Tag Archives: depression

Finding Purpose in Life

SD in treeAfter 12 days and over 3,000 miles of travel, glorious weather, and a heart full of special memory-making moments, we’re home. Sigh. I looked forward to this trip for months, savoring the anticipation, but now it’s in the past and “normal” looms before me. Sigh. Have you been here? What happens next? Well, like any situation we face, we are driven to make a decision: Do I give in to the ache of missing family? Do I wallow in the depths of despair? Do I become discouraged with life, going so far as to think there is no purpose in life?  These are a grandma’s reactions but even if you are a mom who has just returned from visiting far-away parents, family, or a quiet vacation, the reaction can be the same (except that you have so many little lives to care for that there is little time for wallowing).

How do you find purpose in life? A musing memory comes to my mind of a dear high school friend with whom I would walk from the bus to my locker every morning. As we climbed the stairs, she would look at me and say, “Humski (that was the Polish version of my maiden name, Hummel—no offense meant to any from Polish descent!), what are we doing here?” The simple answer was quite obvious: get an education. But if I ask the same question today, what is my answer?

This morning started in PRAYER, asking God for the answer—always a good place to begin! As several “purposes” were sent my way in God-directed thoughts, one came to the top of the list: Tom, my husband. My foremost purpose in life is taking care of him. So, I made his breakfast and chatted with him before he headed out the door to the men’s prayer meeting. MISSIONS ACCOMPLISHED! PURPOSE FULFILLED!

There are other missions I will accomplish today and those actions, which range from the mundane tasks of hanging out the laundry, trimming the hosta plants, and perhaps even cutting grass and stacking wood, to the more meaningful tasks of calling a hurting friend, preparing a piano offertory for tomorrow’s service, or writing a blog, all bring purpose and meaning to life.

HOWEVER, through it all, an overarching purpose colors everything a believer does with true purpose and meaning and that is this…

Therefore, whether you eat or drink,
or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

So, my attitude and heart have been adjusted! The ache has been replaced by purposeful action, and there is now a peace in my heart that was not there earlier!  We are SO BLESSED to be children of the most high God! He longs to lead us in a straight path—one that leads to eternal peace and joy—a path that can begin today!

Struggling with the New Normal

Well, this month marks the year-date of our son and his family’s move to South Dakota, 1,200 miles away. It’s our new normal. Several other “new normals” have found their way into my life. I don’t like them either, but what do you do when you can’t change circumstances that you don’t like?

We have several options. We can allow those issues to darken our days and live in misery. Sometimes, that just happens—it can’t be helped. But when misery decides to stay indefinitely, you now have another new normal that is unacceptable! We need to move on… but how?

Generally, there are five steps to the grieving process, and we can apply these to other situations as well as to the loss of a loved one: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. When our son moved so far away, a part of me died—the part that enjoyed seeing them often and at every holiday. It’s dead—not going to happen. The new normal is seeing them once a year at best. So, what do I do?

  • DENIAL: I lived in denial. It sounded like this: “Well, maybe this is just temporary. Maybe they’ll move back.”
  • ANGER: Sadly, I found myself unkindly barking at my dear husband for odd reasons. Somehow, it was his fault.
  • BARGAINING: I can see how the world would do this, but it didn’t make sense to me. Bargain with whom?
  • DEPRESSION: Yep.
  • ACCEPTANCE: Getting there… very slowly!

I don’t know how the world handles grief or deals with unlikeable circumstances, but for me, there’s only one place to go—the One who handed me these new normals! He allowed me to deny the situations for a while because He is kind and good and loving. He knows my weaknesses. But the anger had to go—it is sin to take your anger out on anyone for any reason! Besides, who wants to live like that? What a way to ruin any relationship you are in! Let’s make everyone around us miserable too!

Can we bargain with God? I suppose we can speak the words but it’s fruitless. He sets up “if—then” statements in His Word, but those are promises, not bargains!  And depression… it’s inevitable at times. Depression is a natural part of life, but like anger, we can’t camp there long. It’s a dangerous place to be. Depression allows Satan to whisper all sorts of nasties into our mind like, “This isn’t fair. God isn’t fair. If God really cared for you, He’d change things. He can do that! He’s just being mean. You deserve better.” On and on it goes until you yell, “STOP!” Remember the source of those thoughts! Once you take action to stop Satan’s flow of lies, it’s time to remember: remember past victories, past joys. Go to God’s Word and read about our wonderful Savior! Read the Psalms. They are such a sweet balm for a rankled soul!

Look at these:

2 Samuel 22: 31 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.

32 For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?

33 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.

34 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.

35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.

Psalm 28: 7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

8 The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.

Psalm 37: 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psalm 40: 17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

Psalm 54: 4 ¶ Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.

Psalm 116: 6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.

Psalm 118: 8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

(And just in case you didn’t get it…)9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put          confidence in princes.

Isaiah 41: 10 ¶ Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Hebrews 13: 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave that to you! Go and feast on the mighty, precious promises of God!

Just a Taste

chocolate-meio-amargo-alfarroba-melhor-opcao-para-dieta-58878As I face another good-bye, I’m working HARD to keep focused! Our youngest son and his little family have been here for a week now. The Lord has blessed us with perfect weather and wonderful opportunities to pack in the memories! Now, it’s time to get back to “normal.”

Normal—what does that look like? Well, for me, it means one son and his family living 1,292miles away, this son and his family 674 miles living away, and our daughter and her family just down the road eleven miles. Up until March, our oldest son was just twenty miles down the road. We’re a close-knit family. We love to be together. One of my favorite family activities is singing together. We’ve ministered together, and for years that was “normal.” But it’s not normal now, and I’m still struggling to adjust to my new normal. How can I do that?

O taste and see…

I’ve “tasted” that sweet manna of my family all around me, so how do I settle for less? How do I settle for flavored chocolate when I’ve eaten Ghirardelli’s?

Little by little, the pieces fall into place, and I’ve come to realize that part of the healing process in any situation is understanding the pain. Why am I struggling so? Why can’t I just get over this? Why can’t I just be happy with where I am in life? Do you find yourself asking those questions? Well, I have the answers! NOT! But… I do know Someone who does, and He has taught me a few things:

  1. Get the labels right. This new normal is not less perfect than the old normal because it is God’s normal for me! How can a spouse endure the loss of a lifetime best friend unless he or she embraces this thought? How does a person endure a career change when he has lost his dream job? How does a mom deal with an injury that leaves her healthy child crippled? How can we cope when a teen chooses to stray down a deadly path?

O taste and see that the LORD is good…

In Psalm 34, David tells us to “taste and see” that the Lord is good! David wrote this psalm while he was running from Saul. He ran to Gaza, a major city of Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, and ended up feigning madness to escape. Great circumstances, don’t you think? He had enjoyed great success, but now he was a hunted man, and yet he gives us so many nuggets of true faith in this psalm.

  1. Live in the moment. That might sound like worldly advice but it is good advice. When we live in the past or live for the future, we miss today! Another way to put it, which is not original to me, is “keep your mind where your body is.”

Later, when David longed for the waters of Bethlehem, three of his valiant men risked their lives by breaking through the Philistine battle lines in order to grant his request. Longing for the past or hoping for the future can be deadly! At the very least, it makes us miserable today. It can also bring on depression and bitterness—two of Satan’s sharpest and deadliest weapons!

  1. Trust, trust, trust! Do I really believe that God knows best or are they just words?

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. Psalm 34:8

Spurgeon writes this:

“No one knows how sweet honey is till he tastes it, and even so the sweetness of true religion cannot be learned by mere hearing, we must try it for ourselves.  O Lord, help all in this family to prove the power of faith in Jesus, and the efficacy [effectiveness] of prayer to God for themselves.”quote

Trials will taste bitter unless we look past them to the One
who holds the spoon! Then we
see the love in His eyes, and His look sweetens the bitterest pill. We hear the love in His gentle voice, and we know that it is good because He only does what is best. We are blessed because we trust Him!

The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. (v. 10)

Again, Spurgeon writes:

“Lions are strong, fierce, and crafty, yet they hunger; men of the world are also very cunning and full of self-confidence, yet they are not satisfied.  But humble believers, though often weak, and in the world’s judgment, very foolish, are yet blessed with every needful blessing by their gracious God.”

Can you be a humble believer? Can you yield to whatever God puts in your path?  That’s the question that I ask myself, and I’m afraid to say, “no!” More than that, I don’t WANT to say, “no” because…

The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

AND…

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (16-18)

One last note from Spurgeon, who fought what was called “causeless depression” most of his life:

“What a blessing to have a tender sense of sin.  We have heard of persons dying of a broken heart, but if repentance breaks our hearts we shall live eternally.”

When your heart is breaking

 

ID-100234581Rip! Tear! Snap!  What was that? Oh, it was just my heart, breaking in two! What are you facing, dear reader? For me, it was saying goodbye to my son, daughter-by-choice, and three grandchildren: ages one, three, and five. It’s breaking my heart!

For eight years, my son and his family have lived close by. For seven of those years, he and his wife served beside us in our ministry. Now, they will be 1,200 miles way: yes, close enough to drive to, yes, we’ll see them again, but that’s not the point!  No more grandkid sleep-overs—watching the cousins play together, no more family gatherings for every holiday, (especially Memorial Day and July 4th which had become a family tradition). No more singing together in church as a family, no more just stopping in, no more… It’s done.

I can look at others in our small congregation who are facing HUGE trials which make me feel like a spoiled brat—and I am, or have been, but that doesn’t make the pain go away! I can quote one of my favorite lines from Ever After, where Cinderella’s stepmother says, “Just remember, things can always get worse.” It’s true!  What comfort!  At least, it makes me laugh, albeit a little too hysterically.

I’ve been really thinking a lot about Job lately—now that will put things into the right perspective! He lost everything. Do you realize that HE LOST EVERYTHING?!!!

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:20,21

Now there’s a man with a proper focus!  He never shows a “poor me” attitude, he doesn’t blame God, he doesn’t blame the servants by saying something stupid like, “What were you doing over there near the Sabeans anyway!” He doesn’t bemoan his children’s actions: “I told them to build stronger houses, and what were they all doing together? Didn’t you see this coming?”  He didn’t even blame himself by saying, “I should have…”  He simply accepts it as from the Lord.  Some would call that weak.  I’d call it amazing grace, which we cannot work up. It MUST come from God.  When times are really tough, we can only anchor ourselves in the grace which we receive through our time in prayer and His Word, coming to our God with a yielded heart.

But that’s not all! When Satan smites Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown (2:6), there are no words this time.  I’m not sure if the scraping with pieces of broken clay pots and sitting in ashes were medicinal or acts of contrition—probably a little of both, but we see a man who gets no help from anyone. We often think ill of Job’s wife, but can we even imagine this woman’s overwhelming grief?  We don’t know the time lapse between Satan’s first and second attack, but we do know that the first attack was sudden, all at one time. In a matter of moments, everything is gone.  Was she there when the servants came running in with bad news, one right after another? Where they still digging through the rubble to find the bodies of her children? How long did she have to even try to digest the information before she awoke to find her husband writhing in pain?  And what would you have said?  I can’t condemn her! And once again, Job’s comment stops us short:

…shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?

In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (2:10)

Where will you go for comfort? For healing?  What will you try to use to fill up the empty, aching hole in your heart? How are you going to react? Anger feels so good and bitterness tastes sweet when we allow Satan to whisper in our ear!

I have chosen to stay on my Rock, and here is my mantra:

Lord, I will trust You –

When I don’t understand

When my heart is breaking

When I am alone

When I am poor

When my character has been maligned

When I am tired

When I am empty

When I am discouraged

When I am depressed

When I am questioning EVERYTHING

When I am full of doubts

When my dreams are shattered, I will trust YOU!

And I will NOT stop praising and serving You!

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68

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