God began to soften my heart to a place I could begin to feel again; something other than tired or anxious. I started to feel the love, and even the community of the church being a singular body. We had no plans on places to stay besides my car, and with that being announced from the stage so graciously by Jess, we were offered 6 or so different places to stay by total strangers. We ended up staying with the first people who offered, went to their place and crashed on their couch bed. When I woke up in the morning, I felt a pease and comfort, something I hadn’t felt in a while, as well as a sense of belonging.
fast forward a day or so, and this evening, at “theOak” (the youth group I volunteer at) I had a realization; Sometimes Jesus revives us in a moment, but sometimes, he gives us eyes to see how he’s been sustaining us through our season of struggle. As I worshipped and sang to Jesus, memories came to my heart from times I wasn’t feeling it, but God was still using and calling me toward himself.
If you’re going through a season, if you feel empty or anything other than joyful and free, remember: It will not last forever. as my pastor said this morning in typical Pastor Ted rhyme scheme, “Your pain has not come to last, it has come to pass.” It will not be everlasting. Push into Jesus. Be honest with yourself and be honest with Him; he can handle it. In a moment or in time, you will see the other side.
“From those times does inspiration turn from stress and anxiety, to hope and strategy.”
I have not written in a while, but it’s not strictly because of being too busy or not knowing what to write about, or taking an intentional break or any other excuse. My issue has been that my mind is a minefield of emotions, and nothing feels right.
Some may trace it to mild depression, pent up pride, writer’s block, shame etc. I think in the back of my psyche, a little bit of each of those might exist, but I trace it mainly to the answer of this one question:
What is inspiring me?
Say this for yourself, and take a moment before you continue reading.
Isn’t that a crazy thing to think about? maybe you’re not as wowed by this as me, but there are so many places I find my inspiration. Personally, I love interviews, podcasts, music, sermons, videos, and listening to others opinions and passions. These places can be so beneficial, but also, can be so toxic. I find myself so “inspired” I don’t give myself time to think. Even more scary, I sometimes don’t give myself time to pray and talk to the original inspiration and creator of life itself.
One way the “mind clutter” (if you will) has affected me is that I find myself in one moment, yet thinking of the next thing or the thing from last week. I see that I am present physically, responding to people, but not fully engaging in what they’re bringing to the table at that moment.
Another contribution that is made by the clutter is apathy toward situations or people. The apathy seems to come from an overstimulation of information mixed with busyness that causes people to become statistics, and hopelessness to brew when we see all the problems and how much time it takes to reach a solution. I’ve found this to lead to anxiety that can cause a shut down, and sudden urge to watch Impractical Jokers and eat ice cream (but maybe that’s just me). But practically, it makes confrontation a chore.
The last negative I’m going to share to air out just a little more of my dirty laundry to the world, is this overstimulation of information, especial from social media, as well as retreating to a vice, can cause some real loneliness. This might sound counterintuitive, but too much absorption most times, leaves us empty. I’ve felt this in many respects. I personally am blessed with some really good friends that won’t let me have a day without a phone call from one of them. What’s more important than having the coolest friends in the world, (something i definitely don’t have, because they’re all super weird, and way more awesome and loyal then they are hip) or being with the love of your life, (something I’m so ready for, yet definitely not rushing) or having everyone like you (something I’ve given up trying to achieve, yet something I wish was achievable without compromising one’s convictions) or having something to do or think about without fear of boredom, is sitting down with Jesus, (don’t tune out please) and talking with the one who created you the way you are for a purpose bigger than yourself. He isn’t judging you right now for who you are or what you’ve done. Right now, he’s longing for your attention in a world full of distractions. Some of us even get distracted by pastors talking about God or by talking all about the deepest parts of what we know about God during the times we need to just spend with him.
From those times does inspiration turn from stress and anxiety, to hope and strategy. God created you for relationship, and he created you for impact. When we “waist” a certain amount of time with the one that loves us fully, we are able to hear his heart for the hurting and outcasts and the people we wish didn’t have to live in misery and injustice. From there, he sends us into the world with assignments of LOVE into the world that may not love us back, but won’t be able to stop the impact.
And if you don’t know Jesus, IT’S COOL! Because he fully knows you and fully loves you no matter what your knowledge is of him. Get to know him, let him know you want to give up all the junk that hasn’t satisfied you yet and even the stull that felt satisfying in a moment, but did not sustain you, for him. Tell him you want to connect to his heart and his family. Ask him to show you his heart and to fill you with his spirit. In him is fullness of joy and freedom.
My life after giving my life to Jesus has been a battle, but when I tap into his strength, I can overcome and when I lean into him, in the easy and the hard times, he gives me peace and fills me with his love.
Won’t you are I put down our devices, and pick up our chins and look to Jesus, fall in love with the Bible, his physical word, and thank him for his faithfulness?
“What is inspiring me?”
Far more deadly than cancer and far more crippling than fear. So much more defining then routine, yet as loyal as a friend. It will not leave when asked nicely, and does not ask to come in. It enters at your own risk with no care to who it might hit.
Hopelessness can be caught like a virus, anyone can carry it. Though the side effects aren’t visible in the light, it projects it’s terrors mostly at night, after the moon has taken its place in the sky, ushering in the mood; exposing the infection through thoughts and dreams, leading most times to actions, solidifying the notion that all hope for freedom is lost.
freedom sings from the rooftops, calling, bringing notions of peace and separation from the things that so easily entangle us. The melodies are riddled with failures and victories, tears and jubilee, longing and agony, peace and assuredly a promise of fulfillment and a crown of royalty.
This melody doesn’t sound easy, like a nursery rhyme or a song written for a kid. Freedom sounds more like Handel’s “Massiah”, intricate, full of different instraments and dynamics that ebb and flow. Most importantly, it takes precision and attention. Freedom is not sung through voices uninterested or who’s passion is gone. It is sung through lungs tired, yet willing to sing one more time, and a thousand more if means the battle will be won.
Freedom is full of truth, and is at times wonderful and sometimes grim, yet always promises joy, if not through it all, for sure by the end.
Hopelessness is a liar, and is always dim, consistent, but who wants a constant if theres nothing better, and tiredness and routine begin and becomes a trend.
I’m finding freedom as I take back hope again. It’s worth every withdrawal and longing and aching within, because it has come with joy, opportunities, and connection. Hopelessness can’t stay, because God has given me the strength, and I’ve taken hold of freedom.