Asking like a child

How often do you go to God and ask him plainly for something you want?

No qualifiers. No “I know this isn’t something I need, I’m SO content with life and you don’t HAVE to give me this, but it’d be so great if you could do this for me,” not even “I know it might not be your will and you can totally say no and whatever you actually have for me is EVEN BETTER than what I think I want…but could you just think about giving me this?” Simply asking. “Hey God, thanks for how much you love me, can I have [insert gift here]?”

Probably not often.

I first started thinking about how ridiculous that is this past spring when one of my pastors mentioned it in a sermon. He said that when a kid has a good dad, they go straight to him and ask for things. They don’t carry on with five minutes of disclaimers before getting to what they want.
This made sense but I still couldn’t do it. It made me anxious and didn’t feel right. God is not a human dad, and I’m asking for bigger things than for him to open my juice box.

The other day I was asking him once again for something I’ve been asking about for a minute. And I realized, when we feel the need to assure God that it’s okay for him to say no, or that what we’re asking for is a good thing, we aren’t making those disclaimers for God. They’re for ourselves.

“You don’t have to say yes.” I’m protecting myself so if he says no, I can remember that I gave him permission to say no.
“I know I don’t need this.” I’m trying to convince myself that I don’t believe whatever I’m asking for is a need…but maybe sometimes I really do feel like I need it, and I know I shouldn’t, so I’m trying not to admit it.
We say that and all the other things because we’re convinced that God doesn’t actually want to give us good gifts, or that we aren’t really asking with the good intentions we think, or maybe we just feel like we’ll be less disappointed if God’s answer is no when we’ve put that safety net under us.

So as I was praying, and I said “You know where my heart’s at. You know I’m finally content here…” and then I really heard myself and couldn’t stop laughing.

He’s GOD, y’all. We aren’t telling him anything new! Of course he knows my heart. He made it and he’s been right there growing it.

And yes, he also knows what we want before we ask him for it…but we still need to ask because he ASKS US TO. He wants us to come to him. He doesn’t need us to bring all our defenses with it, just our requests. Because he’s a good dad and delights in giving good gifts to his kids. Because asking brings us closer to him no matter what his answer is.

Maybe once we’re asking from a place of trust and contentment, we don’t feel that need to protect ourselves anymore. Maybe he only ever says no so he can say yes to something better later(and maybe I’m recycling words now).

Maybe. I’m still in the middle.

Verses that got me here:
Matthew 7:7-11
John 15:7
Philippians 4:6
1 John 5:14-15
Psalm 37:4

Advertisements

“God’s gonna do what he wants.”

One Sunday in March(throwing up in my brain as I write that, because somehow it’s been five months and I’m even more of a mess now), one of my pastors preached about being disappointed with God, and it broke a four month dam of tears.

I cried in October when my friends lost their baby. It messed me up so bad that I didn’t cry again until that Sunday, and I hadn’t realized until then that my recent inability to cry or pray or feel things boiled down to that.

My friend who was sitting beside me hugged me as we stood up and sang, and when we were dismissed she asked what was going on. I whispered “Everything.” A more articulate answer would have been, “One something that I just realized touched everything,” but I was too busy looking for the fastest way out the door while passing the fewest people.

The Wednesday after that Sunday, I tried to tell my Lifegroup. All of them assured me that our friends were so strong and fine, that I didn’t need to worry so much about them.

No one understood that that wasn’t the problem.
Of course I loved them and hurt for them and hated that this happened to them. But I agreed; our sweet friends are indeed strong people who love the Lord and they were healing as well as anyone can. I was proud of them and knew they really would be fine. That’s not what was wrong.

Rewind.

In September, Katie and Jordan found out that Will would almost definitely not make it to full term, and even if he did, he wouldn’t survive.

So I prayed. I prayed long and hard and expectantly, every single day. I’ve never prayed so much for someone else, and I’ve never believed so firmly that God would say yes. There was zero doubt. I wasn’t asking, “Please God let Will live,” I was saying, “Thanks God for whatever you’re about to do. Please give everybody peace and patience while we wait for it.” I knew God was about to come through and show off to all the doctors who said there was no hope.

On October 4th, they got news that no matter what they did, Will couldn’t live.
Everyone else started grieving. I got even more hopeful. Annoyed that God wasn’t acting faster, but hopeful nonetheless. Doctors could say whatever they wanted; God would come through. It would be huge and people would praise Jesus for it.

On October 26th, Will was born. He lived for three minutes.

So I cried.

That day I was crying for Katie and Jordan.
That Sunday in March, I was crying for me.

I was in a season of asking. If you wonder whether you truly trust God, I definitely recommend getting a ministry job that requires you to raise support. It will do things to your heart that nothing else can and I love it so much. One day I’ll write more on that, but for today, you only need to know that it involves a whole lot of asking and trusting and waiting.
In the fall I had asked so hopefully, for something so big, for someone else. And God had said no.
Now I was asking God, and consequently dozens of people, to provide all my financial needs for a year. And in the middle of it, it wasn’t going well. I hated everything about the process, I was way behind on all of my deadlines, I was crippled by depression, and I couldn’t grasp why it was so hard.

That Sunday in March, everything clicked. And then I fell apart.

Sobbing with my Lifegroup, the only words of explanation I could get out were, “I can’t ask people for anything, because I can’t ask God for anything, because he wouldn’t save Will.”

Fast forward to Mothers Day. Katie tells me she’s pregnant again.

Three weeks later, I asked God to help me meet a big support raising deadline. He said yes. Hope grew.

Then two weeks later, Katie had another miscarriage, and that was the first of four days in a row where four different things I asked God for all fell through like dominoes.

On the fourth day, I called my mom and declared, “God’s gonna do what he wants. It doesn’t matter if I ask or not.”

July was the worst month of an already hard year, probably because you can’t just stop praying and expect to feel good about life. But I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t even say, “God, you’re good, and I don’t understand you right now and have no words to talk about it, so please just give me some grace until I’m done being mad at you.” I had nothing left.

But then August came.

This is too long already, and I’m too tired to write well anymore tonight. Here’s the end of the story though before I finish the middle this Thursday:

Yes, God does what he wants.
And what he wants is good.

You can listen to the above mentioned sermon here while you wait.

So much more than enough

I have a wise and wonderful friend who every year, starting at age 26, would write a blog post about being X years old and single. (links at the end if you want to check them out; she’s so great)

Maybe it’ll just be a thing now for me to write about singleness every year in June, because after spending half the month slowly working on these new thoughts, I realized that the first post I wrote about it was published on June 30th.

Church family is a beautiful thing, and if you have it, you have enough.

Because it’s not good to be alone, and I don’t believe that God meant “not married” when he said “alone.”

You need people. People who know you and let you know them, people you can confess your junk with, people who make you love Jesus more, people to celebrate with.

And God can give you all that whether or not he ever has marriage in the plan. It looks really different, but it’s still all there.

I came home from staff retreat earlier this month and almost immediately sat down to start writing this, because there’s always at least one point on any Midtown trip where I’m hit with all that God’s given me in singleness, and I say “Okay Jesus, if I could keep this family forever, I could maybe be single forever.” I’m sure I’ll take it back in ten years when there are even fewer single people my age, but dang. Here and now, life is good.

I’m surrounded by married couples who can teach me things, I’ve got tons of kids to love on and teach things to, and if my parents ever move really far away I know I’d have people to take me in on holidays.

I have great friends. Friends who know me, friends who call me out when I need it, friends who will listen when I’m not as thankful for my life as I should be, and some who are all of the above. In a month I’ll have a friend who lives with me.

I’m not alone. And I’m thankful.

But. Just to make sure that no single friends read this and get the idea that I have this perfectly figured out and can’t relate to them anymore, here’s a deeply honest story.

A few weeks ago I went on a walk with one of my married friends, and I asked her what was the best and the hardest thing about marriage; it’s my favorite question and no one ever answers it the same, and all single people should try it.
After she answered, she asked, “What’s the best and the hardest thing about singleness?” which no one had ever asked me before.

The best thing is that I have all the time and freedom in the world to drop everything and go places at a moment’s notice, and the hardest is driving home from church alone.

That sounds so simple, but that’s really what it boils down to. The smaller and less important things. God has given me everything I need and my life and heart are wonderfully full. And. Because I still have a very human heart, I still want little things, like getting in my car on Sundays and having someone to talk to. A friend I don’t have to say “see you Wednesday” to.

As much as my current season is a good gift, and I’m genuinely even more content than I was when I first wrote about that, I also haven’t stopped wanting to be married.

And that’s the newest thing I’ve become okay with in the past year: it’s okay to want marriage, because God came up with it, because he thinks it’s awesome, and it’s another good gift. Not an upgrade; just a different kind of good.

Go be happy-sad about it. God gets it.

And go get yourself a family. It’s not easy and may take six years(hopefully for you, it’ll be quicker than that) but it’s the best and most worth it thing.

PS, here are my dear Hope’s thoughts on being single at 2526, 27, 28, and 29. Then she got engaged at 30 and now she’s married. She’s one of the most put-together people I know, so if God kept her single until she was THIRTY-ONE then there’s hope for all of us.

The one where we watched Pitch Perfect on Mothers Day

Four years ago on Mothers’ Day I got a text from Scott that “something happened” and he’d be picking me up after church to tell me about it. It felt like the longest service I’d ever sat through, and then I came out to the parking lot to hear that our friend had killed himself.

We drove to our coach’s house to be with the rest of the team. As a group we could never be serious for very long together, so we laid on the couch in tears for a while and then we watched Pitch Perfect.

When someone suggested it, I thought, “No. I can’t watch a movie I love today…I’ll never watch it again because I’ll always think of today.” But I was too sad to protest, so we watched it, and we sang when there was singing and talked about Daniel when there was talking. It was the best way to spend the worst day of our lives, crying and singing in a pile of friends.

 

Every year since, either on May 11th or Mother’s Day(thanking Jesus that they won’t fall on the same day again until 2025), I’ve watched it again. Just as predicted, I do think of that day. But not like I thought I would.

I watch it and remember that I couldn’t have been less alone or more loved. I’ve never felt as soul crushingly sad in my life as I did on that day, but I was surrounded by friends who felt the same amount of miserable. We weren’t hiding from each other or protecting each other; we were hurting and we were together. And for the full length of that movie I was always holding someone’s hand or laying on someone’s shoulder, or occasionally across three people’s laps like a big cat(can you guess my love language?). It was the worst day of my life but I had everything I needed.

Being sad isn’t the problem. Being alone is the problem. So I think a little bit about the hurting, but mostly about how I wasn’t hurting alone.

It reminds me that in something as broken as grieving a suicide, there was something as beautiful as family. And bittersweet laughter. And movies that stay fun.

Wishing an especially happy Mothers Day to those who don’t find it very happy. I’m sad with you today.

May, I’ve got you

It’s May again, y’all.

You probably already know that I hate May. But if this is the first thing you’ve ever read by me or you’ve known me for less than a year, let me repeat it: I hate May. Last year I even hated the last week of April because I was anticipating May.

Last year I also had the idea of writing a post on June 1st called “Things I did in May instead of being sad.” But I kept the running list in my head instead of starting a draft, and by July I couldn’t remember them. Oops.

The point is.

May represents loss and death and suffering and not going to camp and the worst day of the year to work at Moe’s. It’s as terrible as October is beautiful. It’s a big black hole on the calendar, and I don’t sleep very much in it, and I wonder every year if any more sad or terrible things might be added or if I’ve statistically exhausted that possibility.

But also. Being predictable is stupid.
So this year, I really will make that list. May will be happy and full. Tomorrow is the first of a lot of sad anniversaries and I’ll make it the second best day of the month. (second because the 11th, which is the worst day, will be the best)

*Chris Carrabba wrote a song called May and it’s one of his best(it’s not available anywhere to buy, or even on Spotify. But it IS on Youtube). That’s where that title comes from.

**If you wondered. Stories for May 6th, and the 11th(which I’ll always associate with Mothers Day).

Macklemore, Bigger and Better, and other miniature thoughts

I can’t remember the last time I had both cash in the bank AND gas in the tank. I almost always have to choose one or the other.
I also don’t often have $20 in my pocket.
I’m really jealous of Macklemore sometimes.

This morning I remembered a conversation with a friend at camp in 2011. She made the claim, “God has a plan for you that’s so much bigger than Camp La Vida.”
At the time I took offense to that; it felt like she was either insulting camp, or saying I had small dreams.
Seven(!!!) years later, I think of that and smile. I love camp and my seven summers there were such an important season, but that wise friend was right. I love my life so much that I don’t even miss camp most days.
Following Jesus is like a life long game of Bigger and Better, only we don’t always want to trade up the thing we’re currently holding. So often I’m convinced that what I have is the best thing I’ll ever have and I won’t know how to live without it.
Camp was like that when I was twenty. I couldn’t fathom being used by God anywhere else or loving anything else more.
But God never takes anything from us without giving us something better. And we might not immediately see that it’s better…but he’s still right.
I think 2011 Linda would lose her mind if I could sit her down right now and tell her where she’ll be in seven years(that poor girl still thinks she’ll be married by the time she graduates and she’s declared that she’ll never work for a church; bless her) and that’s probably why God didn’t make time travel a thing.

I can’t remember exactly when I stopped wanting to ask people for things or take up any space in their lives, but I think it started sometime after May 11th. When you don’t want to ask God for things, you certainly can’t ask imperfect humans for help.
It’ll be four years next month. Like clockwork I’m having nightmares and slipping pretty quickly into the rabbit hole of what ifs and if onlys and whys. When it first happened I thought I’d never be better again, ever, so to be okay eleven months out of the year is still pretty good.
God is good even when everything is wrong, yall. People will die, and your friends will hurt you and leave you, and you’ll lose good jobs, and you’ll stay sick even though you trust God to heal you.

BUT.

None of the bad things that will happen later will negate the best good thing God already did for you.

He gave you JESUS. He paid for your sin because you couldn’t do it yourself and he didn’t want you to die for it.

AND.
None of the good things he’ll give you later will ever be better than that best good thing.

I don’t know which of those truths you need more right now; we probably all go through seasons where we forget one or the other.
But here’s the tough love I’ve been telling myself every morning for the past month or so:
Suck it up because Jesus is alive and you’re forgiven and you get to spend a perfectly painless eternity with him even if your life on earth is nothing but hell until the day you die.
(I didn’t come up with the idea on my own, and my pastor friend says it much more kindly and articulately here.)
May 11th is kind of like the World Race; I’ll spend the rest of my life finding ways it changed me, thinking the list is done, then bumping into more.
That’s okay I think. Maybe everyone eventually has a thing, and maybe for some it’s really good and for others it’s horrifically sad, and that’s the thing that changes your whole life and God is never done using it.

None of this was supposed to take a sad turn; I’ve thought enough for one night.

To sum up:
-Don’t listen to Macklemore between paydays.
-God is so big and good.
-Look at how fine we are.

PS-Here’s that story if you don’t know it and wondered; yes it’s long, because I wrote it, and incredibly sad, because that’s how death works.

Christmas every Sunday, foreboding joy, and making space

Three thoughts, none of which were long enough for their own post.
——————
I’m absolutely not a morning person, but I sure am a Sunday person.

On work days I get up at 6:20. When I double check my alarm the night before, I look at that time and feel like it’s impossibly early.

On Sunday mornings I get up at 5:50. And when I see that alarm before I close my eyes, I smile like it’s Christmas Eve. Sometimes I go to bed earlier on Saturdays so it’ll come faster.

It’s pure joy to wake up when it’s still dark and go make Sunday happen. I spring out of bed faster than I do when I’m at the beach and can’t wait to go watch the sunrise, because getting to worship with this big, beautiful family of mine is the best gift.
——————
I’m in one of those seasons where I see Jesus all over my life and I’m happy even when it isn’t Sunday.
When these times last for long enough, usually I would start to get anxious, wondering how long things can possibly stay this good. Brene Brown calls it foreboding joy and it keeps you from actually living the wonderful life that you’re so afraid of losing.

In January I thought I was dying. Not the suicidal kind; simply that my brain was being crushed under the weight of depression to a point where it would soon forget to tell my heart to beat and my lungs to breathe and my body to move, and I’d just die.
Then yesterday I was outside in the perfect weather with my favorite loaner dog and thinking how peaceful this good chapter has been. The kind where I’m so calm and happy that I forget to analyze it at all. And instead of thinking “This is too good to be true and I need to brace myself to wake up in a hole tomorrow,” I started making a list of my favorite moments from the past three depression-free weeks so that if I do get sick again, I can think about how bad things were in January, and how good they got, and remember that it always gets better and God is just as present in the best and the worst.

Also remembering the fact that even at the worst point of January, I never wanted to die. I’ve truly never had an episode go that long and that deep without having to call someone to warn them that I can’t be trusted with my life.
Things are getting much better.
———-
I gave up TV for Lent and then a week later I decided to try Whole 30.

So no Parks and Rec or carbs or cheese. Not a great overlap.

But I’m making space for good things. Maybe I’m eating myself into depression and maybe I’m drowning out Jesus with The Office. I can’t find out if I don’t take away all the things.
So instead of mindlessly putting the TV on while I eat breakfast(which isn’t even long enough to watch a full episode), I read a little more of my Bible or talk to Jesus a little longer. Instead of inhaling half a box of Cheez-its before bed, I either eat a banana or realize I don’t even need to eat anything.

I’m quickly learning that because I never want to remember what I was like in college, I’m terrified to put even a little effort into controlling what I eat. So I’ve hung my emotional security on food because as long as I’m eating like a normal person, I must be okay, right?

It’s possible that I’ll be weird about food for my entire life; this sure is preferable to starving myself but also I’d really rather find that magical land between totally out of control and psychotically controlled.

Your soul just needs to eat.

Occasionally I’ll discover an album that just perfectly sings to my current season of life, and the music chases all the bad stuff out and I suddenly see all the good underneath it.

I wish this winter would hurry, these days are getting blurry, and I don’t know where I am.
I’m dreaming of the springtime, oh but in the meantime, I’m weathering the storm.

(Here’s the end of the story before I tell you the middle: go search for Branches, and buy the album called White Flag. Actually buy it. I love it so much that I’ve listened to nothing else for seven days and cannot stop. The above lyrics are from track#15 and no you won’t notice how long the album is; you’ll want it to keep going)

It’s been a really weird winter, because good things have continued to happen all around me even as my brain is flopped over in a dark hole. So January hasn’t actually been a terrible month, I just feel terrible, and I’ve never been good at telling my feelings the truth(I’m a 100% F on the MBTI; it’s a struggle). Once the weather got so cold for so long in mid-December, I was done. So it’s been a lot like the first half of the national championship(me being Alabama and depression being Georgia).

We’re okay, we’re okay, so why do I still feel this way?

Then yesterday I spent my entire day with people, and the weather was warm, and I listened to that magical music five times through, and I walked all over the woods with my brother, and by the time I was driving home at 9 I felt totally better.

Because my soul is fed by quality people, and good weather, and really great music, and being outside, and I stop feeding it those things if I stay depressed for long enough.
Conclusion: I’m only tired and sad because I’m lonely and cold. I can’t really change the weather, or the whacked out chemicals in my brain, but I can still be around my people, and choose to let music be my white noise instead of the TV, and I can write. And it can’t stay cold forever because that’s not how the sun works.

Find out what your soul eats and feed it. Even if it takes a little more effort than you want. Restful is better than easy.

And then for some great help with that, go here and download this app even if you aren’t part of my church. We’ve only been waiting for this series for almost a year and I’m so excited you’d think baseball was coming back tomorrow.

We were lost, we were lost in the dark and stormy night
Til you showed, til you showed us everything would be all right.
(Go listen for real. The gospel is in every song and it’s beautiful)

2017, surprises, and all of Jesus

2015, at least the seven months of it that I spent in America, was fairly awful.
2016 was good(definitely better for me than the rest of America seemed to have), but punctuated by a small handful of totally terrible things, enough to make me glad to get to the end.

And then 2017 happened when I wasn’t even looking for it.
I knew on December 31st that things were about to get better, but even then I had no idea.

See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

This whole year was a new thing. Jesus gave me a way and a river and I didn’t notice until I was sitting in the middle of it.

The only way to sum it up without being my long-winded self is to make lists.

Let’s real quick get the fairly small number of not great things out of the way:
-I went to a funeral for an infant, something I hope most people get to go their whole life without experiencing
-I had to leave a job I loved
-I lost one of my best friends
-I watched several friends lose babies
-I still haven’t gone a year of adulthood without a depressive episode(but I only had two and the first didn’t hit until August, so here’s hoping 2018 is finally it)
-And the Red Sox lost the postseason again.

“But damn if it wasn’t the best year of my life.”

Because around and between all of that was a ridiculous abundance of good.
-I saw Dashboard Confessional after dreaming about it for a decade
-My best friend got married
-Ava learned the word “baseball” (and did plenty of other brilliant and adorable things, but that one’s obviously my favorite)
-Jenny Lawson wrote a new book and it’s as amazing as her first(her second is my forever favorite)
-I got baptized on Easter and it was literally(a word I rarely use) the happiest day of my life
-I saw the Red Sox play at Camden Yards and talked to Ken Rosenthal and stood eight feet from all the players
-I had the best birthday I’ve ever had
-I saw Dashboard Confessional AGAIN
-Celebrated ten years of knowing the above mentioned best friend
-I went to a party alone and came nowhere close to a mental breakdown
-I swam in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time since before the World Race
-I got to take another road trip with my brother; we’d both thought my 25th birthday was our only chance for that to happen since he was about to become a busy adult like me.
-Stranger Things season 2 happened
-We had the longest and prettiest fall I’ve ever seen; I take back every time I’ve threatened to move to the Midwest. We still had leaves in DECEMBER, y’all!
-The alumni women won the CIU Bowl again
-This Is Us continued to wreck me and the rest of America
-I ran my first 10k and found that I LOVE longer races
-Brene Brown wrote a new book and it was possibly her best yet
-I saw another Star Wars on a big screen with fun friends and it was even better than I expected

It was a weird and beautiful year full of new friends and lots of time with old friends, and victory over really old sin and letting God move really old walls and finding new places that I love serving in, and peace and contentment and new plans.

At our Midtown member meeting in September, we were asked to think of a “Holy crap dream” for the rest of 2017, as in a thing that if God gave it to us by December 31st, all we’d be able to say was “holy crap.”

He hasn’t yet given me the thing I wrote down that day, but I’m still saying a loud and proud HOLY CRAP because what he gave me instead is what I actually wanted: to be perfectly content in him and who he is, no matter what else he gives me, and to so firmly believe in his goodness that I’m not afraid or ashamed to keep asking him for my heart’s smaller desires. That’s where I find myself at the end of 2017, and of all the big and small gifts he gave me this year, bringing me to this place is my favorite and the biggest.

Whether your 2017 was good or great or terrible(based on the memes I’ve been seeing, there appears to be a lot of people ready for it to be over), I hope you see Jesus all over it. If it was great, thank him and ask him for another year like it. If it was terrible, thank him for never leaving you in it, and trust him for all the good that he’s going to bring from it, whether it’s in 2018 or ’28 or ’50 or in heaven. This world and its trouble and its calendar are not your home and your story isn’t over.

 

Just get a first down.

This is a practical post, because I meant it when I wrote that Jesus is the joy of every longing heart, but I think he’s also given us resources through which he’s the peace of every broken brain.

That perfect cloud of mental and emotional clarity from the past six weeks finally deflated.
Thankfully I hadn’t let myself fully believe that I’d permanently become a normal person, and for the first time in forever, I didn’t forget Jesus or hang all my hope on the possible end of suffering. Instead of praying that I’d always be that healthy, I prayed that I’d always be that content.

Even as depression pokes his head out of the hole I shoved him in, that’s still my prayer, and God is happy to answer. So it feels different…but it still doesn’t feel good. Everything feels cloudy and heavy like before, but not at all hopeless like every other time. And there’s still no reason for any of it, but that isn’t bothering me either. It’s so different.

But two Mondays in a row now, my favorite customer has said to me, “I hope you’re okay.” (I really like that; it’s so much less pushy than directly asking what’s wrong) This was my first clue that I must not be getting better, because it’s one thing when your friends notice that the lights in your eyes have gone out, but quite another when someone who only sees you once a week for five minutes can see it.

So, I finished my shift and went home, and I wanted to lay on my bedroom floor but couldn’t because it was a mess, and I thought about how cleaning might make me feel better, even better than crying on the floor would, and the other side of my brain said “But what if I don’t feel better?” and I said to it, “Then I’ll still have a clean room.”
And that was the most important thought I had all week.

I’m currently depressed enough for everything to be more difficult than usual, but not so lost that everything feels impossible.
I’m taking advantage of that sad medium(depression has no “happy” medium) by making myself do healthy things that have some positive result guaranteed, even if it doesn’t necessarily lift my moods.

I didn’t get this depressed all at once, so I won’t get better all at once.

Cleaning my room is always a good thing to do, and it also might make me feel better.
Running is always good for me, and it might make me feel better.
Also cooking real food instead of throwing a Totino’s pizza in the oven…washing dishes right away instead of leaving them til morning…taking out the pile of recycling that’s been growing for a month…writing about how I’m doing and hoping it helps someone else in the world.
Even if none of those things fix depression, they’re STILL good decisions in their own right.

And if I do enough of them for long enough, I WILL feel better. Or so I’m theorizing. This is the first time I’ve ever tried this. As long as I do something each day to work towards getting better, that’s enough.

You don’t have to make a touchdown every day. Just get a first down.

If you’re reading this and you’re at a deeper level than I am, this still works. Your yards and downs are just defined differently.  I get to say that because wherever you are, I’ve already been; for a long time in 2016, my first down would have been simply staying alive and not making myself bleed. I’m well acquainted with the depths where you flop on the floor with your eyes closed and listen to The Office, because you don’t even have the energy to sit up on a couch and look at the TV(then when it pauses and asks “Are you still watching?” you just stay on the floor until you fall asleep because picking up the clicker and hitting “Continue watching” is too much). I really do know.

So maybe the idea of getting up and getting dressed and running or even walking is too much(typing that sentence made me tired). Maybe today it’s enough to just get up, take a shower, and get right back in bed. Or if you’re not at the getting out of bed stage, then it’s enough to just lay there and read a chapter of a good book instead of scrolling your Instagram feed(social media is one of my top triggers when I’m not doing well).
Define your first down, do the thing, and don’t let anyone say you aren’t trying.

Pray for God to heal you, but don’t be surprised if he does it by giving you strength to take tiny practical steps like this.

You can do it and you’re going to LIVE and this will pass even if it takes a few weeks or months longer than you hoped.

Onward, brokenhearted soldier, into the great unknown…
Hear the golden trumpets sounding, calling the tired soldiers home. (Branches, “To the Desert”)