All posts in Depression

Last week my niece won two tickets from a radio station to a private listening party with Amy Grant for her newly released cd How Mercy Looks From Here and she invited me to go with her!

It’s no secret that I am a huge Amy Grant fan. I love her music, I love her soothing voice but more than both of those God given talents, I love her spirit. She has a beautiful, very real faith that intersects with very human experiences and raw emotions but remains strong and full of grace.

Grace, something we all need so very much.

During the listening party she chose a few songs and told the stories behind them. I loved them all but one of them caused that huge lump in my throat that develops when I am trying to hold back tears.

It was called ~ Don’t Try So Hard.

It hit home for me because I had recently gone through a period of time where I was trying so hard that I had worn myself out completely. I am not even sure how it happened or when it began because it snuck up on me. Gradually over time somehow I had developed this imaginary standard that I needed to measure up to.

The standard was perfection and although no one else expected it of me ~ I did. As the words washed over me I felt a few hot tears escape from my eyes. Not tears of painful emotion but of relief that the striving is over. It’s over in a sense but it is a battle that we all face every day as new pressures to measure up or fit in present themselves.  It is one of the greatest weapons of the enemy of our soul. Comparison.

I am glad that I was able to recognize the harmful practice of comparing myself to some made up standards that I could never achieve and just breathe and relax instead of fighting.

Here are the words to the chorus…

Don’t try so hard
God gives you grace and you can’t earn it
Don’t think that you’re not worth it
Because you are
He gave you His love and He’s not leaving
He gave you His Son so you’d believe it
You’re lovely even with your scars
Don’t try so hard

My favorite line is…”You’re lovely even with your scars…”

Do you believe that today? You are lovely even with your scars…don’t try so hard!

Here…take some deep breaths as you listen.

One of the greatest games my mom ever taught me to play was the Glad Game.

She adopted it from a character from the 1913 book Pollyanna.  Pollyanna’s philosophy revolved around this “game” that she learned from her father.  The object of the game is to find something to be glad about in every situation.  It’s ironic really because in the book the Pollyanna’s Glad Game was put to the test when she was hit by a car and lost the use of her legs. I’m sure that my mother had know idea when she read it that she would suffer a similar fate.

When life throws challenging and difficult situations it can be very hard to keep “playing” but my mom was the Queen of the Glad Game.  She could find always find something to be glad about. We used to make fun of her for it but now I am so grateful because it has shaped how I respond to life.

As some of you reading this know, my mom was traumatically brain injured in a car accident in 1991. It left her almost completely immobile, unable to speak, eat on her own or do anything for herself.  She required 24 hour care and so she lived in a nursing home for almost 20 years before she died this past September.

Yet, when we would visit her we were always greeted with a big smile and she would type out happy encouraging little messages on a machine.  We could print out those messages and they have become treasures now that she is gone from us.

My mom played the Glad Game right up until the end of her life on earth.

Mother’s Day could potentially be a tough day for me but I chose to play the Glad Game in honor of my mom this year.  In the morning when I woke I realized that I am glad that her suffering is over.  I am glad that this Mother’s day instead of laying in a nursing home she is free and whole in heaven. That is something to be happy about.

I invited my sisters over with their families.  And I was so GLAD they could come. We had tea and I got to enjoy my brand new nephew and all of the family.  My step mom and mother-in-law were there and I am GLAD I have them in my life.

It is a temptation to dwell on the negative when your heart hurts but there is joy when we can choose to find something to be grateful for and glad about. That was part of the legacy my mom left me and I am so glad she did 😉

glad game,positive thinking, happy, glad, mother, sad.

Think about some things in your life that you can be glad about today.  Feel free to share them in the comments.  Sometimes it’s good to say it out loud.

I know it’s a day late…but love and blessings to all the moms. It is by far the hardest but most rewarding job there is!

dream, perseverance, faith One of my favorite books is called The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson. It is a modern day parable of a man named Ordinary from the Land of Familiar who is visited by the Dream Giver and given a Dream.

I read it at least once a year. It reminds me that the ups and downs that I experience as I pursue the dreams God has given me are all part of the journey and common to any dreamer.

The chapter outline alone comforts me. It helps me recognize where I am in the dream cycle. Here is the outline and maybe you can identify where you are.

1. Ordinary Embraced His Big Dream
2. Ordinary Leaves His Comfort Zone
3. Ordinary Meets Bullies in the Borderland
4. Ordinary Enters the Wasteland
5. Ordinary finds Sanctuary
6. Ordinary Reaches the Valley of the Giants
7. Ordinary Thrives in the Land of Promise

This past fall I entered the wasteland. In the winter I found sanctuary and gained the strength I needed to face the giants. Now, I am ready to enter into the land of promise. How about you? Can you identify with any of these stages of the dream cycle?

Be comforted today as you pursue your dreams that as we are tried and tested we are still making progress towards the land of promise ~ it is there waiting for us if we persevere.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4

You can’t rush God.  I’ve tried. strength, strong, depression, anxiety, stress, waiting, courage, heart

Patience is not one of my virtues.  Most people don’t like to wait but some are more impatient than others. I run with that crowd.

As much as I don’t like waiting I have come to embrace it, knowing that in those times when we feel like we are in a holding pattern, we are actually gaining something invaluable – STRENGTH.

My husband works out on a regular basis doing WEIGHT training – and sometimes he drags me along. I don’t like it, but I do it because I know that I will gain strength from it. If I choose the weight myself I usually go for the lighter, easier option.  When my husband comes along he always makes me increase the amount I am lifting.  He explained to me that unless I am pushing my muscles beyond their normal limitation I will not be accomplishing anything but conditioning.  If I want to build muscle (strength) I have to push myself and increase the weight to a somewhat uncomfortable amount. This causes the muscle fibers to actually tear.  But what happens after that is amazing. After the workout the muscles fibers heal and it is a scientific fact that they come back bigger and stronger!

There are times in my life when the WAIT training I have had to endure seemed endless and beyond my normal limitation. When all I felt was torn down and ripped apart it was hard to imagine that I would ever feel strong again. That is where patience and endurance come into play.  The word of God tells us that if we are patient and endure we will receive all that we have been promised.  It seems that patience is a requirement of the waiting period. In my experience, I have never been granted deliverance from a waiting period until I have learned to patiently endure.

Of course there are times in life when we have to fight for a breakthrough but more often than not I have had to wait for the breakthrough. Knowing that my heart was being strengthened in the process was a comfort.

Do you find yourself in a holding pattern? Be brave and wait patiently for the God to reveal all that He has planned for you.  And in the meantime take courage that you are getting stronger every minute!

I grew up on Long Island.  Although I have lived on the west coast of Florida, which boasts some of the world’s most beautiful beaches for the past 20 years, Jones Beach will always be the most beautiful beach to me because it is home.

If I close my eyes I can feel the gritty sand in my toes and hear the seagulls and the waves crashing to the shore. As a little kid I would play on the shore line, building sandcastles and jumping over the remainder of the breaker waves as they rolled up towards the beach.  As I got older I became more adventurous and learned how to ride the waves in as they broke.

It is an exhilarating feeling to catch a good wave at precisely the right moment and get a nice clean ride in. But occasionally you can be blindsided by a wave and get pummeled by it because you weren’t expecting it. Sometimes in an attempt to ride a wave you can jump in at the wrong time resulting in being creamed by the force of the current. This is a scary experience.  In a matter of seconds you are being spun uncontrollably and it is incredibly difficult to find your bearings. It feels like the ocean is sucking you downward. If you are not accustomed to navigating the unpredictable activity of an undertow it is easy to panic.  I have been caught in some crazy waves that in the moment have made me wonder if I would survive.

Fortunately like most kids who are raised by the beach, I was taught at a young age how to handle such situations and even though it could be frightening I knew that if I followed some simple rules of survival the wave would eventually subside and I would once again rise to the surface and be able to breathe.

The first rule was HOLD YOUR BREATH AND DON’T PANIC.  The duration of even a huge ocean wave is shorter than the amount of time you can hold your breath. The tendency when we panic is to gasp for breath but if when the wave hits you just hold your breath and don’t panic in time the waters will smooth out and the air in your body will cause you to rise to the surface.

The second rule was DON’T FIGHT IT – GO WITH THE FLOW. Our natural reaction when we’re being knocked around and feel out of control is to fight to regain our footing but this is actually counterproductive when trying to react to a wave. All you will end up doing is completely exhausting yourself.  Instead the trick is to relax your body and let yourself go with it until the wave passes.  The force of the wave is far stronger than you are and fighting against it is futile. If you can calmly wait it out you will soon be released, your feet will find the ground and you will be able to push up to the surface and find your bearings. This is easier said than done when you are being tossed about by the waves!

Some kids (and grown-ups for that matter) having been pummeled by a wave once decided it was not worth the risk and do not engage in the joy of riding the waves. They didn’t learn the survival tips for managing the undertow and so they settle for just playing in the shallow breakers. They are missing out on the exhilaration of swimming in the ocean.  It is an incredible feeling to be carried by the rise and fall of the ocean swells and something thrilling about playing in the vastness of the sea.

Life is often like this. A series of waves, some invigorating and awe-inspiring and others downright frightening and disorienting. But it shouldn’t stop us from engaging. If we want to experience all the joy and wonder that this life has to offer we need to pack up our coping skills and dive in deep.

crashing waves, panic, depression, coping, fear

This is not me – but what a great picture!
photo credit
Young girl in the waves, Jones Beach, New York. July 1951, by Alfred Eisenstaedt.
www.entertaininghouse.com

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Instead of playing in the shallow breakers I am ready to dive in.  This is an unedited, first attempt excerpt from a short book I am writing. Stay tuned!

If you are in the swirl of an undertow please know that this too shall pass.  Hold your breath (or since you are not really in the ocean – take some deep breaths) ~ don’t panic.  Before you know it you will be in smooth waters once again. 

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. ~ Psalm 107:29

After my first real battle with depression I was talking to the women’s pastor at my church about it.  She asked me if I would share about it at an upcoming women’s conference. I knew it would be hard but I wasn’t prepared for just how hard it would be to move from the safety of a few close friends and family members knowing about my struggles to a wider group of people that I did not know very well.

ashamed woman

The feeling of vulnerability was overwhelming.  I remember when the women’s pastor announced the conference in church saying, “…and Tracey Metzger is going to share about her recent bout with depression…” I felt all the blood drain from my face. I felt dizzy and found myself wanting to run out the back door.

Now I know what that emotion was.  It was shame.

Shame is similar to being embarrassed but worse.  It does weird things to your body.  Embarrassing – is tripping up the stairs or having toilet paper stuck on your shoe as you come out of the restroom.  But shame is different.

Shame is not momentary; it takes up residence inside your heart.  And you don’t want to hide for a moment – you want the earth to open up and swallow you.

My shame came from the misguided belief that if I was as strong in my faith as I professed to be that I would not suffer from depression.  Somewhere I had bought into the misconception that if I just prayed enough or in the right way with enough conviction that I would be able to conquer it. Depression makes you feel like you are doing something wrong.  I’ve actually heard people in Christian circles say things like, “Depression is pride turned inward” which only contributes to the fallacy that the person suffering has control over it.

Depression, when it is a result of a chemical imbalance or mental illness is debilitating and not something that someone can just snap out of.  I believe that prayer helps but sometimes it helps in the form of God leading you to the right medication or doctor.  There are testimonies of people that have been delivered from depression miraculously just like there are people that have had tumors disappear.  But there are also people who need medication and still have rough days just like all the treatments in the world cannot treat some major illnesses.

We live in a fallen world where illness – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abound.  What we don’t need are stigmas and judgments that lead to shame.

But where sin abounds (I believe that the all of the ugliness in the world is a result of the fall of man), GRACE abounds much more. Let us pray for more and more grace so that people who are suffering will not feel ashamed and can get the help they need.

This blog was inspired by the various editorials, posts and blogs I have read in response to the passing of Rick and Kay Warren’s son. The only good that can possibly come from this is more conversation and openness about mental illnesses. Praying for abundant grace, peace and comfort for the Warrens and all who are close to them.

There is a difference between having a warrior spirit and a warring spirit. warrior

It is true that there are times we have to battle through, but it is equally true that in this life of faith there are times when the warrior’s wisest strategy is to surrender.

Surrender in real battle means defeat but surrender in the life of faith is many times the only way to victory.

I found this out last year when I had my meltdown. I had trained myself throughout my life to war through the tough times.  You know, get tougher when the going got tough.

It worked for the most part for 47 years and then I hit a wall.

It was then that I realized that the warrior in me needed to rest and allow the Spirit of the Warrior that resides within me to fight on my behalf.

It is ironic but I needed to gather all the strength I had to give myself permission to stop being so strong.

Maybe you have been fighting a battle that is not yours to fight.

Allow the Spirit of the Warrior who always wins fight for you.  He has promised that He will.

As always I welcome your thoughts, comments, questions! Have a great Thursday!  Friday’s coming 😉

Stop being afraid, and stop being discouraged because of this vast invasion force, because the battle doesn’t belong to you, but to God.  ~  2Chor 20:15 (ISV)


courage is key

Yesterday in church my pastor read a verse that I’ve probably read a thousand times before. I have read it before without any particular revelation. But this time it really spoke to me.

Acts 4:13 ~ When they saw the COURAGE of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

This is my year to BE BRAVE and to encourage other to BE BRAVE, so every time I hear the word courage I pay attention. But “courage” was not what jumped out at me the most.  What really captured my heart were the words “unschooled” and “ordinary.”

When I was melting down at the end of last year I spent some time journaling one morning trying to get to the bottom of all of the things that were bothering me. (There were quite a few!)

One of the things I was dealing with was a disconnection between my true authentic self and who I thought I needed to be in order to be worthy of my position as leader of FTGI.

So I made a list.  I listed all the things I thought a leader of a faith-based women’s organization should be and I rated myself.  I quickly realized that I didn’t measure up.

I won’t go into all of the items, but I listed that she (the leader) should have credentials. An education or some kind of schooling that qualified her to teach.  Or maybe a master’s degree in social work, psychology or counseling…something. I went to college for a year and a half and quit.

I listed that she should have unwavering faith. I question and I doubt and I have to pray that God will help me in my unbelief…a lot. More than I think a leader should.

The list went on and although I met some of my made-up requirements overall, I fell short.  As I stared at the list I heard God whisper to me that the list was mine not His.  In fact He doesn’t even have a list.

He called me and that is enough.

He called Peter and John…two ordinary, unschooled men.  He gave them COURAGE and that was enough to become history makers. It was enough for them to change the world and do things that astonished people!!

What has God called you to do that you feel under-qualified for?  Throw your list away, have COURAGE and go change your world!

embrace imperfectionWhile we’re on the subject of things that don’t define you let’s talk about failure. I am not good at this. Well, actually I’m pretty good at failing I’m just not good at handling it.

I’m sure nobody likes it, but there is a certain sector of the population that has been stricken with perfectionism and they have a particular aversion to failing.  When they fail it makes their skin crawl and their insides shake, causing them to wish that the earth would open up and swallow them.  That kind of aversion. 

Apparently I belong to that sector.

Several years ago I made a bad judgment call.  It led to a misunderstanding and the result was an upset in a relationship that I valued greatly.  I wasn’t the only one at fault, I felt wronged also and the whole thing made me mad at everyone involved. But mostly with myself. I should have known better. If only I had made a different decision. If only I had listened to my first instinct. If only, if only, if only.  But I didn’t. I had failed.

I apologized for my lack of good judgment.  The others apologized for theirs and I forgave everyone involved. Except myself.

This gets really psycho- babble-ish but stay with me here…

I was angry with myself.  I didn’t even realize I was doing this but I projected my own disappointment with myself to God. If I was disappointed in me…then He must be disappointed too. Letting that fester for too long ended up with me feeling very disconnected from Him.  That is not a good place to be.

It was all over a really small incident but that’s what perfectionism does.  It exaggerates and accuses.

Here is how Wikepedia describes it:

Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.

 As I grew through this process I redefined perfectionism for myself as it pertains to me.

Perfectionism – a personality trait caused by pride in which I think that I am above failing which is not realistic so when I fail as I inevitably do I decide that I will take the place of God and judge myself for my shortcomings therefore negating the redemptive work of the cross.

That definitely doesn’t sound as noble as the first definition. Yet, that is ultimately what I am saying when I don’t extend grace to myself for failure. If God is forgiving and graceful who am I to not extend that same grace to myself? (This works when we judge others too but that’s another blog for another day)

Ironically the one who is Perfect does not expect us to be perfect.  He came to redeem our imperfection!

Failure does not define you.

Just because you fail it does not mean that you are a failure. It means that you are human. Bring your imperfections to the cross and let the redemptive blood of Jesus do it’s work.

Be kind to yourself and embrace your imperfection.

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. ~ Romans 3:24 NLT

BTW – If you’d like to receive my blogs to your email you can go to the top right and put your email address in the box that says FOLLOW MY BLOG VIA EMAIL.

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A journal given to me by my sweet friend who is one brave chick!

In July of 2012 a friend and I took our girls to see the newest Disney movie. We sat chatting through the previews and then without much notice the movie started.  The movie had already been playing for a few minutes when the one-word title exploded onto the screen and as it did something inside of me leapt.  I know that sounds strange. It seemed strange to me also but I knew immediately that there was something significant about the word…BRAVE.

Part of my role at For the Girls International is to cast vision and lay out themes our conferences and events.  When we went to see the movie we were smack dab in the middle of the planning for our 2012 conference but in that instant I knew the theme for 2013 just had to be – BE BRAVE!

What I didn’t know was that a few months from then I would experience a life event that would begin an unraveling that I could not stop no matter how hard I tried.  I have been through episodes of depression in my life before but despite every effort to pull it together on my own in October of 2012, I came undone.

I didn’t realize back in July that God was about to require me to embark on a brave journey.  That in order to inspire others to be brave with their lives I would first have to be brave with mine.

I have always believed that our stories are not for us to keep to ourselves but to share. We are all connected on this journey of life.  I know very well that it takes time to work up the courage to share parts that may make us feel vulnerable and exposed.  But it is there, in that place of transparency and vulnerability that real connection occurs. It is there that hearts heal together.

There is a time and a place for everything and I believe it is time for me to share more of my story. And my hope is that it can help someone else heal.  So here’s to being brave together!

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Inscription inside my journal

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