Walking Out Depression

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. 

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Lewinsville House, 1659 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean, VA

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.

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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.

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Take the walk. Let the wonder of the world open your heart and lighten your journey into healing.

Sit. Rest. Be.

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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.

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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,

Maggie

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Inspired Change

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Have you ever found yourself in a place where you know something has to change but you aren’t sure what next step to take? Have you stayed in a place out of a sense of obligation when you know something isn’t right? Have you wondered if it is time to move on yet you feel trapped or you fear the change?

I think we all have these struggles from time to time. Change is a choice. We can choose to stay in the uncomfortable zone and ‘suffer through’ it or we can choose to ask for help to discern which next step to take. For me, this decision starts with prayer and asking others to pray with me so that I can get out of my head and away from emotions that might influence my decision to stay or to bolt.

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Letting GO to Grow

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the start of the observance of Lent and a Christian tradition of giving up something–fasting for 40 days. There are many historical reasons for this period of fasting and I’m not here to debate the legitimacy of one practice over another.

I was told a long time ago that the concept of giving up something is great, if it leads one to rely on God to carry them through times of temptation. So we give up coffee and we pray when we are tempted to break our fast and have that cup of java.

Fasting isn’t a punishment. It is the act of letting go of something that we have come to rely on and to turn our reliance toward the Lord instead. For those of us going to receive ashes today, we do it as a sign up our faith and we do it as a sign of humility as we acknowledge that we are here for a time that God designates for our lives.

If you are letting go of something that has become your idol or your go-to when you are stressed or in need of comfort, I encourage you to also take this fasting time to invite Jesus into those areas. Pray with others. As for a blessing of the Holy Spirit to guide you. Let go of the things that you turn to and grow in the areas that God is calling.

Easter is around the corner. Now is the time to prepare for it.

Blessings.

A Day of Remembrance: 9/11 Thoughts

This morning I woke with that same somber cloud of quiet sadness that has hung in the air every September 11th since 2001. I don’t know why, but going to bed last night I thought this morning would feel different from all the other years. Fourteen years has not changed anything. I still want to cry and I still have trouble believing what happened as I, and millions of others, relive the hours and days of that tragedy.

Funny the things I remember most, beyond watching the news unfold around me. I remember wondering if I should go to work only to get the call that we were evacuating to be safe. I wondered how to explain this to our daughter because we would have to tell her. The Pentagon was just a few miles away and well, everything was changed. We called friends and family to make sure they weren’t in the Pentagon that day and we called simply to say, “I love you.” I remember the silence that evening more than anything else. Living outside of Washington, DC the sky was always full of planes flying over and cars rushing between work and home and sports fields. Not that night. All we could hear were fighters flying over for our protection. That night we drove to churches to pray. We walked the streets in dark quietness because all the stores were closed. As a nation, we simply shut down.

In the days following we were changed people. We cried openly at work and in the grocery stores, and people placed their hands on our shoulder because they understood. We let people pull out in front of us and nodded in shared grief. We held onto our children and wondered if it was safe to let them continue to live. We were kind and gentle with each other as we processed what was happening in the places near to us. We came to understand that we had to get back up and live our lives to show the world and the people who wished us harm that we were stronger than them. We had to show we were a nation united and that together we would recover.

As you head out today under the cloud of such enormous loss, I pray that you will remember who we were for those few days after. We are still kind, compassionate, praying people. We can still set aside our political and religious bickering to find a way support each other. We can still let someone pull out in front of us and not blow our horn when someone doesn’t move as quickly as we think they should. We can still help our neighbor if they are struggling. We can still ask a stranger if they are ok. We can still gather together, hold hands, and pray for our country. We can rise up from the ashes of that day and honor the memories of 9/11 by being good to one another. Who knows, maybe today could begin anew a nation where we turn off the TV and turn to our families. Maybe today we will pick up the phone and check to make sure a friend is doing ok. Maybe tonight we will remember to say prayers with our kids and tell them how we love them. And maybe tomorrow we can carry on as if every day is the day after.

Dear Lord, out of the shadows of our grief and sadness may we find new hope and light. Lord, make us a people who care for one another, who help each other, and who pray for our nation. Lord help us to remember out of evil, good will prevail. Make us a people of compassion with giving hearts that change our neighborhoods and that brings renewed joy and hope for the future.

©maggiemarcum.com

Looking Back to Move Forward: Creating Lasting Change

It isn’t always easy to look back on our lives and review the mistakes we have made that hurt others and that have hurt us. Twelve step programs calls that “taking our inventory.” At certain points in our lives it is necessary to take stock of how we have lived, especially if we want to move forward and become better people. For me, that takes God—it takes admitting to him that which he already knows and then seeking first his forgiveness and then asking that he change me. At some point, we also need to apologize to those we hurt, which can be the most difficult part, especially if the other person is unwilling to hear.

I have made some royal mistakes in my life. Some would say I have sinned in a big way and that too is true. There was damage left in my wake. I took the hurt I carried and inflicted it on others. I lived unaware for some many years, hiding and numbing my internal pain in any number of ways. I did that until I began to recover from my own pain and could better understand why I behaved the way I did. And still, today I look back with sadness as I realize that some may never recover from our damaged relationships. I am thankful to those of you who have found forgiveness in your heart. I know it was not easy and you so inspire me to trust that God can and will repair all things, if we trust him.

It is never too late to change. I believe that God gives us as many chances as we need to get it right. After all, Jesus did say something about forgiveness—70 times 7. His forgiveness is limitless. I know we as mere humans may not find it as easy to forgive; however, if we can begin by admitting our own faults to God and accept his forgiveness, we may also find peace. I may never have the chance to tell some people how sorry I am to have hurt them, how sorry I am that things became twisted, and how much I wish things were different. But I can change. The best possible thing we can do is seek forgiveness and then turn our lives around.

Be different today. Let go of the pain you carry. Seek forgiveness and freedom. Show yourself you are transformed by what you do next.

©maggiemarcum.com

A Season of Purpose

Living with purpose isn’t about how much we do. It is NOT about making ourselves feel better or relevant. Living with purpose is about having a heart for others that compels us to serve our brothers and sisters. Purpose is the result of a changed heart that propels us into action, with little thought about what we get out of it. It is a heart that overflows with excitement to be there for another human—to share our love and our gifts that someone’s life too may be changed. Continue reading

Searching for Meaning

I spent a good portion of my life searching for meaning and understanding about my life and the world in which I live. I tried everything—sex, drugs, rock & roll, with a trip into the cultic world of Scientology. I would like to think I was a ‘free spirit’ but in reality, I was simply lost. I grew up feeling invisible and kept hoping I would be noticed. Only problem with that kind of search is that I was noticed by all the wrong people in all the wrong ways.

In the business world I searched for some measure of success. Initially I just wanted a job to pay for my car and to get out of my parent’s house. I wanted to find some credibility after my California years of living free—except for the trapped in Scientology part! I went to work where I was told to work and I made a decent living, met a husband, and a few lovers along the way. Sex, drinking, and party party became the new mantra. Continue reading