April 19, 2014
It is a time of waiting. Our souls are filled with the hope, the anticipation, the faith that what God has promised will be fulfilled. Believing in that promise is all we can do. Believing that the promise will be fulfilled, that the agitation will cease.
We have few words from Scripture telling us what the disciples did that Sabbath day. The days that came before it must have passed by so quickly - Jesus' grand entrance into Jerusalem with shouting and praise; his powerful lessons and prophesies on what was to come to the holy city, to the temple, to his beloved followers, to his own self. Then that final supper, like so many Passover meals before it, and yet so different at the same time. Then, as the food from that meal had just begun to settle into their stomachs, the betrayal and arrest of their beloved teacher.
How their hearts must have beat as Jesus was taken up and questioned, mocked and beaten! How their stomachs must have churched as they watched him walk to his death, on a cross in between two criminals!
And then, the moment of his death. As he cried out his final words - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?! - it must have seemed that the whole world stopped. In place of the cries of the dying was the silence of the dead.
Did they part from one another then? Go their separate ways for the Sabbath, to sit in silence with their loved ones? Or did they remain together to pray and grieve as a family, a community brought together by the one whose life had just been brought to a sudden, violent end?
Did they mourn in silence, or did they, too, cry out to God? Why, God, why? Why have you forsaken your son? Why have you forsaken your people?
As they waited, did they hold onto the promise of his return? Did they in their grief and agitation, grasp it with their every fiber, believing without understanding why, that the words their beloved rabbi spoke would be true? That on the third day, he would rise?
As we wait these hours for the sun to rise on Easter morning, and for the promise to be fulfilled, we should think of the disciples as they sat in those silent hours, waiting for the fulfillment of a promise they had dared to believe in. Waiting for the agitation in their souls to calm. Waiting for an end to their uncertainty, and the beginning of a new world they could hardly imagine.
Do we dare join them in their belief?
March 8, 2014
When I asked friends what topics to write about for my Lenten challenge, the overwealming response was "You already have mental health/depression/anxiety, right?" It does seem like a topic that is on everyone's mind these days. And it wouldn't be fair to say we don't ever talk about mental health. It seems like every few months there's a new push to open up conversation and raise awareness about the rising mental health issues in America.
We talk about the larger issue, yet somehow it isn't okay to talk about our own issues. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 26.2 percent of adult Americans "suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. That's 1 in 4 adults. A look at the NIMH's information page on depression alone tells a powerful story. College students and depression. Men and depression. Women. Older adults. High school students. Depression and cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's, strokes. Every day, millions of us are overcome with the inabilility to get out of bed, to leave the house, to ask for help. Every day, millions of us recall the days when we had those same struggles, yet something stops us from sharing our stories.
It isn't okay to talk about your depression at work. If you post about it on Facebook, you're whining and annoying. If you blog about it, future employers might find it. But if 1 in 4 Americans suffer from a mental illness, then isn't it something we need to be talking about? And not just with our closest friends. Not just with our therapists, ministers, and counselors. But with each other?
We weren't created to exist alone in the world. We weren't created to suffer through our problems alone. When God made Adam, God said that it was not good for him to be alone. God created animals, and then God created Eve. I like to think it wasn't just for the sake of procreation. I like to think that God knew we needed one another not just for physical companionship, but also for emotional friendship.
If we are going to talk about mental health in this country, then we can't just talk about it in the abstract. We have to talk about our own personal experiences. We have to share the stories about the days we couldn't get out of bed...and also the stories of that day we did manage to get up and walk outside. We should tell those stories so we can heal, and so we can help others begin to heal.
I was diagnosed with moderate to severe depression my senior year of college, and it has been a part of my life ever since. Some days are great. Some days are not. I've accepted this as a part of my life, at least for now...so why should it be a secret when telling my story might help others?
March 6, 2014
- Mental health I.
- Mental health II
- in academia (Rachel Neer) - There is a culture of acceptance around mental health issues in academia
- Mental health III
- Why mental illness isn't considered the same way as other long-term illnesses, such as cancer (Hannah Daniels)
- Miscarriages/child loss,
- Credit card debt
- Our bodies and health
- Why and how the human body changes after puberty (the rest of the life cycle)
- Modern racism
- self abuse
- Sad decline of cursive, despite enhancing fine motor skills (HD)
- Lack of handwritten letters (HD)
- Decline of empathy (HD)
- Disabilities physical and mental
- End of life care
- When to let go (line between preservation of life and preservation of body)
- Non-abuse alcohol and drugs
- Jesus as a pacafist
- Modern sexism
- All means all…no seriously.
- Creating our online personality/façade
- "How are you?" "I'm fine..."
February 28, 2014
I've been thinking a lot about grief and loss lately.
When I was in high school, it occurred to me that I was the only one of my friends who had not experienced a major loss in my life. All my grandparents were living, my parents were happy together, and none of my family or friends had unexpectedly died.
I lived in a state of fearful anticipation. I knew my grandparents, and even my parents wouldn't live forever. Not knowing what to expect emotionally, I feared their deaths even more. I was afraid of a Big Loss that I knew was coming - an unidentifiable certainty, because I knew I would not live in this state of blissful ignorance forever.
When those Big Losses did begin to show up - the death of my grandma, the death of my father-in-law, the miscarriage - I stopped thinking so much about what loss and grief were like. When comforting my husband, I stopped worrying about future loss and future emotions, and found myself focusing only on the right now. And when the death of our unborn, unseen baby happened, I found I could only worry about the present. There wasn't enough in me to look forward.
I do not know when I became comfortable with the process of grief. Somewhere between losses, I began to realize that grief and loss are natural parts of life. How did I know the "correct" emotion to have? The "correct" reaction to a loss? I didn't. The emotions simply rushed over me like a wave of seawater. And then they left. And then they returned. Some days, the grief was at high tide. It rushed over my mouth and eyes and whole body so I could barely breathe. And other days, it simply brushed my toes, like a gentle reminder that it was still there.
Why does God allow bad things to happen to us? It's a question we ask ourselves in the midst of tragedy and loss, a question we all struggle to answer. A question at times we feel like screaming at God, demanding to know: WHY ME??
A friend of mine is going through her own period of loss right now, and in her grief turned to me. I found myself equipped in a way I had not been before. I was able to speak, able to explain, grateful to help, because I recognized the emotions I saw in her.
If we are God's hands in this world, then maybe bad things happen to good people so that when someone close to us experiences those same bad things - death, loss, grief - we can hold out our hands - God's hands - and let them know they will not be alone when the waters rush over them.
I am eternally grateful to those who held my hands over these past few months as those waves beat against me. I am thankful to have you in my life, and that you knew the right words to say and the right way to be present. It is your hands in mine that helped me to find dry land once more.
December 7, 2013
I should be using this time to work on my finals and get things done before next week. But…I had fabric that was calling my name, and I just couldn't resist. There's something about a cold, wintery day that just makes me want to curl up with fabric and make something.
I bought the black and white houndstooth fabric from JoAnn Fabrics when their suiting was 60% off. I've been lusting after their wool suiting for a while now, but fell in love with this wool blend. It's still lovely to touch and drapes nicely. Plus, the pattern is just fun. My original plan was to use some black linen I found in the remnants bin (which was 75% off!), but there wasn't nearly enough. Instead, I found some leftover red fabric that I thought looked nice with the houndstooth. It wasn't too plain, but the pattern didn't clash with the wool.
December 1, 2013
"My dad's dead?" Marshall asks Lily. She nods, crying, and he wraps her in his arms. The two of them rock back and forth like this for a moment. Then, crying in that way you cry when you don't believe the awful news you just heard, he says:
"I'm not ready for this..."
The camera pans back on the two of them interlocked on the street outside their New York apartment.
I have had this scene stuck in my head for the past few weeks. That line has repeated itself in my mind over and over again…I'm not ready for this. I'm not ready for this.
I wasn't ready when I counted the days and realized I would graduate in a month.
I wasn't ready when the pregnancy test was positive and I realized I had to start thinking about life in a whole new scary way.
I wasn't ready when I started bleeding, went to the ER and was told that I was having a miscarriage.
I wasn't ready for the confusion, the uncertainty about what and how to feel after losing something I had never really known.
I wasn't ready when I realized I hadn't turned in my paperwork for Search and Call…that I hadn't found a job after graduation…that I hadn't prepared for life after graduation.
I wasn't ready when I woke up with the worst abdominal pain I'd ever felt. I wasn't ready when we went again to the hospital and was told I hadn't miscarried, that I had an ectopic pregnancy.
I wasn't ready when they told me they would have to cause a chemical abortion because my pregnancy was, and had never been, viable.
I'm not ready to graduate in 13 days. I'm not ready to find a new job. I'm not ready to face the reality of the recent loss in my life.
But are we ever ready? Are we ever ready for those scary-sudden-life-changing events that jump into our lives unannounced? Are we ever ready for those just-as-scary-life-changing events that have been on our calendar for months, slowly creeping forward until that date arrives?
But we're never alone in our not-ready-ness. Like Marshall, I know that I am not alone. I know that I have Colin to wrap his arms around me. That I have friends who will go shopping with me and take me to lunch and love me. I know that in the times when I am not ready - which, let's face it, is most times these days - that my friends will be there. That they will hold my hand tight so I cannot let go. And they will fill that space between me and acceptance. They will stand there and hold me until I can take the steps forward toward acceptance.
I know these things. I trust in these things. I have faith in these things. They have helped me through this, and continue to do so.
When someone is in pain or struggling, we pray that Jesus holds their hand or hugs them tight. But what has been comforting to me in this time of pain, of struggling, of uncertainty, has been the constant physical embrace of my friends, family, and loved ones. I do believe that Jesus is with me through all these difficult times. And I believe that Jesus is with my friends when they hug me or touch my arm in silent support. But I also know that the physical touch of a person who loves you can be the most comforting thing of all.
I'm not ready for this…for all of this. But when my friends hug me and hold me, I know that someday, hopefully soon, I will be.
September 24, 2013
Last week, a friend was talking about an assignment she gave to her students: Make a list of the 10 books that have most influenced your life. I started wondering what those books would be for me. As a young bookworm, I read stacks of books, but which ones influenced or even changed me? In college, I took countless Literature classes, but which books from those classes stayed with me after the class had ended?
So, here is my list. I'm including fiction only (all books except for one play), because nonfiction books (and the Bible, which I place in its own category) influenced me in different ways.
10. The Arkadians by Lloyd Alexander
9. So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Warkins
8. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
7. How Green was my Valley by Richard Llewellyn
6. The American Girl historical books by various
5. The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston
4. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
3. Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello
2. Time and Again by Jack Finney
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling