Monthly Archives: July 2017

Sleeping: I Was Paralyzed And Unable To Breathe

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I believe it was the first time I’ve watched myself fading, all from outside my body. I’ve felt similarly scary moments – but this took things a new level. 

As the title suggests, something disconcerting happened.  From a vantage point outside my body, I saw myself sleeping. Instinctively, I knew something was wrong. While this plays out before me like a tv show, I watched as I seemed to wake up, and tried to prop myself up with my elbows. As I watched, though, I noticed that I was unable to do anything, including breathe. I saw myself fading, and falling over – my head back onto the pillow. But. I could not breathe. My chest was not rising and falling. There weren’t breaths happening. At all. From just outside my body, I was frantically telling myself to breathe, while the me drifting out of consciousness almost was trying to move, scream for help, or just breathe. Instead, I could do nothing. 

Paralyzed, I fairly frantically said, “God, help me breathe. I just, I NEED to take a breath. Will you just help me breathe?” A split second later, I inhaled, saw and felt something impossible to put into words (pretty colors, light, warmth, etc.), and then was back in my body. Forcing myself to breathe. I woke up, and continued breathing, with no real troubles after that.

What happened? I don’t know. But, what I do know is this. I was not supposed to die. Not then, and not like that. No one knows their time, but I just knew that wasn’t it. 

This experience has done something else also. It has opened my eyes. As a result, I have drawn parallels to life. More specifically, mental health and illness. Living. Not just living, but also death and dying. Those things, in connection with the Creator of the entire universe. God. The Maker of Heaven and Earth. Him. How they all relate and connect. 

Just as I cried out to Him for physical help, to help the breath in my lungs keep flowing – to help me just catch a breath — just as I asked Him for that help, He’s just as available and just as willing to help me through other struggles. Through life’s toughest seasons. Through crisis. Through not wanting to live. Through feeling swallowed whole; feeling empty and heavy. He’s still there. Waiting. He needs an invitation to help us. 

I know that I have felt more pain than I care to admit. And, there have been times I’ve questioned so much about even the very presence of God. I couldn’t feel Him anymore than the knight in shining armor of some fairy tale. Unlike in a fairy tale, that doesn’t negate His existence. He’s God. He isn’t the one who changes. We do. I know I do. 

As I make conscious decisions to ask Him to help me breathe a little more often, I’m already feeling a lot less like I was having to learn to breathe again – sometimes grasping to have breath in my lungs. As I learn to trust Him in these desperate times, I feel less paralyzed and overwhelmed by talon like grips of depression. I am learning to take my own thoughts captive, instead of allowing the opposite to happen. As I retrain myself to change perspective, reframe my thinking, and keep my eyes on Him, I’m finding hope and healing in a way I had given up thinking even possible. 

I’m not where I want to be yet, and I  haven’t put it all into practice, but I will try. And I will keep trying. I don’t have all the answers, and maybe that’s okay. I welcome your thoughts and prayers, and your love and support – in whatever way, and in whatever picture that looks like. I need you, and I want to think you need me too. Let’s continue to do this thing called life together. Never alone.  

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Hopeful Expectancy – It’s Time To Start Dreaming Again

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It is no secret that I have struggled with the idea that hope, often times, seems elusive. Pain from trauma, brokenness, grief, mental illness, etc – that pain can be so intense it’s blinding. It removes hope as a word in our vocabulary. It insists that hope for anything beyond the pain isn’t a thing – that it never really was. It ensures we cannot remember what hope even feels like. It says hope isn’t real, at least not for me. I’ve also come to realize that this is dangerous, and false thinking – simply put: hope never goes anywhere. Yes, our life’s experiences that allow for that temporary blindness that makes hope appear to play a mean game of hide and seek – with us consistently losing. I urge you, however, to remember that hope is still real, and it always will be. Yes, I’m speaking to myself as much as the next person reading.

Today, however, something pretty interesting happened. I will explain more specific details in a future post, but I will say this. I was at a very low point today, and – if I’m being honest – the same can be said for plenty of the time recently. I have been questioning the meaning of life, in combination with the actual desire to keep on walking. To keep breathing. It’s been a struggle, trying to simply be, and live with the intensity of the pain. Instead of getting easier to navigate and deal with over the course of time, it’s been getting intensely more difficult. I have questioned my ability to keep fighting. Life shouldn’t be a fight.

Today, I was feeling really very overwhelmed, like giving up – and just, hurting. Instead of forcing myself to deal with it on my own, I reached out to a trusted friend. I will write more about this friend in time, but it became a moment, inspired by God Himself. That is not something I say lightly. But, it is something I say absolutely, with no doubt, was orchestrated by the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.  Grace took on the form of human connection, and reminded me of hope. And smiles. And laughter. Even tears. But, more than that, reminded me of the life saving grace and love that God offers.

This day especially, I needed this reminder. Had I forgotten who God was, or all He’s done in countless lives, mine included? Absolutely not. Had I been blinded by the pain, so I was unable to see or focus on Him at all? Yes, more than I care to admit.

But, the beauty of it all? Hope arrived. Though it never actually left, it did become real again. I would be lying if I said all was now a bed of roses, and all my thoughts and feelings are suddenly all totally better. I would be telling a tall tale if I told you that I now have it all figured out, due to this magical conversation with a friend. Though, I will say that the conversation was absolutely a tool God used to penetrate some dark places – to shine light on hope again; to allow for hope to arrive. What did happen, was beautiful indeed. I dared to allow myself to hope again.

Then, like a healing balm applied to a painful wound, a word was beginning to take form, and be etched in my heart. Expectancy. More than that, to live with hopeful expectancy. That is a change from where I am right now. It became a moment of deciding to choose not to live life comfortably – a moment where I chose (and will continue to choose) to dismiss the status quo. I realized, I really do want more than just the pain that life has offered. I know there has to be more out there. I will not give up on it.

You see, just last night, I was listening to this same  previously mentioned friend talk about dreaming. That our dreams are possible. While he was speaking, something broke inside me though. It was at that moment that I realized that I do not really have a lot of dreams – big or small. I haven’t been dreaming anymore. This really bothered me. But, I didn’t have the answer – the “how to” on dealing with it.

During my conversation today, though, That word, expectancy – it became real again. It is taking up residence in my heart, and is helping me grow my thinking.  It is helping me believe that not only is hope real, but also that dreaming is possible again. I haven’t really dissected this all that much yet. I haven’t sat down and really put much more thought into it, but I am going to.  I need to be in a different place than I am right now, and I can already tell it will require re-framing of my own thoughts. Re-framing reality even.

So, even though I don’t have it all figured out – I say that’s okay. I have something much greater: hopeful expectancy. That, in combination with my faith in a God who loves – that, is where I believe life change will begin to happen. That is where I see hope growing and thriving. That is where redemptive grace takes hold, and doesn’t let go. For this, I am grateful.

With this, I say, let’s get to dreaming. Never let your dream(s) die. If you aren’t dreaming, it’s time to rekindle the fire that says to not give up, and to never stop dreaming. You’ve got this. I’ve got this. Together, we can change the world. Maybe not the entire world (maybe so though) but we can change our individual world. That is worth hopeful expectation.

Dream big.