First real post of 2018!
I'm experiencing a very real case of the Sunday scaries, eating crunchy peanut butter out of the jar because I'm too lazy to cook dinner tonight. And hey, that's okay, because this year my two words are "worthy" and "grace", and I've realized I need to start giving myself more of the latter.
A friend from work made fun of me the other day for having "keywords" for my new year. I realize it's totally nerdy and cliche, but I also know how much I need to remember the power of worthiness and grace in my life. It also might have to do with the fact I don't love goal setting, so this is my way to avoid it. Points for honesty?
I recently opened up a bit about my experience with anxiety and depression on instagram after speaking to a group about it at church. It's not a topic I've opened up about to anyone beyond close friends and family until now. What I've experienced is not what I ever would have imagined for myself, with more tears and confusion and darkness than I'd prefer to admit, but the reality is it happened. It's certainly not sexy for a young, typically happy girl to spiral downwards in darkness. It can paint a picture of someone who can only take and has nothing to give. Needy. Helpless. The exact opposite of a world telling us to buck up and get through.
The thing about anxiety and depression is they quickly make a home in your heart without your permission. They begin to tell you who you are and who you will be. Fear and control become your close friends, and before you know it, you're staying up at night wondering if your brother might get in a car accident the next morning.
During this time, a lie was sown that I was no longer worthy of a healthy mind and body. That who I was created to be wasn't good enough. To stay silent. That I would be stuck in this season forever. I spent the majority of my days trying to figure out ways to feel like myself again.
In the winter of 2015, right after the holiday break, I was on a flight from Chicago and Nashville that didn't go as smoothly as planned. I didn't think I would make it back home. It was the first time in my life I felt the scare of death.
The year of 2016 was the collective aftermath of coping with that experience. In the fall of 2016, the plans I had for my life were quickly turned upside down and I was forcefully pulled closer to the Lord than ever before. I abruptly moved away from Nashville, my favorite city in the world, back home with my parents to heal my mind and regain strength. It was my "wasteland year" as I like to call it, and although it was the most difficult one to date, a miracle also happened that year.
Streams were created in my wasteland.
I saw my God in a whole new way. He wasn't just one of love and kindness and grace, but one that is desperate for us. One that carries our burdens and fights for us. Unruly. Wild. Passionate.
Up to this point in my life, it was all too easy to put God in a box. I was living under the assumption God would bless those who were obedient to him. I was always the "good" girl. I was always fine (and what a dangerous word that can be). I was the girl who had her life zipped up and tied with a perfect bow. Many seasons in my life, I was out to prove something to someone, to show the world I was here to thrive. So when my life started spinning out of control, I became bitter towards Him. Why me, Lord?
Yet for the first time in my life, I found the freedom to admit I wasn't okay.
I was free from the need to build a facade. And from then on, I promised myself I would be honest with myself and with others when something wasn't fine or okay. And if at any point I wasn't honest, that I would go back and tell them. Because love can take so many different forms, and I believe honesty is one of them.
When I came back to feeling like myself again, I fell back in love with the woman He created me to be. Yes, I felt like I had a new beginning, but even more so I was reminded of all the little reasons He chose to make me the way He did. The woman I was all along.
What I thought would strip me of my identity, anxiety and depression, ended up pointing right back to my identity in Christ. It was a miracle. I had been injected with a new desire to honor Him by being the silly, sometimes loud/sometimes quiet, woman he created for a very specific purpose. The weight of trying to perform was lifted, and all of a sudden, this life was no longer about me. I wholeheartedly believe if I hadn't experienced anxiety and depression, I would still be living for myself in so many ways.
Last Monday night, there was a little voice telling me to stay quiet about my story. To not burden anyone with it. Yet as I continued to pray and chat about it with people who love me, I knew God could use this story beyond what I could imagine. That my moments of insecurity talking about my experience would be fleeting, but that His love and grace in the story would be forever. That it would inevitably show up in my life again. And yours too.
This is a story of hope.
Cheers, friends. I love you all so much. Thank you so much for reading!