Impossible

I had this insight at church today about Luke 1:37. One translation says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” I think it is interesting that it says “shall be” because sometimes things are impossible at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they will always be impossible. God can mold and shape us into a new person that can do what was impossible for who we used to be.

I have done things that were once impossible for me, but are now natural and even easy. I asked for help to do these things. I tried over and over, but I had limitations that I could not overcome by myself. But, then, I changed. I became a new person because people saw something in me that I could not see in myself.

We are so often told that God won’t give us more than we can handle or that all things are possible with God, but the process is not explained very often. God makes us so that we can handle things. Sometimes that is through trials, but I think most often it is through other people. People teach us, change us, and stretch us to become more than we once were. And sometimes it is not a good experience. Sometimes it is difficult, painful, and heartbreaking experiences with people that force us to become better.

I think in the end though, we can find reasons to be grateful for all the growth experiences, even the unpleasant ones. The key is allowing yourself to be changed, so that the impossible can become possible.

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Finding Light in the Dark- The Purpose of Depression

I started this post a couple months ago, but didn’t have time to finish it. I attended a devotional meeting today though that brought this back to my mind. Life is hardly ever exactly what we wanted or expected. Things change. Life happens and we find ourselves a million miles away from where we thought we wanted to be. The question is if we will make where we are, into the place where we want to be. When things do not work out and we find ourselves at a different point of life than we wanted, can we still see hope? When nothing is going right and your world seems to have crumbled around you, can you still find ways to be happy?

I first started this post the morning after a hard night. I had fallen into a state of depression. I wanted a way out of everything. I couldn’t concentrate on reasons for my existence. I just felt pain and hurt and loss. And I didn’t see a reason for me to feel that way. Things were going well for me so it was confusing as to why I would feel so hopeless when there was so much to hope for around me. The thing is though, people seem to perpetuate the myth that you need a reason to be depressed. In all reality, this is not true. I never need a reason to get depressed. Sometimes it happens on a beautiful day when the sun is shining, and I’ve just spent time with friends, and my room is clean, and my homework is done, and I’ve eaten well throughout the day. Everything can be perfect, but depression grips like a corset pulled so tight you cannot breathe.

That night was one of those times. There was no real reason for me to feel depressed, and yet my mind cascaded into feelings of being incomplete, feeling detached and withdrawn from the world, wondering what my purpose was for being alive. It didn’t make sense to feel that way when life was going so well for me. And being a logical person, I needed to find a reason for what I was going through. So, I looked up, “What is the purpose of depression?”

I didn’t find all the answers I wanted, but I did find one that felt true to me. Depression is an adaptation to help us contemplate life. It produces different thought patterns that force us to deal with things we might otherwise avoid. And it makes us find a reason for why things are the way they are. Today, another reason rang true with me. Depression has been my refining fire. Every good quality that I have has been influenced by my depression.

I remember vividly the worst period of depression I ever endured. It lasted approximately 9 months. During that time, I felt like I was being stripped of everything. My joy, my hope, my mind, my heart, my family and friends, everything was taken away from me. Although none of these things were really gone, depression made them unreachable. I could not think. I could not smile. I could not stand some of the time. The darkness around me was so thick that I felt it would extinguish everything I had left in me. But in that dark, desperate place, I found the one thing depression could not take from me. When everything else was gone and it was just me and the darkness, I found that I was not left completely desolate. I still had faith. Even if I could not hope in that moment or smile or even get up, I clung to faith. Faith was the last of my light, the one thing the darkness could not put out. And with that faith, I found hope, and with that hope, I found a way to endure.

It was promising to find out that at the core of my soul was faith, but at the time, it didn’t mean much more than just a way to get through my circumstances. In the last few months though, that knowledge has carried me through some difficult times. My sister (who is like my rock) decided to move to another state, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my baby nephew died, all within about 2 months. I was devastated, heartbroken, and scared, but it was not the worse thing I had ever been through. And in that sense, depression was a beautiful blessing to me because I knew that no matter how bad things got, I still had that faith at the end of the day. I could keep going because at one point, I couldn’t keep going. At one point, I had lost everything in the most real sense because when you lose yourself to depression, you become lost to everything and everything becomes lost to you. So this time, I could stand with my family and have hope.

Depression is the hardest thing I have ever been through. I still have depression and can go through long periods of feeling depressed, but I see the light in my depression. I can see the purpose of my depression. I can see the blessings it has been in my life. Is my purpose for depression the same as yours? Probably not. But, I know that you can also find purpose in your depression or in your trials. You can find light in the darkest of places. I know because I have been there, and in the greatest darkness, I found the strongest light.

Grateful for Disappointments

Plans are meant to be broken.

Growing up I always wanted to be an astronaut. When I went to college, I decided to major in aerospace engineering. I figured that I could at least design the spaceships if I never got a chance to go to space. After my first year of college, a couple suicide attempts, and some health issues, I gave up on my dreams. I felt lost, but decided that I would make the best of things.

If I couldn’t be an astronaut and I couldn’t concentrate enough in school to become an engineer, I would do something to help people. I decided to become a clinical psychologist, with the hope to one day become a motivational speaker. I completed a bachelor’s degree and planned to return to school to complete a doctorate program after taking a year and a half off to serve a mission for my church.

It has been almost four years since that time. I am just now returning to school, but not to get a doctorate degree. I will be returning to school to get a second bachelor’s degree in computer science. I did not serve the mission I thought I would, and ended up getting hired to do the job I was doing on a volunteer basis as a missionary. I never imagined that my life would head in this direction or that I would be doing the type of work I currently do.

Life doesn’t always work out like we planned, and I am so grateful for that. I am grateful for the plans I have made that didn’t work out. I am grateful for dreams that were crushed, continual disappointments and rejections, and problems that prevented or delayed plans. I am grateful for the tears of pain, frustration, and rejection.

I am grateful that I didn’t get the many jobs I applied for because it led me to search for what I really wanted to do with my life. I am grateful that I was hospitalized and had to take a semester off of school because I was able to help so many people and discover myself and how I fit in the world. I am grateful that my suicide attempts made becoming an astronaut impractical or impossible because I might not have given up on that dream if I hadn’t felt like I needed to. I am grateful for the disappointments that have led me to a much better life than I had planned for myself. I am sure my life will be filled with more disappointments, but I am learning to be grateful for all of them because those disappointments are leading me to much greater things.

Grateful for Trials

The last week has been difficult physically, but amazing emotionally. I have been in intense pain constantly, but I am super grateful that it happened now. Emotionally, this week has been very rewarding. I have spent time with friends, completed therapy, and applied to get my second bachelor’s degree.

The virtual end of one trial and beginning of a new one has made me contemplate just how grateful I am for trials. It might seem strange to be grateful for something that causes so much pain, but every trial I have faced has made me better.

I am more understanding because of depression, more forgiving because of abuse, more sympathetic because of health issues, more open and honest because of autism, more accepting because of gender identity disorder, more giving because of poverty, and simply a better person because of all those things combined. There is more I could say about my trials and how they have made me better, but it is not so much how my trials have made me better as the fact that they have made me better.

I would not trade all I have learned from all I have suffered to have an easier life. I would not trade a lifetime of pain for a lifetime of ease because I would rather be better than happier, and in the end what I learn makes me happier. I am so grateful to give up being happy for a few moments to make others happier for so much longer. I am grateful to be in pain so that I can understand the pain of others. I am grateful for bullying and ridicule that has made me kinder, gentler, and more careful with my words.

I am just so grateful to have experienced so many difficult circumstances because it means I can be trusted with other people’s difficult circumstances. I couldn’t ask for a better plan or a better life. I am grateful for the trials that make my life better by making me better.

If we can find beauty in the pain, gratitude in the heartache, and light in the darkness, we will be okay.

Responding to Trials

Over the past year I have met 3 people that became paralyzed and then had to relearn how to walk and write and do all the things they used to do on a daily basis. I’m not sure if they all have the same disease that caused this temporary paralysis, but they had a similar experience in the suddenness of what happened and what followed. What was interesting to me though is how they responded to what happened.

One person responded by laughing about it. She laughed as she told me how interesting it was that she forgot how to hold a pencil and how strange it was to learn how to walk again. Another expressed anger and frustration over having to learn how to walk and do things again. And the last became emotional recalling her experiences and the difficulties she had faced.

I couldn’t help but think about my own trials and difficulties and how I have responded to them. I have responded in each of these ways at different times to my trials, but I think most often I probably get emotional about my experiences. I don’t think it’s bad to get emotional or even angry about what happens to us, but I would like to learn to laugh more often. I would like to respond to my trials with an attitude of learning and the ability to laugh at myself.

I firmly believe that people take life too seriously. People tend to see only the now of a situation. We get upset that things don’t seem to work out or aren’t going the way we planned. The truth is though that it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really matter that much if you’re late for something. It doesn’t really matter that much if an event is disturbed by some sort of accident or disruption. It doesn’t really matter if you make a mistake and someone yells at you for it. It doesn’t matter because it’s not the end.

Why do we focus so much on the now when the present will be the past in just a few minutes? The now doesn’t matter so much if we realize that it will pass. I don’t mean by this that the present isn’t important, because it is only in the present that we can create the future and the past. By our choices in the now, our past is recorded and our future will be written. However, a mistake or problem in the now does not have to be a regret in the future. By learning to overlook problems and forgive ourselves and others now, the mistakes of the present will become merely funny or interesting memories of the past.

The thing I keep telling myself lately is it’s only life. It’s not about the next step or the better job or the perfect evening; it’s about living. And if we can just remember that it’s about the living, it’s a lot easier to respond positively when something negative happens.