Normal?

Today I’m feeling better… I got in touch with a therapist, set up an appointment, fingers crossed.

You know, though, Anxiety and Depression is very frustrating for me. I’ve dealt with them my entire life, and the only time I have been free of them is since turning my life over to Jesus. Yet, periodically, they come back. Always in a different guise. School, sickness, emotional issues.

In times of stress, like currently, when my family life is rough, I didn’t always feel depressed before, but it’s like there’s nothing else, so my mind goes to that.

Being worry free can actually be outside my comfort zone.

download

I read that one thing people with Depression feel is Self-Loathing. I always thought that meant I hate who I am, and I used to, but Id on’t any more. I don’t always love myself, sometimes I am downright frustrated with her, but I wouldn’t say I hate her.

Only, I’m noticing, the times I’m more frustrated with her, are when I feel anxious or depressed.

It’s not enough to just feel bad, I feel bad about feeling bad. I feel like I should know better. Like it’s a waste of time. Like if I could just stop focusing on it, I’d be fine.

Come to think of it, that’s what my parents always told me. Well, it was either that, or telling me how much worse they had it than me, and how they considered suicide, etc. Not exactly reassuring.

4a1e449df46a99931d3d0da195b825d4062101c6

It’s easy to see suicide as some kind of quick fix, if you lose sight of what’s important in your life. Right now, that’s tempting for me to do, because it looks like I’m experiencing a lot of what my dad experienced. It’s been ages since I had a really good experience with God, saw a real breakthrough, and my finances are not great, plus my family is a mess.

All of those things are things that caused my dad depression. He indulged it, it cant be said he really tried not to feel that way. My dad never worked proactively on his emotions, he just tried to remove stressors. I wonder if he feels better now that we are out of his life, as a huge stressor for him. My mom thought he might be relieved.

Well, good, I thought. So am I.

download (4)

So, I’ve found myself in my dad’s position. Things are a little less desperate. I’ve not had quite the same level of trouble as him, but it feels much the same.

My dad does not like being happy. I do, but I can feel uncomfortable with it, like I can’t trust it. Misery was company so much of my life, what do I do without it?

Yet, I could see potentially there being a plan in this somehow. I have dreaded becoming like my dad. It’s why I hate the idea of having depression, but why does that scare me so much? Is it because I saw it ruin my dad for being in our lives, and he was never happy, and he was always angry at me?

It’s like for me, there is no in between, if I have it, that’s the end of my life as I know it. I’ll never, ever be able to be normal. It couldn’t just be a phase.

Out loud, that sounds dumb. Many people move on from depression. Many only have it as a phase. Those who don’t can still learn not to be ruled by it. Knowing that doesn’t make me feel any better, it feels like a rationalization.

I have always felt like there is something wrong with me, deep down. It seems to be a weakness common to human beings to feel, especially women, but in my case it makes sense. I was treated like there was something wrong with me since I was a baby.

gaara-png-gaara-second-part-i-png-1024

#relatable

Always blaming myself for the lack of love in my life. Always afraid I was just too wrong to be happy, or fulfilled. On and on the cycle goes.

I used to try to fix that by self-improvement. When that didn’t work, I gave up on it and tried to move toward accepting myself. When that still didn’t quite do it, I thought I should move to focusing on God. Then to trying to enjoy life.

All the while, walking around with the emotional equivalent of a hole in my chest, spilling all the hurt out.

What could I do? It was hard to explain this to anyone. People praised me for how joyful I was. I thought I was.

I think, I am too. Sorrow does not suit my nature. Though I can describe all this, it might surprise you to know how little of it I can easily stay in. Half a day at most. It’s not easy for me to stay sad. It is easy to worry about being sad.

Anxiety is the sneaky agent of losing joy. It sneaks in when direct sadness would alert you too much to the attempt.

I get so furious at myself for feeling bad, and then I start this inner dialogue of all the reasons I don’t really feel bad, and if I’d stop thinking like this, I’d be fine.

What if I just had a reason to be sad? What if my parent’s response was not always to say I should just choose not to feel that way, but to listen? And listen without trying to fix it with cheap advice. Just be encouraging and kind. I do not even know what that feels like–well, I had one friend once who got it. But I moved and we got out of touch.

I have always found it hard to just feel feelings, without panicking because I feel them. I am not a very emotional person, that could be because I am terrified of emotions. They seem so uncontrollable, and I never had anyone who would pick me up if I fell apart.

Grayhugsjuvia

I expressed this fear to my family not too long ago, and they had no answer for it. Nothing. No reassurance they would be there for me if I did. I have been hanging on by my fingertips it feels like.

young-man-hanging-cliff-to-edge-extreme-sport-d-render-illustration-78714722

God has been my outlet. I could cry and rage to Him, and not feel He could not handle it. Lately that has not been so easy to do. All the suppression seems to be reaching my prayer life too. I can sit an roll the problem over and over gain in my mine, never learning anything about it, but I can’t just cry it out, rage, and maybe feel better.

Oh, gosh, I actually do need therapy don’t I?

Evolution of the Big Brain
It’s kind of hitting me this week that all this isn’t normal.

 

The thing is, I didn’t choose to be this way. I’ve tried many, many times in my life to open up to my family, and to other people. With the same result of being brushed off, and shut down. No real help in learning how to process emotions well. I was fortunate to have an outlet, I was able to get this far because of grace.

But, if people do that to you, eventually you pay the price. It makes me angry, like, you all screwed this up, took out a loan from love that you couldn’t repay by making yourself depended on us for you happiness, but I’m the one who’s paying back that interest.

Somehow, it’s easier to blog this than it is to say it. I hit the same roadblocks when I try to talk, like “you just can’t say that in this house.”

 

Err, how am I going to do therapy?

MV5BNzcyNDNlMWMtNTRiNC00NWM4LWIzOTMtNWY2OWVjNWU3MjQxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDk3NDEzMzk@._V1_UY268_CR147,0,182,268_AL_

Well, I pray that’ll be worked out in time. The COVID crisis isn’t exactly helping, face to face is out, and I prefer that. But I don’t think I can wait till it’s available again.

One thought that does sometimes help, even when I feel helpless, is this:

I did not choose to have this happen, to be pushed into this dark hole, but, I can choose to leave it.

I can do what my dad didn’t, and try to get out. Early on in life. (Well, he did, but he didn’t address the real problems.)

The last year has felt like one long test to see if I will become like my dad, and do the things he did, I keep choosing not to. Lately, when I hear the same crap coming out of my mouth as he used to say, I think “This needs to change too.”

I hope that this is the right way to go about it.

Well, I guess therapy will give me something new to post about. Who knows, maybe I can help some people understand it better?

(I mean, you don’t have to talk about it, but I tend to talk/write about everything, I don’t really care much whether people know or not, once I commit to something.)

With that, I think that’s about all. Hey, thanks for reading my basically venting-about-my-life post, stay safe and healthy–Natasha.

Ministering and the Mobile Home Park.

Okay, okay, I won’t write about the Virus anymore. I hope.

I haven’t looked (because I don’t care) but I bet that’s the main subject of a ton of the blogs on this domain right now.

I like that a lot of the YouTubers I follow are choosing to still try to make their videos and keep it regular. Trying to brighten people’s day a little. I will say my blog traffic is increasing.

I’d rather not get traffic because of an epidemic, but maybe people will find it uplifting.

I have another story for you today.

My church is continuing with their efforts at helping. My pastor keeps saying he wants it to be like the book of Acts, getting out there and ministering to people on the street, at their homes, the old fashioned way. Thinking of creative ways to have service and stay connected.

images (2)

So, today we went to the mobile home park behind our church to take people emergency food and give them a flier to call us if they needed anything else. Also writing down their needs and offering to pray for them. They were seniors, the high risk people, so we wore gloves, and someone had graciously donated masks.

Image result for image for mobile home park

I cant help but feel being part of a big church at a time like this has its perks. My church has a network of people who communicate to supply things. I kind of took that for granted before, but we’re probably still functioning because of that. Many churches are just shut down entirely.

I wonder how other religious institutions are doing. I wouldn’t have any way to know except Googling it.

Some people were scared to come outside and take stuff from us. Others came right out and smiled. Some told us they didn’t need it, they had enough. Others that they did need it and other stuff. Some said they’d just been praying and doing devotionals themselves this morning. There were a lot of Christians… I mean, I guess if you live behind a church, might as well be christian. (I don’t think that has anything to do with it really, but it must make it more encouraging to drive by that every day when you leave the unit.)

We still had boxes left over because so may people said they didn’t need it and to just go on and give it to someone who did. Some were crying because they were so touched that we thought of them to do this.

It did not seem remarkable to me at the time, but I guess these are the cute stories newspapers like to cover and people like to share on social media. (Hey, go ahead if you want. I don’t mind. You don’t have to though.) I don’t really feel like my life is that unusual, but I do get to be part of things that people think sound really special.

(I wonder how the homeless people in Skid Row are doing, my previous Church takes food there every so often, I’m sure they must be at risk, hopefully the church will find a way to still help them. It’s a bit far for my current church to travel.)

People have suggested that Christians only do stuff like this to feel good about themselves for helping the less fortune, the looked down in society. At a time like this, people’s pride goes into their pocket. I bet people who wouldn’t normally accept help from strangers would take a medical mask from one now, if they could be sure it wasn’t used.

Some people may do charity and volunteer acts in order to feel righteous. I doubt it matters that much to the most desperate people, as long as their needs are getting met, why should they care? It makes a difference to your own soul, and to your coworkers, what your attitude is, but the nice thing about Charity, is if it’s a good charity, it won’t make much difference to the people receiving it. (Not that that applies to everything, prayer without true compassion is both useless and discouraging to the one who receives it.)

Honestly, I think it scares people more that they might be received well. Because then they might have to do it again, and get involved. We humans are afraid of commitment to new things, especially ones we don’t get paid for. Its like money justifies the risk in our minds, but success and changing someone’s life don’t.

Image result for image for money vs changing lives

? Goals?

Image result for image for money vs changing lives

Or is it really…

Image result for image for money vs changing lives

More about this.

Some people think that is because we are selfish, and while we are, many people are willing to be unselfish if it’s within their comfort zone of talents and time. We are more likely to hold back out of fear than straight up selfishness. Fear is selfishness more cleverly disguised.

I am not sure why we are so afraid to do good. For me, it’s the fear that I am not good myself, that I will be shown to be a fake, and will not be able to really help. It took me a long time to become self aware of that, and even longer to really start to overcome it. Now it haunts me, even though it does not necessarily stop me from acting. My sister says “I think it’s called the Flesh.”

Call it that, or the Inner Bully, or Internal Critic, whatever name you have for it. It works the same way.

Human beings feel we have some kind of price to pay in life, that we cannot be Good, or Brave, or Noble, or Heroic. We have lost that right somewhere, and living a small, cowardly life is our just desert for it.

Original Sin can explain that pretty cleanly, though it’s not a popular explanation anymore.

Maybe we no longer have the right to be Great, but the world still has a need for us to be so. It amazes me when I hear the little known stories that get passed around in books, and blogs, and articles, that not a lot pf people read, but they’re so inspiring. The best deeds may be the ones hardly anyone knows about.

What did it mean to someone? That someone cared even enough to knock on their door and give them food? Who knows? Only God.

The Bible says at the end of time, we’ll all give an account for our lives, and our works will be tested with fire. For Christians, the fire will not destroy us, even if our works burn up, because works are not why we are saved. Others will be judged according to their deeds, as well as their lack of faith. Jesus said “He who does not believe is condemned already.”

We are told we’ll be judged for something as personal as “every idle word we speak.” God looks at the heart after all.

The point is, our works may be the most important where we thought they were the least.

There is nothing wrong with famous good deeds. We need to be inspired. Sometimes whole nations need to be changed, people need to be liberated.

But the thing about small deeds, it’s hard for history to pick them apart, and try to read ulterior motives into it. Someone might assign dark motives to helping someone carry their groceries, but it’s far less likely anyone would bother to try.

Social Media has made even little deeds bigger, but the ones we still do with out cameras off and and between our vlogs, are the ones that people will remember the most, the people we did them for anyway. I can’t be the only one who immediately feels I’ve sunk in important whenever I see someone filming.

Image result for image for camera

 

This has been longer than I expected…well, in conclusion, I am still encouraging people to think about what they can be doing to help, even if it’s just calling someone, or mailing them food or supplies. Or checking in on elderly neighbors, form a healthy distance of course.

This should be our all the time, but still, times like these are when people really appreciate someone being brave enough to reach out. I tip my metaphorical hat to all of you who are already doing that.

Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:13)

Until next time, stay honest and healthy–Natasha.

Fear and The Food Bank.

So, ending the first week of confinement at home for most of us around the world–the first week for my part of America, for many people this is already getting old.

Today I got to bend the rules a bit with my church and help out with their weekly Food Drive. Of course they had less people there than usual, my sister and I had never helped out before, but we felt they would need the extra hands–my real reason was to get out of the house and be around other people for a while.

Image result for image of food bank

 

Image result for image of food bank

So after 3 hours of stuffing food into bags, not sitting down, and carrying boxes and dishes around, I was ready to go home and put my feet up.

The talk at the event was a bit concerned. The people who come in for food are low income, or homeless. They are the most at risk of getting sick, as one person in charge explained to us. We had to wear masks if we were going to interact with them. Someone donated the masks and the gloves we wore, form what I heard. Or someone was lucky enough to find them, since those things are getting sold out everywhere.

But more than worrying about infecting anyone, the helpers were worried about whether we can have this in the following month. Without it some of these people might not get food at all, a lot of food banks are closing because everything is getting bought out so quickly. My grandma could only buy one bag of bread this morning. She was lucky there was even any left.

However, my family is not at risk of starving any time soon. If we were homeless, without access to a kitchen or pantry, that would be different.

My family has been on the brink of poverty plenty of times. Having a small business meant job security depends on the public demand of a small ring of customers. It’s not like widely known department stores that people know to search at. We had to move because we couldn’t pay rent anymore. If we hadn’t had a relative who would take us in, my dad said we could end up in a tent on the field. My dad was rather melodramatic. WE have plenty of friends who would probably help us out before that happened.

What goes around, comes around. We’ve let people stay at our house too when they didn’t have anywhere. Never for very long, but still.

I don’t like being so dependent, but am I glad that we have somewhere. Especially now that my dad’s income is not supporting us. My mom has gotten a 2nd job, so that will help we hope. But if we didn’t live here for free, we couldn’t make it.

All this to say, I’m hovering on the edge of the lower class here, though no one would think so to look at me. Looks can be deceiving. But there’s still so many people worse off. On top of that, they have to worry about catching cold and not being able to shower.

I guess what bothers me is this mass panic over the virus is so selfish.

People are buying up supplies who don’t really need it. Rushing in to get more. They don’t realize that stores donate food to charities, or people go to stores to get food to donate, and that goes to people who cannot afford it themselves. Who can’t even get it by going to a charity, if the charities are closing.

My church is afraid to close because so many places near it are closed that the people would have no where else to go. So we still had our event. We’re hoping to have it again next week. Hopefully through the rest of the crisis.

The Virus is terrible,  I get that. I maybe don’t get it as well because I haven’t seen it in action. Part of the reason it’s so devastating is that it’s new, and people don’t have immunity built up to it yet. In a few years, it’s likely to be a smaller problem. hopefully by next year, even.

It’s scary, sure. But it’s not the apocalypse.

It amazes me how scared people can get. It’s like we’re trained to react this way.

Though generations of books and movies about the end of the world and a post-apocalyptic world probably aren’t helping. I’ve known people who half believe in zombies and AI taking over, who see it as inevitable.

Christians know that the end of the world is inevitable. However, we’re told to walk boldly and wisely, redeeming the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).

Christians are basically paying rent for living on the planet by doing our good works. Not that we have to pay to life here, literally. We just see this body as a loan, a temporary home, meant to be used to help people with. And yes, enjoy life, because who says helping people has to be boring? It can help people a lot to just enjoy things. “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).  Give me an anime with my sisters when I’m feeling down over a sermon any day.

We are allowed to participate in all parts of life, as long as we keep in mind they are fleeting and our real object is God. Balances is the key.

So when we face these crisis, we are supposed to feel as if we are just returning a borrowed book to the library, or a rented car, checking out of our resort, ect. Sure, it was fun while it lasted, but if the fun part is over, or even suspended, who was surprised?

“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said.

Our security does not depend on the world, and the world cannot take it away. People with God’s hand on their lives tend to evade life’s threats with a seeming ease of just being unaffected.

Sometimes Christians do suffer the same diseases, money problems, and terrible crimes as other people. A lot of the time actually, but it is not the end of our lives. We have a hope, we come out of it.

Of course, we’re human. Some of us grow faint and lose courage. Jesus also said “He who endures to the end shall be saved.”

In a crisis, the difference between a Christian and a non-christian might be compared (at it’s worst) to someone dangling off a cliff by their fingers.

Image result for image for person dangling off cliff by fingers

As long as they hold on, they won’t die, but they could slip at any moment. The cliff could give way. Some jerk could even come and kick them off.

Their strength will only last so long, even without another thing happening.

But, if there was a safety net hung below them, none of that other stuff would matter in the least. Whether they fell because they were tired, or the handhold wasn’t stable, or someone else pushed them, or it was just an accident, the end result it the same and the cause no longer matters.

I guess either way that’s the case. You can survive falling, sometimes. But you never need to survive if something catches you.

That’s Christianity. Even death isn’t a failure, if heaven is the safety net you fall into.

Whether that net takes you back to the cliff of this world and its problems, or take you home to heaven, you were still saved. So why worry?

Of course, it’s scary to dangle. It’s scary to free fall even for a few seconds. Just like it’s scary to endure a crisis not knowing what your escape will be.

But, you’re still 1000 times better off than the person with no net, no fall back, relying on their own strength to keep them alive.

The world will be afraid, because it has no hope. But we do not have to be.

I just wonder, over the world, how many Christians are contributing to this scare? And how many are choosing to trust God to catch them. I know my own dad tends to make it worse, but my mom and sisters tend to try to make it better. I hope I’m on that side also.

Maybe my challenge to you is to think about which one you are. I’m not hating on you if you’re scared, it’s normal to be scared, but are you trying to stay calm even so? Or are you adding to the chaos?

That could be as simple as texting a reminder about it when you didn’t really have to, and we all know people who feed off drama and the attention people give them when they bring up bad stuff.

We never know who might be affected in the long run by us giving way to fear.

After this post, I think I’ll stop writing about the Virus unless a really important thing comes up, because it’s not worthy of all my attention, or yours.

Until next time–Natasha.

young-man-hanging-cliff-to-edge-extreme-sport-d-render-illustration-78714722

Image result for image of safety net