Depression

Polished Perfect

“Whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones…”  -Matthew 23:27

As silly as it sounds, every time I paint my nails I’m reminded of the horrific events that took place in the spring of 2012.  One of my best friends left her apartment, checked into a hotel and consumed an entire bottle of 500mg Extra-Strength Excedrin, another of Tylenol and a 2-liter energy drink.  When we found her, she was hardly responsive and her skin had green undertones.  As tears were falling from her face faster than her sleeves could catch them, my other friend, Cara, called an ambulance.

I couldn’t even function.  I just sat there in silence at the foot of the bed, blankly starring at my gorgeous friend’s near lifeless body.  As I picked up her hand, I noticed her fingernail polish was chipped.  Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed a bottle of polish and tried my best to paint her nails.  Looking back on this, we all laugh at how stupid I was to paint her nails in such a time of absolute crisis.  I still kick myself for doing something that was so entirely irrelevant to the situation.

You will be relieved to know and I am thrilled to report that after three days in the ICU, my friend survived and was released without any stomach or liver damage.  God is sovereign.  She is an incredible woman and has a jaw-dropping testimony nothing short of an amazing miracle.

As I was thinking back on all this the other day, I realized that I’ve been painting my nails in the midst of crisis for as long as I can remember.  My coping mechanisms have always been to hold everything together.  Be perfect.  Or at least act and appear to be put together.  Maybe, if I looked whole on the outside, something would transform on the inside to match.  The more I struggled internally, the more I tightened the mask strings.  But inside, beneath the image was always a little girl—and she was completely falling apart.

Image: An imitation of a person or thing; a representation, likeness, impression or conception of oneself; an illusion.

I learned at a young age that the world doesn’t care about how the girl in the pictures really feels.  I quickly learned to have a positive outlook, stuff my emotions, and fight for a flawless reflection.  But this was never a lasting identity, it was only an image.  The more pain, loneliness, rejection and insecurity I felt; the more I strived to paint an inaccurate picture of a girl who had it all together.

Beneath the facade I had no idea who I was or where my value was found.  I fought my hardest to maintain an image that had absolutely no relationship with reality.  But the outside couldn’t fix what was happening inside.

We live in a world that applauds, endorses, and super glues on the masks.  Our world worships images.  We’ve learned by example to push the limits and see how far we will go to maintain the image we want others to see.  We want people to view us superficially so they won’t look past the masks, or God forbid, stick around long enough to see how we really are.

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  -1 Samuel 16:7

Thankfully, God doesn’t buy into “fake”.  He isn’t fooled by facades, intimidated by masks, or takes us at our word when we say that we’re “doing great!”  He sees past the act and speaks to our hearts.  He sees us falling apart and breathes life into us.  Like the woman with the alabaster jar, sitting at Jesus’ feet in the midst of her filth, mess, insecurity and pain.  This kind of vulnerability pulls on His heart strings.  He faithfully seeks us out to break off the things that hold us back, threatening to hold us captive.

“All of us then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces.” –2 Corinthians 3:18

This kind of matchless beauty is so raw and undone it scares those who are still in chains.  This reckless transparency with messy hair, mascara running, bent knees and a heart of flesh cannot be fabricated.  It’s as real as they come.  This absolute humility is so authentic it makes others uncomfortable.  But it’s the imperfect that the Lord chooses to use.  Our weakness allows Him to be our perfect strength.

He sees us. Fighting to be faithful, wrestling through motherhood, trying to parent perfectly, in yesterday’s topknot, with dried spit-up down our shirts. He begs us to leave the dishes and climb over the dirty piles of laundry. He beckons us to come away with Him. To sit at his feet. To rest in Him. To just be His daughter.

When your need for approval is fulfilled by what you do, how you parent, or imperfect people, you will always be left desiring more.  I encourage you; Run to the One whose perfection isn’t painted on with brushes, designed by the fashion elite, studied in Ivy League classes, or worn as couture. He is simply perfect so we won’t have to be.  He is the answer to our imperfection.  The sooner we take off our masks and come face to face with who we’ve become, the sooner He can intervene and make us who we were born to be.  It’s still a daily struggle to be real,  but I’m learning how to walk in freedom of who He has created me to be.

His absolute security beckons me to be renewed.  He loves me just as I am.  Broken, hurting, confused, crumbling; real.  And He desires to make me whole and lacking nothing.

So, which is more important to you—your outward persona or your inward well being?  Don’t paint your nails while dying—it’s senseless.

“He said to me… ‘My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” –2 Corinthians 12:9-10

DECORATING BANDAIDS

 

Abusive, Addicted, Aggressive, Angry, Anxious, Bipolar, Chemically Unbalanced, Depressed, Disturbed, Restless, Stressed, Overweight, Over-Worked, Sleep Deprived, Suicidal, Unhappy, Unsatisfied, Unstable.

These are just some of the words used to describe our world as we know it. Apparently, life seems to be a bit overwhelming for society at large. Sadly enough, these words hardly do justice to some of the things we’ve witnessed recently throughout popular culture. Due to our overwhelming lifestyles, whether they’re hidden or put on display; emotions seem to be getting the best of us–and it shows.

Why? Death, tragedy, accidents. Haven’t they always been around? My only conclusion is that the way in which we’ve been taught to cope is skewed. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure this one out. We may have been taught how to be successful in life, and how to achieve, but we’ve failed to learn how to take a hit. We learn that one plus two equals three. But when you throw an unexpected variable in the mix, we’re thrown off and fail to react properly.

Emotions are not the issue; they are merely evidence that something is wrong. They are the blood that proves the underlying wound. At times, these wounds will never be realized completely because they’ve been hidden behind a lifestyle of addiction, or emotional imbalance. Emotions are like weeds, they are easily cut off, ignored, trampled, or hidden. But, without addressing the root, they will continue to resurface.

Eventually, after dealing with pain the same way for so long, our coping mechanisms become a part of a character and personality. Almost by default, it looks like this is what’s happened to a lot of hurting people.

We live in the land of the free, the home of the brave, where the “American dream” is tangible. Where everything is accessible, and possibilities are endless. Yet, it seems that suicide is normality, and escapism is the fast-track to an enjoyable life. Some of us were taught to treat the wounds, to rejoice in suffering, and press onward. While others, were taught to cover it up, and cope as the ones before them did.

Our society isn’t taught to rip of the old blanket, and examine the wound. Instead, we’ve adorned our band-aids; decorating them, and making them a mere accessory. We have learned to live with them, and even worse, it’s become popular to show them off. Turning what used to be ugly, into a fad. Emotional pain has been covered up with drugs, sex, alcohol, prescriptions, depression, and recklessness. All to be dubbed as “just what you do” or “common”.

I love learning from Job, if anyone has the right to talk about hardship it’s definitely him. It seems as though Job’s life proves Murphy’s law; “Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” The only way I could picture it being worse is if it was it was blasted across the tabloids and national television for society to examine and scrutinize. I wonder what our judgment would have been.

Job was in a place I often find myself in. Confused, frustrated, and wondering what I’ve done wrong to deserve circumstances. It’s sad how easily we embrace blessings, without even a second thought of gratitude, while we immediately reject hardship and calamity; the complaints and blame seem to come easily. If you haven’t read from the book of Job in the Bible, I highly suggest it. Just make sure you get through the whole thing; without God’s sovereignty at the end, it would be a lost cause and an entirely depressing story. Instead of turning to suicide, or indulgences, Job turns to God.

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He does want us to learn to lean on Him. Oftentimes He uses our low points to show us Himself in ways we might not see when life feels okay. Our job is not to miss those growth lessons. No matter what God allows you to experience, He wants to deepen your faith in Him. The journey often carries pain. That’s growth. Don’t waste the pain, but let Him sift and refine your character.

“Your struggles will either reveal ugliness or develop character. Fight Him, and watch ugliness fester. Or lean into Him, and let Him develop godliness in you.” – Erin Keeley Marshall (Currently reading her book =])

I refuse to let my wounds fester while running to my escape of choice. Conflicts, hardships, troubles, and everyday stresses are at times unavoidable, but throughout them, we must choose to draw near to God instead of away from Him. He is the only answer, and the only One with the power and authority to address the real issue; the heart of the problem; the root of emotional pain.  He doesn’t run out, give up, leave you, or cause heartache.

My heart will turn to the Lord, and I know He will respond.

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-”- Psalm 103:1-2

HOW SMALL IS YOUR FAITH

How Small is Your Faith

Who are you to doubt Me?
Who placed you on dry land and redeems your broken heart?
Who mends your mind and replaces your mourning with laughter?
Who loved you before you were spoken into existence?

Why do you doubt
Who are you to unbelief
How small is your faith!
I move mountains and shake oceans,
I make you smile and remember your sorrows.
How much do you trust Me?

Are you willing?
How ready are you?
Be prepared!
But wait, when My timing’s right,
All will be clear.
Then my directions will be complete.
Then you will find fulfillment.

You can only dream,
I create your reality.
Hope in My words,
Have faith in My peace.

Don’t fret,
Be still my child.
I love every part of you,
I long for all of you.

Count on My words,
Cling to My promises,
I will not fail you.
Trade your temporary happiness
For My never ending joy.

Only in Me will you be accomplished.
Only through Me will you have peace.
Only with Me shall you prosper.

Only because of Me will you meet the one,
the one designed to accompany you in this journey.
Created to abide in My love,
Predestined into your life.
Equipped beyond measure,
And far better than you’ve imagined.
I desire to give you My best,
Don’t settle for mediocre,
My plans are not out of reach.

I turn the tide,
I change the seasons.
I create your reality,
Be patient My darling,
Wait on Me,
Trust in Me,
How small is your faith.