An Open Letter to the People That Care About Me.

 

Everybody, no matter who you are, has at least one person that cares about them. Just today I was talking to my therapist about how it is both a blessing and a curse that I care about everyone so very deeply. Because, you see, I care about everybody a tad bit more than I care about myself. And that can cause trouble.

I am extremely blessed. I have people every where I turn that care about me. Some people care about me a little more than they should, given the role they play in my life. To the people in my life that care about me. Here is what I want you to know.

I don’t believe that a single soul cares about me. I know, logically, that people care greatly for me but on this one subject my heart and my head just don’t agree.

I could sit here for hours and tell you about specific times when it was made plain as day that I am loved. And in those moments, I felt flooded with love. But the moments fade and at the end of the night when my head hit the pillow I was left feeling lonely.

So, to you, the one that hasn’t given up on me yet. Know this.

Know that I thank God for putting you in my life.

Know that when I send you a text at 11 at night asking how you are it is probably because I am lonely and need some company but don’t want to be a burden.

Know that when you send me texts saying that you are thinking of me it gives me the courage to get through the day.

Know that I will cling to anybody that shows me they care. Because for me to truly feel genuinely loved is a rare occurrence.

Know that even when I am sitting in a room full of hundreds of people I feel like I am in a soundproof room, screaming for somebody to open the door and rescue me.

Know that I care about you. A lot.

And above all. Know that I am grateful for you. Because all though I may not always know in my heart that I have people that care about me it has been ingrained into my brain as fact that I am surrounded by people that have my best interest at heart.

To my friends, thank you for going on random drives with me to nowhere. Thank you for always playing all the right songs. And thank you being somebody I can be serious with and then dance with five minutes later.

To my adult role models and my non-biological family, thank you for always being just a phone call and a drive away from a pair of loving arms. Thank you for taking me in as if I was one of your own without even blinking an eye.

And to my family, thank you for loving me uncontrollably but never failing to make me laugh. Thank you loving on me when everybody else turned their backs. Thank you for understanding my crazy family in ways nobody else can. You make the holidays merrier and the sad days bearable.

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My God’s not dead! He’s surely alive!

God

Everybody questions their faith at one point in their life. It is completely normal!

I found myself questioning my faith for quiet some time. Until it became undeniably obvious that, as Newsboys say, “My God’s not dead, he’s surely alive.”

I did all of the right things.

I went to Awana and memorizes the verses. However, similar to cramming info the night before a big test, I would walk out out of church every Sunday night completely oblivious to what it was I had just been rewarded for reciting word for word.

My parents had me is church classes singing and dancing to “This little light of mine.” from the get go. Very catchy song! My friends and I still plug it into the aux to this day! But I was just learning the words, not fully comprehending the meaning.

I was, to the naked eye, a “good Christian girl” all the while on the inside I was questioning if God was even real. However, yet again, I did all the right things. I reached out to a trusted adult and made it plain as day that I was stuck. I admitted that I was just going through the motions, and then I admitted that I wanted to be free.

So I prayed the prayers and I read the books and they helped! I would be lying to myself to say they didn’t. But they also did not transform me. Until I had an experience that made it undeniably obvious that God is real. And he is GOOD!

I have always served in the church. Helping in the nursery since I was old enough to. Recently I was asked to help lead a small group of third to fifth grade girls. I said yes! I love kids and adore helping people, it was a perfect fit! One Sunday night I just did not want to go. I had just gotten back from a long weekend retreat in which I had really connected to God. I was tired, and knowing that I had to wake up at the crack of dawn to go to school made me just want to curl up and go to bed. But I went with a smile on my face, because I had a duty. Honestly, I could not even tell you what we were supposed to be discussing that night. The girls were just asking A LOT of questions. I was a bit overwhelmed. As I was the only leader that night (besides our adult supervisor) so It was a lot to answer. They were asking me simple questions about the issues of a classic elementary school girl.

“What do I do when my best friend turns her back on me.” 

“My friend told this boy that I like him when I really don’t”

“My “boyfriend” and I got in a fight over who was it! Help!”

Issues that are so extreme to these girls. I gave my best advice. Most of it was advice that I had been given over the years. I found myself constantly reminding them that none of this silly drama would matter two or four or six year down the road. Man, do I need to practice what preach! I did my best to reassure them that God has a great plan for them. But it felt insignificant. I felt that I was out of line to be giving advice to these kids when I had to push myself to even go that night.

After the discussion I had two girls come up to me asking for my contact info. Saying that I had really helped and they wanted to be able to talk to me whenever things got really hard. I was flattered. I later found out that one of those girls had an extremely hard home situation. Lacking family members that truly cared for her well being. I drove home that night astonished at the work God had just done right before my very eyes. I can honestly say that since that day I have not for a single second questioned if God is real. He IS real. He IS good. And he ALWAYS will provide!

 

Hebrews 11:6 ESV

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

 

From a churchgoer who battles mental illness. Here is what we want you to know. 


I can’t speak for everybody but I can speak for myself, as well as the multiple peers, as well as adults that I know struggle with anxiety, especially in the Church setting. 

I grew up in church. My family was always involved. Even as a baby my brother was in a church Christmas play as baby Jesus! It’s in my blood and I will forever be grateful for the that because I wouldn’t be who I am today in Christ if it wasn’t for that. But as I grew up and life started to get a bit more complicated than the simple “Mommy wouldn’t let me have the cookie” issues I realized that church became a place that caused me great deals of anxiety. Because to the naked eye everybody at church had their life together. They had God by their side and so their lives where stress free. 

I now know that to be so incredibly false, but it seemed legit to me at the time. 

The very idea of having to go and sit next to a bunch of people that had the “perfect relationship with God” for a hour and a half every Sunday was enough to make me bury my face in my pillow. 

Notice the word was. 

I still went to church every Sunday, for the most part, because like I said, it was how I was raised. I didn’t know any different. And staying home because I was anxious wasn’t a viable excuse. For a while it ate me alive. The devil had his grip on me. And he had it good. But God knew what he was doing. 

Slowly I started to realize that I was goig to have to go to church eventually so I might as well try and build some relationships their. As I started to talk to my peers more and even the adults around me, I realized something that changed my whole route. I learned that just because somebody has a good relationship with God, doesn’t mean that they have it all perfect. Now, church is what I look forward to the most every week. And better yet! I have a solid relationship with Christ outside of the walls of First Baptist Wheaton. Praise God!

There are three things everybody with mental illness needs to know.

  1. God has a greater vision in store. I never would have pictured myself where I am today. I also wouldn’t trade it for the world. But a couple months ago I found myself questioning my whole life. I didn’t see Gods greater plan, because, well. It’s impossible. 
  2. They are not alone. This isn’t to say that you should tell somebody you know what it is like to have anxiety if you don’t have it. You might know what it is like to be anxious, everybody gets anxious. But anxiety is different. But if you can relate to somebody with mental health on anything, tell them! It makes this overwhelming huge world seem a little bit more manageable. 
  3. They are loved, deeply. Sometimes all anybody needs is a long hug and a shoulder to cry on. Showing somebody that you care deeply for them just by being there when they need it speaks louder than you could ever imagine. Especially with anxiety, talking about things can often make it worse. Just saying I’m here and holding their hand is often all somebody in crisis needs. 

Next time you see somebody in church that seems overwhelmed, or somebody tells you that they battle mental illness don’t try to fix it. Tell them you are there. Tell them you will pray for them. Sometimes all anybody needs is some extra TLC. 

We all know the saying, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” the truth is you know exactly what you have, you just never thought you would loose it.

Let’s be real. The saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” is not the most accurate. Because, you see, you know exactly what you have, you just never thought, that in a million years…you would actually lose it.
We have all experienced loss of some type. Whether that be the death of a pet goldfish at the age of five or the death of dearly loved family member or friend we all know the feeling of grief, probably all too well.

At the age of seventeen loss is something that I have experienced plenty of, too much for comfort. When I was seven I lost my dog, Rex. At nine, the Lord decided to call my father home. At eleven my Grandma passed and at sixteen a classmate of mine took his own life, God also took a beloved member of my church when I was sixteen. A women that I had looked up too since the day I met her. Now, at the age of seventeen never once have I said I didn’t know what I had until I lost it.

I knew exactly what I had.

I had a dog that I could play with.

A Father that loved me more than I could ever imagine.


A Grandma that never failed to make those around her light up with smiles.


I had a classmate that was desperately looking for somebody to show him they cared.

And a mentor that modeled God’s love in ways I could only dream of.

But I never thought, that in a million years I would lose them. You never know what God has in store for you and for those you love. You don’t know what type of drivers will be on the road when you leave for school in the morning without telling your parents you love them. You don’t know what type of personal struggles that person is having when you tell them “nobody cares”

If I have learned anything in the past seventeen years it is this.

  1. Never, ever take a single soul for granted. Even if that person is the reason you cried yourself to sleep at night you should still thank the Lord he placed them in your life, for they taught you everything you did not want to be.
  2. God is so much stronger than any plans you could ever even start to make. You do not know what you will be doing 24 hours from now. As my pastor said “You don’t even know if you are going to have lunch today.” God does. But we don’t. And we have no way of finding out. So live every single second of your life as if it was your last.

Do not go to bed mad at somebody. Do not leave for work in the morning without telling your family that you love them. Do not hang up the phone without telling your friend you are always there for them. And DO NOT wait until you are lying on your deathbed to ask God for forgiveness.

 

helloI have always been a really “happy” person. As a child I was constantly putting myself out there, you would always find me running around with friends, laughing, being extra goofy just to get people to smile. Little did people know I would come home at night and pray to God to make my life happier.

Life went on and things happened. Loosing my dad at the age of nine did not help. They did not diagnose me with depression until I was thirteen and things did not get much better from there. I got all the help anyone with depression could ever ask for, and then some! I had therapists working with me to battle my mental illness. I had doctors evaluating me to find the best fitting medication. After lots of therapy and life style changes I had seemed to “conquer” my depression. The thing is, you don’t “conquer” depression. You can learn how to better manage it but it will still always be a part of who you are. It is a chemical imbalance! Just as real as cancer. Time went by and years later I found myself at the glorious age of sixteen, spending hours in my bed in the morning motivating myself to get out of bed and brush my teeth.

For many people depression does not come alone. It is partnered with anxiety. Making the simplest things in life a nightmare. 

I grew up in church. And I am glad I did! I would not be where I am without God. But imagine being terrified and filled with tears at the thought of going to church on Sunday morning. What do you say to your church family when they ask why you haven’t been at church lately? I took a break from church and spent that time working on me. One of the first events I went to when I came back was a Thanksgiving Eve gathering. When discussing my plans with the host I found myself having to inform her that I may not be able to make it. That sometimes the idea of going sounds great and then the day comes and the thought alone causes gut clenching fear. The response I got filled my heart with comfort I had not experienced in months. She simply replied with “If it turns out not to be a good day, do what is best for you.” a simply sentence that she probably didn’t think twice about but changed my view of people.

You see, opening up about mental health is like jumping out of helicopter. And all you can do is hope and pray that your parachute works. Telling somebody with mental illness to “Just suck it up” or that “you know what it is like to be sad” is not helpful. People with mental illnesses need to be loved and cared for. They need to be told that it will be OK, and reminded that they have gotten through 100% of their worst days. We are just like anybody else and are perfectly capable of functioning with everyone else, sometimes we just need a little extra reminder!

Next time someone says that their depression or anxiety is flaring up, don’t dismiss it as drama. Tell them it will be OK and that you are there for them. A loving hug speaks much louder than any set of words ever could.