Tag Archives: grief

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.

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When Depression Partners With Grief

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If you’ve read this blog for any length of time at all, you’ll recognize that I’m generally encouraging, or at least positive and pretty upbeat. I apologize in advance, because this is not going to be that. The words that follow will be fairly unfiltered and mostly unedited.

I’m tired, y’all. (Yes, I said y’all! I was born and raised in the south, so it’s allowed!) So jokes aside, I’m just exhausted in pretty much every sense of the word.

Before I go any further, I should warn you that what you’re going to read isn’t comfortable, and may frighten you as you question how I’m doing. That isn’t my intent. And, know this – I am safe, just need a space to process all this. I normally wouldn’t so openly, but ours is a world in pain. If just one person feels less alone, then there is purpose in the sharing.

I’ll get right down to it. I’m feeling overwhelmed and like I said, exhausted. I feel like I am just barely managing to keep the tears at bay some moments. No, I’m not a walking waterfall of tears, but I’m finding that they have a mind of their own. They want out more than I try to prevent them.

This whole grief thing – it sucks. Yes, the sun does still shine from behind the darkest clouds, and there is tremendous beauty all around us – even when depression makes everything bleak and dreary. Even though I know depression lies, it’s hard to hold onto that when is talons claw deeper.

My parents watched as we said goodbye this side of Heaven to my 7 year old daughter. I watched my parents bury my brother a year later. Days before my daughters death (she knew she was dying) she remarked how this just isn’t natural. And she was right. It isn’t. Parents shouldn’t watch their kids die. It sucks.

Depression, especially when partnered with grief, is a dangerous thing. It robs you of the ability to see or feel the beauty everywhere. It encourages statements like, “I just can’t do this anymore,” or simply, “I’m done.” I feel that way often.

But, here’s the thing. So far, I’ve managed to hold onto the idea that depression lies, and grief won’t always be painfully intense. The problem I struggle with is this. It’s hope. For me, hope seems about as easy to hold onto as wet soap in the shower.

I don’t like living like this. I genuinely wonder how it’ll be possible to keep going another day, let alone decades. Yes, I have sporadic suicidal thoughts. More than I care to admit. They’re painful and annoying, but no – I don’t entertain them either. They come, and I let them go. I try my best not to dwell in those moments. I choose not to act on them.

Let me reiterate – I really am okay. Well, a better description would be safe. I’m not particularly okay right now, but I am safe. Like I said, I won’t take unsafe action when those bad thoughts invade.

I guess I just need to hear the same words I share with hurting people all over the globe. It truly is okay to not be okay. It won’t always be this intensely painful always. Hope is real, and it always will be. I am a living, breathing story – one with chapters still being written. My story matters. I matter. I need to hold onto these things, rather than the lies depression partnered with grief tell me.

If you need to hear these things, or you know sometime who does, please tell them. You may be the lifeline they need in whatever crisis moments they’re walking through. If you hear nothing else I’ve said, please hear this. You are not now, and not ever, alone. I know the storms will still rage, and can be damaging – but one thing is for sure. You aren’t on your own, and neither am I. Take my hand if you need a friend…and please also offer yours. As I wrote last week, there is power in an outstretched hand; healing happens in friendship.

Life Is A Giant Roller Coaster Ride

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Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you like roller coaster rides? I wouldn’t call myself an adrenaline junkie. However, I do love a good roller coaster ride. The ups are thrilling, the downs are scary. Together, they equal fun.

Thinking of roller coasters, I have come to realize that life is quite like a roller coaster ride – one we can’t get off of at will. If you’re anything like me, the thought is initially a good one. However, the ups and downs can be terrifying when you recognize that they are essentially never ending.

This is the trap I find myself in at the moment. I just want a breather. I want to do more than just pretend life will ever be any different.

The trouble with this, right now, is that I am finding it more and more difficult to grab a hold to those good times – for fear that the crushing and depressing times are just around the next bend. I recognize that it’s a function of embracing the moment – of loving life, right where I am. Truth be told, I do that. And at times, I am not able to.

Right now, I find that I am in the part of this eternal ride that is scary and feels almost like the cart will jump the rails, and crash. Sigh. I just want to break the cycle – and I’ve pretty much given up hope of even that possibility.

Is it too hard to ask – to just be able to raise my hands, yell with glee as I enjoy the ride? I think it is.

I’m not going to lie. I have come to really dislike the familiarity and predictability that the roller coaster ride brings. The highs and the lows – the ups and downs. The emotions and feelings that refuse to give up their grip.

So, here I sit – looking for the exit. There has to be one somewhere. So far, I haven’t found that elusive escape route.

Please, someone – please tell me this life still has the potential of love, hope, compassion and even freedom. Freedom to just live.

For anyone who will point me towards faith, counseling / therapy, talking it out, friends, is any other great coping mechanism – proceed with caution. I do stand on faith, seek help through counseling / therapy, I clearly ramble too much as it is – but I do talk when I can find friends to talk to. See, in theory, a great support system is in place. But, frankly, that system is broken. See my previous post. People sometimes don’t say what they mean, mean what they say – and their actions most certainly don’t match their words. Please don’t be that person.

So, as I sit here today, I just pray for the strength to keep going. Taking that a step further – I also pray that I continue to WANT to keep going. My fear, if I’m being honest, is that the voice of depression and grief that clouds my thoughts will grow louder than that of hope.

So, for better or for worse, that’s where I am today. Here. Breathing. With my heart still beating. Yes, there’s life yet to live.

365 Moments Of Gratitude – Thankful For The Heavy Bag Series: The Heavy Bag Of Grief

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Right now, Skyline Church is in the midst of a series entitled “Heavy Bag.” This series is in place to discuss all the heavy things we all face. The timing of this particular message was absolutely God inspired for me, and – I’m sure – for countless others. Today, Pastor Lance spoke about the Heavy Bag of Grief. At some point in your life, you can probably relate to the feelings of grief. I know I can. Especially this week. I have experienced loss on several levels, and I can tell you this message really hit home.

If you have lost someone, said goodbye too early, or are just hurting in ways hard to put into words – this is for you. I encourage you to watch it, and allow the words to share hope.

I am grateful for this series.

365 Moments Of Gratitude – Thankful For The Gift Of Friendship

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Today, as many other days, I find myself grateful for friendship. As my best friend has lost her brother, I am grateful for a friendship that has spanned multiple decades now. I realize just how important friends are. This is one of the darkest times for her, and her family. It breaks my heart. That’s the thing about friends. Friends hurt together. My heart is broken, missing a very special person – and it’s broken — just knowing how much she is hurting. The point of this is not to talk about all this pain – but rather shine a bright light on the value of friendship.

It is a friend who will hold your hand, who will tell you it’s okay to cry, to make sure you know it’s also okay to not be okay — in the midst of what may seem like the darkest day you know. A friend is someone who knows you inside and out, and loves you still the same. A friend may not always agree with you, but won’t hesitate to tell you the truth, in love. A friend will run and play with you during the great times, and will not hesitate to be there with you in the troublesome times either.

I am just so very grateful for the gift of friendship today.

365 Moments Of Gratitude – Thankful To Have Known Him

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Here is a fair warning to those of you reading. Today’s post will be personal in nature, and not bright and cheery. It is, however, life. Life is unpredictable, and life carries no guarantees. Today I got a very sad telephone call, and it has caused much reflection on my part.

You see, my best friend (spanning decades now) sent me a message to let me know that they had bad shocking news, and that I needed to call. I know her well enough to know this was bad. My heart was heavy. So, I picked up the phone and called, and learned that my lifelong friend – that her brother unexpectedly passed away this morning.

While there is no part of me thankful for his passing, I AM ever so grateful to have known him. George was a unique soul. He was fun, twisted even. He had such a warped sense of humor. He was one those people who always had some new or ingenious way of putting a smile on your face. Growing up, we very much enjoyed picking on him, playing jokes, and just generally being silly. He was a silly human being, turned into a daddy, and also a husband. He knew the meaning of love, and loved his family like no tomorrow. While he always enjoyed being unique, there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his family and friends. His passing away took everyone by total and complete surprise. He had just celebrated his 42nd birthday. My heart breaks with my best friend, and her entire family. Today we said goodbye far too soon to a friend, a brother, a daddy, a husband, and a son – an amazing person we all knew as George.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my friend today. As I mentioned, it breaks my heart that he is gone, but definitely thankful to have known him.

For those of you reading, if you have lost someone close to you – know that my heart goes out to you. I’d love the opportunity to pray for you, or to talk about your loved one. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message via my “contact me” page. I look forward to connecting with you.

Also, I’d like to take this moment to encourage you to do something I hope you already do regularly. Hug your loved ones. Tell them how much you care and love them. Never go to bed angry, and love like there is no tomorrow. For some, that is all too true. Tomorrow isn’t a guarantee. Live and love.