The Beauty in PainĀ 

The choices that we make every day don’t (always) solely affect us individually. They can affect our friends, children, spouses, the planet, and sometimes strangers who live across town or strangers across the world. Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction and this can apply to many aspects of life. Some of these reactions can be positive; while some have negative consequences.

In life we all experience joys and sorrows. Some are fortunate to have few sorrows (at least from the outside), while others are not as blessed. Some are born into one parent, one small paycheck,  households where abuse lingers in the walls. Children grow up and make their own choices and write their own stories and testimonies. They live life from a new perspective because for the first time the lifestyle that they choose is in their hands. I’m not referring to social class but I’m referring to the fact that can choose a lifestyle of love or hate. Their own children will either grow up being cared for in every way, or they become victims. 

When considering religion the question is often asked, “How can I believe in a God who let’s horrible events happen.” I have asked myself this question in the midst of the storm when God seems to be so far away. I have walked through my fair share of storms. I have pondered the lie, “How can anything good happen through my brokenness? I think that God turned His head away the times I was a victim.” 

God has been teaching me about this lie that I believed for years. Yes, I was a follower of Christ but I did not understand and am still learning just how God works and there is beauty in the utter brokeness, sorrow, and pain of life. The first time I had a glimpse about how my brokenness has beauty in it was about two years ago. I was with my best friend at a church gathering and one of our other friends came in and she was hysterical. About anything bad that could’ve happened to a 16 year old girl had and her day was miserable; it was one of those days that had pushed her over the edge. She had expressed to us that she was suicidal. All three of us went into the bathroom to talk things out. As we talked I learned that this girl and I had similiarities in our stories and I did the best I possibly could to encourage her that things could and will become better. I’m not sure how much my words would have meant to her if I hadn’t walked through storms. In that night I started to see a small bit of beauty through my pain. Yet I have had a hard time believing that God was with me through every season and that He has never turned His face on war, poverty, world hunger, sexual assault, and abuse.

I’ve been learning that beauty in the pain can be as simple as being able to have empathy towards others who have been in the same situation as you. In my own walk the times that I’ve had the most emotional healing was not when I was sitting in a therapist office (I’m not saying that therapy isn’t important because it is) or sitting in church. God has done the most healing when I’m doing something as simple as having coffee with a fellow Christian and they are sharing their own story of walking in the storm. I have a connection of pain with them when they share about life after the storm. It’s the priceless feeling of knowing “I’m not alone.” Yes, we have Jesus but sometimes we need a friend here on earth to share our journey with. Having the honor to be a friend guiding and loving on the one who is still walking in the exact same rainstorm that you were once in is beautiful. THAT is when I know that God had never left me. I am beyond grateful for those He has given me to hold my hand while I’ve been in and out of the storms we have all walked through.

Newton’s third law states that for every action there’s an equal or opposite reaction. As we walk this life and deal with more storms than sunny days, how are you going to react? When others hurt you, you have the choice to do the same to someone else. Or you can use that exact pain that you have to empower you to help someone who has gone through the same or similiar experience. THIS is how you can find the beauty in pain.

With love, LAMA-LEAH 

Joy in DepressionĀ 

I learned the long list of the “fruits of the spirit” at a Christian church conference a few years ago. I loved the experience (this was the first time I had been to a Bible camp) but I felt a little out of place. There was so much joy for Jesus that I didn’t quite understand.

When I went to the conference I had already been diagnosed with depression. I had it for months before the conference and had it for a season afterwards. When I learned the fruits of the spirit  (I knew them before but I didn’t have them memorized in order), I remember vividly questioning how I could posses these traits when it’s physical and emotionally difficult to get out of bed.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” ~ Galatians 5:22-23 (WMB) 

There’s a myth that if you follow Yeshua, you will not deal with mental health issues. I’ve dealt with personal shame about sharing about my struggles. I look back and the few members of my congregation who know my story have given me nothing but love and support. When my mom went to a few elders for prayer about the severity of the depression I was facing, one of them told me, “Don’t be afraid to reach out.”

I have found that it is possible to fully experience the fruits of the Spirit even when it’s difficult to get up in the morning because of anxiety, depression, and whatever else going on. 

The trait that is difficult to comprehend when you are fighting depression is joy. How can one have joy when the the journey of walking in this world seems so…pointless? 

As someone who’s struggled with mental health, I have devoted many hours contemplating if I was a “bad Christian” for seemingly not being able to establish this joy that I’m “supposed” to have. I mean how can I have joy in Christ when I don’t have any energy even after sleeping all night? When I do my favorite activities and yet not have the same thrill that I used to have? I can’t seem to be able to find this so called joy in anything.

Depression can feel as if you’re drowning in a body of water and the depression is pulling on your feet. It’s riding a bike without a chain or any brakes. You paddle but don’t go anywhere. It’s forcing a fake smile when you are supposed to be happy. And it’s going through the motions of life without living it to the fullest extent.

What I just said briefly explains how it feels to live with depression. I have depression and anxiety for too long now. I remember the day that depression took over. Through my own struggles, I’ve learned how to have joy in depression.

I took me awhile to fully realize that my mental health state was not ever a faith issue. It was/is a health issue. When I found out that my family health history has several names of relatives with mental illness, it started to make sense. As I did my research, I learned that I have an imbalance. I can take steps to make me better. I can go to therapy, take medications, exercise, eat right etc., but ultimately I believe that the only way I can be healed is through Christ. At times I feel as if I’ve tried everything to be healed but nothing has helped. Do I think that one may develop a form of sadness, guilt, or anxiety when sin has taken over one’s life? Absolutely. But if it is depression, I’m not really sure.

When I learned that there was nothing wrong with my relationship with Christ when facing depression, it added a different element to how I view it. 

When I am going through a period of depression, I’m not going to be a peppy joyful girl. But I can take joy in my depression. I have trust that there’s a reason for me to be going through this. Within that, I can believe that He is using this for a purpose. Through the seasons of depression, I can draw even closer to HIM. Within everything listed, I can have joy in depression. I hope that you can, too. 

With love,

LAMA-LEAH