Friday, February 20, 2015
LIFE IS A STRUGGLE
I have been following the Compassion Bloggers trip in the Dominican Republic. I have a teen girl, Daneisi, in the D. R. The stories always make me smile, cry, laugh, and want to sponsor yet another child. As I read the latest one, I realized that it's been a while since I've written on my own blog. It's been even longer since I've written a devotion. I pondered the reason, and it quickly came to me.
I have nothing encouraging to say. I want my blog and my devotions to be a source of encouragement to others. Yet, I cannot encourage someone else when I am not encouraged myself. I am struggling in my own faith right now, and I have nothing positive to say to help someone else.
It's not anyone's fault except my own. I don't reach out. It's hard for me to do so. I struggle with trust and relationships. My problems with relationships come from my abusive childhood. I learned quickly that my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams, my pain, didn't matter. It's hard to overcome a coping mechanism. Also, my inability to reach out and confide in others is also due to my brain damage. I cannot articulate the words that are struggling to get out. That is why writing has become my outlet. I can write what I am feeling.
I don't have very good relationships with others. During times of trouble, like the one I'm experiencing right now, I withdraw from everyone and everything. I retreat into my own little world. I feel safer that way. People have mentioned to me that I am very hard to get to know. It's true. I am. It's not that I don't want a lasting and close relationship. I very much do, but when you go through life alone, it becomes comfortable. A close relationship is impossible for me. At least, it is right now.
I've been on a roller coaster of emotions for the past seven months. One day I'm positive and upbeat. Today is going to be a good day, when good things will happen. My joy has returned, even if it is short lived. The next day the darkness of depression overcomes me. Why bother fighting for a better life? Nothing's going to change. Everything will remain the same. Why bother trying? I want to give up the fight.
Yes, I am a Christian, but I am not usually a joyful person. Especially when hard times hit. I get depressed quickly, and sometimes it's hard to come out of. Sometimes, it lasts only a couple weeks. Other times, it lasts years. I'm afraid this time, it's lasted seven months, and I am finding no way out of it. I do want to assure you that I do not have very many suicidal thoughts. When I do have them, I usually find a way out of them. Maybe I have clinical depression; I don't know. It's something I've considered for a while now, but I have limited finances. And there are more important things to spend my money on than a doctor's visit and medication. I need food, for one, car and health insurance for another. By the time my bills are paid, I have no money left even to save. So my mental and physical health go untreated. It's been that way my whole adult life. And it will probably continue for the rest of my life.
In April and May, I was on a spiritual high. I was going where the Lord was leading, I had a good job, I was studying for my associate's degree, I was right where I needed to be. My dreams seemed to be within reach, and I was excited.
As I adjusted to working in a full time job in a new career (and it's very hard, I assure you!), my joy knew no bounds. I arrived to work early, ready to start the day, and I found fulfillment in my job. Everything was going great. I daily thanked the Lord for the job, for His fulfilled promises, and for His provision. I couldn't say enough good things about Him.
In July, everything changed. I lost my job. To say I was devastated isn't accurate. As I've mentioned in an earlier post, part of my symptoms of brain damage is the inability to show emotions. While my employers talked to me and informed me I no longer had a job with them, my emotions shut down. I admit I was proud of myself for handling the situation as a mature woman. I didn't cry, didn't scream, didn't plead for another chance. I accepted it gracefully and calmly. Inside, though, I was crushed. I loved the job. As I crossed the parking lot with a small box of my things, the reality began to hit. I was now unemployed, with no income. It took me a good part of the afternoon and the night to sort through all the emotions. Failure. Disappointment (this was huge). Worry (right next to disappointment). Frustration. Despair. Self-loathing.
I did what any normal adult would do. I immediately sought help from the government and was issued food stamps. I called my school and got back into career counseling. It was only to myself that I admitted my self-doubt, my confusion. Could I really do another position like the one I was fired from? Was this really where the Lord was leading me?
I spent the next month unemployed and without income. It felt as if I lost everything, and in a way, I had. My dreams of being self-sufficient and being a mother crashed. With the death of my dreams came the depression once again. Again, I struggled with more and more questions and doubt.
Why struggle so hard when everything gets ripped away from you anyway? What is the point of pushing forward when I am constantly knocked back to my starting position? I wasn't ever going to adopt a child; I would never go on a sponsor tour; I would forever be in poverty. I would always be a failure. My mother would always be supporting me. There was no joy in living every day.
My faith hasn't returned to the fire it once was. I doubt it ever will. I still believe God is in control. I still believe everything that has happened has been in His plans for me. Yet, the darkness has covered my light and my despair has quenched the fire. I am simply going through the motions of Christianity, with only small bursts of joy and gratitude sprinkled throughout.
Try as I might, I just can't get the fire back. Even church has become just another part of my week. I've only been going every other week, to save money on gas. I watch the sermon online the next week.
Good things have happened, things that I can see God's hand in. But the lasting gratitude and the praise of every day just isn't there. Oh, I am grateful for the things that have happened, but my joy only lasts for the day. The next day, the depression has returned.
One good thing is that I have been working part time. I have returned to child care out of necessity. I can quickly find a job in that career, and within a month, I was working again. However, my hours are not guaranteed, and I am right back to where I was before April; struggling financially and with no end in sight.
Do I see the Lord in this? Yes, I do. He is providing me with exactly what I need, when I need it. Just like always. Just like He always will. He is always faithful, and He always will be. I have no doubt about His faithfulness.
Just this week, I accepted a temporary position that is also part time and will coincide with my schedule at the child care. I am glad it is temporary, for it is a test to see whether I can regain my confidence, or to seek other educational opportunities. Perhaps the medical field just isn't for me. Maybe I should return to child care. It is a career I know and am comfortable with. It is something that, though I may not excel in, I am good at. So why bother trying a new career when it's only going to lead to defeat and failure? Because something in me wants to fight. But I can only fight for so long. Then I give up. This second chance will prove to me whether I have what it takes to succeed in another career or if I should just seek a degree in early education, a degree that will not pay off monetary. If I seek this kind of degree, I have to accept the fact that I will forever be in poverty, struggling paycheck by paycheck.
I cannot see the way the Lord is leading me. Is He still leading me into the medical field? Or is He leading me back to child care? The way is not clear anymore. It is murky and dark. Even with the confusion and the darkness of depression, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, following the only One who can see the way out.
Even though I have lost my dreams, even though I can see no way out of this darkness and the pit of despair, I will still cling to my Savior, the only One who truly understands the way I am and still loves me with everything in Him.
And maybe one day, the light will return, and I will once again be on fire for the Lord. Maybe, one day, the joy of living every day will also return.