In 2019, I learned the importance of rest. In 2020, I’m learning the importance of stillness & silence. I’m a worrier by nature. I like things to be safe & secure. I don’t like change or new things. Everywhere I go I have a place where I sit or stand & a person I sit or stand next to. At grocery stores I always park in the same one or two rows & I typically go at about the same time every time—when there are the fewest people. I thrive in routine & predictablity. 2020 has clearly thrown a wrench in my survival. Except, in 2019 I learned the importance of rest. From 2017-2019, God was preparing for 2020. 2017-2018 was a long succession of fairly minor inconveniences one after another feeling like one big pile of ick! 💩 2019 was a year of learning to rest so the little things wouldn’t turn into a big thing. Now, 2020 is a year of personal growth. A lot of things have happened for all of us & I haven’t freaked out. 2017 & 2018 me would’ve freaked out. Early 2019 me would’ve freaked out too! 2020 me has almost freaked out a few times, but then I rest & I’m okay. So, now I’m practicing not only rest, but also stillness & silence. As a Christian, in the stillness & silence I hear God. As an introvert, in the stillness & silence I recharge. As an Enneagram 6, in the the stillness & silence I feel safe. There’s no noise or chaos in stillness & silence. There are no people in the stillness & silence. God whispers in the stillness & silence. And let me tell you, there’s been a lot of personal growth in the stillness & quiet. And this is still a new practice for me! This is where I get to practice stillness & silence in the morning. I’ve also been practicing during the day. I’ve kept my phone put away while waiting in line or at a stoplight (we all do it) & I drive in silence sometimes. How are you practicing stillness & silence? How could you if you’re not already? 😊
In 2017, I moved into a brand new apartment complex that caused me problems from the moment I applied to move in. Every month if not every week my sister and I faced one issue after another. For the first 5 months, it was delayed move-in dates. Then it was a messy apartment, bad electricity, five different management groups (including an aggressive male manager and an embezzling female manager), and finally the inability to pay rent at all so we had to sign an agreement to hold off on our eviction so we could pay. We broke our lease two months early so we wouldn’t be evicted the next month. I don’t regret moving into the apartment. I still think God asked me to live there. The whole experience, however horrible, has taught me a lot.
In 2016, I started to let myself get into more credit card debt than I could pay off in a month. In 2017, I went through four job changes. In January 2018, I quit working until April 2018. That’s when I started driving for Uber Eats and Doordash. Now, I’m waiting for a reply to an application and interview to be a bus driver for the school district in my hometown. I have no regrets about any of these decisions, except the debt, and I feel like most of it was God-led or at least God-blessed. I’ve learned a lot since leaving my high-paying job in 2017 and I’ve grown closer to God. That said, I’m currently caught somewhere in between broken and healthy.
Everyone seems to think I’m this hopeful person. Many have even said as much. But, I’m not. I’m not a hopeful person. I have Hope, but I’m not hopeful. I put on a good face and talk about the good that might come of a situation, but inside I’m expecting the worse to happen. I look for the bright side, but I live in the shadows. Every hopeful comment I make is fueled by fear. Fear that things won’t work out. Fear that I’ll mess things up. Fear that I’ll fall into the darkness again. I think about it sometimes. The temptation is there. “Just this once,” I think. “If I hurt myself just this once, then maybe the fear, the stress, the anxiety, and the pain will go away.” I don’t do it, but I think about it. Science says it works. It says physical pain releases the “happy hormone” that makes the internal pain go away for a little while. Why not do it? Just this once? It’s not healthy. It’s an addiction. Every time I see alcoholics, drug addicts, and even those “good vampires” on TV trying to keep themselves from giving in and going over the edge, I get it, because I have my own addiction. “The happy hormone.”
I try so hard to be hopeful, to put on a happy face, and to pretend everything is or will be okay, but I don’t really believe it. Because I know the Lord, I know in the end everything will be okay, but I often don’t believe it will be. Or maybe it’s not that I don’t believe it, but that I doubt it? Yes, God has provided for me many times in the past. Yes, He’s already pulled me out of a dark abyss in the past. Yes, I know He will work out all things for my good, but when? I’ve been in these shadows for almost two years now, longer if I take it back to when I started to let myself get into credit card debt which is really what created this mess in the first place. God has provided everything I’ve needed up to this point. I haven’t gone in want or need, but I’m still here in these shadows that are threatening to become another abyss.
Every day I’m toddling on a thin line between breaking and growing. Every day I fear this is it. This is what’s going to throw me over the edge. Every day I pray for deliverance and it doesn’t come, not in the way I want it to come. I know He delivers me from temptation, if He didn’t, then I would have already given in by now. I know He delivers me from depression, if He didn’t, then I’d be well into the abyss and not just on the edge dangling over it. Why won’t He deliver me from this altogether though? Why does He let me live in these shadows when I so desperately want to get out. Why does He allow me to live with my consequences when I’m so desperately trying and praying to fix things?
I assume it’s because He loves me. I assume it’s because He’s teaching me things. I assume it’s because He’s a just God who sometimes delivers us from the consequences, like Hell, but most often lets us learn from the consequences for next time. Shouldn’t that leave me feeling hopeful? God loves me enough to teach me why I shouldn’t make foolish decisions. He loves me enough to show me through these circumstances that I’m stronger now than I used to be. I wouldn’t have been able to live in this circumstance a couple years ago. I would have drowned in fear and anxiety. I would have thrown myself over the edge into depression and self-harm. So far I haven’t done that this time though. He’s strengthened me and He’s showing me that through the struggle. And He loves me enough to strengthen me as I learn to fight for myself with Him by my side. He could deliver me completely. He could make my credit card debt disappear, give me a car that never deteriorates, and a home that is mine, but He isn’t and He likely won’t, not now at least. God loves me, He teaches me, and He strengthens me. This knowledge should leave me hopeful, but if I’m honest, then I have to admit it doesn’t leave me hopeful.
I know and trust He will protect me, love me, and provide for me. But it’s so hard to live by faith alone. It’s so hard to live remembering His past provision and looking forward to His future provision when I’m living in a present ocean of uncertainty. When I have so much debt and so many bills that I can hardly see straight. When I don’t know where the line is between working to prove my faith and resting in my faith. When I don’t know where the balance is between healthy stress and unhealthy anxiety. It’s hard. Being a Christian is hard, especially when you’re a Christian who battles mental health issues.
Most days, I’m not hopeful because I don’t know how to hope. I’m constantly fighting a battle between anxiety and rest, fear and hope, depression and joy, doubt and faith. I know everyone is fighting this battle, and some seem to be doing better than others. Many seem to be doing better than me, but I can’t think about others fighting this battle right now. I already feel for everyone all the time as it is and that’s part of the problem. What problems are mine and something to worry about? Which problems are someone else’s that I need to let go of at least for now? Which of my problems do I need to work on and which ones should I let go of? I don’t know. That’s the problem. That’s why I’m somewhere between broken and healthy. I know in my head that God is good and He provides but in my heart and soul, I’m not sure about anything.
Most of the time I end my posts with something hopeful and positive. I’m not going to do that this time. I don’t know how to do that this time. I don’t know if I’d believe it if I did. I started the “D.A.R.E to Hope” part of this blog for one reason. I was broken and looking for truth so I could dare myself and others to hope. You’ll see on the page About D.A.R.E. to HOPE that D.A.R.E. stands for “Desolate, Accepted, Renewed, and Encouraged.” I’m somewhere between these places of identity right now. I’ve been accepted, renewed, and encouraged by God and others, but I’ve really been feeling desolate lately. I wish I could say I haven’t been, that once I felt accepted, renewed, and encouraged I never felt desolate again, but that would be a lie. It would make a hypocrite. I wrote The Mask; Her Aid and created this blog so I wouldn’t be that girl anymore, the girl who pretended everything was okay when it wasn’t. So, I’m not going to pretend right now. Everything’s not okay. I’m not in a good place right now. I’m not necessarily in a bad place either. I’m just kind of somewhere in between.