I still want to believe that this life is worth living…

So, I made it through another Christmas. That sounds a bit sad to me. I am sorry if you think so too. Honestly, I have been battling the sadness AGAIN. Since I became a true Christian almost nine years ago, I always thought that Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time with people we love, with hearts filled with gratitude for the Perfect Gift that each of us has been given – the night the Savior was born — born to die so that we may have a chance at life…something like that. But when you’re like me, it is just trying your best to make it through family/friend time without being too much of a Debbie-Downer. I love my family. I love my church family and friends. But I must say, it continues to be extra challenging being sober. It is my 9th holiday season being 100% sober, and this year I found myself once again wishing I could be drunk through it. Well, at least through some of it. I guess there are times when I still think I can hide the real, messed-up-Deb, behind a mask of booze, but I am thankful that I know better. I am still a miracle in the making.

It has been a tough few years. I am blessed and grateful that I can share that a loved one overcame cancer, but the experience and treatment has changed things drastically and that is about all I can share at this time due to privacy. Basically, it has been hard on my heart. I have learned that since I have made it past 50 years of age (which I believe is another miracle), that I was nowhere close to being prepared for what life might bring at this stage in my life. My heart keeps getting hit hard by uncontrollable circumstances. I keep giving it all to God, but it still hurts.

When I feel this low, I find myself fading away a bit. That is the only way I can think of describing what it feels like. I am here, but hopefully invisible. Sometimes I think it really works because someone can be near me but they look right through me as if I am not really there. It’s weird. Like an out of body experience, I guess. Being invisible is mostly what I want, yet when my plan works, it does not feel so good at times.

So why am I taking another risk by putting my vulnerable self out there like this again? It is simple. People need to know that no matter how bad life seems, no matter how much pain is in their heart and mind that never seems to end, there is a reason to stay and suffer through. And although it may be hard to fathom for some of you, it is worth it. I believe that I am here because too many have given up on hope, and too many are thinking about it at this very moment. It makes me cry.

My heart feels too much, but I think it is a gift from God so I can understand the pain of others. You cannot truly encourage others to keep pressing on if you have never known what it is like to want to end the pain in death under your own terms. My heart was pained by the teenager who gave up on hope somewhere around the Thanksgiving holiday. Oh, the pain. And the pain that his family is now enduring for such a devastating loss. One of the parents happens to be a colleague of mine. My heart still hurts. Another colleague had PTSD and suffered for I do not know how long and could not hold on to hope so he took his own life in October 2017. That one still stings as well. They discovered Jesus, so I am blessed to know that He was there to receive them with open arms, for NOTHING shall be able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

I cannot do anything about those who are already gone, but I can pray that someone believing that death by suicide is the answer would somehow feel the love of God through me and/or others that know the pain and choose to stay, trust God, and press on. We need more people of faith to share their stories for encouragement. Many want to keep their stories private. I can understand, but I hope they will pray and receive the courage that God gives because this is a matter of life and death. Please prayerfully consider this mission. If you have not found your purpose, perhaps this might be it or a piece of it.

And for those who do not know what this deep dark emotional despair that sometimes wins is like, I pray for you too. Especially if and when you are ever faced with someone near and dear that you know or suspect might do something so drastic and devastating. Please be patient. If you are not close to God, I pray that this will be a time that you do become close. If you do not believe in Him, I pray that you would seek Him out to see if He is real. That’s what happened to me. I found Him, just like His Word in Scripture said I would. I…we all need God to help through all of this. I have people I care for in my life and they have no idea how much it hurts when I see them living apart from God. When they use His name inappropriately in front of me, I used to think I needed to defend my God. But I realized something recently, the pain in my heart is because some of my friends do not know the love of God as I have discovered and that breaks my heart. I have learned that the best thing I can do is pray that my being open about my faith will help open a door to their heart for God to come in some day. I have to leave that up to God.

God-honoring people in my life have no idea how much they continue to help save my life by being a true example of faith. They draw me near to God, they do not do things that might lure me away from Him.

Telling someone to “snap out of it” or “get over it” or “I can’t take your depression any longer” or “you are being selfish” will only make things worse. I even think quoting Scripture or reminding someone of their blessings is not helpful if it is not a message nudged by God. When you get close to God and discover His heart, you become very familiar with those kinds of nudges. I believe if God nudges you to say something specific to someone else, that He has gone ahead of you to prepare that heart to receive it. I have learned, thanks to my mentor, to never run ahead of God. I do not want to risk pushing someone in the wrong direction because their heart was not ready. Whenever I have said something that was nudged by God, I am always amazed at how it was received. I can see God moving in their hearts.

I also think about the friends that we read about in the story of Job. I want to be that kind of friend. I need those kinds of friends. I need to clarfiy, if you haven’t read the story in a while or at all, take a look at Job 2:11-13. I am talking about prior to them opening their mouths and ruining everything. Initially, they sat with Job without a word and cried with him. How amazing would that be if we learned to do the same for those around us who need comfort instead of trying to fix them or their circumstances with our so-called words of wisdom? The Bible encourages us to weep with those who weep in Romans 12:15. We should also rejoice when they rejoice…this life isn’t always about pain. I thank God for that!

Here is something I can rejoice over. Through all my pain and suffering I have discovered purpose. There IS purpose in pain!! I am living it. It is nothing new than what is written in the Bible — to love God my Creator with all my heart, soul, and mind (troubled mind and all) and to love others. When you have this love of God pouring in and out of you, you can’t help but share about Him and His goodness in your life. We should not be surprised by our pain and troubles in this present evil world. I do not live this life perfectly, but I try my best and continue believing that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13) and I take God for His word! God’s Word never fails.

This is the first time I have been on here writing in such a long time. I work full-time, go to college part-time and the emotional struggle has been deep, but I am grateful for the courage and strength to share this tonight. I am thankful for those of you who encourage this tiny unknown blog. I may be a miniscule ministry, but I am mighty in the name of Jesus. Amen? I love how God will use any willing heart.

If this has touched you in anyway, I hope you will share it. It is my heart pouring out no matter what the cost.

If you are suffering, like so many of us, I pray that you will know God’s life-saving love so you will keep courageously choosing life and be an encouragement to someone else. Imagine if each of us touched one heart. It only takes one heart to reach millions. I love knowing that and it is so cool to think about.

And my humble request for anyone who is reading this, will you pray with me? Please pray that there would be such an outpouring of the Spirit of God that those hearts lost in the dark will know His love beyond a shadow of a doubt and will be changed forever. Pray for strength. Pray for perseverance through the pain. I pray more lives will be saved. Not just for the other side of eternity, but for this precious short time that we have been gifted on this earth.

I DO still believe that this life is truly worth living. Thank You, Jesus, for the everyday chance to choose Your precious gift of life. Friends, let’s keep holding on to hope of Jesus Christ who came to seek the lost and save us no matter what. May you come to know His deep abiding joy that is not based on circumstances of life. May you come to know just how much you are loved and may that love give you courage and the desire to keep on keeping on for the glory of the Lord. †

Thank you for stopping by and praying with me. God bless you richly.

This Sober Life I Live: My ongoing struggle that is hard to talk about

Jesus is the Light of the world. The Light of MY world! ♥

“For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made us understand that it is the brightness of his glory that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” ~2 Corinthians 4:6 (TLB)

Would you believe that the struggle of this sober life I live has nothing to do with being tempted to take a drink? Well, it is the truth. I am grateful to God that I am living a sober life today. I am grateful that God rescued me before I was able to find the fatal combination of pills and alcohol. It has been an amazing six years and almost three months of walking this miracle journey with God to heaven, free from alcohol abuse – free from any abuse (God also rescued me from an extremely mentally abusive relationship)! I have been 100% sober – to me this means that I never traded one vice for another like I see so many struggle with. God became my one and only “go to” for every need. I am certain that having God first place in my life and learning to seek Him and serve Him wholeheartedly is how I have managed to press on without any relapses. After seeing so many people have relapse after relapse, I cannot help but be in awe of this ongoing miracle I am living one day at a time. Only God can make that happen in a life. Especially such a broken one. This entire site is mainly about God’s miracle sobriety in my life and the miracles and breakthroughs that have happened as a result. I live and love to share His incredible story of my life, and I will continue to write about it as long as He allows me to. Even when it causes me to be so vulnerable like I am feeling at this very moment.

So what am I struggling with if it is not the urge to drink or reach for another harmful vice? I am glad you asked. At the risk of sounding like I am out of my mind (which sometimes I really think I am), I will share that my struggle is being alive in this cruel world and having to face reality instead of trying to hide from it. It is a struggle with darkness. I do not know how else to explain it. I have to work hard with dealing with my thoughts and feelings instead of bottling them up or finding destructive ways to numb them so I do not have to feel or think about anything. I did that for decades and even though it has been over six years of freedom from that, I still wish that I did not have to feel. Sometimes hope really hurts. Many times being out in the world is exhausting and painful and I have to fight hard against giving up.

A few people close to me know that I struggle, but I do not think they really understand the struggle. I have shared a little bit here and there, but I have not been able to really express what I go through in words so they can understand. Sometimes it is shame that stops me from sharing, but most of the time it is just because I have no idea how to express my struggle in words. It causes me to want to isolate and withdrawal from people I love – people I need to help me to keep moving forward. The very people who have walked with me for the past six years and are a big part of my miracle story. I know how dangerous isolation can be for me. Unfortunately, Satan knows too and he uses that to tempt me. Thus far, I am still winning the battle, but that is only because I am developing unashamed dependence on God. I am extremely grateful for that.

I think more times than not, I just I cannot shake the thoughts that I want to leave this world. I am ready. I am tired of the times when I feel so down that I can hardly get up. The struggle seems unbearable at times. BUT, before anyone wants to have me committed to a 72 hour hold, know that I am not suicidal. I do not want to harm myself. When God sobered me up and took the desire to drink away from me, He also took away the desire for me to end my own life. I just wanted to make that clear.

It is interesting that my wanting to leave this world is not like when I was tormented by suicidal thoughts in the dark days of depression and drunkenness. But even so, I long to be gone…a lot. I learned it is a longing for heaven to be with my Lord, but I think my mind takes it too far sometimes. When I am in this state, I convince myself that it would be so much better if I could go before all the people I love go. I tell myself that I will not be able to handle being left behind. This sounds so crazy to me and some will think I am crazy for sharing it, but it is part of this journey that I think needs to be told for the sake of others who are struggling. It would sure help me to know that I am not the only one who suffers in this way.

I wonder if feeling everything will ever get better for me. I think about those two decades that I numbed myself and guarded myself from this dark world. I remember how I would drink to be comfortable in social gatherings. It made me feel comfortable in my own skin. Now it is just me and my skin – still very uncomfortable. I no longer have my liquid courage to get me through. I have been without it for these six years and have done incredibly well (God’s miracle). Yet, there are times that the struggle against the temptation to isolate gets intense. It has been happening quite a bit this year. I serve on the worship team in church on Sundays and I attend Bible Study on Tuesday nights and I struggle to make it there a lot of times. It is difficult to admit the battle. It makes me confused at times and ashamed. But I thank God for the strength to keep showing up. Singing my heart out in praises to God even when it is hard to do has saved me in so many ways. So I keep doing it even though the battle still comes. Recently, I even mustered up the courage to reach out to a a dear sister who is a trusted leader to let her know I was struggling. That was hard to do but I knew I could start to get myself into real trouble if I didn’t. She spoke encouraging words into my heart so I was able to overcome once again. Thinking we can do this all on our own can be deadly. I know reaching out and being vulnerable is not easy, but I believe it is a must.

Friends, I am not going to lie. I am tired of the battle that keeps coming. But I am not going to throw everything God has done in my life away, so I keep holding on to His promises. I am living and breathing His Word and that is what is keeping me alive and discovering my divine purpose in this world. He gives me a reason to live.

I do not even know if any of this rambling makes any sense to anyone. Maybe I can at least look at it as just a part of my personal therapy to not keep it bottled up inside. Doing that in the past never served me well. There is more to the struggle, but I am not going to write about it right now. Not sure if I will. I just needed to share this part of it. I think I am going to feel a little awkward knowing that people who know me might read this, but it will not be the first time I feel that way. I always get through and I always hear from people all over the world when I write and share my heart on this site. That makes any awkwardness I face more than worth it. Just like persevering through the pain of life. There must be at least one other person in this world going through something similar so I think it is worth taking a risk with my vulnerable state. If this post does anything at all, perhaps it will help someone out there know that they are not alone in their struggle and they will see that God can do anything with a surrendered and willing heart. Maybe there will be hope in a heart once again. I know I cannot survive with my hope in the Lord.

When I really think about it, I am glad I can feel today. If I was still numbing my heart, I would have never been able to feel the Lord’s love and presence in my life – directly from Him and through the wonderful men and women of God that He has strategically placed in my path months before I hit my rock bottom in February 2010. Praise the Lord for rock bottom miracles.

Once again, I thank you for listening to my heart. I am praying for all who struggle and I ask that you please pray for me too. One of my favorite Scripture quotes lately has been from the New Century Version Bible: “When a believing person prays, great things happen.” ~James 5:16 – It is so true.

Thank You, Lord. I believe! Please, help us with our unbelief… ♥

Some heartfelt words about depression…

There was a young girl whose world suddenly fell apart when she was a teenager. Her dad, whom she was very close to growing up, decided to leave the family. He didn’t want to be married to her mother any longer. Because her mom couldn’t afford the mortgage, they had no choice but to move out of the house and sell it before they lost it. It was the only house she had ever really known. She was only four years old when they first moved in. They scrambled to find a place to live close by so that she could finish out her last couple of years of high school with her class. People they didn’t know were helping them move, so things got lost (probably stolen) and some things that had no value to the strangers who were helping (like family and childhood memories), probably got trashed. It was one of the scariest and saddest moments of her life. She already had low self-esteem from being an overweight kid. We all know how cruel kids can be to each other. But after her dad left her, she felt abandoned and unloved. Things gradually went downhill from there. Sure her mom loved her dearly, she was thankful for that, but her daddy just up and left like she was nothing. Of course as an adult she knows now that it wasn’t as simple as that, but that’s sure what it felt like for her at the time.

Soon after they were all moved into a small rented condo, she’ll never forget the day a relative had said to her: “Take care of your mother.”  She didn’t say it, but she thought to herself: “Take care of Mom?  But I’m just a kid, what about me?  I’m scared. Why doesn’t my dad love me anymore?  Why did he leave us like this?  Why is this happening?”  She always felt scared in her new surroundings. The condo units were all upstairs and the bottom portions were carports.  There was one evening that someone lit one of the vehicles on fire across the way. It wasn’t a large complex so it was pretty close. It was completely engulfed in flames and there was a young couple with a small child who lived directly above it.  It was horrifying to see. She’ll never forget the fear she felt for that family as well as for herself and her mom in such a strange and unsecured place. She was helpless. She felt hopeless. There were many sleepless nights in that place. She had to grow up very quickly to help pay rent and bills. That was the beginning of a lifetime of depression for this girl which eventually turned into heavy drinking as an adult to help ease her emotional pain.

I guess from previous posts anybody can figure out that this story is about me.  Not sure why I’m sharing it in this manner, I just had it on my heart for some reason. Depression can sure be difficult to understand.  As someone who was severely depressed for a very long time, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to fully understand it myself. I’m sure not having the Lord in my life at that time was a big reason for it.  But there are people who do have the Lord in their life and still suffer from it.  If it’s hard for someone like me to understand, then it must be impossible for people who have never experienced it first-hand to understand it. Maybe something I share in this post will help someone cope better with it. Maybe it’ll give someone out there some hope.

I can only speak from my own experience of course, but I think when people don’t know what to say in difficult life-changing situations, I believe those are the times that it is best not to say anything at all. I think it’s a good time to try to share God with them if they don’t know Him, but most times it’s a good idea to just be there quietly for them.  Sometimes being there quietly means more than any words anyone can think of saying.

Some people might suggest counseling. I attempted to get counseling one time in my twenties and it was a horrible experience. I never went back. I never thought of looking for a Christian counselor…I think that would have helped.  Looking back now, I wish I would have had ANY godly person in my life teaching me to reach out to God for help during such a scary time. It was years before I ever heard the words “God loves you, you are the apple of His eye” or “There is hope in Jesus.”  Maybe what might have helped me back then would have been having someone to talk to about how I was truly feeling inside without worrying that I’ll be judged, or worrying about the person trying to give advice I didn’t want to hear. I didn’t have anybody at all that I felt I could open up to and I definitely didn’t have God because I didn’t ever get to know Him when I was young. I didn’t know anybody who knew Him.

What I experienced in my darkest days of depression was that sometimes people felt they needed to say something to try to make me feel better. Their hearts were in the right place, but just coming up with something to say doesn’t help.  Most times, we don’t want someone to give advice or to say anything, we just want someone to listen with a sincere heart and just be there making it a safe place to share our troubles. It’s good to get things out so we’re not letting negative things build up inside of us. That’s what happened to me and that is a dangerous place to be. I grew tired of living and was tormented by thoughts of suicide. Sometimes we just need a hug, maybe even a shoulder to cry on. For me, I know it would have helped to have someone to just listen and love me anyway–I didn’t want feedback. When we are deeply depressed and walking in darkness, having people tell us things about why we shouldn’t be depressed is not going to be helpful, it’s especially not helpful to hear about it from people who don’t know what the depression is like. It just makes the person feel worse and even more worthless so they end up keeping it all inside.  What we need is God and only God. If someone could have pointed me in that direction, that would have been a good start for me.  Well, it was a good start for me, but it took two decades before it happened–better late than never.  I am extremely thankful. We need to also remember that sometimes God uses doctors and medication to help us.  We need to remember that He heals different people in different ways. Bottom line is we can’t get through this without the Lord’s help.

I’ll be honest and say that I occasionally still feel like I’m battling with sadness. Thankfully, it’s nothing like before. When I feel it coming on, I reach for the Lord to help me. I reach out in gratitude. I pray and I praise Him even when it seems hard to do, but I do it.  I trust Him to carry me through and He does. I am blessed with so many godly people in my life now who help me stay connected to Him. God does His part, but I’ve got to make sure that I keep doing my part.  He’s not a genie in the sky. I don’t sit here doing nothing expecting Him to make it all better.  I am determined to never go back to the devil’s pit and I do everything I can to make sure that never happens again.

Well, I can’t go back in time and change my story. Honestly, after everything that God has done, I wouldn’t want to. He is now using it all for His good purpose. My life is challenging, but very exciting. I am honored and super blessed by what He is doing in and through me to help others.

I’m praying for those who suffer from depression as well as for those who are watching loved ones suffer from it. All I can say is to keep reaching out to God for help. Trust Him to carry you through and NEVER give up. Remember that it is His will, His way, His time. Be encouraged. If I can overcome depression and drinking with Jesus’ help, then so can you. Imagine the great things He will do in and through you!  Keep seeking Him friends, He’ll meet you right where you are. If you follow my lead and keep on keeping on no matter what, you will be absolutely amazed at what He does in your life and I hope you will share it with others!

God bless. ♥