My life today is nothing compared to what it was even five years ago, let alone 30 years ago when I began my Christian journey. God planted a seed of change; however, it took almost 20 years to stop living according to my rules and listen to his desires for me.
It has been hard to get out of the house and I finally had to admit that I have been struggling with depression. I knew something was off when I no longer had interest in the things that delight me–mostly being around other people and taking those walks that I had committed to for this blog.
I know what depression feels like. I have experienced it before. I know many of you have too, or someone close to you has. For me,
- Depression isn’t just feeling a bit down. It is feeling like no matter what you do you can’t get up.
- Depression isn’t just feeling grief after the loss of a loved one. It is feeling as if life will never be whole again, and you don’t care. You just don’t care.
- Depression isn’t being tired and staying in bed. It is wanting desperately to get up and yet the best you can do is make it to the bathroom and back to your bed.
- Depression isn’t just skipping events to which you committed to attending. It is wanting so much to see people and yet being so sad that you can’t imagine getting dressed and putting on your happy face.
- Depression isn’t about feeing sad and overly emotional. It is sitting on the edge of the bed and crying and you don’t know why because all you did was wake up.
It can take some courage to recognize the symptoms and ask for help. Unlike other illnesses, there is a conflict between shame and pride associated with depression. Sometimes well meaning friends try to cheer you up and get you past a down period. Religious leaders are often ill-equipped to diagnose or treat depression. And the communities in which we live frequently don’t have the patience to support someone with a ‘hidden’ illness. And more often, our pride stops us from sharing with others that we are living with depression, even if we are undergoing counseling or taking medication.
My life is better this week. I have the support of my closest friends and family. I’m doing what I need to get better and each day I feel a little more like myself. And I finally got out the door and into nature. I have to take the steps back to normal living and make the most of my treatment plan to find my center again.
I was amazed by the simple beauty of the world just a mile away from my home. I found a touch of God out there as I walked with a friend and our dog. I found that my inner spirit was renewed in the midst of God’s creation.
I walked in gardens planted and felt a new being breaking through. The bright colors of flowers coming into bloom. The promise of second chances and renewed life.
Take the walk. Let the wonder of the world open your heart and lighten your journey into healing.
Sit. Rest. Be.
If you think something might not be quite right in our life, I encourage you to seek professional help–start with your family physician. Let people close to you know that you are grappling with depression so they can encourage you and walk in your recovery journey. Be brave enough to ask for prayer and to seek out spiritual healing and direction.
And remember to keep walking. One foot in front of the other. Out the door. Down the street. Around and over the rocky parts. Into the garden of new life.
Walking with the Light,
Do we dare to search?
Do we dare to seek?
Will we break the bond?
Will they understand?
Does it matter?
Shine the light.
Lead the way.
Follow the path.
Where the light shines.
Copyright Maggie Marcum
It has taken me a long time to have a friendship with God. We were more the ‘casual acquaintance’ type for many years. Oh sure, we had our moments of closeness when I cried out in despair for help, not fully expecting to receive any help. And there were those ‘ah ha’ moments on spiritual retreats when I got all caught up in emotions of the worship and the message.
Real friendship was another thing. I still remember walking to communion one Sunday as the band played a song about Jesus being my friend and I realized that I didn’t feel that way. It broke my heart that others could know him that way but I didn’t. I mean I have been a Christian all my life so how could I not feel Jesus was my friend? Friendship implies a close relationship, a sharing of secrets, a deliberate presence in each other’s lives, and time spent together through all the good and bad times.
Wasn’t that Jesus?
It wasn’t my plan to be outside walking before the sun came up this morning. However, with the dog whining and the daughter already off to work, up I was. And what a wonderful delight I found outside.
It was still quiet. Early enough that people were not out and about and late enough that I could see the lights turning on in the neighborhood. As Olie led me down the pathway I could feel the unfamiliar silence in the complex. The wind was lightly blowing, the grass slightly wet, and the crescent of the moon was still visable. In the distance I could see a glimmer of the new day dawning as I stood on the sidewalk looking skyward.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30
I found myself thinking that if I had stayed in bed even a few minutes longer I would have missed all this. I would have missed the crisp air bringing my skin to life. I would have missed the simple walk that brought light into my day. If I had focused only on me instead of the needs of a four-legged friend who depends on me, I would have missed the best blessing of the day.
How often do we hesitate to step out of our comfort zone for the good of another? How often to do pull the covers up and say “someone will tend to it.” How often do we miss the joy that God will send our way when we look beyond self and love and care for others in the world around us?
I visited the Lamb Center in Fairfax, Virginia yesterday. What an amazing place. It is a small facility that is making a huge change in the lives of the homeless, and in the lives of the volunteers. Here visitors are given a hot meal and a place to socialize. Here they can find someone to pray with them and attend recovery meetings if needed. They can get a hot shower and have their clothes laundered while they look for a job or talk to someone about government services. They can meet with a nurse practitioner or a dentist. And they are so loved and respected in this simple place.
You see people who are willing to step out are blessing others and receiving a blessing in return. They don’t do it for the return benefit – they do it because God has placed a love for the less fortunate on their heart. Here people don’t have the luxury of a bed let alone the covers to pull up to hide under. Here people have said ‘yes’ in a big way–one person at a time.
Start your day early. Look beyond the normal. See where God would love to use you. Maybe it is the homeless, maybe young children, maybe the disabled, or maybe just the neighbor next door. Look up and see the wonder of this world and see what you can do to lighten the walk of another.
God bless you on your walk.
“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.” Psalm 143
Life has a way of sending us in new directions. I have walked many roads in my day, many that have not been easy. The past few years have been less complex as I continue to learn how to make my life less complicated.
And now I am ready for The Lighter Walk.
I have a deep faith in the transformative power of Jesus Christ in my life. I continue to develop a rich personal relationship with God. I have learned to let the words in the pages of my bible come to life and guide me through the Holy Spirit. When I am willing to look, I see God in the world around me. I have come to appreciate the connection between those wonderful words, nature, and the way in which my heart and mind are more open in those spaces.
I am ready for life to be less complicated. I don’t need to walk a thousand miles to find myself or to find God. I don’t need to embark on a foreign adventure to find what is already inside my heart and soul. I do; however, need to open my bible, open my eyes, open my ears, and become willing to receive the love God has surrounded me with here where I live and any where my feet carry me.
I need to let the light into the darker places from journey’s past and walk in a lighter direction.
What does that mean for this blog? It means I will slowly begin to turn this over to The Lighter Walk. It means that I am going to start walking in nature here, and near, where I live. It will start with a simple walk in the parks, the fields, the mountains, and the beaches around me in Virginia.
The Lighter Walk is a journey I hope you will join me on. I hope that as I step out you might want to walk with me and share what God is doing in your life. I hope that we will discover that if we keep it simple, we will simply hear and be with God
More to come, but for today I am letting go of other people’s expectation about how a walk with the Lord should look. I am letting go of the notion that we need some complex deep theological angle to meet with God. I am letting go of all that has held me back and starting a simple lighter walk with God.