Unemployment is hard. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has gone the way I thought it would. Things that appear to be a way out turn out to be dead-ends; potential job leads go nowhere. It makes me think of a road my husband and I were on in Georgia, on our honeymoon. We were looking for a certain historic district, because I wanted to see the houses, but our road went on and on, pavement gradually turning to dirt, and the way became more and more narrow, until it finally ended in swampland. Pretty, with moss hanging from trees all around us, but no houses.
I think I have looked under every rock in Syracuse, and it just is not going to happen. I stopped looking in my ‘field’ along time ago (truth to tell, I don’t have one) and have been looking for anything that would pay the bills, or at least the rent, as it is now October 2nd and it remains unpaid, as do the utility bills and everything else. The fact that I don’t like this apartment may not be an issue soon, because without a job, I won’t be here long. Where I would go matters little to me at this point.
On days like this God seems far away, and I know that I’m moving into a difficult time of the year for me, when the enemy seems to go all out to discourage and destroy any hope. Dark, swirling, under-currents of fear are already moving around me, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or think, much less see a way out. October is hard, always, and not being able to go to my counseling appointments makes it harder. There is nothing I can do about that, except continue to wait, but at least when I had that, life was doable. In the last couple of years, everything has fallen apart, including me, and trying to figure out how to pick up all of the pieces and move forward takes more energy than I have. And that’s without a job.
The only one who can help, at all, is God. There is little or no comfort in the Word; no solace even in prayer.
Is waiting the same as trusting? I don’t know.
But it’s all I have.
So, tonight I went to my thirty-year high school reunion. I was so, so happy to see my friends, but for some reason, came home with a heavy heart. So aware of how much raw pain we have all been through, or are now going through; how life has not turned out (for most of us) how we hoped, and dreamed. I never did lose the twenty pounds I wanted to lose before the reunion (was that even realistic?) but it didn’t matter once I got there, and saw my friend waiting for me at the door. Didn’t matter that I couldn’t find anything to wear, and couldn’t get my hair done, or my nails, or buy new shoes.
And yet, it was nice to be reminded that life was once good, and fun, a long time ago. A lot has happened. It was nice, for a few hours at least, to not have to deal with all the recent pain and humiliation of the last few years, and the therapy that has turned into a nightmare. Good to remember how we all used to have so much fun, just hanging out together, and laughing, and being silly. And good to be with people who have known me forever. Sweet and blessed relief, to be with real friends, not the phony church stuff, or the workplace drama.
Heavy talks, about marriages and divorces, and how we have learned the hard way that a marriage destroyed by an affair will just never be the same, no matter what the counselor says. That the truth would have been so much healthier, and easier to bear without all the platitudes and false hope. It would have been nice to have the music not quite so loud, so we could hear each other, and talk more. And we missed our friends who weren’t there tonight.
Stayed away from the bullies, because some of them don’t look much friendlier than they did in fifth grade, and enjoyed the few who seemed like they grew up to be pretty decent people. Saw one woman who, for some weird reason, had stopped on her way up the stairs one day in elementary school and slapped me across the face. Hard. Did not see the one who kept trying to stuff me in a locker in middle school, thank God. Tried to eat, with my jaw that still will not open all the way, and made a complete mess of it. Oh, well.
And wish with all my heart, that I had more time. After not seeing my friends since my wedding, twenty-five years ago, it was just not enough time. (And I made them promise to never let me do that wedding thing again without at least doing a background check first.)
I have always been blessed with good friends, for as long as I can remember. For all the people who have turned out to be false (and there really have not been that many) I have always had the best of friends. And it’s true: while I love my new ones, there is nothing like an old friend that you share memories with from twenty or thirty years ago. Nothing. And I tend to not lose friends; once I make them, they’re for life. It makes me feel like a very wealthy woman; rich in family, and rich in friendships. I may be semi-homeless, and so far below poverty level that I can’t see the line if I look up, but I don’t believe I will ever lack for friends. It’s just something God has blessed me with. And, I am truly grateful.
I’m glad I went. Cried all the way home, because I love and miss my friend Janice, and now she is driving back to Utica, and I just got to see her for a couple of hours. And tomorrow I have to go to church and will hopefully not run into my counselor, and have to deal with all the horror of this thing-that-just-cannot-possibly-be-happening to my life, but just for tonight, I had fun.
Some people have letters after their name; I have numbers. This is so that, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (a ridiculously over-priced book) if I sneeze sideways, someone, somewhere, will be able to diagnose and treat me for it. It insures that they will get paid to do so; hence the word ‘insurance.’
Sincere and well-meaning people have tried to convince me that my problem is a chemical imbalance, and that taking a pill will fix this. (i.e. make life easier for everyone else.) Having not been stuck with the requisite needle so that the evidence of my low serotonin could be dropped into a test tube and measured (against what?) I wasn’t buying it.
“Depression is just like diabetes, and you would take your treatment for that, wouldn’t you?” Depression is not at all like diabetes; this isn’t rocket science, and doesn’t require a specialist to connect the dots. If you’ve ever been depressed and suicidal, you know that it is not like having cancer, or diabetes, or anything else for that matter. My brain is working just fine, thank you. But I’m sad, and could say why, if anyone cared to ask. Grief is not mental illness.
Our pastor sat down with me a few years ago and tried a different approach. (He had already tried the ‘depression is the same as diabetes’ one). “We read in the Bible that God delivers us out of everything we’re going through.”
I looked at him thinking: “Shipwrecked, imprisoned, sawn-asunder, beheaded, and burned at the stake. So don’t give me that crap.” Sorry, but that really is what I was thinking at the time. Still do, come to think of it.
There is a reality here, but that is not it. We don’t see Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane saying “This isn’t happening, and I’m really not here.” To say any less is to make a mockery of the cross. Christ was in so much mental and emotional anguish that his blood cells burst their boundaries and poured out.
When I saw the movie the Passion, I was in such deep grief and emotional numbness that the thought that Christ, and Christ alone, knows how badly I feel, was immensely comforting.
This is not to say that God never delivers us, but that he does not always deliver us, especially from consequences, whether our own, or the fact that we live, most of the time, with the consequences of others’ choices, like it or not. There is a Heaven, but we’re not there yet.
Sometime after that meeting with the pastor, it got back to me that one of the elders was telling people they shouldn’t be friends with me. As juvenile as this sounds (and was) she admitted, when asked, that yes, that was exactly what she had been up to. (This did not at all have anything to do with the pastor, who in all likelihood has little knowledge of any of what has transpired under his watch. It’s a big church, and no man in his right mind wants to get caught up in witch hunts and cat-fighting. This is what delegating authority is for.)
So I said to this woman “In all the years that our daughters have been friends, you and I have never had a five-minute conversation. You have never sat down with me over coffee, or made any attempt to get to know me.” (A Biblical mandate, by the way, for the elder [spiritually mature] women in the church.) “So what in the world are you basing this on?”
She blinked several times before admitting that yes, she had been telling people to stay away from me. She had “heard that I had problems with people at my old church, and she also heard…..and…” and proceeded to tell me with blond certainty that she had been doing this out of the goodness of her heart, to protect the innocent and unsuspecting, who might choose to befriend me, or actually get to know me. All because of “what she had heard”. Nor would she tell me where and from whom she was gathering all these ‘facts’.
My counselor had also asked me once, in a session in which we were discussing this mess a couple of years ago, why she (my counselor) should believe me over “other people who are more credible.” Another head-scratching moment, and those people also remain unnamed, presumably to protect the innocent.
I said (to the elder): “That would be gossip. And you should know better.”
And she proceeded to tell me that she had heard that, too; that I had a problem submitting to authority.
That would also be gossip. My problem at the Chapel wasn’t that I wasn’t willing to submit to authority, it was that I would not participate in a lie, and was stupid enough to say so.
She left me alone at the altar and went up the aisle to leave the sanctuary (there’s irony here, but I don’t want to stop for it) but then suddenly turned on her little pointed heels and hurried back down the aisle, coming right up close to me. Squinting, she hissed fervently: “I pray for you, Stacey. And do you know why I pray for you?”
No, actually, I hadn’t figured prayer was at all a factor in any of her shenanigans.
“Because I ALWAYS pray for the underdog.” And with that final thrust, she tottered back up the aisle and out the back of the church.
I still to this day have not figured out what an appropriate response on my part would have been. Well, gosh, golly, gee; thank you. Where in the world would I be without all those heart-felt prayers?
A pill is not going to fix this. It may make me numb to the fact that I am sad, but it definitely won’t do what a simple re-training of the staff would do. This particular nut wouldn’t have to be re-trained, as she is now practicing her dramatic talents elsewhere, and the other part of this equation won’t talk to me without a ‘third party present’. (What in the world for, I don’t know. It’s not necessary; we’re big girls, and should be able to sit down and talk. Without an interested but uninvolved bystander.)
Mental illness is largely a social construct; part of what we do in therapy is to de-construct the cage society builds around us and hopefully, become fully alive to who we are, and in so doing, become free to be who we really are. It’s not a biological disease; you can’t “catch” mental illness. If you were to take one person from each of the thirteen committees that made up the team presiding over the current revision of the DSM, and put each of them in a room, alone, and asked them to write on an index card their own definition of the term mental illness, you would end up with thirteen different (albeit possibly similar) definitions. Put them all together and charge $199.00 for it, and you would have our current Bible for diagnosing the realities of everyday life in our culture. Or, you could ignore the labels so judiciously provided by these self-proclaimed experts, and get on with the business of living your life. If you have one, that is.
In all honesty, this is what is supposed to happen when we become disciples of Christ. As we read the Word, we become aware of who we are in Christ (meaning we learn to see ourselves as God sees us) and as a result, our lives become fully authenticated, and we become less susceptible to the rants and petty grievances of blond elders and pastors.
Lest you think I have something against blond hair, I can assure you that my own hair color comes straight from a bottle. As long as my behavior doesn’t, I figure it’s all good.
And this is where elders, and pastors and counselors come in. To open the Word, and show us that, in spite of all of our flaws, and failures, and outright wrong behavior (sin) God does indeed still love us. And we come to know this as the people who represent Him treat us with respect, and grace, and mercy.
Anything less, according to Scripture, is to disqualify yourself as a minister.
“I warn and counsel the elders among you (the pastors and spiritual guides of the church) as a fellow elder and as an eyewitness [called to testify] of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a sharer in the glory (the honor and splendor) that is to be revealed (disclosed, unfolded);
Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the office], but eagerly and cheerfully;
Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation).” – I Peter 5:1-3 (Amplified)
Back when I was going to Believer’s Chapel, there was a popular book called The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee that was used not just as a small-group resource, but also as the text for our lay counselors class. The purpose of the book was to expose the ‘lies we believe’; to identify our erroneous beliefs, target them in order to change them, and so eradicate our undesirable feelings and behaviors.
The problem was, I wasn’t believing a lie. My husband really was sleeping with The Elf, and everyone who knew about it was told not to tell me in order to ‘save’ a marriage that had apparently already ended. I didn’t believe that I was unloved by God, or unworthy, nor was I at all unsure of where I stood spiritually. In fact, that period of my life was the strongest I’ve ever felt spiritually, probably because the only reality I had was God. I did believe (not mistakenly) that going to the store to get a gallon of milk shouldn’t have taken two days (unless the store was at Turning Stone in Oneida) or that husbands shouldn’t be locking their wives out of the house, or sleeping with elves. I also believed that I could not leave my husband except for infidelity, and while I had suspicions, I had no proof, as everyone who knew about it was told not to tell me.
So, I read the book, and did my homework. But I still believed there was something I wasn’t being told, and had an uneasy feeling (belief?) that life as I knew it was about to go horribly wrong. In fact, in one group, when asked “What the Holy Spirit was saying to me specifically” the only thing I could come up with was “Brace yourself.”
Speaking of which, I have Scoliosis, and wore a back brace for a few years as an adolescent. (Or didn’t wear it, as my high school friends remind me, since I would wear it to school, take it off and hide it and then put it back on before going home.) I hated it and the unwanted attention it drew. For a kid who’s only goal was to be invisible and get out alive it was a cruel and unusual punishment.
Anyway. At the time, we were attending Grace Assembly of God, and one night a man named Tiff Shuttlesworth (really) came to do a meeting. He was a charismatic, flamboyant speaker, and did ‘healings’ that were ‘miraculous’. Well, I wanted, desperately, to not wear this brace anymore. It was hot, and uncomfortable and provoked a lot of bullying and teasing in school.
All I remember is sitting in the hallway after the service, with a crowd of people around, while this man knelt on the floor and ‘commanded’ my back to be healed. With a shout, he suddenly jerked forward the leg that was shorter so that it lined up with the other foot. And so, I was healed. And everyone rejoiced and went home, and I still wore my brace. (Sometimes.)
This is what I think of every time I go to a session, or an appointment, or a group that has as a goal ‘fixing my erroneous beliefs’ so that other people will feel better, call me healed, and move on to their next project/client/patient.
Because I won’t play this game, the general consensus is that I must really not want to be healed.
The fact is, I have been rejected by my biological father, my husband, and now my therapist, among others, but clearly these are the most damaging. Everything else, I can handle, but these three are huge. I’m not psychotic, mentally ill, or delusional. I’m grieving. I wish with all my heart I were believing a lie, and that I could magically make it all go away by just changing my thinking.
Because, if that were possible, I would be sitting on a beach right now in Florida, with my daughter, and my husband on a much-needed vacation. But, I’m not. Instead, I’m sitting at an old computer, in an apartment full of half-packed boxes, looking desperately for a place to live and a paycheck.
Not exactly a day at the beach.
I can be difficult, but I am rarely confused. (Or if I am, I’m not aware of it.)
Call to Medicaid this morning:
“I have a question about this form you mailed me, and I made some mistakes when I tried to fill it out. Can you please send me another form?”
“Let me put you on hold.”
“Ma’am, the reason you lost your insurance is because you failed to provide us with the correct information.” I lost my health insurance? Was anyone going to tell me?
“I haven’t yet provided you with any information; can you please send me another form?”
“Let me put you on hold.”
“Ma’am, I think I know why you’re confused. You failed to provide us with the correct information when you called to re-certify, so we dropped your insurance coverage.”
“I never called to re-certify; I was filling out the paperwork, and made some mistakes, and called over a week ago to get a new form. I haven’t received anything. Can you please mail me a new form?”
“Let me put you on hold.”
Nothing, not even elevator music. An entire cup of coffee later:
“Ma’am, I spoke with my supervisor. You actually have no insurance because you did not give us the correct information, and did not tell us everything about your financial situation.”
I now have to go to the bathroom, so am getting a bit impatient.
“I actually have yet to tell you anything, correct or incorrect, as I need a new form to fill out. As soon as I get it, I will fill it out and mail it in, and then you will have all of my information.”
“Ma’am, I think I know why you’re confused. We’re all just trying to help you.”
“Can you please ask your supervisor to send me a new form?”
“Ma’am, you filled out your forms incorrectly. That is why you have a problem.”
“I haven’t filled them out at all, or mailed them to you. How can they possibly be incorrect? And what did you base your determination on?”
“The incorrect information you gave us.”
This was all said with great patience and authority, as though she was explaining things to a small child.
Then she says:
“What we’re going to do is mail you a new form so you can provide us with the correct information, but until this is resolved, you have no insurance at all.”
Okay. So what about the appointments I have had this week, or last week? Or the week before that?
Oh, that. Well I guess you will have to pay out-of-pocket for those appointments.
My pockets are empty, Lord.
Yesterday was a very bad day. The Kidnappers (AKA: The Ex-Husband and The Girlfriend) showed up at 7:00 a.m. to take my daughter to Florida for two weeks, and then I got ready and left for a dentist appointment to see if they can tell me why my jaw won’t open. When I signed in, I was informed that they couldn’t see me at all, because there Appears to Be a Problem With My Insurance.
After that (and an unexpected phone call from my Therapist-Who-Insists-She’s Not-My-Therapist) I went to my primary care physician to fill out disability forms. He said “I can’t fill these out, I just met you. I don’t know anything about you.” This is the same doctor who, back in 1999, was called into the room to look at the inexplicable rash covering three-quarters of my body (cortisol overload) and jumped back, exclaiming: “What the hell is that? Do you do drugs?”
No, it’s from finding out that my husband has been sleeping with an elf for the last couple of years. (I can explain, but not now.)
Another call to United Healthcare to find out what is going on assured me that there is no problem, and as far as she can tell, “my insurance is fine and there are no changes.” I then called the Department of Social Services, where a bright and happy young man assured me that even if I were to lose everything, I will still have Medicaid “which is the best health care there is.” (And I quote.) Never mind that none of my doctors accept Medicaid. And does this kid not realize that perfectly good people die every day on Medicaid, usually while standing in some over-crowded, un-air-conditioned hallway waiting for Their Number To Be Called? Not to worry, though; I also qualify for Family Planning, which means that although I cannot get treated for any of my other problems, if I want birth control or an abortion, it’s on the House. Well, thank you, Mr. President. Should I accidentally get pregnant while going through Menopause, I’ll take you up on that.
Until then, I just want my Zoloft.
And this, my friends, is how we create Mental Illness in America.
I had another doctors’ appointment today. The receptionist smiled at me, asked for my name, and then told me I don’t have an appointment. (She, or someone from that office, had called to confirm it a couple of days ago.) I quite clearly could not breathe, having spent the morning trying to empty a flooded basement, and she continued to smile, and nod, and cut me off every time I managed to get out a word. She simply would not let me finish a sentence. I finally walked away to use an inhaler, and then went back to the desk.
“I……..have……appointment.” I feel like idiot.
“Still can’t breathe?” More smiling, more nodding.
“I found the problem. You were put in the schedule as a ‘mystery patient’.
Can’t talk, laugh, or breathe, at this point, and am hoping maybe a doctor, or nurse, or even a slightly observant maintenance person comes along, possibly carrying oxygen. Nope. After several more moments of trying to get out one word at a time in between all the smiling and nodding and cutting me off, a friend who works there shows up, finds a nurse, and gets me in to see a doctor quickly. When I am rich and famous, I will buy her a small gift. Maybe a new car, or something.
Anyway, the doctor, who apparently can’t recognize an asthma attack when he sees one (for this he paid for medical school?) also began to talk over me, through me, and at me, and cut me off every time I tried to talk. He then stated that I apparently can’t breathe (I could quite literally die laughing at this point, except that I was trying not to cry) and since that’s not what I was there for (it was supposed to be a routine follow-up for a sinus infection, that I had last year) he decided to leave the room, since he didn’t know what to do. Oh, and I had called over a week ago to see if I could get in quickly, because I cannot seem to open my mouth wide enough to eat without dislocating my jaw. I didn’t want to go to an emergency room if I could just get in to see a doctor. Soon. Because I’m hungry.
I should have gone to the emergency room.
As I was trying to talk to the doctor, he suddenly decided to leave the room, because he didn’t know what to do. As I was motioning for him to stay, I had one of those split-brain moments of “Really? Patient can’t breathe, and doctor doesn’t know what to do, so he decides to leave the room.“ I am sure that someday this will all be hysterically funny, but at the moment, the room is spinning.
One of my daughters wants to be a nurse. She is as frustrated (disgusted, really) with the lack of good, common-sense health care as I am, and has all those young adult dreams of getting a degree and changing the system. I had the same hopes and dreams, two degrees and three jobs ago, and realized that They don’t want the system changed. They just want you to do your job, sign out and go home. And come back and do it again tomorrow. If you’ve read Homer, you know that there is only one real way to change a system, and it’s not Top Down. They can’t be bothered, and that’s true whether it’s a business, a university, or a church.
Anyway, back to the story.
The nurse manages to get the doctor to come back in the room because, after all, it is him that I am trying to talk to, but he looks terrified, poor little man. I finally leave with an appointment for tomorrow morning at Crouse Physical Therapy for my jaw problem (God bless the nurse) and he’s sure that I just have TMJ (Gee, you think? I grind my teeth when I’m awake) but never offers a breathing treatment, or anything for the asthma. Or, for that matter, my sinuses, which he forgets to look at or inquire about.
Inhale. God is faithful. Exhale. God is good.
So, for those of you with an asthma sufferer in your life, please, for God’s sake:
Note the signs of ‘unable to breathe’: this includes odd gasping sounds, hand to chest, odd mouth movements (these would be words) or obvious signs of dizziness, sweating, accompanied by a slightly panicky look in the eyes. These all mean “I need air.” Fainting generally means “I need air quickly.”
If the person is trying to talk, and you know that they have asthma, please let them finish a sentence before you jump in with questions, or run off on a tangent. Long breaks between words do not necessarily signify the end of a sentence, it means I am inhaling so I can finish what I’m saying. Cutting me off means I have to start over. With even less air. Combine this with the fact that it usually takes me awhile just to form a complete thought (under normal circumstances) and we could be here awhile. Use your common sense. If it sounds like an incomplete sentence, it probably is. Wait.
I’m not high-maintenance. Really. Just stressed. Can you tell?
Okay, back to cleaning up the basement. Thanks for listening.
Fruit is not necessarily the result of productivity and hectic schedules. We are driven to succeed, to prosper (at the expense of our souls) and to produce results that can be measured and taken to the bank.
People are no longer referred to as people, but as consumers, customers, or even (as was said to me once by a star-struck elder) as cattle, to be driven down the hallway and given information on How to Become a Member. Emerging from the room some thirty minutes later, with their steak knives and information packet (never mind that they went forward for prayer, not membership) they go forth glassy-eyed and pacified, back to their unexamined and unexplained lives.
This is not fruit.
When God tells us to be fruitful, he is saying far more than just increase in number. Earn more. Be more. Fruit is both quantifiable and qualifiable; it means increasing in soft skills (think interpersonal relationships) and in competence. But before any of that can happen, and far more important to God, is to increase in the Fruit of the Spirit. Outward success means nothing if we’re not known for our love, our gentleness, our patience with people.
Pastors are front-line mental health workers, whether they want to acknowledge that or not. Most people seek some form of pastoral counseling when they need help; we want our questions answered, even more than we want our problems solved. We want God with skin on.
We can’t do this without spending time with God, in the Word, in prayer, and worship. Ministers can’t minister, can’t pastor, or shepherd the people, without this. It’s not enough to just want the title, or the office.
Being out of work for the last year has been a blessing in disguise. Since 1998, it has been non-stop trauma, hardship, and crisis: domestic violence, adultery, divorce, foreclosure, bankruptcy, illness (emotional and physical) two college degrees, single-parenting two teenagers, and endless car trouble, financial difficulties, and housing problems. I haven’t stopped or slowed down, until this past year, because if I stopped, it would all fall apart. This took a huge toll on my spiritual life, which affected my emotions, my thinking, my physical health, and my finances.
Now that the world has stopped spinning, and I’ve been disentangled from other people’s agendas (pastoral or otherwise) I can finally breathe. I will be forty-eight years old next month. There are things I want to do, and things I never want to do again.
I wrote awhile ago that I was finished with secular counseling, and I have great peace about that. They don’t have any answers, or any spiritual authority, or knowledge of the Word and ways of God. For me, personally, pastoral counseling works. Someone who knows how to take the tools of the mental health world, and integrate (graft) them with the power of the Holy Spirit, and be God with skin on. The best counselors and teachers I have had, including those in secular settings, have been Christian. On the other hand, some of the worst counselors and teachers have also been Christians. Go figure.
All I can think is that it has to have something to do with bearing fruit. When a pastoral counselor veers too far off track into the limits and dictates of the clinical world, we waste time and money. When we ignore the clinical pieces, and treat everything as though it’s a spiritual problem, we get flaky.
I have to go and get ready for a doctor’s appointment, and then to stop and look at office space. The doctor’s appointment is for my ongoing battle with depression over this ongoing situation with my own counselor, and the office space is for……well, we’ll see.
Have a blessed day, people.
- On Spiritual Direction (debdebbarak.wordpress.com)
- How do Churches Handle Difficult Mental Health Cases, Biblical Counseling, and the Law? (spiritualsoundingboard.com)
- Just. Stop. (nateprentice.wordpress.com)
- Forgive Us These Faults (sethsoasis.wordpress.com)
- Christian Counseling Ethics, 2nd Ed. (psychologyandchristianity.wordpress.com)
So we have to move. Again. It seems that every time we get settled, and I get everything just the way I want it, the landlord sells the house or the rent goes up.
So, here we go again. And I don’t even know where we’re going. Last nights’ message at church was a reminder that we live in tents; we’re not here forever. When we get to the Promised Land, we can settle and build houses, and multiply, but until then, it’s all packing and moving.
I have prayed and prayed about this; what is the wisest thing to do? Stay and pay the higher amount, or use it as an opportunity to move on? Tiffany graduates this year, Brittany is already out on her own, and really, I am free to go wherever I feel God is leading me. I keep reminding myself that God is a God of order, and that He does indeed lead us step by step.
I feel in my heart it is time to move. But I am so comfortable here. I hate change; I like to take a couple of years to slow down and think about things before I do anything. I don’t have an impulsive bone in my body. It’s why sudden endings and losses leave me feeling blind-sided, and take so long to recover from.
I have learned this; it’s not wise as a tent-dweller to accumulate so much stuff. I’ve spent the last few weeks going through drawers, and boxes and closets. Pulled out a huge box of journals from the last fifteen years; found photos and memories, cards and letters. And one thing is clear; God has been at the center of it all, always preparing the way ahead of me, and providing when there was no way we could have made it this far. And always, always, scripture, on everything. Scrapbooks, high school yearbooks, journals, notebooks. The Word of God has been my rock and foundation through it all. Like a thread woven through all of the situations and circumstances, the dark times and the happy times, there is the Word of God. Safe, stable, unchanging, and able to keep me from falling. Or from getting lost.
So there is no reason to fear. Even if I make a wrong decision, God is able.
Have a Blessed day, people.
“In quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
Haven’t written lately; life has not been cooperating with all of my good intentions. And my heart just isn’t in it anymore.
I have given up on the whole mental health/counseling thing. It just does not work. Not the way I believe that it should. Over the years I have been through countless sessions, in and out of church, survived two exorcisms (don’t ask) and, most recently, a psychologist insisted that I work my way through the alphabet during a panic attack. Except that I don’t have panic attacks; have never had one in my entire life, and therefore don’t feel an urgent need to treat them. At least, not my own. But, the session was ending, and she had boxes to check, and I know that ‘give client homework’ is one of them, so I politely said okay. The next time I have a panic attack in Wegman’s, I’ll stand in the middle of the aisle saying “A, apple. B, ball…” And she was happy with that.
We won’t be going there again.
I got in the car thinking This is why people drink. This, the way I feel right now. This ‘nobody is hearing me’ feeling. It is the most horrible painful, twisting feeling, in the very innermost parts of your being. Like having your insides pulled up and out through your heart. Depression doesn’t begin to describe it.
What I am is sad. And tired. I’m grieving, not panicking. And I’m tired of talking to strangers, and doctors, and counselors, trying to explain things they don’t understand, about a situation they can’t fix, and didn’t have anything to do with in the first place. All I get from the church is silence, and all I get from the world is “it sounds like you should maybe just not go to church anymore”. Neither one is right.
Good counseling takes time. I don’t believe in ‘short-term therapy’ for long-term problems. Not for real growth, healing, and a changed life. It’s a combination of discipleship, mentoring, teaching, and sometimes parenting. We are hurt in the context of relationship, and so are healed in relationship.
Nor do I believe in changing therapists, or constantly starting over, or trying different ones like so many different pairs of shoes. I don’t bounce from person to person in my personal life, and don’t care to in my counseling. Many, many clients have told me the same thing. They establish a relationship, begin to build trust, open up, (or wake up) and suddenly the rug gets pulled out from under them, whether because of insurance, or mandated treatment, or the high turn-over rate in agencies. It makes it impossible to learn how to trust anybody, or get any sense of stability and safety.
There is no box for ‘client gives up’ so they get checked off as non-compliant.
I think life was easier when all I had was God, my Bible and my kitchen table. So I will go back to waiting. And praying. Waiting for God to move in my life, for healing to come, and things to be resolved, and the whole mess to be untangled. To be able finally, once and forever, to put the whole thing behind me and not carry it around anymore.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12