Guilt and its source

My church is doing a book right now in small groups called Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. I am not a fan of Not a Fan, but that’s a subject for another post. This book keeps making me feel bad about myself, even though I don’t think I really have anything to feel bad about. So I started thinking about that and why that would be.

I listen to Christian radio, and there are a lot of songs about guilt and sin and shame and how much people need forgiveness. And yeah, we all need forgiveness, and I’m grateful for it, and so forth–but I don’t really feel convicted right now, at this point in my life, with any particular sin. Sure, I could be more patient with my family and more forgiving, but I don’t feel like there’s a lot of sin plaguing my life. I’m probably at a pretty good place, sin-wise, in my Christian walk right now.

And I was thinking about this, and then I suddenly realized: if I don’t have a lot of sin in my life right now… why do I constantly feel so anxious, guilty, and unworthy?

Is it possible… the things I’m feeling guilty and bad about myself about… aren’t actually BAD?

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Signs and eagles

I just had a really cool experience.

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with fatigue lately. I’m planning to have my Mirena IUD taken out tomorrow, so I’m hoping that will help a lot with the fatigue, along with a number of other symptoms, including my depression, weight gain, and back pain. (Yay Mirena, she said sarcastically.)

I was getting particularly bummed about the fatigue this morning and how little I felt I could do–and how little I felt my family understands about my fatigue and how severe it is. I was feeling pretty raw.

So I’m driving home, sobbing my eyes out, saying, “I’ve felt old since I was 25! I’ve lost my youth! And I know God has good plans for us, but that doesn’t mean they get fulfilled in this life, and I have DECADES to go before I can DIE!” I was trying to trust in God and not worry about the future, but it just came over me and I couldn’t shake it.

And then I saw it: a bald eagle.

There NEVER used to be bald eagles in this area. I thought I had seen one a month or so ago, but I hadn’t seen the head, and it was kind of small, so I thought I was wrong.

Well, this one flew right overhead–I got a faraway shot of it with my camera through the sunroof–and it was DEFINITELY a bald eagle.

It was just like those times having a break-down in the car (this seems to happen to me a lot? lol) when I saw a rainbow and I felt like God was telling me to have hope. I thought, “This is a sign.” I mean, seeing a bald eagle around here is practically miraculous. And then I thought, “What does it mean?” And immediately I thought of the passage in Isaiah:

…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

That verse is not just talking about trusting God: it’s about fatigue. God literally sent an eagle to tell me that my fatigue is going to resolve. Whether it’s with this next step tomorrow or not, I will reach a point where I can run and not grow weary.

My new book is out!!

cover

It’s available on Amazon.

Here’s the back-cover blurb:

Challenging readers to rethink what they read and why, the author questions the aesthetic assumptions that have led to the devaluing of fanfiction–a genre criticized as both tasteless and derivative–and other “guilty pleasure” reading (and writing), including romance and fantasy. The complicated relationship between “fanfic” and intellectual property rights is discussed in light of the millennia-old tradition of derivative literature, before modern copyright law established originality as the hallmark of great fiction.

“Absorbed reading”–the practice of immersing oneself in the narrative versus critically “reading from a distance”–is a strong motive for the appropriation by fanfiction of canon characters and worlds.

If you’re curious, you can also read the introduction and part of the first chapter on Google Books!

I thought I’d talk a little (okay, a lot) here about what led to me writing this book.

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A thought-ful solution

I’ve realized lately, through the cognitive behavioral therapy and other things, the major thought pattern that is causing a lot of my depression, and what to do about it.

Throughout my depression, I’ve known intellectually that God wants to be with us and help us in hard times. But I couldn’t figure out how that was supposed to WORK. The big problem, the thing causing the hard times, the thing that God needed to fix, and that he WASN’T fixing, despite my prayers, was (is) that I needed a full-time job. Since that was the way I expected God to be with me in my hard times, and since that particular prayer was currently going unanswered, I felt like God wasn’t with me.

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Going to church depressed

Things are a lot better now, but when I was particularly depressed, going to church was extremely difficult for me. The problem was that a lot of people didn’t understand how church could be such a struggle and they would teasingly guilt me for skipping church. I feel like it might be helpful to give a description of what church is like for me when I’m seriously depressed.

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DIY First Try: CBT

Originally I wrote this as an anonymous tumblr post, because I didn’t want to share my feelings. But I feel like this might be a good example for other people who want to try DIY CBT, so I’m going to put myself out there and post it. It starts with a rant of what I’m feeling right now, and then goes into applying the CBT techniques suggested in the video I posted the other day. I’m feeling a lot better since I did this!

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DIY Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

I had heard of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, many times before: sites online would talk about how it was proven to be one of the most effective treatments for depression. However, none of my doctors had ever mentioned it, none of my therapists had ever mentioned it or done it with me, and I’ve had some… interesting experiences trying to find a good therapist, so I wasn’t in the mood to try to find one who specializes in CBT. So what did I do?

What any red-blooded Millennial would do. I searched YouTube!

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Rambling post on depression

So this is not my usual kind of blog post. You have been warned.

 

Being depressed sucks.

No, like, I know you know this. It’s just that it sucks in ways you don’t really think about.

For instance, one of the things Helpful People are always telling you is that your feelings are valid. And it IS important to know that. The problem is that when you’re depressed, your feelings might be valid, but they are based on an inherently skewed perspective that is sometimes super far from the truth.

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This Is Just to Say II

Additional Signs and Portents re: not looking for jobs: This year I’ve been reading Streams in the Desert as my devotional (an excellent resource for anybody going through a hard time).  Here’s what the entry yesterday said:

I once thought that after I prayed that it was my duty to do everything that I could do to bring the answer to pass. He taught me a better way, and showed that my self-effort always hindered His working, and that when I prayed and definitely believed Him for anything, He wanted me to wait in the spirit of praise, and only do what He bade me. It seems so unsafe to just sit still, and do nothing but trust the Lord; and the temptation to take the battle into our own hands is often tremendous.

We all know how impossible it is to rescue a drowning man who tries to help his rescuer, and it is equally impossible for the Lord to fight our battles for us when we insist upon trying to fight them ourselves. It is not that He will not, but He cannot. Our interference hinders His working.— C. H. P.

And if that wasn’t enough, the sermon today was on God testing us, and the scripture was Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac. The pastor pointed out that God loved Abraham, told him he would bless him with many descendants, and directed him according to a plan. AND THEN he tells Abraham to undo it all by sacrificing Isaac. It looked like it was all going to be for nothing. Well, God led me to my major, led me to grad school, led me to the decision not to pursue the job that obviously went with that education… and now it looks like it’s all for nothing, because I’ve had such trouble getting a job. But I have to trust that it ISN’T all for nothing and that even this is a part of God’s plan. I have applied for SO MANY JOBS that I am clearly qualified for, I’ve got to think at this point that the only reason I didn’t get any of them was that God was making sure I DIDN’T, because he’s got something else planned for me. Maybe it’s this summer youth pastor gig. Maybe it’s something else. I don’t know–but I know he’s got a plan, and that “All things work together for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Plus, not applying for jobs has brought me SO MUCH contentment, rest, and peace of mind…

This is just to say…

You know how I decided on Sunday to stop looking for jobs and God would send me one when he wanted me to have one? Well, it’s Wednesday, and a friend contacted me to say that she knew people who were hiring writing/illustrating tutors for the summer and should she give them my info. Don’t know if I’ll actually want the job, since the hours might interfere with my part-time hours working for the church, but if nothing else, I feel like it’s definitely God saying, “I’ve got your back on this! You made the right choice!”