Fruit of Brokenness

Today, I have a special treat for you, Melinda from  Fruit of Brokenness.

I had to accept it. But I didn’t want to. I had to accept a term I didn’t like for myself. It’s a label used when someone does something horrific like shoot a bunch of innocent people or drown their children. We use it to describe people who are so out of touch with reality or so far outside societal norms that they make us uncomfortable…

MENTALLY ILL.

If you met me, your first thought wouldn’t be “mentally ill.” I mean, I look like a normal 43-year-old mom of three kids… which means I can look a little crazy-frazzled at times, but I’m not the stereotypical unkempt, wild-eyed, roaming the streets talking to imaginary friends and enemies.

I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. Sometimes my brain goes sideways.

Major or severe, depression is difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced it.

It’s like walking death. Everything that makes you-you carved out, leaving a gaping emptiness that can’t believe you ever really were anything, especially not anything good. You no longer enjoy your favorite things, or anything else. It’s impossible to believe things will get better; it’s impossible to believe that better is your normal.

Some of you may think that faith in God should make feeling like this impossible, that people who claim to be Christians who suffer depression or anxiety must be doing something wrong.

Their faith must not be strong enough.

They don’t pray or read the Bible enough.

They must have hidden sin.

While all these things can contribute to depression, depression is not just a spiritual issue. When churches approach people struggling with mental health issues as if is all only their fault, it is unhelpful at best, and can be dangerous.

Faith hasn’t cured me.

While a correct understanding of God and ourselves is vital for mental health, it doesn’t guarantee we won’t suffer from depression or anxiety.

Faith isn’t a magic cure-all. As with physical illness, mental illness can strike down believers and dog their steps.

As Paul related in 2 Corinthians 12, I haven’t been able to pray away my thorn. I have medication that is keeping the suicidal depression in check, but I still struggle with depression and anxiety and know it would be dangerous to quit taking my medication.

I have a chronic illness that requires physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual treatment. To attribute one too much importance than the others is unhelpful. There’s a glitch in my brain that affects my emotions, my perception of reality, and my ability to think clearly.

At its worst, I believe that I am beyond grace.

But there’s something awesome about God’s refusal to remove our thorns. Our weaknesses are an opportunity for His strength, and also His grace, to shine.

Paul knew this.

God can heal. God does heal. But God doesn’t always heal.

It’s not wrong to ask for healing, but we must choose to trust Him whether or not He sends it.

Whatever God allows or chooses in my life, I need to let Him be God. In and through my circumstances.

A huge thank you to Melinda for sharing her story and offering hope to others. Please check out Melinda’s blog and social media:

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I am helping lead an online Bible Study. We are reading the book Living So That by Wendy Blight. This afternoon I am preparing for an online event later this week. One of the topics spoken about is resting at Jesus’ feet. Sitting silently; just being with Him.”Time spent in silence seeking God’s will is not time wasted, but time spent wisely.” I know it’s hard to get time away. To get a couple of quiet moments. To still our hearts. To actively listen. A few seconds to a few minutes of silence make a difference.  Of course, this takes me back to my journey to Taize, nearly five summers ago.

Taize is a Christian community in France were thousands of teens and young adults gather to draw closer to God. The silence was an essential part of worship there. Learning the simplicity of just being with the Lord.

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I begged God to give me a map for my future, as I sat on a bridge in silence for an hour. That hour changed my walk with Christ allowing me to grow closer than I knew possible.

Now I am certain I never would have understood all He had in store for me.  I wouldn’t have understood that I would minister to those who are chronically ill- I didn’t even know what Lupus was. I wouldn’t have understood that I was called to an online mission field, not Brazil or Africa. I wouldn’t have understood that I needed to slow down or the weight of this quote, “Sometimes we need to care for the 5,000 before ourselves, but sometimes we need to care for ourselves before the 5,000.”  There is still so much I don’t understand, but I trust in God to guide my every breath.

 

 

My Faith

An overview of my faith journey.

I’m fairly certain that I have mentioned my faith on my blog a couple of times, briefly. I have been a Christian nearly my entire life and my faith plays a big role in my life. I was saved at the early age of three years old in Sunday school.  People tell me from a young age I knew a lot about the Bible. I had an extremely close walk with God. I would tell my mom that God talked to my heart. I understood that prayer was a dialogue not a monologue. I understood the meaning of communion and a lot of Bible stories. I adored going to church, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School. With all my heart I wished that Sunday School was five days a week and actual school was one day a week. Things made more sense to me at church and I fit in much better.  I counted down the years until I would be able to join the Youth Group. My favorite television shows included The Donut Man, Veggie Tales, Mrs. Charities  Dinner, and other shows on the Christian station. Outside of the American Girl Doll books every book I read had a Christian aspect to it. Despite the fact I was a shy girl, I was bold and confident in my faith growing up. I wasn’t afraid to speak up about it, even if that meant I did not have many friends and that kids would tease me. It was me and Jesus and that is all that mattered to me.

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Once my middle school years rolled around I overflowed with excitement because I was finally old enough to join the Youth Group. I was extremely involved in my church during my middle school and high school years. Anything and everything I could do, I did. I spent as much time as possible at church. During my middle school years in addition to Youth Group I volunteered at every function the church had, was in the bell choir, puppets, and attended every youth group meeting. I enthusiastically participated in 24 Hour Famine. Just before we broke our fast I grabbed my friend informing her I couldn’t see, then passed out. Once I woke up I wanted to know when the next famine was. Despite passing out I had a lot of fun.  I did not have many friends at school so I would bring my awesome looking Revolve Bible to lunch to read. (If you are a teen girl check out the Revolve Bibles! They look like magazines, are super cool, and have lots of epic things in addition to being a Bible.)

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Even though I struggled with my faith a bit in high school, it was still vital to me and I was just as involved in my church. I went on missions trips with the Youth Group and feel in love with mission work. I went on several retreats as well. I still adored reading. The Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn impacted and changed my life. During my teenage years I battled some depression. It was difficult but in the end I became closer to God. I learned many valuable lessons through that chapter. Things changed in my home church, some ministries crumbled. I was on a committee and still volunteered frequently. I also helped run a retreat for five years. When I was sixteen years old I went to Taize France with the conference through my church. It was a pilgrimage and an indescribable experience.

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My dream had always been to go to a Christian college, which is what I did once I graduated high school. However that was not God’s plan for me. (Of course I was less then happy about it). The school I choose was three hours from home. I had high hopes for my health. I thought the doctors there would be the best and would help me feel better. But that was not the case. None of them wanted to help me and my health quickly declined. After finding blood in my urine over Thanksgiving break I had to stay home indefinite.  Having to come home was bitter sweet. I knew I had to do it yet I wanted to prove that I could be on my own. A lot had changed in my home church, as I mentioned before. As much as I loved everyone, I wanted a fresh start. Something different. But that’s not what God had in store for me.

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I have been back home for a little over a year now. Things have gotten better at my home church. The spiritual growing pains have eased and I am able to see how blessed I am to have my church family. My walk with God isn’t where I want it to be. There is always room to grow. I have learned to trust him in new ways. I know that He will guide me and provide for me everything I need. Though I don’t know what the future holds, God does. I am content where I am right now, waiting for His direction and learning.

God Bless. Sending lots of Spoons, prayers, and hugs ❤