Reflections on 365 days…

I was recently reading in the book “SoulTalk” by Larry Crabb.  I came across several quotes that really struck me.  Two of which are…

“We offer nothing but empathic support, we’re putting band-aids on infected wounds; we’re passing out aspirin to cancer patients.”

          A recently divorced woman told her small group, “I’m really lonely.”  The chorus of helpful responses was deafening.  “We could sure use another worker in the children’s ministry at church.  You might make some friends.” “Oh, Sandy.  May be you just need to hear how God is delighting in you.  Here, let me read Zephaniah 3:17 – God sings over you with delight.”  “You seem to stay to yourself pretty much.  I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I wonder if you’re sliding into self-pity.”
          No one entered Sandy’s soul through her story.  No one asked a question, not even one so simple as, “I’d love to hear you talk about that.  Would you?”  No one was thinking story.  They were too occupied with empathy, solutions, and their desire to help.  And Sandy left that evening feeling more lonely than when she came and a little angry.  Everyone else left feeling good about his or her input.

I can’t tell you how perfectly that described how I feel a lot of the time, which is why I tell people not to try to fix me.  Because they’re just passing me aspirin.  And why I tell people not to give me sympathetic looks, words of wisdom, and explanations.  I’m not looking for solutions.  I’m looking for peace, company, someone to ask me how I actually feel about it all. Because to be honest…

I feel disheartened.  I expected to be a lot farther along in this journey than I am.  And I don’t feel like that is an unrealistic expectation.  I was doing really well this summer.  But I’ve just been sliding ever since I got back out on the east coast.

I think it’s partly because I’ve realized a lot about myself lately, partly because I’ve been getting more attention than I ever have before and I’m not used to being that on the spot with socializing and emotions, and partly because the calendar has been slowly inching closer to it.  November the 7th.

One year ago, my story took an unexpected turn and my identity and personality have been redefined.  One year ago I considered myself a doormat, today I’ve moved my stubborn sassy (aka rude) side to the front lines and now consider myself a jerk the majority of the time.  One year ago I made decisions based off of want, don’t want, and future implications.  Today I make decisions off of comfort and fear.  One year ago I was a very huggy, touchy-feely person.  Today, my sense of personal space is hypersensitive.   One year ago, I felt like a fairly stable person.  Today, I am so unpredictable it’s scary to me.  One year ago, I was very good at hiding myself behind a mask and burying my emotions.  Today, I’ve perfected those skills.

Let me state something right now.  I have no intent or desire to kill myself.  I have no intent or desire to physically harm myself.  I do not want to hurt or not live.  I would like to calm any fear you may have about that right now.  I may be depressed, but I’m not suicidal or self-harming.  Don’t worry about that.

And that’s what makes me sad.  I don’t want to hurt myself physically, but I hurt everyday on the inside.  I pine for the person I once was.  I ache with the knowledge that this is still a burden for me.  I don’t want kill myself and not live, but everyday I feel tied down in someway.   The way I see myself feels so dead.

I’d like to spend a day without having this come to mind, but I know that a day like that is miles down the road.  And that makes me sad too.  Knowing that my anxiety will still be a stone’s throw away, my mind will unintentionally dwell on my sadness, and my view of myself will still be like this for an extended period of time.

How long?  I don’t know.  Could be a few months… a year? five years? maybe a decade?  I know it slowly dwindles away.  Research and professionals have told me it will never go away completely, which makes me sad as well.  Because I started out on the journey against this with the goal of eradicating it completely, but I have to come to terms that I won’t quite be able to reach that.  I can get close, but I can’t expect it to ever fully go away.

I guess this is me trying to be a little more transparent about it all.  I don’t want to keep my story in secrets anymore, but I’m not comfortable telling it yet and I’m afraid of over exposing it.  So this blog post is me offering a window into my thoughts and emotions about this process.

So, here’s to one year, as depressing as it was.   I’ve experienced a new level of emotions that I had never been to before.  I thought things I never realized I would.  And I’ve changed.  So much.   I am not the same person that I was.   But at least it has been a year.  I wish it was more.  I wish I had made more progress. But I’ve got to at least acknowledge that one year is something to be noted and thankful for.

November the 7th.  It may not mean nothing to you, but this date has a world of implications for me.  So pray for me today.  I need peace, and the strength to plow ahead.   Pray that I feel God by my side, because that’s what I need most right now. And forgive me for looking like a slob today.  I think I have all the rights to just be comfortable, I’ve got enough going against me today.

I think the only way to end this post is lyrics to a song that has been pretty close to what I’ve felt through a lot of this: By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North.  This song is one of the reasons why I love music so much.  Music has so much potential to say exactly what I need to hear, and sometimes I need it to come from an unaffiliated source with no intention on speaking to specifically me personally.  And sometimes I need to have these things told to me by a stumbling through my iTunes play list or a random link on a friend’s fb page and not  someone saying”Hey, this might help.  Listen to this.”

This song has really connected to me, because I’ve needed to be reminded that God’s always holding me in His hands.  I’ve needed to be personally reminded of that intimate love I have from my Father.   And I’ve needed to be reminded that He is the answer and the key to this all.  I need to be focused on Him and pray for His guidance.

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don’t turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

And I’ll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don’t fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world’s sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I’ll never let you go

That Monster

Uncontrollable.  That’s how I feel.
Like no matter how hard I try to get a hold of this, its always got a leg up on me.

Just when I think I finally have it into a manageable system.
BAM

Stress.  Anxiety.  Fatigue.

It’s debilitating.
I can’t focus.

My mind becomes consumed by it.

I want to convince myself that its not real, or that it’s not as bad as I’m making it out to be.
But then this monster shows its true colors and strikes me down again.

…But why?
What is it that makes me feel this way?
What is it that constantly brings this all back to mind?
What is it that causes me to lose focus on all else?

And why does my head say one thing… but the rest of me won’t register.

I KNOW you are good, and honest, and that you have a lot of integrity… but my body tells me not to trust you.

Why?  Maybe it’s the way you laugh, or the things you’re interested in, or how you interact with people.  Maybe it’s the way you look, or the names you call me, or just the fact that you are what you are.

You can’t change it.  I’m trying to change it.
I’m just not strong enough.

Prayer prayer prayer.  but I only find myself in set backs.

It’s getting harder, not easier.  This isn’t how it should be.

Do you understand what I’m telling you?
Sometimes, I can’t give a friend a hug without being struck dumb with fear and overcome with nausea.
Sometimes, if I’m sitting too close to someone in a car or on the couch, it feels like everything is closing in on me.
Sometimes, a single, unrelated word will send memories flooding back into my head… and I find myself debating whether to try to drown it out with numbness or write it out like I am now.
Sometimes, I’m just fine or I can suppress it just enough to the point that you can’t see it- and that’s what makes it even more confusing to everyone around me.  Because when they see it, it’s out of the blue.  I can see it crawling slowly in.

And every time this happens, I have zero ability to articulate what’s going on.  My mouth becomes paralyzed.  It’s been this way since the beginning.  If I could explain what was going on right then and there, I would find a way to.  I don’t like leaving people feeling confused, helpless, or in the dark, because I’m all too familiar with those feelings.

I want to prove to myself that I can be stronger, but this monster does everything it can to prove that I am weaker.

I feel God’s love in this all, but I am still wrestling and hurting.  And that’s ok.  It’s the beast of this world.  The reality of a fallen creation.  My joy is in the Lord.  I may not keep a smile on my face, but I can feel his presence and love in my heart.

So do me a favor:
-Don’t try to fix me.  Because I don’t need “fixing.”  I need help- Assistance.  And you can’t help me.  Unless you are a licensed professional, you have no human means of helping me.  So don’t.
-Don’t give me an interrogation of sad, heartfelt questions or the constant sympathetic looks from across the room.  This is my problem, not yours.  And I get that you’re upset for me, but don’t let me know.  I don’t need to feel guilty for you feeling sad that I’m stuck in this.  I don’t need that extra weight.  I just need my life to be normal.  I need people to be around me, and I need them to be normal.   So that I have the promise of at least something in my life to not be tainted by this.
-Don’t try giving me words of wisdom, heart-warming songs, comforting passages from the Bible.  I see the truth and beauty behind it all, but you don’t have the filter that I have.   You don’t see the definitions and implications of certain words like I do.  And sometimes, those verses you find so fitting and beautiful, make me feel like absolute crap.
-Don’t try to explain it to me, especially if you have no clue what is going on.  A lot of times the things you will say will either make me mad at God or convince me that it’s all my fault.  And that’s the last thing I need.

I’m trying to learn to articulate my struggles and my frustrations in a way that’s clear.  Because anyone who hasn’t been through this before will not understand it, and they end up doing the exact opposite of what I need.

It’s looming over my head.  I know that there’s a big bomb about to be dropped.  I write this to prepare you and myself for when that bomb explodes.

“You” Is A General Audience

I am trapped in side my own head.
With no way to tell you what’s going on.
I am tortured day and night.
Too scared to fall asleep.
Too upset to stay awake.
I’m nauseous.
I can’t seem to get enough air.
Everything is closing in on me.
It gets worse as the days inch closer.
As if my body just knows.
And yet I’m still two and a half weeks away.
I don’t know how I am going to handle that many more days of this.
I want to scream it out.
I want to tell you.
But I can’t.
I don’t know why, but I can’t.
I know you’ll want to say
“So tell me what’s going on?” or “Explain your post” or “Want to talk?”
Please don’t.
You’ll only frustrate me more because I’ll frustrate myself.
You’ll only upset me more because I’ll upset myself.
I just need to type this.
I need to put it out there.
So that I can at least feel like I tried to scream.
I tried to scream…
Maybe I shouldn’t post this.
But that’s what I’ve been doing.
And it’s only making it worse.
So I am forcing myself to post this.
Not damaged goods.  Not damaged goods.  Not damaged goods.
It won’t stick.
I try to prove something to myself, but it only gets worse.
I want to push past, but it just keeps pulling me down.
I wish you could help me.
I want you to help me.
But you don’t know how to give me the help I need.
And if you try it will get worse.
God help me.

The Emperor Moth

I never really thought to post this, but my mind has been coming back to it over and over this week.   This is something I wrote over Christmas break last year.  There are two sections to it.  The first was written in one of the worst places I have ever found myself in my life.  I was mad at God, but too afraid to admit it.   These emotions all came rushing into my head and I did the only thing I knew what to do.  Write.

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Part 1:

I am broken
but I don’t feel like it.

I am worth more than I can imagine
but I don’t feel like it.

I did not deserve that
but I don’t feel like it.

I am not alone
but I feel like it.

I am not damaged goods
but I feel like it.

I don’t have to be invincible
but I feel like it.

But Kelsey, where is God in all of this?
YOU TELL ME!

God is the one who made me into this little doormat that I am.

He’s the one who let this happen.

So tell me… Where is God?

What kind of father purposely breaks His daughter?

Why would He break my heat?

Why would He crush my spirit?

Why would He send the wolves out on me?

Why would He cage me in fear?

Why God?  Why?

What kind of sick joke is this?

I feel hopeless
like a cavity,
empty and decaying.

Is this punishment for my past?

“Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?”

I’m not mad at God today.
I’m just broken.
I’m lost.
I’m hurting.
I’m lifeless.

If I can’t get my eyes back on the cross soon, I’m gonna lose it.

Or I’ll just pick myself back up and fake it.  But I don’t want that.

I’m a terrible Christian.

I don’t read my Bible everyday.

I don’t pray everyday.

I’m not satisfied in Christ alone.

I’m not finding joy in God.

I don’t rejoice in my identity.

What am I doing?

What makes me think I’m fit for the field?

I just talk the talk… where’s the walk?

————————————————————————

The second part was written a couple nights later, I sat in my bed late at night stewing in anger.   I pulled out my ipod, turned on the angriest and least understandable screamo music I could find, and blasted it as loud as I could handle.  Then, out of no where, “Our God” by Chris Tomlin shuffled into the mix.  I had been turning off every worship song that came on as quick as I could in the days before that night, but for some reason my hand froze.  I allowed myself to listen to the words and I broke.  I sobbed harder than I ever knew was possible.  And through the tears came a sigh of relief for my entire body, a smile on my face, and the words of the second portion of this writing.

————————————————————————

Part 2:

Fresh, cold, icy water
Through my hair, down my back, down my throat.

In my soul.  Cleansing.  Refreshing.

My soul is awakening to a new phase.  A new day is rising.

God is making me into an iron saint.

Forging is painful.
Purifying is painful.
Healing is painful.

But I am His.

I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am special.
I have a purpose.

The devil has no hold over me.  His lies have no power.

This is the power of the cross.
This is Christ in me.

God has a purpose.
He has a reason.

and it is good!

He was protecting me.
He was preparing me.

He is blessing me,
not cursing me.

He is higher than any other.
He is above all.
His name is to be praised.

In the depths of my despair and the mountaintops of my joy.

HE IS FOR ME!

Who can stand against my God and His purpose?  Praise be to God!

Every time He touches my life it’s a blessing, because He does it in His indescribable love. Oh the unspeakable wonders of the Lord!

————————————————————————

So welcome to a portion of where I’ve been with the Lord this past year.  He has been teaching me, and I feel comfortable and prepared at this time to reveal how my walk with Him has been to you all.

At the end of writing it all, a quote stuck in my head from a book I had been reading that I want to share with you.  The author was talking about a time he had tried to help an emperor moth out of its cocoon, but by interfering with the moth’s natural process he weakened the creature and it could never fly.  At the end of the story he wrote:

“Don’t fight your way out of the cocoon to get quick relief… Work your way out over time, so you can develop your wings and SOAR.”

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I hope in some way you’ve been blessed by me sharing this.

The Painting

Bright red. Bold. Jagged edges.
Deep purple. Dragged across the paper. Streaked.
Grey. Sponged on. Like a hazy cloud.
Tan. A thick line. Straight through.
Black. One hand print. Covering all the colors.
Step back. See the whole picture.
The artist discards the work into a vat of paint.
Then picks it up again.
The deep blue paint from the vat drenches the canvas.
And slides down the painter’s hands and arms.
He steps back and observes.
What to make of it?