The Anxiety of Christ

Even through the pain on the cross, He saw joy.

Advertisements

the anxiety of christ

Maundy Thursday is celebrated as the day in which Jesus had his last supper with his disciples. After dinner, he went into the garden with 11 of his disciples in tow. (Judas had slipped away.)

We read in Luke 22:39-46 about Jesus’ experience in the garden.

39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  

To consider what Jesus went through, we must first think about where he was at, physically. He went to a garden. Where does the history of Christianity begin?

In a garden.

Jesus went into a garden to pray because not only was it a place to He could steal away and have a quiet moment, but it was also a place that could remind Himself of why He was about to endure what He was going to endure — restoring the pathway to the garden where eternity had been lost for mankind.  

He literally had the “weight of the world” on His shoulders, agonizing not only over what would happen to His human body, but with bearing every person’s sinful nature that was alive at that time and in the times to come.

He asked the Father to allow His calling to be taken away from Him, and in the next breath obediently says “Your will be done.”

It in this moment, we truly get to see the humanity of Jesus. He was 100% God and 100% human. Throughout His life, He lived by the Spirit. In this moment, He prayed.

He prayed because the temptation to walk away from a human race filled with so much darkness was far greater than anything He had ever be tempted with.

He prayed to receive strength. In His humanity, an angel had to come to Him and give Him strength.

Jesus even exhorted His disciples to pray so they wouldn’t fall into temptation. He gave them and inadvertently gave us the answer on how to avoid temptation.

Pray.

The agony. The suffering. The anxiety. The stress His human body endured caused Him to sweat blood. The medical term for it hematidrosis.   The cause for this incredibly rare condition?

Extremely high levels of stress.

Jesus’ suffering didn’t just happen on the cross. We get to see it the night before.

How often do we have anxiety over something before it actually occurs?

I have anxiety about picking my kids up every day because of traffic. Because of unpredictable tantrums. Because of all the touching, talking, nose wiping, diaper changing, boo-boo kissing, and just keeping them alive in general. This happens everyday. Some days, when I get home with them, I have to take half an Ativan or half of a Klonopin to keep my heart rate down so that I avoid a panic attack.

Most days?

I have a blast with them. I get them home, and we run around the lawn, chasing butterflies, playing fetch with our cat (yes, cat), and blowing bubbles. 99% of the time it’s way better than envisioned it.

There are also times that we know won’t be great that we have to face. I remember getting in trouble for something stupid that I didn’t even do when I was in school. I was so sick because no one believed me, and I had to go and face my consequences, While the consequences were difficult for a little while, I got through it.

While being brutally beaten, mocked, humiliated, and crucified had to be the most horrific way to die, it didn’t even compare to the joy that Jesus was looking forward to over the fact that He can now spend eternity with us.

He saw joy on the cross.

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Anxiety is painful and a thief, but we have a Savior who pushed through the most atrocious anxiety and found joy.

He can help us through our anxiety because He’s been there. He can help us to see joy.

Have a Happy Easter, folks!img_1191

Wonderfully Made

You are wonderfully made.

wonderfully Made

I’m pretty sure that the Misty Edwards album, Relentless ,was the last time where there has been a song(s) (This entire album broke me in a good way) that truly resonated with me and said the words that I cannot.

Until recently.

Ellie Holcomb has a song on her new album called “Wonderfully Made.”

Here are the lyrics:

It’s two in the morning and I’m still awake in my bed
And I can’t shake these lies that keep running around in my head
What if I saw me the way that you see me
What if I believed it was true
What if I traded this shame and self-hatred
For a chance at believing you

That you knit me together in my mother’s womb
And you say that I’ve never been hidden from you
And you say that I’m wonderfully, wonderfully made

You search me and know me
You know when I sit, when I rise
So you must know the choices I’ve made and the pain that I hide

What if I saw me the way that you see me
What if I believed it was true
What if I traded this shame and self-hatred
For a chance at believing you

‘Cause you knit me together in my mother’s womb
And you say that I’ve never been hidden from you
And you say that I’m wonderfully, wonderfully made

You’re eyes, they have seen me before I was born
And you know all the good things that you made me for
And I’m wonderfully, wonderfully made

When I consider the heavens above
Oh what is man that you’re mindful of us
‘Til you say that we’re wonderfully, wonderfully made

And you promise that you’ll never leave me, Oh Lord
Oh that you hem me in, both behind and before
And I’m wonderfully, wonderfully made

And you knit me together in my mother’s womb
And you say that I’ve never been hidden from you
And you say that I’m wonderfully, wonderfully made

And You’re eyes, they have seen me before I was born
And you know all the good things that you made me for
And I’m wonderfully, wonderfully made

Wonderfully made

Help me believe it
Help me to see me just like you see me
Just like you made me
Wonderfully made

This song gets me because it is essentially one of my favorite Psalms (Psalm 139). It’s so easy to say these words, but to believe them is a whole different story. The last set of lyrics in bold are my prayer.

Help us all, Lord, to see us as you see us and to love ourselves like you love us.

YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made! You are an incredible, incredible person.

Until tomorrow,

img_1191

Nothing In Life is Wasted

The lies that echo through the chasms of my soul are “You are a waste of space, and you have wasted so much of your life.”

A general symptom of my depressive disorder is lack of concentration, and when I find myself unable to concentrate or for lack of a better term “zoning out,” I am usually in one of two places. The first, I shall not speak of just yet, and the second is found tumbling down to the deep, craggy past.

I fantasize about what things in my past I would do differently. Fascinated by the thoughts of time travel, I imagine myself traveling back to a time I wish to change, and telling my former self what she should know and do.

This thought is usually ended by an abrupt jolt back to reality where a heavy sigh escapes the chamber of my lungs as I realize that I have at least a hundred other less interesting things to do.

I remind myself that there will probably be a day when I wish I could slide back to this time and do things differently. I ask myself, “What will I have wanted myself to have accomplished?” This is usually crushed by those cascading lies.

A lady I used to work with would tell me “God doesn’t waste anything.” I learned that first hand when I graduated college, took my first adult job as a teacher teaching the very things that I had spent so much time studying in college. I started out as a pre-med major but graduated with a theatre arts degree. I taught both science and fine arts yet had no formal teaching education.

Recently I’ve found myself in a rather discontent state of mind. I’ve been dealing with a medication change which always turns my world upside down and inside out. I’ve been feeling like I wasted so much time in the past, and that it has left in this place of dissatisfaction today. However, this Sunday, I heard it again. “God doesn’t waste anything.”

God can take the impossible, the ugly, the blasé, the lacking, and the disheveled, and make it shine in all of His splendor. It just takes trust.

What can you actively trust God with today? I am actively trusting Him to use this moment in my life to teach me something new, and to use me, even when I don’t feel like letting Him.

You have worth and value beyond what you even know.

Until tomorrow, friends!

img_1191

Re-scripted : How Do I Edit My Thoughts About Myself

I have a degree in theatre arts. Among all of the things that I had to do, I most often had to either memorize lines or write them.

Somewhere throughout the years, because of life experience and a little biology, I have formulated this script that I deliver to myself when my anxiety is high and my depression is low. Even when I’m feeling OK, these lines circulate in like a steady fan blowing in the background.

“You’re never going to feel better.”

“You add no true value to anyone’s life.”

“Your kids are going to be traumatized by you.”

“Your husband deserves way better than you.”

“You are a burden.”

“You’re never good enough.”

“I’m sorry for being me.”

This is my script, and it is on recitation in my mind every day. It is so ingrained in my thoughts that it has become muscle memory; there is no straining to remember these lines.

Logically I know that these are all fallacies. Therefore, I have to edit my thoughts and re-script the monologue to say something that is true.

“You are working toward wellness. Better days are ahead.”

“Your family loves you for you, not for what you give them.”

“Your kids are going to see that you are a strong, persistent mom who will be there for them.”

“Your husband chose you and has loved you through your worst. He has told you he’s in it for life, and he’s not a liar.”

“You are not a burden. You work hard and pull your weight.”

“Perfection is a joy thief. Your best is enough.”

“God is finishing what He has started in you. There is no need to apologize for being you.”

After learning something one way, it is extremely difficult to try to learn something a better way. When I was in acting classes and we forgot our line, instead of breaking character and losing the moment, we’d simply have to say “line,” and we would be given our line.

My way of calling out for my line is by working on writing these down so that I can see them in places such as my car or my kitchen. I say them out loud, usually in my car or my kitchen, I have my rock of a husband who speaks these truths into my ear when my eyes are filled with tears, and I can only remember the lines from the old script.

What are some lies that you believe about yourself? How can you re-script them in a positive way? I’d love for you to share in the comment section below.

Break a leg with your re-write!

Until tomorrow, friends!

img_1191

 

How Do I Praise God When I’m Depressed?

Today is Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus rode into town on a donkey while people waved palm leaves shouting “HOSANNA,” which is an expression of praise similar to saying “hallelujah!.” It got me to thinking about how I was a worship leader for nearly a decade at a few different churches across the western portion of North Carolina. Because of this, I know what it is like to have to get up in front of people and praise God even when the night before, I was balled up like a fist on the floor, beyond tears, moaning from a place of complete despair, repeating these words to God: “Help me!”

I know what it is like to get up in front of people, encourage them to draw close to God, even though I felt like He was more than a million miles away

I know what it is like to have to run to my car after a set because the anxiety of it all came crashing down on me like a heavy cymbal, and I didn’t want anyone to see me have a panic attack.

More times than I can count, did I “lead worship,” when truly all I was doing was playing an instrument, singing songs, and putting on a half-hearted performance.

However, through all of that, I have learned a lot about how to get myself to a place where I can worship God, even when I’m at my lowest.

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24, ESV)

Every good worship leader has quoted this during their time of worship at some point, but what does it mean?

“Spirit” in Greek (pneuma) and Hebrew(ruach) both mean breath, wind.

Our spirit is the life within our bodies. The Holy Spirit is the breath of God that dwells within us to lead us, comfort us, teach us, and love us. The Holy Spirit is alive in us.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:21, ESV)

So if the Spirit is the life within us, we are to worship the Lord with our life by allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest and grow within us which is made evident by the fruits of the Spirit.

But what if our mental state has left feeling like we can’t worship?

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26, ESV)

THE SPIRIT INTERCEDES ON OUR BEHALF. What an incredible thought. When we can’t pray for ourselves, when we can’t put into words our thought processes, when we are balled up like a fist on the floor, gasping for air, barely able to say words between the gut-wrenching moans that only come from the deepest parts of our being, the Spirit of God mediates on our behalf. He steps in and takes over.

Wow.

We’re supposed to worship God in truth as well.

Part of this is being honest with God. He knows everything about how we’re feeling, but He wants us to own up to it. I’ve learned from counseling that there is profound healing when you hear yourself say something that you believe. Admit your weakness. Ask for His help. Wait patiently.

Another part of this is remembering the truths about God.

  • God is holy
  • God is sovereign
  • God does not change
  • God is love
  • God is good
  • God is merciful
  • God is faithful
  • God is gracious
  • God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all over the place

Worship has nothing to do with the songs you sing at church on a Sunday morning. That is a great way to offer up praise since songs can say what the mouth has a hard time articulating. Worshiping with other people is encouraging and vibrant.

However, if we’re not worship God with our life by allowing His life to be present within us; if we’re not honest with where we are and vulnerable with God; if we forget who He is, what He has done, and what He said He will do, it’s just noise.

Admit to Him that you need help worshiping Him. Remember who He is. Allow his light to shine into your darkness.

These things are a great reminder to me, especially during this week where we can’t help but remember what the Lord has done for us through Jesus.

I hope you had a good palm Sunday, and that you have a good Monday.

A Sunday well spent brings a week of content – or something like that.

Until tomorrow, img_1191

 

House Divided : Growing Up in a Broken Home

My kids can spot things that I easily miss. As soon as we get into a store, my son can point out a renegade balloon that is tucked up in some rafter that I would have never noticed.

My daughter can find Elsa or Anna on anything, even if they are only an inch tall.

Growing with my kids has reminded me of how keen a kid’s senses are. I firmly believe that kids have a sharp intuition to discern a person’s character embedded in them as a defense mechanism.

At least that is how I was as a kid.

I didn’t like J.C. (this definitely does NOT stand for Jesus Christ). Looking back, he was like a snake in the grass, seductively slithering his way into our house.

He began spending more and more time with my dad, which I thought was odd. My dad had few friends, and they were usually guys that he worked with.

J.C. constricted our family time by showing up in the evenings, and not leaving until after I had gone to bed.

We had a teal leather sectional couch that I took many naps on. My parents sat across from while I was sitting on it one evening.

“We’re getting separated. Daddy will be moving out.”

The leather stuck to my legs as I slid out of my seat, crying hysterically.

I was almost six.

My dad had decided to leave my mom for J.C. or something like that. He had lived in torment his entire life, knowing that he was different and battling things that I will never understand. His decision to liberate himself destroyed my family.

He took about a year to go out and discover his new found life before steadily coming back into mine. Fortunately, J.C. was thrown out of the picture.

There is a lot that I don’t remember about that time, but I do remember being overwhelmed with sadness, writing in my school journal everyday “My parent’s are getting divorced,”and having excruciating stomach pains everyday.

I was asked who I wanted to live with, and my reply was with my Granny. How could a six year old be asked to choose between her mother or father.

From what I was told, I blamed my mom for my dad leaving. I don’t remember that part. I just remember my mom always being there. Even in her immense sadness, she was still there.

I grew up spending a week with my mom then a week with my dad. This was always the arrangement, and it worked for us. I always joke about how good I am at packing a bag because I lived out of a suitcase for the majority of my childhood.

My dad finally settled into a relationship with a good man who was kind to me, and he lived with us for many years.

Growing up with a gay dad in the 90’s wasn’t easy. Dad told me that I had to keep it a secret, and I did, even to the point of causing me great duress.

So there we were. A single mom who worked all the time to make ends meet, and a gay dad. We loved each other, and eventually fell into a routine that was comfortable.

Half of you reading this probably came from a broken home, but do you know the statistics that are attached to us?

  • Children in repeat divorces are generally less pleasant to be around.
  • Teenage children of divorce are three times more likely to need psychological help within a given year.
  • Children from divorced homes have more psychological problems, than children from which one of the parents has died. (I’ve dealt with both)
  • Between children of divorced parents there are relatively more cases of injury, asthma, headaches and speech defects than among children whose parents have remained married.
  • Children of divorced parents are fifty percent more likely to develop health problems than children in two parent families.
  • Children that are living with both biological parents are 20 to 35 percent physically healthier than children from broken homes.
  • In 1991 a study was done of children from which the parents were divorced six years earlier. The study found that even after all that time, these children tended to be lonely, unhappy, anxious and insecure.

  • Children divorce statistics indicate that children of divorced parents are four times more likely to report relational problems with peers and friends than children whose parents have kept their marriages intact.
  • (Adult) children of divorce are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide than children from normal homes.

These stats are a bit dated, but it is hard finding new stats on the Google.

I never thought that my parent’s divorce had anything to do with my depression and anxiety. It never occurred to me until I heard a pastor spitting out a bunch of stats like the ones I listed above. It was like a light bulb went off in my head.

Honestly, I don’t think that my parents’ divorce is the sole reason that I’ve dealt with a lifetime of mental illness, but it is a part of my story, my truth, and a puzzle piece in my story of healing and recovery.

Divorce isn’t going to destroy your kids, but it is important to learn how to help your kids navigate through it as well as getting help for yourself. You can go through it on your own, but it’s so much better to go through it with some help.

I’ve got my fuzzy socks pulled up, and I’m settling down under my soft comforter for the night. I hope you are able to rest easy and have sweet dreams!

Until tomorrow,

img_1191

 

 

 

 

Grace Upon Grace

The depression has been big today and the guilt even bigger.

I cannot form meaningful sentences. I cannot write anything that is border line profound. I cannot push my mind to stretch in that way today.

So, I leave you with this. In the mess that is whirling around in my mind, I hear this being whispered.

GraceuponGrace