Category Archives: Life & Faith
“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.” Proverbs 15:30
“I think I’m only considering medication because I’m writing a book and I need to be able to get it done. If I weren’t writing, I would just live like this.”
“But Sarah, maybe God is saying you don’t have to live like this.”
Maybe you don’t have to live like this.
Maybe I could live in the light. Maybe I don’t have to suffer in the dark. Maybe, just maybe, something is a little whack with my brain chemistry but I don’t have to live with it.
I’ve been on medication for over a month now, and I feel normal again, like myself again.
I was the frog in the boiling water. Slowly, slowly, insidiously, this sadness filled me up and then one day I couldn’t tell you anymore whether I was an introvert or extrovert. I couldn’t tell you what I liked to do or the last time I enjoyed going somewhere. The boiling happened so slowly that I don’t know when it began or how long I’ve lived in the hot, dark water. I don’t know when I started to lose who I was.
It was like I was living in a dream.
But now I’m awake, and to mix all the metaphors, I feel like I’m in the sun, like I’m out of the boiling water, like I can see clearly, and most wonderfully, I know who I am again. I didn’t lose my personality. I am still me.
I wrote a love letter to myself this morning to help me understand again who I am. The beginning of the letter goes like this:
You’re struggling to figure out who you are lately. If someone asked you, “Who are you?”, you’re not sure how you would answer. That’s okay. Let’s see if I can help.
First, you are loved and chosen and seen and known by God, who is your Father and who loves you with a faithful, steadfast, pure love. You are His daughter and He knows every intricate piece of your heart and soul and mind. What you don’t know, He knows. What you don’t see, He sees. Where you feel lost and confused, He is sure. So the first thing, dear Sarah, is that you are a loved and known daughter of the God of the universe.
I’m not advocating medication on a whim, I’m just telling you that I am better. Something was wrong, but now it’s right. That’s all I know.
I also know that my mother struggled with depression, so maybe there is some genetic stuff going on. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m writing a book about the redemption of humanity and the thread through it is the story of my mom and I and the crazy, complicated, hardness of it all. Our story is messy and sad and confusing and nothing short of miraculous. Maybe it’s that my hormones adjusted my brain or that this human body is just not perfect here on earth.
All I know is that I was blind but now I see. And I give God all the glory.
If you’re boiling, or if you don’t even know you’re boiling but you know something is off, I want to encourage you in a two specific ways that two different friends encouraged me:
1.) It’s okay to put everything on the table.
Anything can be put on he table for discussion, whether it’s homes to buy, educating our children, any big life decision, there is nothing wrong with putting it on the table.
And in that putting in on the table, we lay our hands open knowing and trusting and believing that He is faithful and He guides.
2.) Maybe you don’t have to live like this.
Maybe you don’t have to boil. Maybe God is calling you out to the light. He wants obedience over sacrifice. But the real point I’m trying to make here is this: God loves you and He wants you to live in the light. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever suffer or be in hellish circumstances. What it means is that there’s an inner peace, an inner light, an inner joy that can never be taken away, and sometimes we need outside help to find that joy again. And that’s okay.
The paradox for the Christian is that while we may suffer, we can also experience great joy. And we are free to get help.
The Scripture at the top of this post affirms that God understands our human hearts, and how we need light and joy and goodness to keep on. Here’s another version of that verse that I just love:
The light of the eyes rejoices the inner man, the heart, and good news takes away the ashes.
We have a God who sees us and loves us and helps us and takes away the ashes.
Lord, would you search our hearts and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. Show us anything in us that is offensive or hurtful. Unfold freedom for us, bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts, and lead us in the everlasting way. Amen. (Psalm 139:23,24, Psalm 147:3)
Love, Sarah Mae
P.S. Try writing a love letter to yourself. I know it’s weird, I acknowledge that, but it’s also helpful and kind.
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
My kids started public school a few weeks ago.
(I know, weird and surprising.)
To put this in perspective of the randomness and weirdness and unlikeliness of us putting our kids in public school, my husband reminded me that I told him that if I ever died to never put the kids in public school. (No pressure or anything). I don’t know why I was so adamant, but apparently I was. It’s all a blur now. All I know is that last month I found myself thinking about it all, and then I found myself driving to the district office for enrollment papers, and then I just casually filled them out “just in case” and all I can really say is, I guess the Spirit moved.
I’m not being silly. There is no way to explain why we all of a sudden put our kids in school. But we did, and we follow God and are in His will, so, so be it. We follow the Spirit even when we don’t know where He is going, or why this is happening. It’s all a faith walk.
Now a few things about the decision I want to share with you:
- It felt agonizing at first to even consider putting our kids in public school. I wrestled with feelings of failure and selfishness. I wondered, was I sacrificing my kids? Why was I even considering this?
- It felt, and feels, surreal. We’ve never considered public school, at least no since they were babies and my husband and I first discussed schooling options. We keep looking at each other and saying, “This is so weird.”
- I was so scared that my anxiety would keep me up at night if we put them in school and I begged God for peace if this was from Him.
Now let me dive into the things I just mentioned:
Am I a Selfish Failure?
Shame runs deep, and when you believe you are selfish and a failure, especially as a mom; it’s gutting. I kept telling a friend of mine, “Is this selfish? I just feel so selfish if I put my kids in school, because if they’re in school I’ll write, and I like writing and working, and that’s just selfish of me.” She said, “Is that selfish though?” And that question got me thinking. And thinking. And praying. No, it’s not selfish to put my kids in school and it’s not selfish to like working, because we are following God. Also, my husband thought the whole selfish thing was messed up. He said, “If you put the kids in school, don’t be a martyr about it, enjoy what God has next.” Yes. I like that. And it’s true.
I spoke with another friend over my questions and feelings and she reminded me, “God is good, and God is faithful, and God is gracious. Ultimately, it’s the Lord that goes before you and it’s Him who’s going to fight for your children. This is not law, and we don’t find our righteousness in how we school. Our righteousness is in Christ and in Christ alone. Nothing at all changes in who you are and how you are viewed by what you choose to do with your children and school. This is not a sin issue, a righteousness issue, and this is not a law issue. You are under grace. So be free.”
Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m not a selfish failure.
It is Weird
At first, it was super weird to not have the kids with me. I cried for two weeks and then I went to a doctor and got on anti-depressants. There is more to this story of course, but I can see now that having the kids with me all day was covering up something inside of me and God, in His kindness, was going to be peeling back the layers of my heart. Now that’s it has been a month that the kids have been in school, I can see more of why God led us the way He did.
Peace AND Joy
After I made the agonizing decision to put the kids in school, I got the peace. The peace came after the obedience, as it usually does. And not only do I have peace about the decision, I have joy. I feel grateful and joyful and confident in what the Lord is doing with our family.
“Not only is it to the Father’s glory that we get to bear fruit, but we actually get to find joy in it!” -Beth Moore
As an aside, some of you read this post on my depression, and I want you to know I’m doing well. The meds seem to be working and I’m feeling like myself again, light shining in the darkness.
God is so kind.
It feels like being stuck in a glass box. You can see out but you can’t get out.
It feels like you have to cook a feast for 5o people while also cleaning your house and schooling your kids, and you have less than a day to do it (but really you have nothing to do).
It feels like drowning and trying to swim is just too hard.
It feels like rage under your skin.
It feels like fog.
It feels like loneliness when you’re surrounded by people.
It feels like being in a slow-motion dream.
Everyone else seems so normal. Everyone seems to have energy. Everyone seems to be able to get dressed and do things and take pleasure in air and people and pumpkins.
I am tired. I am so tired and I am sad and I feel overwhelmed nearly all the time for no reason. My body crawls with anxiety, in the middle of the night, during the day.
I am jealous of people who seem to be able to function well and get things done and enjoy life.
I am tired. I have tried to claw out of this box, this thing that has me under it. But I can’t. I can’t fix this weary soul.
Read the rest over at (in)courage.
We were at Burger King because my kids like Whoppers and it was baseball season and it was just EASY.
I reached over to the nice lady handing me our food and my sweet, precious, delight of a child took hold of the skin UNDER MY ARM. You know the place, where triceps are supposed to be. The dangling place. The place that has names I shall not refer to as to not offend. THAT PLACE. She squeezed it, and then she jiggled it. With her sweet little fingers SHE JIGGLED MY ARM LIKE IT WAS JELLO.
Let’s take a moment.
Okay. So she did that and I said, “Could you please not do that?”
She took her hand away from the place. We moved on.
So here’s the thing: my bits are changing.
I am growing out my gray hair (which, by the way, I reserve the right to change my mind about at any moment). I am realizing that I am going to have to make peace with the thigh dimples because I have no Jillian Michaels abilities in me. At all. I called to cancel my gym membership the other day and the lady was all, “You’ve only been a member three months.” Nice try shaming me lady. I LIFTED 20 POUND WEIGHTS AND MAYBE SPRAINED MY WRIST IN THE PROCESS. I’m on medical leave. Anyway.
The dimples aren’t going anywhere.
My wrist hurts from lifting a dumbbell, (Lord, help me).
I’m not going to starve myself (goodbye metabolism).
And while I’m watching my sugar intake and eating more smoothies and salads, there are times I just want some wings and beer in bed with my husband.
Here’s the point: It’s okay to age.
Read the rest over at (in)courage today!
I remember at a conference a woman saying that she felt God’s pleasure when she blogged.
Another friend felt it when she ran, which is of course is like the famous Christian missionary and olympian, Eric Liddell.
But I, I didn’t know what it meant. I asked God for it, to understand it, to feel it, to know it. I tried to manufacture it, you know, thinking maybe it was when I mothered my children or homeschooled or wrote, but the truth is, I didn’t feel God’s pleasure in the way I think others were meaning it.
I couldn’t define it or hold it or figure it out. Maybe it was just words, this pleasure of God, and maybe Him being pleased with me as His daughter was what it was. Or something like that.
But today, today I felt what I can only describe as God’s pleasure, His love over me, just because it pleases Him to see me pleased. I’m botching it up here, because I can’t quite explain what I’m trying to say, but He gave me a gift today and I felt His pleasure in the giving of it. I think I especially felt His pleasure because I didn’t deserve the gift; I’m not worthy of it. And yet He is so kind and so merciful and so happy to give, just because He likes to give His children good gifts.
I was excitedly talking to a friend about the gift and he said, “You’re giving me delight in your delight.”
Yes, that’s it. That’s what I think it means to feel the pleasure of God: to feel His delight over you in your delight.
I told my husband about feeling God’s pleasure and he told me he felt God’s pleasure this year for the first time, and it had to do with doing woodworking projects that delighted him. He felt God’s delight in his delight.
And it’s awesome.
Just as a father takes delight in seeing delight in his daughter, this is how God sees us; our joy makes Him happy.
I make Him smile, and so do you.
Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that just the best?
My prayer for you today is that you would experience the pleasure of God, personally and intimately and overwhelmingly. He loves you. He takes delight in you.
Can you feel it?