Since I’m going to a Women of Faith conference (full story) this weekend, you’d think I’d be in a great mood. I mean, what a great opportunity to commune with the people of God, right? Absolutely! And I feel the need for it now more than ever. Looking for a church in the area is taking its toll on me. So is the pressure of leading a weekly small group. I’m giving out, but not filling up. The rainy weather doesn’t help. Even the local schools are closed due to flooding. (Is it even safe to go out there? Should I invest in a house boat?) Really, I’m just plain ol’ bummed out.
I don’t know what to do for this depression (and anxiety) except to walk through it and know it, too, will pass. I spend more time praying, thinking, talking to God and less time social networking, hanging out, and uh, showering. Hopefully, the Women of Faith weekend will kick start my spirit. Until then, here are some “faves” that help me get through the murky times.
*Bebo Norman is my go-to guy for hard times. Whether I’m about to have a panic attack or cry my eyes out, I pop in a Bebo album and I feel immediate relief. It reminds me of when David played his harp for King Saul when Saul was overcome with bouts of madness. Bebo’s music is a gentle reminder that someone’s been in the depths, made it out, and that God is still very much present. Lately, I’ve also listened to Jason Gray and Andrew Peterson, and of course, my old stand-bys–Rich Mullins and Fernando Ortega. I used have specific playlists on my iPod for “sad times” and “mad times” and “happy times,” but they somehow got deleted. Another song that resonates with me is “Hold My Heart” by Tenth Avenue North. While I enjoy artists like Tenth Avenue North and Josh Wilson, when I’m down and out, their upbeat songs feel like salt rubbed into an raging wound.
*The Book of Psalms is an inspiration for many, and when nothing else makes sense, the psalms usually do. I particularly love Psalms 42 and 46. I also turn to the book of Hosea, which may sound like a strange choice, until you consider this passage from Hosea 3: 19-20,
“I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.”
As cliche as it sounds, the Bible is an amazing source of comfort in its prose, stories (Elijah, for one), and guidance.
*One day someone who is very dear to me gave me a copy of Henri Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love as a present. She told me to read it, but not all at once, just bit by bit. So I did, and still do. In Nouwen’s most personal work, he shares his journal entries from a time when he underwent extreme hardship (some may call it a “nervous breakdown”). At the urging of his friends, Nouwen published this book. I rarely read an entry without bursting into tears. I also read Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (read review), which is great for use in small groups or for personal devotions.
*It may sound silly, but online games like Gnome Town and Words With Friends (both on Facebook) provide needed distraction. I cannot always live in the pain, focus on the hurt, feel the depression, deal with the anxiety. So, instead, I build a world of friendly forest creatures and get my butt kicked by high school kids who know more words than me.
*Since I’m a writer, it should come as no surprise that words at a healing balm to my soul. In his song “The Cure for Pain,” Jon Foreman sings, “So blood is fire pulsing through our veins. We’re either writers or fools behind the reigns. I’ve spent ten years trying to sing it all away. But the water keeps on falling from my tries.” Like Foreman, I keep trying to write, not sing, it all away. Still, I keep my journal close by and consider my notebooks full of scribbles among my most treasured possessions. One of these days, I’m going to get a nice leather or mole skin journal (usually, I get them for 50% off at Barnes & Noble or as gifts from friends).
*Dogs, not diamonds, are a girl’s best friend. Lonely days seem a little less lonely because of my two dogs–Cassie the Peekapoo (left) and Maddy the Shih Tzu (right). They sense my mood and cuddle with me more often when I am down. My bird, Kylie the Cockatiel, chirps praises to God when my spirit feels faint. Animals are truly a gift from God. And so are friends and family, who are willing to listen, even they don’t understand or don’t know what to do.
I’m not going to apologize for my less-than-chipper mood because it is my goal to be real, rather than entertaining. Ideally, I like to be both, but real trumps entertaining. Pray for me and I will pray for you!
How can I be praying for you right now? What do you do when you feel bummed out? Do you suffer from clinical depression and/or anxiety? What kind of pets do you have? Do you journal and/or blog to relieve your stress?