On being whole and taking Prozac

My word for the year is “whole.” I had decided sometime in December that I wasn’t going to get my word for 2017 until epiphany. I would just let it go, and just like that it came into my head. Whole. My word for 2017 is whole. I spent January and February and some of March writing it everyday on my hand. All capital, all lower case, all cursive, big, small, colored ink, blank. Every day on my left hand: whole.

I want to be whole.

I gave up negative self talk for Lent. I announced it cheekily on my Facebook page and invited everyone to join me. Only, I couldn’t. I could not give up the voices in my head telling me I was not enough, telling me I would fail, telling me that everything was too hard and I was too soft and I just could not keep up with my life so why try? Praying it away wasn’t enough.

How do you commit to being whole when every third thought you have is that you are irreversibly broken?

When I went on vacation with just my husband and still could not shake the feeling that something was coming for me, that I was not enough (Y’all all we had to do all day was wander around and eat, how could I not be enough?) I knew I could not do this on my own. I called from our hotel room to take advantage of the free student counseling through my school. I got in the next day, and the day after that I got a psychiatrist referral, and the day after that a prescription for Prozac.

I gave myself permission to take it for two weeks, be incredibly gentle with myself, and just try to maintain C’s. I told some of my professors. My preaching professor, who I have ridiculous amounts of respect for looked me dead in the face and reminded me that my wholeness was more important than any grade I could get. I knew this, but being reminded was certainly God’s grace to me that day.

I am almost at the end of my two weeks. My appetite is kind of off, and I feel a little shaky at the wrists, but I am not so scared of life anymore. I am able to see that some of my thoughts (like they are going to kick me out for incorrect citations) are maybe not totally rational, and that maybe there is no need to hold myself to an impossible standard then berate myself for not attaining it all the time.

Monday after school I was able to take the girls easter dress shopping. It was hard, but not impossible. After we picked out my dresses (they really wanted me to get a pink lacy one, I declined. Dresses with rhinestones were also quietly vetoed) and I tried them on. (Priscilla says: That one is cute but so not you. She was right. It was returned to the racks.) They wanted the same experience, so we collected three dresses a piece and tried them on and chose.

I know my plate is always full, but I would not have had the space for this without meds. Of that much I am sure. It was a big win. I could follow today in systematic theology without talking myself down. I am not as anxious that I will fail out of school.

A week ago today I planted seeds as an act of prayer. It wasn’t my idea, these seeds of hope. I was too far in the dark. I am too used to killing off plants. I took this little pot and put it on the window. I would have told you that I forgot about it but I must have been looking at it every day because I noticed when it sprouted. My seeds of hope sprouted. There are four of them now, and they keep getting taller.

I am not fully healed. I think I am headed in the right direction but there is still some work to be done, some blood tests, some checking in, probably some therapy. But there are seeds of hope. I can sort out the thoughts as helpful and not. I can take my kids Easter dress shopping. I can do my assignments without talking myself down. These are all good things. I can nurture this grace that is growing inside of me. I can feel it growing. I am working my way toward whole.

 

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If the Yoke Ain’t Easy

I am over at She Loves today writing about quitting. This season is hard. I mostly feel like I am treading water. I mostly feel like the waves are coming anyway. Five weeks until the end of the semester. I got this. I hope.

At the same time that I know I am overwhelmed just in my day to day I am also overwhelmed by the pressing needs of my community, my state, my world.  I am paralyzed by this more than I care to admit. I do not have a life that I can be paralyzed in. The Lord is working this out with me.

 

Everywhere I look there is work to be done. Everywhere.

My kids’ school sends home fliers asking, always asking. For wipes, for Kleenex, for dry-erase markers, for paper. They need chaperones and cupcakes for the Valentine’s Day party. They need time and resources and they are doing good good work, and I want to help. I do. But I only have so much time and resources. If I am totally honest I would much rather fill out a grant application for a teacher than chaperone a Pre-K Valentine’s Day party.

My church is doing good good work. We have a breakfast ministry and a community closet. We have an arts ministry and a partnership with a village in Haiti. We have about 60 kids who scuttle off to Sunday school every Sunday. We need greeters and parking attendants, and people to make the coffee. Who will cook? Who will serve? Who will fold clothes carefully into bags or teach children about how much God loves them?  We have a congregation who are all right around the same age as me. We are all in our tired thirties. Who has the time? Who has the energy? Someone needs to do it or the church won’t run.

You can read the rest here.

On Being Frozen and Learning of Abundance

I.

I wore black the day after the election. Black pants, black tank top, black blazer. I wore my darkest lipstick. I didn’t know what else to do. I had a class to go to. We met in the youth detention center. I had things to do, and people to see, and Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited to discuss. But I also desperately needed to mourn. I desperately needed to show on the outside the despair on the inside. I woke up in a foreign land, one I thought I knew but no longer recognized.

I don’t know that the darkness has lifted for me. I wake up in a start a lot. I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping, (especially if I don’t limit my Facebook scrolling). I never really know what is coming next. Sometimes it is the thing that breaks my heart, but often it is the reaction by a church I feel I no longer know. I thought you taught me to love my neighbor. I thought you wanted me to make big sacrifices for God. It is like coming back to my childhood home only to find not just the furniture re-arranged, but also the walls.

II.

I have been invited to more Facebook groups than I can count. Women of the Resistance, Georgia Blues, Ten things in Ten days. I see them. They are all doing good work. I want to do that work. I want to flip my county and resist, and do ten things in ten days. I want to be a part of the change I need to see in this world. I want for things to be different. But mostly, I scroll through my Facebook feed and feel afraid. I think about how there are other things to do, make dinner, write my paper, go to a protest, call my senator…again. I could paint post cards and sell them and donate the profits to the ACLU or the Refugee Relief Fund or even to the social worker at my girl’s school. We need shoes, and snacks, and paper. I should do all of those things. Instead I sit on the couch frozen until my kids remind me that they are hungry. I pull the bag of  chicken nuggets out of the freezer and pre-heat the oven. I decide that and an orange is good enough for all of us. Again.

III.

I sit in the back of the church scrolling through my social media feeds. I know this is sort of rude and inappropriate but I can feel myself coming unglued and I do not want to break apart in the back pew. Again. I get a text from my friend. She is about to go to the front and tell us about the work she has been doing. Can I record her? I hold my phone and watch her explain to the congregation about answering a post on social media from her bed. Yes, she could take her youngest to an apartment complex and tutor a woman who has come to America as a refugee. Yes. She could do that. I laugh with her as she explains her anxieties, how she is terrible at small talk, but they don’t speak the same language so that is a non-issue, how kids and moms are the same in some ways across all cultures, how saying the same word over and over again becomes ridiculous no matter the cultural barriers. I watch her and there is just a flicker of hope inside of me. I don’t need my screen because this knowledge grounds me: This thing matters. Going to a woman’s house and teaching her the words for her groceries matters. My friend is doing the work of the Lord, every day she goes into that house, and also right now, her testimony does holy work in my heart.

IV.

I sit on the couch of a friend who has moved to the opposite corner of the country than me. It is a rare thing to find a couple whom you adore in equal parts. We have managed to maintain our friendship despite the distance. We are talking about the contrast in the messages we grew up with in our evangelical youth groups. We are talking about the ways we feel abandoned in the adult versions of a belief that we were given as teens. Do you think it is because we were too fast or too slow? he asks. Neither of us are people who are used to not understanding. I drink some wine and think. Both? I respond. We were fast in understanding the implications of that message, maybe better than they did. We were slow in the ways we believed that they believed what they were telling us as surely as we did. Now we are drinking wine together, silently, wondering what land our faith has left us in.

V.

I was taught to look for my Esther moment, for my such a time as this. And I feel like I am in a foreign land, and I am shocked by the cruel and unjust decisions of my leader, and I wonder if God has abandoned us because of our hard hearts. Where is Moses leading us out of this mess? Where is Esther, born to subvert the king she sits next to? Where are the prophets doing weird life as performance art in the name of God? I know these things are supposed to have 5 parts, but this story isn’t over.

VI.

I ask these questions moments before I get into a car with someone I have known since 22 to meet with women I have only ever met on the internet. I come wandering, wondering, empty. I come to meet with women who mostly feel the same way. One by one they stand up and say the things they are doing, are feeling, are called to. Each one isn’t a whole lot, until it is. Until you have had your head held by a woman who spent a whole year learning to be present, until you get an eye brow raise and a ‘let’s try it’ from a woman who has spent years learning to say yes her dream, until you get thanked for following your calling to seminary by a woman saved your faith so many times you lost count. These things that you felt in your hands don’t matter, in other people’s hands it is broken open, like manna from heaven, like fish and bread. Maybe all you have is so small that you want to just go back to bed. Maybe you do it anyway. Maybe it is enough.