The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

Do you feel like you can't get things finished and finalized? Always in the middle of things? Here are hope and help. It's grace for the unfinished.

**This is the final post of a series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

 

I’m notorious for running head first into anything—I love new beginnings.

The end? Yeah, not so much. I’m not really a goodbye kinda girl.

I’ve never been a closer and I’m not what you would call a strong finisher. Wrapping anything up (*aside from gift wrapping, I’m actually known for being a killer gift wrapper) is a struggle for me.

So, although my gift wrapping skills are epic, my wrapping-up skills are left lacking. I’m not sure how to end this series without just leaving you hanging.

But in my defense;

How do you end something on paper that could never be wrapped up this side of heaven?

 

The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

I am not complete and therefore, my story is not wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow. I’m betting that neither is yours and let’s be honest, some days that leaves us hurting.

When we’ve been in the trenches for longer than we care to be, we become weary and battle worn and expect some type of resolution. Quite often they don’t come or at least not in the way we’d like.

Maybe it’s just me, but endings seem sad when you can’t wrap them up neatly with a bow. Oh, the abundance of gift wrapping references…

The end better than the beginning?

The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, (aside from Jesus) thinks differently on that matter. He said the day of one’s death is better than the day of birth and the end of a thing is better than the beginning. (Ecclesiastes 7:1, 8)

It seems too counterintuitive to be true.

We celebrate babies and weddings with smiles and laughter, showering mothers and newlyweds with well wishes and hope. And in turn, we grieve the death of anything, pounding our fists on the fresh dirt of the grave, whether it be of our loved one or some long-held dream.

The end clearly can’t be better than a beginning.

Or is it?

On a spiritual level, where Jesus resides and I believe what He has done, I know my death will be better than my birth. But my finite mind grapples with understanding how the giver could be so much greater than the gift.

In the same way, I wrestle with how right now isn’t perfect and how there seems to be no tidy end. The same message is often on replay in my mind; “shouldn’t I be over everything now? Shouldn’t I be “fixed?” I mean, after all, I have Jesus and I’ve worked so hard.

The answer to these questions is simple really;

We weren’t meant to be perfectly happy here.

We were never meant to feel completely content on this swirling ball that hangs perilously amidst an unending black void.

For now, there really is no perfect ending, there’s “to be continued…”

We’re just in the midway.

I find we are in the middle here, processing, not so much paused—our pain certainly does not pause—the hard we experience here is not put on hiatus. Until we come face to face with the One that put us here in the first place, the struggles we face may have no real ending.

It’s okay to feel unfinished because truth is, we are.

Do you feel like you can't get things finished and finalized? Always in the middle of things? Here are hope and help. It's grace for the unfinished.

 

Friend, grace finds us where we’re at and not a minute after.

We will not be all tidied up this side of heaven. It’s just not how the story goes. I have come to believe we are meant to feel slightly unsettled with where we’re at.

My point to all of this is that if you’re wrestling with your anxiety and depression—or whatever you grapple repeatedly with—you are right where you’re supposed to be.

Don’t wait for tomorrow when your anxiety has stopped or when the depression finally ceases to do that thing you long to do.

If you’re waiting for perfect, chances are, you’ll wait a lifetime and it’ll never arrive.

We can search all day long for how to heal the broken spaces within us but without gazing directly into the face of the Holy, some broken spaces will stay… for now.

I still wrestle with my fears and doubts and long to tame the anxious beast that resides inside of me. I am not perfectly whole just yet and the same goes for you.

These truths may make you sad and a little unsettled, but Friend, I pray you’ll find comfort in being unfinished. It is here in the middle where He shapes, refines and perfects. There is SO MUCH unbelievable beauty in a God that died for our sins and imperfections and yet leaves them with us to shape us.

Beauty in the ugly

I have a love for flowers and I cherish that I can plant an ugly little seed in a bunch of gross, worm-ridden dirt and over time the most stunning, vividly bright and fragrant wildflowers will grow. I also adore the fact that it takes equal parts bright sunny days and gray, rainy ones to make them appear. Gorgeous little poppies or foxgloves will attract every type of curious little pollinator, they can’t help but be drawn to the fragrance and beauty.

I think it’s the same with our hard places;

Loveliness grows out of the most unlikely of dirty, worm-ridden spots and others are drawn to us because of them. Why? Because comfort, help, and hope come from such hard places to share with others.

There is no need for perfection and there is no need for getting it just right. Not here, not with Him.

There’s just heaping, endless amounts of grace for the really hard, crappy, useless days and likewise, for the sweet, simple, mostly perfect ones.

He didn’t come here for the fixed, He came for the sick, the sinner, the anxious, the depressed, the perfectionist, the addict, the prideful, the vain, and the (_____). Fill in the blank… (See Mark 2:17)

And you know what He calls them?

Chosen. Ephesians 1:4

Redeemed. Ephesians 1:7

Forgiven. Ephesians 1:7

Friend. John 15:15

Justified. Romans 3:24

We may be here in the middle, unfinished with broken places.

But not to Him.

He washed us, made us clean and calls us His own, even on our absolute worst days. We don’t have to tidy up to completion and have perfect endings and well-rounded stories. Because He already did all of that. He is the ultimate storyteller—His end is always SO much better than any of our beginnings.

In our battles, we find grace for today and that is all we need. Step by step, minute by minute, perfect, glorious, gritty, grace.

He is not finished with us yet

I’m ending this series, not because it’s complete, but because there’s not a perfect ending.

I want my blog to reflect the way I live my life; in the middle, a bit unfinished with equal parts rain and sun, making something beautiful from worm-ridden brown.

Here in this middle place of waiting to see the One that holds my heart and life in His hands, I long for the ending. I wait with a hope that honestly can’t be explained on an intellectual level, no matter how many well-placed words I string together.

My sweet friend, keep fighting the good fight and know that I fight it with you and so do a billion or more others. And one day soon we will meet Him face to face and He will tell us “well done.” Not because you got all perfected, but because you were bloodied and dirty and kept getting back up to fight.


The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

I’m linking up with some other fabulous bloggers this week:

Grace and Truth Link Up: Cultivating Wisdom
Tea And Word Link Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#LMMLinkup: Happy Indepence Day

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You are strong because you are imperfect…

These inner battles have prepared you for this moment. You are strong because you are imperfect. You are wise because you have doubts.”

(Darkest Hour)

 

I love history and I love nothing more than a good historical book or movie—know, wild and crazy, right?—I’m pretty sure you’re getting a really good view of what my Friday nights consist of.

My oldest son is just like me in this way. My greatest hope is not that he becomes a doctor or successful businessman, but rather, a history professor. He’d be amazing in this profession. I love that he searches for truth in history and longs to see what he can learn from it so he can share it with others.

We recently watched the movie, Darkest Hour, together. It’s an incredible movie for any of you history buffs out there.

The heading of this post is a line spoken by Winston Churchill’s wife to him when he is downtrodden and second-guessing himself. It honestly stopped me in my tracks because of the amazing truth it held.

You are strong because you are imperfect…

You are strong because of imperfection…

A few weeks ago I wrote about “hugging your cactus.” In simplified terms, it’s accepting your weakness and working within the parameters you’ve been given.

Contrary to the false belief I held for a very long time, every struggle is not neatly wrapped up this side of heaven. I lived in a fantasy world of a utopia at the end of every hard-earned, bloody battle.

Turns out I may have been slightly mistaken.

It is not our perfection that generates excellence after all, but our imperfections. They become the driving force which propels us to move forward and strive for more.

It is the constant beating down and getting back up again that produces substance, strength, and character.

I have an extremely obsessive brain, sensitive personality, and anxiety. I have learned it is a part of my brain that most likely will never entirely disappear. It’s obnoxious in the least, and crippling at its worst. Nonetheless, these obstacles have proven to build within me a tenacity and compassion that I believe I would lack otherwise.

It is the very weaknesses I hate that a loving God uses to chisel my form and build my character.

It is the very weaknesses I hate that a loving God uses to chisel my form and build my character.Click To Tweet

So, for this, I can thank Him and continue forward day-to-day. I still seek to overcome these struggles but also understand that this side of heaven they may stay with me.

And I can trust that in the staying, there is a purpose, a powerful God-given purpose.

You are wise because you have doubts…

I have struggled with doubts all of my life, whether it be about my Christian faith or about whether or not someone is telling me the truth.

I’m skeptical.

I never saw this as wisdom and truthfully, I see it mostly as a flaw. But when I chew a bit on the above statement, I realize that there is wisdom in doubts.

Why?

Because I can use the doubt to propel me forward to seek out further answers. It also forces me to check myself and my motives frequently.

I have two simple choices when it comes to doubts; I can either allow the doubt to cripple me or I can move forward in discovery and belief. I can only teeter on the tightrope of in-between for so long.

Every doubt I have ever had has led me to the eventual position of having to take a stand. Wrestling through the anxiety and confusion in the process has made me stronger.

You may fear you are the only one, but let me reassure you that you are not. I have had gut-wrenching, anxiety producing doubts about faith, life, and yes, even God. But these doubts and these fears, they are precisely what prompts us to dig deeper and lean into the only One that ultimately has the answer.

Doubts remind us that we are human and that we do not have all of the answers. They drive us to seek out wise counsel, which will either reaffirm our belief or shed light on our misconceptions.

These inner battles have prepared you for this moment…

The inner battles we struggle with are simply opportunities to grow, prepare and ultimately trust an infinite God.

Our imperfections and struggles are prime real estate where resilience, character, and the power of God grow best.


“I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do.” 

Corrie Ten Boom


You are strong because you are imperfect…

Linking up with some fellow bloggers at these sites, come over and check it out!

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Anxiety and Depression – Two Peas in a Pod and the Power of Words

**this is an ongoing series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

 

I have a superpower.

Yep, it’s true. Prepare yourself; for you will surely be amazed.

I have the uncanny ability to feel “up” and “down” all at the same time.

Amazed yet?

Confused?

Me too.

Let me clarify, I have the ability to be both anxious and depressed all at the same time. I get completely wound up with my brain racing all while feeling hopeless and utterly defeated.

Amazing, right?!

I knew you’d be impressed.

Two Peas In a Pod

This series is labeled the Anxiety and Depression Series for a reason: According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website, one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

In short, anxiety and depression tend to hang out together.

They’re old pals that go way back and love to conspire in disrupting your entire life.

Just when you think you have anxiety under control, it will tag team its partner, depression so that it jumps in and disables you with a body slam.

Let’s be honest, they suck, but they make awesome teammates.

Anxiety and its Best Friend, Depression

One of my first experiences with depression was after I began having panic attacks and severe anxiety. I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me I had depression. But sure enough, flipping to the other side of the frantic coin, sat despair.

There was a hopelessness and confusion during this time in my life that is hard to explain. I constantly felt as though something terrible was about to happen and I desperately needed a solution, and yet, I was left feeling incapable of finding one.

In my experience, anxiety seems to demand immediate attention, it’s loud and immediately aggressive. Meanwhile, depression can be a chameleon, a shape-shifter and is often insidious in its attack.

But because they are so similar in other ways, it makes me think of that old saying, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

When you’re deep in it, it can be hard to tell.

Think, think, think…

A key symptom of both depression and anxiety is rumination. This simply means the sufferer obsessively goes over a thought or worry, thinking they’ll eventually come to a solution. In reality, they end up exhausting themselves while wasting precious time and mental energy.

This whole rumination thing is really a wrestling match of words.

I’ve spent many, many, … (there just aren’t enough many’s for this) days ruminating and wrestling.

The thoughts we find ourselves entertaining are a rabbit trail of frightening scenarios and doubts.

The average person has thoughts like this but their brain either problem solves or eventually moves on. The brain that struggles with anxiety and depression is like a needle stuck in the same groove of a record, going round and round.

Being in such a heightened state of anxiety for so long is sure to cause a drop. Medically speaking, we know it’s terrible for your body to be wound up with adrenaline and cortisol.

Depression, therefore, is a natural result of anxiety.

Anxiety in the heart causes depression…

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25 NKJV

Well, isn’t that interesting. Even in the word of God, they are paired together.

I love this verse because it feels like an answer I’ve been searching for. It makes sense to this over-thinking brain.

Sort of like an equation that I can file away:

An anxious mind over what might be or what was = Melancholy due to lack of control.

Even more interesting to me was the second half of the verse.

A good word makes it glad

The word glad that is used here means to brighten up, to cause to rejoice and cheer up.

You know what I think is a pretty good word for the anxious and depressed?

“You are okay just as you are and you don’t have to fix this right now.”

It can feel imperative that you get rid of all of these awful emotions RIGHT NOW which is partly what can cause anxiety and depression to worsen.

A good word is one that lifts and encourages you to understand that it’s okay to not be over this overnight.

It takes time.

There is nothing more encouraging than being given permission to just accept who you are and where you are at this moment.

Am I saying that every mental illness and issue will be resolved when given a good word?

No, of course not.

But I do know first hand what a word of truth and kindness can do to an overly anxious and hopeless heart.

Life is hard.

Living life with anxiety and depression is even harder.

So, no matter what treatments you are implementing, a kind and understanding word will always bring hope, life, and encouragement.

Be kind to yourself with your own words and fill your mind up with God’s words. Work on replacing those painful, ruminating thoughts with words that lift up and trust in God.

Whatever battle you are fighting, remember that Jesus fights with you. He is not condemning you and His words are there for you to battle with.

Regardless of which came first or why you are going through a time of anxiousness and depression, words have power.

Which brings me back full circle…

I think we do have a superpower after all: it’s the power of our words.


A necessary disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not a professional with letters after my name. I am someone who has lived with anxiety and depression for over 20 years. Read about me here. I may have life experience and insight… But I would suggest you seek professional help if you feel you need it.

***If you came upon this site and are not sure about this whole Jesus thing, let me just say, welcome! I hope you’ll stick around and maybe enter the conversation about Him and who He claims He is.


Be sure to stop by where I am linked up with fellow bloggers at the following link-ups:

#Lmm Link-up

 

LoriSchumaker.com

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My musings on turning 40…

My musings on turning 40... #gettingolder #aging #turning40

The man was clearly exhausted, slumped over in defeat halfway up the massive hill he was climbing. Sweat dripped down his weary face from underneath his wide-brimmed hat. Just above where he was resting his aching bones sits an “over the hill” sign on a mound of delicious emerald-colored frosting.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is my dad’s surprise 40th birthday party. Friends and family came from near and far to celebrate the demise of his youth.

At the time I was 10 and my father seemed ancient to me. 40 appeared awful because obviously, all signs pointed to the beginning of the end – including his birthday cake.

Luckily, the big, bad 40 was as far away from me as a dream.

But wouldn’t you know it, 40 finally caught up with me…

 

My musings on turning 40... #gettingolder #aging #turning40

My musings on turning 40…

Ten years ago today I was standing on the sandy beach of Puerto Vallarta, water lapping my feet and the sun warming my skin. I was celebrating the end of a decade and more importantly to me, the beginning of a new one.

30.

My 20’s were a bit rough so I wasn’t sad to say, “Arrivederci!” I actually welcomed 30 and the possibilities it held.

It’s been a little different saying goodbye to my 30’s.

For one, we didn’t take an elaborate trip to a beautiful beach.

Secondly, my life is a bit chaotic right now –  I’m a mom of three busy boys, ranging from 9 to nearly 16. Between homeschooling two of them and running like a crazy person most days to baseball, piano, drums, and driving lessons – to name a few – I don’t necessarily have time to go on a grand vacation to mourn celebrate the end of my 30’s.

And lastly,  it’s not the getting older part that I mind so much, it’s saying goodbye to a decade that I have loved. These last ten years have brought so many good things that it feels a bit like I’ve crested the mountain of life – how could it possibly get any better?

I mean, 30 was good;

It’s not just the gray hairs popping up or the wrinkles at the corner of my eyes that leave me a bit apprehensive about 40. It’s the all-around life changes.

30 was fun.

The 30’s were groundbreaking and left me settled and comfortable with, well… me.

What could this new decade hold that could be better than that?

I think maybe I’ve mentioned before that I don’t love change…

It’s not all about just me either, it’s my people too… I am no longer a mom of little boys, but a mom to young men, so I find that even my role as a mother is evolving.

It’s not bad, just different… New.

I feel a bit like I’m still trying to figure out how I fit in this new skin of mine, this new decade and this new season of life.

In the end, I have come to the conclusion, apprehensions and all, that the notions I had about 40 and the facts of it are a world apart. I did not look forward to 40 and I dreaded the thought of “aging.” (I’ll admit I fell prey to the belief that life would somehow lose value at this point.) It’s silly to think about now.

As 40 has neared and finally descended, I have found beauty with the changing in and all around me. On the day of my 40th birthday, I thought of the One who does not change while I continue to. The beauty lies in the fact that He has every day of my life carefully cared for until we meet face to face.

“Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; I will bear you and I will deliver you.”  Isaiah 46:4

Jesus.

I can breathe easier when that name is on my mind and spoken on my lips…

My hair will gray, my boys will grow to be men and another season will come as surely as the sun rises each morning. But Jesus never changes and will continue to be my anchor no matter my age or the season I find myself in.

Of that, I am certain – in a world of uncertainty.

He has proven Himself faithful to me day after day and year after year.

Because of this, I can confidently close the door on one decade and look with eagerness at the horizon of the next.


What season are you in? Is there a favorite age you’ve had? If you’re 40 or past, what do you think about the 40’s? I’d love to chat!

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