Searching for Significance
Have you ever found yourself in a large crowd or someplace where there are lots of people, yet you felt so alone or out of place? Maybe it’s been hard to find a place where you feel you truly belong. Sometimes a person reaches a point in their life where they feel insignificant. Insignificance happens to many people. To me, insignificance means feeling unimportant or useless. Maybe a person feels unloved or worthless and just can’t figure out their sense of purpose or meaning to life. Life seems to lack a sense of direction. When this happens, it’s pretty easy to feel depressed, and sometimes even despair and hopelessness set in.
How do you find significance?
The D Word: Death
Have you ever wondered when you’re going to die? This can be a touchy subject to talk about and maybe it’s easier to avoid and not think about it. Yet, we can’t escape the fact we aren’t going to live with forever. Death is a part of life. We aren’t supposed to live forever.
Sometimes the fear of death is related to the how. Most people hope they will just go to sleep and never wake up. Most of us have known people who have suffered before dying and we hope that’s not us. Maybe there’s a fear of leaving loved ones behind or the fear of not being ready to face death. We all have had these fears to some level.
How do I repair brokenness?
Have you ever wondered how to fix your brokenness once you realized you were broken? This is a question a lot of people have tried to figure out and have struggled to answer. When feeling broken, many talk about feeling sad and depressed. Maybe there are old wounds and scars from childhood. Maybe life seems overwhelming and pointless for some reason. Whatever the cause, life can seem so empty. It can seem hopeless with a feeling that one is doomed to a life of despair and misery.
Have you ever reached a point in your life where you felt broken? If so, you aren’t alone. There are many people feeling broken and looking for a way to put their life together. To me, brokenness can happen for lots of reasons. There can be emotional trauma or hurts from childhood that never seem to go away and result in feeling depressed, anxious, and unworthy. Sometimes, life can be so stressful that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There are so many things that can cause stress. For some, feeling overwhelmed seems endless. Or, a plaguing medical issue that zaps one's energy and takes an emotional and physical toll on their bodies and mood. It can seem so hopeless.
When asking “Why” has run you dry
Hard times will come
Hard times will come. We all have been told that. It is a part of life, right? We all know pain will come eventually, this is quite unavoidable. But just because someone tells you they are going to punch you in the gut, doesn’t make it hurt any less. We may know it is coming, yet hard times are still hard and pain still hurts. This one-two punch may be unavoidable in life, but how we handle it is our counterattack.
When you have tried it all
When things bring us down, we start searching for what to do. Certain times we need to take a step back and focus on growth. Other times we may need to take a step of faith forward and trust a little more. And of course, there will be times where we just need to do the very thing we are avoiding at all cost. But what do we do when we have tried it all? The times in life when we buckle down and give it all we got. What happens when that doesn’t seem to be enough?
The times in life that we run into a situation where we have searched high and low for an answer, a direction, something that can give us a twinkle of hope to hold onto, even if it is a tough thing to embrace. What do we do then? You find yourself all out of ideas, no plan to put in place, or thing to get your mind off of what you are facing. It seems that you simply cannot escape it. This is just plain tough to go through. But there is something to do.
Love in the ICU
Valentine’s Day started off like any normal day. I dropped my son off at school. Placed my baby in daycare and arrived at work. Things were moving along smoothly until 10 am when my brother called. Per my request, he stopped at my home to check on my mom, who had been feeling ill. After staying with her awhile, he noticed that she started to turn gray and not feel well. I let my boss know I had to go check on my mom and off I went. When I got home I knew I had to take her to the hospital. Let me tell you, my mom did not want to go. She fought us. We had to carry her.
I had this intense feeling come over me that this could be the last car ride with my mom. We arrived at the hospital, and we were rushed in. My mom was in such a tragic state, they had to take her by ambulance to another hospital. And this is when her story started a new chapter. She became unresponsive in the ambulance. And by the time we arrived in the ER, she was full-code, as I was repeatedly told, although I was not sure what that meant. And the doctor who seemed to be in charge started talking to me about my mom’s wishes if she would want to be resuscitated.
The Struggle is Real
There are many things in life that are not as hard as I was warned.
My driver’s test- that was a breeze.
Getting married – maybe one of the easiest and most joyous things I’ve ever done or been a part of.
There is something beautiful when plans line up and happen as you had envisioned them; however, I’m finding that this is not the majority.
Rather I have find myself feeling like a running back pushing the ball through the defensive line. Sometimes my grunts sound more like complaints. Sometimes I find myself pushing teammates out of the way instead of the other team. And sometimes I get my eyes so fixed on the end zone that I miss the opportunities in front of me. Here are some things I learned on the field.
Life is hard, and the Struggle is Real.
Chicken Legs - My Battles for Self-Esteem
My self-esteem shattered. My first-grade heart throb crushed me with words. My best friend, trying to play matchmaker, asked the gorgeous boy during recess if he “liked” me. Unsure who I was, he said, “You mean the girl with the pretty face and the chicken legs?” For the first time, I questioned my looks. I ignored the front end of the sentence and fixated on the poultry comparison for many years. Not only did I fixate on one person’s opinion, I chose to ignore what my parents taught me about the value God places on each person.
Eventually, skinny became cool, so I grudgingly accepted my slim build. Meanwhile, hurtful words continued to pile up. In high school, going to lunch was an ordeal. Outside my cafeteria, a group of guys rated girls walking by. "She’s a six!” “Nah, I’d give her a four!” Ironically, insecurity probably fueled these chucklehead’s desire to critique girls. Again, I chose to listen to people instead of God who says that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” Isaiah 139:14 (NIV).
I seldom know what to do with the mess created by pain and suffering. When sickness or tragedy explodes in my life, the commotion leaves me dazed. I’m not good on my feet in a crisis.
- My brain stalls.
- My stomach hurts.
- My hands go numb.
Restoring calm takes effort. I’m left in a dimly lit room with the troublesome questions like: Why is this happening? Can anyone tell me what to do? Suffering creates messes. While literal messes, like blood-covered clothing and neglected pet accidents are manageable, emotional messes are not. I want to clean up emotional upsets because they feel uncomfortable. I want to scrub away inner pain because it frightens me. I’ve learned, though, this emotional bedlam can be useful. Painful experiences in my life accomplish positive things that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. Suffering exposes my nature. Struggling for solid footing in the midst of pain, I’ve discovered what’s inside of me. Some things I do and say show strengths. At other times, not so much. I’m humbled each time I realize that I’m not yet all that I think I am. The truth is, an easy life doesn’t produce strong character.
My beautiful granddaughter gave birth a week ago with all the fanfare reserved for the “first”: her first baby, first grandbaby on both sides, and now my first great-grandbaby, the first of our fourth generation. But with all of that comes another first, the (almost) inevitable “baby blues.” They are defined as, “A common temporary psychological state right after childbirth when a new mother may have sudden mood swings, feeling very happy, then very sad, cry for no apparent reason, feel impatient, unusually irritable, restless, anxious, lonely and sad. The baby blues may last only a few hours or as long as 1 to 2 weeks after delivery.” I remember my own feelings of frustration when I first became a mother, when those feelings were neither spoken about nor recognized as normal.
“Your husband has a fifty percent survival rate. We’re doing all we can.” Two abrupt sentences tilted my world severely. I collapsed into a waiting room chair trying to corral my stampeding thoughts. God, help me, I’m so scared. Moments later, walking mechanically to the pay phone, I heard hushed conversations fluttering behind me in the Intensive Care Unit, (ICU). “Poor thing. Husband’s Room 9. Critical. Bacterial pneumonia. Not sure he’ll make it. Only twenty-seven years old."
Diagnosed with simple pneumonia five days ago, my husband was now fighting for his life with a deadly form of this illness. Countless tubes and monitors invaded his now frail body, monitoring vital organs and delivering medications. A fever of 106 degrees persisted in spite of his ice mattress.
When I was five years old, my grandmother had surgery that left her paralyzed on one side and took away her ability to speak. I now know she had Aphasia, which the Mayo Clinic describes as “a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate.” Even with Aphasia, grandma still had a wonderful way of making each grandchild feel deeply loved.
My grandmother never regained her ability to speak and lived the rest of her life in a nursing home. When I think back on visiting days, I remember the anticipation I felt. Even now I can picture her face lighting up with joy when our eyes connected. My parents were there, but I knew the sparkle in her eyes was all for me.
About 15 years ago, I gave up a high-paying job, and moved to a new career in social work. Feeling called, I passionately charged ahead and believed that hard work, and God’s favor would propel me to my destiny. However, three months into my new job, the company reorganized, and I ended up as a case manager, which requires a different set of skills than the job for which I was hired.
I tried to make the best of my situation, but each day left me exhausted. I was joyless and wondered if I was wrong. Did God call me to this field? Anger smoldered in my heart. Someone must have known about this upcoming reorganization. I questioned God and wondered why He let this happen to me.
In the tenth year of my marriage, I was betrayed by the man who had promised to love and protect me, and had given me five babies. Two and a half months later, while still trying to make sense of the infidelity, he was killed in a car accident. I spent the next several years trying to deal with my and my children’s grief. I felt overwhelmed, and angry when people told me I needed to forgive. I didn’t know how to begin to forgive and couldn’t understand what difference it made to someone who was no longer living.
Decoding depression is like cutting onions. Peeling their many layers can make you cry. By taking hormone supplements, I felt my inner pendulum swing towards joy. For a few months, I thought I had this depression thing whipped and felt triumphant. The contrast of emotions, before and after supplements, was so astonishing I thought it must be what normal felt like. Six months passed before I realized I had only peeled off the papery outer skin and thick surface layers of my onion. The extreme lows were indeed gone, but a level of gloom persisted. Like any raw onion, the odor of the remaining layers filled my inner house with a smell I had to cover daily with the air freshener of my pretend, cheerful personality.
My journey out of depression was a bit like the Wizard of Oz. In the story, a simple instruction to “follow the yellow brick road,” results in an odyssey for poor Dorothy. She skips away from Munchkin land with a song in her heart and no idea of the perils that stand between her and Kansas. When my doctor explained hormonal imbalance as a major cause of depression it all sounded so simple. I just needed supplemental hormones. I had no clue that poppy fields and flying monkeys were waiting for me too.
Specially Wired Not Dumb
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
It was time to go to kindergarten, and I was very excited. Now I could go to school like my brothers and sister, which made me a big kid. Unfortunately, the 1970’s were not kind to children with hyperactivity. Soon after school started, Mrs. B decided to tell my mother that I was not smart enough to learn, and she felt I didn’t even want to try. Due to me being very active and chatty, my teacher quickly made it know that she did not like me and was not happy to have me in her class. Little did she know that her hurtful words would continue to haunt up into my adult years.
Anger at Work
I’ve been frustrated at work for a number of months now. One of my job assignments is to drive improvements in the factory according to the ISO 9001 Standard. Once a year we have an audit, and to fail the audit would mean losing our automotive component business. Every year we go through the same difficulties we do every year. Engineering is too busy to participate in corrective actions and process improvements. Management is stretched too thin to think about minor procedure changes; they just keep saying, "Why do we need to changes these things we’ve been doing for years?" Production is always driving to get parts produced and shipped, and is impatient with improvement initiatives.
I’M STUCK, WHERE’S GOD?
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where it felt like you were stuck in quicksand and not going anywhere in life? Sometimes there are just a lot of issues to deal with and the future seems unclear. This can happen when there’s a lot of stress. Maybe it’s dealing with some medical problem that takes a toll both physically and emotionally. Maybe there is some stress at work or home that makes each day a challenge to get through. For some people, there are scars from childhood which interfere with peace and contentment.
Perhaps your TOO busy to read this blog
As a fan of being productive and loving the holiday season, I have shamelessly fallen into the holiday shuffle in years past. Some Decembers have flown by so fast, I can barely remember between the hustle and bustle and flying from here to there. Decorating, wrapping, shopping, and doing so many good things. I barely remember the precious memories I built with my family and friends.
I invite you to join me this season as I pursue peace with the same zealous that I pursue my spouse with.
Not Cheap But Worth It
As a survivor of childhood abuse, I’ve learned to forgive even when my mind tells me a person does not deserve my forgiveness. My motivators to keep a clean heart in life come from a few factors. The first, Matthew 6:15 (NIV) "But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Second, my husband's word about how we as Christians should not even desire that the worse criminal goes to Hell; how even they can repent of their sins and God would have forgiven him. And third, if I hold bitterness in my heart than it is only hurting myself by choosing not to forgive.
Describing depression has always been that weather icon with the sun peeking out from behind a cloud. From childhood my inner sunshine was concealed. Cheering my teenage self out of bed each morning became routine. Early feedback taught me that depressed people are …. well, depressing. So, I designed a pretend personality to use publicly.
This girl was funny and upbeat. By college I deduced not everyone started the day overcast and lived in fear their true feelings would leak out. I sought solutions. Twenty five years passed before I found any.
What Are You Sowing?
Sow a thought and you reap an action;
Sow an act and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit and you reap a character;
Sow a character and you reap a destiny.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Moment of Thought
Have you ever had a moment where you stopped and thought to yourself, “How did I get here?” It could be either a moment where you found yourself in a good and exciting situation, or a bad situation where rock bottom drew you closer. It is a moment, nonetheless, where you needed to stop and trace back the steps upon the path which brought you there.
A Friend in Lonely Times
Loneliness takes up residence in all of our lives at one point or another. It visits each of us in different ways. To some of us, it walks through the door as we bury our loved ones. To others, it sneaks in as we battle diseases and physical pain. Still, to some, it holds their hand in the midst of a room full of family and friends. Periods of loneliness seem almost inevitable in our lifetime. We all have isolated situations that leave us feeling that no one else can relate to our circumstance. We all walk through seasons of transition and unforeseen change. To many, the loneliness is unrecognized until life slows down and there is actually time to reflect.
There are several times in my life that I have felt lonely, but there is one season in my life that distinctly stands out. I was 19 years old. I had just arrived home after being gone for half a year doing mission work. I had no idea what to expect when flying back home. I guess I just imagined it would be the same as it had always been. For the most part, everything was the same. My family welcomed me home with open arms and my old friends came to welcome me at the airport.
Bloom Where You're Planted
New city. No job. No house. Very few friends and family.
When my husband and I first moved to our current city, things were looking a little bleak. My dad had always advised us to "follow the money," so when we both couldn't find a good job in the city we were living in, we followed the money and moved. Through a series of rather frustrating events, we discovered that we couldn't get a house, and the job I thought I had fell through, so we moved in with my cousins and I hunted for something new.
After a month with no success, my cousin suggested that I come do seasonal retail work at a store she managed. This wasn't my field, but it was an opportunity to work and we were blowing through savings quickly, so I took the job.
Another year has come and is almost gone – Fall is among us, mornings are crisp and afternoons are warm. Leaves are turning and pumpkin Spice is everywhere; it is the time for knitted sweaters and all things that mean comfort to a person. As for myself, I cherish the moments of curling up on the couch with sweatpants, a long sleeve shirt, my Sherpa blanket, an oversized coffee mug with something piping hot and finally…a book; a good novel, my bible, my lesson plan, something to read.
I have always pride myself on my ability to organize, prioritize, and get things done in an efficient manner. I plan everything I can get my hands on, my son’s first birthday party was planned and booked by the time he was one month old, it is who I am and what makes me happy. So…it is alarming when Fall hits and my motivation level drops, I find it a struggle to be as proactive as I normally am. I find myself figuring out ways to motivate myself, ways to make myself complete my hobbies, the things in life that need to get done. I find that when Fall comes, procrastination comes along with it.
Why is This Happening to Me?
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you asked the question; why is this happening to me? I think we've all asked this question, and probably several times in our life. Sometimes we have to deal with a tough medical situation or experiencing the loss of a loved one. Maybe there's some stress in life that causes depression or anxiety. Whatever the cause, I imagine this question gets asked many times every day.
So if you find yourself in a tough situation and are asking the question; what do I do next? I realize it can be hard to figure out why a struggle is happening, but you can be reassured no matter what you are going through, God knows your struggles. If you believe God is real and believe there is a purpose to everything that happens to you in your life, then the struggle you are going through also has a purpose. It can take time to understand and figure out the purpose of a struggle, but it can also be reassuring to know God does have a purpose for us and has not forgotten us.