Tag Archives: Anxiety

The most selfless act… {Part Two}

GiveHope

Read Part One here!

How can you help someone who is struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts?

I won’t pretend to have all the answers on this one and it may be different from person to person so I’m going to tell you from my own experience what has helped me and what has not.  There are many websites with tons of information.  One of the first steps you can take is to educate yourself.  Learn what depression is and what it isn’t.  Try to understand how it affects a person, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Take a stand to know more and then take what you learn, apply it and share it!

For me personally, it has been difficult for anyone to come along and “save me.”  This was never an option.  I simply do not allow others into my darkness…until now.  I will say, the only reason I am sharing this now is because the good that can come from this far exceeds any fears I have of rejection and judgement.  I simply have to be a voice for all of those who cannot find their own voices.

Friends have come and gone.  Many never knew just how clouded my thoughts were.  Only this year, have I really started inviting people in.  Even when I let the walls down enough to let someone in, this depression, the darkness, the thoughts of dying, are things that continue to be locked tightly away, even from my closest friends, including my husband.  This just isn’t something you want to share with those you love.  You don’t want to burden them with these fears, worries, or pain.  You don’t want to create panic in them.  You don’t want to cause turmoil or upset in their lives.  So it stays hidden, deep inside.

I think what I am learning is that if the day comes when my irrational thinking wins the battle, there will be nothing anyone can do.  I don’t say that to scare you even more or to turn you away, I say that to let you know that it is never your fault if someone makes the choice to take their own life.  So many survivors left behind from suicide take on this guilt, wondering if they should have noticed more, done more, or been a better friend.  Don’t carry those burdens.  Just don’t.

Keep in mind these are written from my own perspective but let’s assume they apply to anyone suffering with depression.  If you have a friend who is battling this fight, ask them…really ask them what they need.  They may not be able to answer you right away.  Encourage them to really think about what is helpful and what isn’t and ask them to share that with you!

So, what can you really do?

You may not be able to prevent suicide.  What you can do is extend love, compassion, try to understand – even if you really can’t – simply try.  Be there for me, let me know I am not too much for you, that you can’t carry my burdens but that doesn’t mean you can’t be there for me.  Tell me how much I mean to you, how important I am to you and others.  Just knowing that someone truly cares may be all it takes.  Believing that may not come easy for me.  My mind is filled with lies and all that clouded judgement.  I may not believe that you really care.  I may not even want to believe it.  Keep telling me.  You might get frustrated and feel like nothing you’re doing is working or helping.  You may want to give up on me.  DON’T!  Be patient wit me.  Encourage me to keep fighting.  Keep telling me over and over, that you are there, that you love me, that you know I am hurting, that you see my pain.  I may get angry with you.  I may try to push you away.  I may pull away and try to shut you out.  This is not because I don’t trust you or because I am actually angry with you.  It may simply be my defenses that long ago helped me to survive but now, keep me very alone.    This darkness has invaded so much of me and it will take time.  I may try to avoid you.  Don’t let me.  Due to the depression and the irrational thoughts, I may not be able to make all the right choices, but you can help me by choosing not to give up on me and not letting me give up on you.

From my own experience, what I don’t need is preachy.  I know Scripture.  I know how to read my Bible and I do.  I know God loves me.  I know and believe He has a plan for me.  I have no doubt that God can heal me.  What I need is a friend.  Sometimes all I really need is a person to be there, so that in those moments when I feel so alone and so invisible, someone can remind me I am not alone.  Someone can say, “I am here.”  That’s a hard step for me, to admit I need anyone, and it’s even harder for me to let them in.  In my mind, I feel like too much of a burden.  I feel like I am wasting someone’s time, that they’d rather be doing something else or that everything else in their lives is more important than me.  Don’t let me carry that.  Sure, you have things that are important, but let me know I am just as important and that there is nothing you wouldn’t do to let me know I am not alone.  On the flip side, some may not know all of this.  Some may need to hear God’s word.  You need to get to know your loved ones well enough to know their needs.  Ask them.  If they can’t tell you, keep asking until they can.  But please, please don’t be offended if they are not ready or in a place to hear God’s Word.  You can pray for them and let God work in them through the love your share with them and the light you shine in their life.

I can’t get over it.  Telling me to “Just get over it,” “Let it go,” or “Snap out of it,” does not help.  In fact, what I hear is my problems are nothing, that I shouldn’t be struggling like I am.  Or maybe I hear you don’t have time for me and we both just need to move on.  I take on guilt and shame for being too broken.  I began to question, even more, what is wrong with me.  I know that’s not your intentions.  I realize your intentions are most likely good, that you are trying to be helpful.  If you don’t know what to say, that’s okay, you don’t even have to say anything.  You could offer a hand.  You can pray for me.  You can put me in touch with someone you think would understand.  Please don’t expect me to just get over it.  It simply does not work that way.

I don’t need anyone to fix me, nor do I believe they can.  I don’t need all the answers.  I don’t need you to right the wrongs.  Sometimes, I may just need you to listen, to let me tell you what I am thinking and why I am thinking it without the worry that it will scare you away.  I may need to share the thoughts or memories that flood my mind, without fearing my pain will hurt you.  I may need to scream, or cry.  I may need to just sit and hold your hand.  I may need a hug.  At different times, there may be different needs but I never need you to fix it all or carry it for me.

Take care of yourself.  That’s what I want most.  In doing that, don’t leave me hanging.  I know your family and obligations are important but I need you to remind me that my life is just as important.  If I call you at an inconvenient time, I’m sorry, but if I’m taking the step to call you, then trust me, it’s really important.  Depressed people, remember, pull away, shut others out, withdraw.  So if I have taken that step to call, please know my intention is not to inconvenience you or cause disruption in your life.  If I call, it’s because I am in a desperate moment and am very much in need.  In saying that, if you can’t be that person who drops everything in a moment of need, say so.  Hopefully, I can find someone who will be that go to person.  Encourage me to find two or three people who I can call on at anytime.  Remind me I am loved and cared for and that you’re not bailing on me.  Tell me I am not too much for you but that you also have to take care of yourself.  I will try to understand.  Remember, I don’t want bring pain or suffering to anyone else, but I do need honesty.  And if you are that person, who is willing to accept a call at any given time, take care of yourself.  Have your own support system in place.  If you begin to feel weighed down, don’t shut me out, but seek out support for yourself.  I don’t want you do carry this burden alone just as you don’t want me to carry my burdens alone.

Most importantly, give hope.  Tell me reasons to live, why I am important.  Point out good things in my life.  Remind me of good times.  I may not always hear you.  I may brush you off and not believe you.  I may try to ignore you.  Those are all my defenses.  Those are lies that have filled my mind.  Tell me anyway.  Give hope to the hopeless!

And if you are the person who is walking in my shoes…

Please know, you are not alone.  Yes, I know you feel so very alone.

I know the pain is often unbearable.  I know that sometimes it feels like the weight never lets up.  I realize the fears and worries are overwhelming.  I know it’s hard to believe anyone cares or could possibly care.  I know everything in you wants to run away.  I know your heart aches with every beat.  But you are not alone. 

You may not feel supported.  You may have hundreds who love you or you may have none.  Somewhere out there is someone who will take the time to help you.  Please call a friend.  If you don’t know anyone to call, call a support line, a therapist, a doctor.  Go somewhere and make a friend.  Go to a church.  Go to a hospital.  Go to the police station if you have to.  Just don’t walk this road alone.  Tell someone how you are feeling.  If they won’t listen, tell someone else.  Keep telling until someone hears you.  Someone will listen!

You are not crazy!  You are hurting.  You are lonely.  You are in a dark place and you need light.  You are suffocating and you need air.

It really is okay to need and there are people in your life who will help you find that light.  You may have to seek them out.  I know that can be extremely difficult…do it anyway!  Don’t let your light fade out without trying everything you can to get out of the darkness.  You are worth it.  You are loved.  You are amazing and God can do something with all the garbage you carry.

If you can’t bear your heart to another soul, know that God is always with you.  Even if you are angry at Him.  Even if you don’t want to believe in Him.  Even if you are like I was, that little eleven year old girl who believed her God could never love her or want her, who prayed for Him to save her and never heard her prayers answered, who begged for him to protect her and felt so abandoned, I want you to know, He never left me … not once.  I have run so far from Him, turned my back on Him, been furious with Him, and yet each day, He reminds me that I am loved, He offers me peace and comfort, He extends His grace, and He never lets go.  You are worth it!  You are not alone!

Take off the mask.  You don’t have to be okay.  One of my favorite pastors once said, “It’s okay to not be okay!”  That was a message that I have needed to hear over and over.  It’s okay to not be okay!  Let the tears flow.  Be a mess.  Let others in, let them see the brokenness.  If they truly care and love you, they will love you along with all your imperfections and broken pieces and even more than that, they will want to be there, along side of you, to help you, to be there for you, to listen and to love you.  Let them!

I know this is difficult.  I know this is easier said than done but know I am speaking this as I am going through it with you.  I am facing this just as you are.  I am walking this road with you.  I know it’s not an easy journey but doing it alone only makes it harder and more painful.  I would love to hear from you.  Please know that my heart aches for you.  If you want to send me a message, feel free to do so.  I read every comment and I try to comment back.  I may not be your go to person, but I can encourage you to find one :)  Don’t give up!  There is hope!

www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Suicide Hotline – 1-800-273-8255

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The most selfless act… {Part One}

GiveHope2

I want to welcome you…

Into a place locked away, so very private, a dark and scary place…

To invite you in…

Inside the mind of suicide.

Imagine the darkest night if you will.  No street lights.  Moon barely glowing hidden behind a thick film of clouds.  Faint shadows lurking from beneath the dim moonlight.  Fear.  Anxiety.  Regret.  Shame.  Guilt.  Worry.  Doubt.  Hopelessness.  Picture that same scene day in and day out, over and over.  Occasionally, there may be a glimmer of light because after all, it’s a fight to get out of the dark so you grasp at any sign of light.  There’s panic, seeking something to hold onto, to guide your path through this overwhelming darkness.  A handrail?  The grip of a friend to pull you along?  Clearing your eyes once more, seeking little bits of light, finding them along the way, only to have them fade to dim again.

Imagine tears that pour only on the inside because you can’t allow them to fall freely on the outside.  You can’t bear to let anyone see the pain you feel inside…because you feel if you let them see that pain, they will feel it too and you don’t want to put that pain on them, or anyone.  You carry it on  your own because that’s what you do.  You’re strong.  So strong.  You fight a battle each and every day – a battle to overcome, to survive, to live.

Imagine looking each day at the faces you treasure, your spouse or loved ones, the sparkle in the eyes of the little beauties you call your children.  You stop and stare at them, soaking in each precious memory.  Your heart aches with each beat as you carry a love that is almost unimaginable.  And then you feel it, an ache even stronger.  It’s the ache of letting them go.  You want nothing more than to hold them, love them, be with them.  But somehow, you believe, your love for them is not enough.  You think of how things could be for them if you weren’t in the way.  These clouded thoughts come and in some small way, you know this is not the answer, but you question, “What if this is the answer?”  You consider, many times, the hurt they would feel, the loss, the ache your absence would create in their own hearts.  You want to bring them joy, to give them life, to pour love into them.  You fear the idea of transferring the pain you’ve carried for so long, onto those you love so dearly.  You push through the thoughts and pain.  You stay, for one more day.

Imagine feeling so alone that even though you may be surrounded by people, you feel invisible.  You can’t let anyone in.  Your walls are made of steel.  You wear a smile to hide the pain but if they would only look deep enough, they could see it in your eyes.  You laugh when you really need to cry.  You can’t bear to share the darkness you’re living in, either out of fear of burdening those around you or perhaps out of fear that you will be the one to get hurt, by rejection or even just by the innocence of others not knowing what to do or being able to understand.  Others may pull away out of their own fears or their uncertainty of how they could help or even if they could help.  Either way, you feel rejected.  Alone.  Invisible again.  So to lessen those painful stabs, you withdraw.  You keep the darkness bound tight inside you and all the while, it’s killing you.

I vaguely remember my futile attempt at suicide at the age of thirteen.  I didn’t really want to die.  I wanted to disappear.  I wanted to physically be as invisible as I already felt.  I wanted to hide from the world and from my pain.  I wanted the constant bombarding of painful memories to stop.  I wanted an end.  No one understood.  I was desperate and alone.  It was picture day at school – picture day for the photo that would end up in my freshman yearbook.  That morning, I swallowed a bottle of pills.  This was after days of ingesting a handful here and a handful there.  That morning, I had no restraint.  I opened the full bottle and consumed them all just as the darkness had consumed me.  I made it to school and managed to get by long enough to have that glamorous picture snapped, forever recording the desperation that was invisible to the world around me.  Then came the fear.  Something was wrong, bad wrong.  Did I really want to die?  I remember going to the office and telling them I needed to go home.  They called my grandpa and in no time, he was there to pick me up.  It wasn’t a comfortable trip home I faced, but a trip to the ER, where I very firmly denied any possibility of being pregnant which was the only pertinent question they really asked.  They failed to ask if I had taken anything.  Would I have been honest if they had asked?  I don’t know.  They basically treated me for the flu.  I went home and for a week, a bucket became my closest friend.  I can only imagine the effect those pills had on my body.  What I lived through was nothing less than horrible.  But I was alive.

What I carried with me after that day were all the feelings I had been trying so hard to escape from.  Fear.  Anxiety.  Regret.  Shame.  Guilt.  Worry.  Doubt.  Hopelessness.  I even added a few to the already too long list.  Despair.  Failure.  Weaknessbecause after all, I had failed to give myself the escape I so badly desired.  In times, those feelings and my inability to let anyone into my world of darkness led to smoking, drinking, and self-injury.  I ended up dropping out of college because alcohol numbed the pain and at that time, numbing the pain was more important.  This was not the first time I had tried or considered trying to end my own life, and it wouldn’t be the last.

At the age of twenty-three, I was at what I would consider my lowest point.  I had lost all hope.  I looked at my husband and begged him to leave me.  I cried out to him to take our small son and leave me, insisting they would both be better off without me.  I can’t even begin to explain how much it hurt to believe that and to physically say that to him.  He looked at me and assured me he loved me, he would stand by me, and I was everything to them.  I didn’t want to hear him and I couldn’t believe him.  Soon after, I began seeing a therapist.  I barely remember my visits with this particular therapist but he insisted at some point that my husband take me to a hospital.  I was once again facing those thoughts of disappearing.  We checked into the Emergency Room and waited.  When someone finally came to talk with me, they asked if I was a danger to myself or anyone else.  I told them, “No!”  They sent me home.  Did I lie to them?  In that moment, yes.  I was never a danger to others, but I have always been a danger to myself.  I continued seeing that therapist and he prescribed a couple medications … one for anxiety and one for depression.  I had them filled, several times.  The problem was, I never took them.  I hoarded them, waiting for the right day to come.  Every day I looked into the eyes of a little boy and hated the mother he had.  I prayed for him to have a good life, to be happy, joyful, and live abundantly.  I didn’t feel like he could do that with me.  There are still days I look into the eyes of that little boy who is now a young man, and I wonder, if I messed up his life by being in it.  And now, it’s not only him I worry about, but also his two siblings, my three children.

I managed to survive those dark days and nights.  When that handsome little boy was in kindergarten, on a cool September morning, I pulled my car over on the side of the road after dropping him off at school.  With tears pouring down my face, I cried out to God in anger and desperation.  I clearly remember shouting at God, “This is it, I can’t do this anymore!  I can’t.  You either take over now or I’m dead.”  I want to add here, I knew of God well before this particular day.  I had cried out to Him many times before.  I had prayed for Him to save me, to take me away, to give me an escape from the abuse I had gone through, from the memories, from the pain.  I never believed I was worthy of his love.  Even as a little girl at the age of eleven, staring out my window into the sky, talking to God, praying for protection, begging for a savior, I did not believe He could possibly care about me, but I believed He was there and I hoped that somehow or someday, He would hear my cries.  While change did not come instantly, I know that day back in September, on the side of a little highway in nowhere, North Carolina, changed my life.  Somehow, those simple words created what little bit of hope I needed to cling to in that moment.  I had survived another day.  And I would continue to survive, day by day.

I saw numerous therapists through those years.  One finally convinced me it was okay to take medication for my depression.  I spent a year on Lexapro and it seemed to help.  I managed to get to the point where I came off of it on my own.  A month later, we got pregnant with our third child.  I thought all my chaos and turmoil was behind me.  Life was good and I was living.  I was growing into a mother that I could tolerate and be somewhat proud of.  I was learning to like myself.  I believed my suffering had a purpose and I pursued what I felt I was called to do, reach out to others and remind them they are not alone.  I began teaching Bible studies and opening up about my own dark past of sexual abuse, alcohol, self-injury, depression, and suicidal thoughts.  What I learned was the more open I became, the more others around me felt comfortable enough to share their own pain.  It was working – I was becoming a voice for so many who needed a voice.  They needed to see someone else take that first step, to admit how hard life could be.

Last year, the depression that I thought had long ago vanished, reared it’s ugly self once again.  Only this time, it was the last thing I expected.  After all, I was a full-fledged Jesus girl now.  I spent countless hours in God’s Word, studying and teaching.  I was praying.  I was doing all the right things and I knew exactly what to say to myself and everyone else…except now, it wasn’t working.  Did I have too little faith?  Was I doing something wrong?  Had I not done enough?  Deeper and deeper, I felt myself sinking into that black hole, that pit of ultimate despair.  Those thoughts of doubt resurfaced.  Am I not good enough?  Am I too broken for God to love me?  Am I so damaged that I can’t be fixed?  Am I a hopeless case?  While in my head, I knew none of that was true, those are still lies that creeped in and often screamed louder than truth.  After six years of living life, free from counseling, managing on my own with little issues from my past, the time came when it was time to seek counseling again.  My thought this time was, “I’m in a better place and could just go in, pour out my heart and move on.”  It doesn’t work that way, folks.  You see, when I walked in that door, I knew this had to be the time.  I knew there would be no more therapists.  I knew there would be no more chances.  I knew it was now or never.  I could not start over again.  This was it.  I had to make the choice to open up to this stranger.  I had to let her in and share with her, the most horrifying parts of my life.  It was time to free myself from the torment I had carried too long.  It took a couple months to warm up to her.  We spent those first few months just getting to know each other on a very surface level.  I shared about my family and kids, all the things that were important to me, my Bible studies and friends, etc.  Then came the time…the point where I could no longer hide behind the mask of perfection I wore so well.  I had to face the imperfections, all the broken pieces.  And through the frustrations of feeling I wasn’t doing enough, saying enough, or feeling enough, I climbed further into that dark world, yet again.

Today, I am living each day, day by day.  I am married to the most loving, caring, supportive, and patient man.  He has walked a very long and difficult road with me.  He has stood by me in my darkest times.  He has held me and wiped away my tears.  He has comforted me even when those attempts were pointless because nothing could possibly ease the pain I was feeling.  He has shown me nothing less than endless compassion.  I am blessed daily by three awesome little people who call me mom, yes, me!  I am surrounded by an amazing church family, some of the best friends a gal could ever dream of, beautiful, godly women, friends online – near and far.  I have compassion for the hurting.  I have this incredible desire to be a voice for others, to remind others that they are not alone, to encourage them to keep up the fight.  I am loved and cherished by The One who has never left me, not for a moment.  And you know what, sometimes, it’s still not enough.  As much faith as I have and as much as I believe there has been purpose in my pain and suffering, that God can take all the broken pieces of my life and do amazing and beautiful things with them, as much as I try to hold on to the love of those that surround me, some days, it’s still not enough.  Some days, the darkness is simply paralyzing.  Some days, I still want to disappear.  Some days, I just beg for God to go ahead and take me home.  Some days, I just can’t wait to be free from this place.  But for today, I’m alive.

Depression is not simple.  In fact, it’s very deep, complex.  There is no quick or easy fix.  The further one sinks into this darkness, the less clear their thoughts become.  All rational thinking seems to fade and irrational thoughts replace what should be good, sound choices and thoughts.  A person who is contemplating suicide does not do so lightly.  I have heard many times how selfish suicide is.  I have to say, and I can say because I have been there, suicide is one of the most selfless acts I can imagine.  I am here today because I cannot bear to bring pain to those who have chosen to be in my life, to love me, and to walk this road with me.  I am here because I believe God can use me and will use me in order to help others and I can’t bear the thought of not being here to help someone else.  Even though each day I carry burdens that have weighed me down for most of my life, even though I am constantly reminded that the memories of my past will never truly go away, even though I carry so much hurt and heartache and would love nothing more than to be sitting at the feet of Jesus today, I am alive because I cannot bear to bring pain to others.  There is a desperation inside, that screams to escape, that begs for the mercy of leaving this world.  And when a person has gotten to the point where they are able to commit those final acts that take away their last breath, they have not done so without first considering all the people it would affect and all the hurt they will leave behind.

In the mind of suicide, they feel by leaving this world, they are doing the best thing they can for those they love.  To those who find this incredibly hard to understand, that’s okay and I would expect nothing less than confusion.  But remember, inside the mind of suicide, there is a darkness, one that blinds them from those rational thoughts you walk with, one that creates in them a desire to do no harm or bring no pain to others because they know how heavy that weight is.  In the mind of suicide, they have weighed all the options and feel this is the one option they are left with.  They want nothing more than to free others from their sufferings.  In the mind of suicide, it is the most selfless act they can make. 

In the mind of suicide, the pain they carry outweighs the pain that will be left behind.  In the mind of suicide, all the broken parts of their life are more damaging to others with them here, than with them gone.  For the person who made that choice, the choice to take their own life, do not harbor anger.  Do not carry guilt or debate on what could have saved them.  Move forward with love for them in your heart and have peace knowing that their pain has finally come to an end, that they are no longer suffering, and know that they did not leave you behind without a greater love for you than you can imagine.

In the mind of suicide, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:13

Some ask, “How can I help?  What can I do?”  Others don’t know what to say, so out of fear of saying the wrong thing, they say nothing.  I want you to know it’s okay.  There are ways you can help.  Together, we can give hope to the hopeless.  Please read Part Two to find out how you can help those who are suffering from a darkness that has stolen their light.  Shine your light!

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Oh the lessons…

Lessons

My heart sank when I walked in the room.

It was the first night of new Wednesday classes at church.  My class … a women’s Bible study on forgiveness.  (Insert big WOW here for – nothing like a big topic, right?!)

The book we are following, The Unburdened Heart by Suzanne Eller, is simply amazing.  She does a great job of writing so that no matter what your story is, you can relate to the thoughts and feelings expressed in the book.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  So for the past few weeks, I’ve been so excited about how God is going to work in the lives of the women who come to this class, myself included.  I can’t wait to see how he works and the amazing things he will do.

As excited as I was to start this journey, I was filled with anxiety and fear.  I had spent the whole day fretting over praying out loud.  A few weeks back, I shared a little here about how God was working on me with prayer.  Surely I could tackle this praying out loud thing, right?  I was going to do it this semester in class – I would take the reign and pray for the women in my class.  After all, God has been preparing me for this.  Still, I was afraid, nervous, anxious.

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Instead, I walked in with nerves raging and quickly noticed an unfamiliar couple sitting in the room – a man and a woman.  Immediately, my heart dropped.  My class was suppose to be only women.  In my head, there was simply no room for a man.  We were facing some really big topics, the possibility of deep, intimate conversations, some that simply wouldn’t be possible with a man in the room.  Without asking him to leave, I gently warned him that the class would probably be all women and that he may feel uncomfortable as well as the women who attended and hinted that he might want to consider a different class.  In most ways, you could say I handle the situation fine but the outcome was not at all what I had hoped for.

The couple left.  Not just left my class … they left the church.  If I had to guess, I’d say they left angry.  Angry that they had made the effort to come.  Angry that they needed my class and didn’t feel welcomed.  Even though my intentions were right, they left angry.

What was suppose to be a light and fun evening quickly started off totally wrong.  I managed to somehow pull myself together enough to get things going.  The class went on, women came, women opened up, we passed the tissue box around on the first night!  It was great and I am absolutely looking forward to the next 11 weeks with this wonderful group of ladies, getting to know them and seeing God working in their lives.

Why did I share the story above?  Well…if you’ve read many of my recent posts, you know that God is really teaching me.  Sometimes, lessons are pretty hard to learn.  Sometimes we have to make mistakes to learn from them.  It’s like riding a bike, sometimes we have to fall before we learn to ride.

This morning, as I’m sitting in the Sunday service, listening to our pastor talk about the man that was born blind that Jesus healed, my thoughts went elsewhere and I thought about the couple from Wednesday night.  Sitting there in church, I kept thinking about what I could have done differently.  Did I really handle it the way I should have?

The answer was simple – it was NO!

I did not do anything wrong by the way I addressed this couple but that doesn’t mean I did it right either.  Perhaps instead of standing across the room and going on and on about how uncomfortable he and everyone else would be, instead of suggesting he go elsewhere, perhaps I could have first of all introduced myself.  I did not even introduce myself.  Here was the this couple I had never met before, in my class, and I didn’t even take the time to welcome them or introduce myself.  Secondly, I could have gone over to them and after introducing myself, I could have leaned in close to inform them that this was really suppose to be a women’s class, however, they were welcome to be there if they choose.  Basically, I could have shown them kindness and acceptance, even if it went against the rules I had placed on the class.

Proverbs 21:13  Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

Philippians 2:4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The thing is, we have encounters like this every day.  God is trying to speak to us and teach us new things every day.  I am so thankful that through this, I learned a very valuable lesson.  I learned to be still, to take the time to acknowledge people, to welcome them, to show them kindness.  I learned not to be so quick to react.  I learned that even when a choice seems right, that doesn’t make it the best choice.

How many times has God tried to teach me something and I failed to see?  How many times have I turned away from his lessons?

While I am so sad that this couple left and the weight is heavy knowing that I am the reason they left, I walk away thankful that through this difficult situation, God is teaching me and that I am able to see it, able to learn from it and hopefully it will prepare me to handle situations better in the future.  Let my mistake be your lesson!

And while you’re here, can I ask you to pray for me?  You see, because I allowed anxiety and fear take over, we failed to pray at all Wednesday night.  I did ask the class to keep the couple that left in their prayers, but I failed to pray for our class and I didn’t even take the time to ask someone else to pray.  I allowed fear to get in the way and that’s not what I want.  I know God has been preparing me for this and I know that it’s not about me, it’s about him.  Please pray for me, that he will use me and give me the words of prayer that my class needs.

 

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