Withdrawal: An Unexpected Drug Addiction

psalm563

I’ve been radio silent for several days because I’ve felt like hell, and I’ve been catching up on some Zzz’s and spending a little more time with my family.

I want to say that I know nothing about recreational drugs. I’ve went to precisely two parties in college where there were a few people standing outside smoking weed, and those few people didn’t include me. I didn’t even get drunk at any of the college parties that I went to except for the one time I became pretty tipsy after taking a big shot of peppermint schnapps, which I immediately regretted, not because of any convictions but because it set my esophagus on f i r e.

I only know that you can snort cocaine because of the term “booger sugar” (my husband is giggling like a 7th grader as he reads this). I once had a conversation with a friend about some of her friends who got slipped some sort of drug that was laced with something, and I said something to the effect of “Maybe it was laced with LCD.” I quickly remembered (5 minutes later) that it was LSD not LCD.

After stating all of that, you can guess that I’ve never done recreational drugs or even smoked a cigarette (I detest smoking).

However, when it comes to prescription drugs, I can rattle off things about Xanax, Valium, Ativan, anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, hypnotics, and so on. I’m privy to this knowledge because I’ve taken several medications from all of this classes at some point of another.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I was on a medication for several months before it stopped working, and I dropped into a dramatic depressive state. Well, in that last month, I was weaned off of that medication. I did it over the course of two weeks.

This med is called Effexor, and my psyche professional wanted me to come off of it (I was at the max dosage) because it was causing me not to sleep and not to even miss it. Of course, sleep deprivation always catches up to me, and the depression sneaks up from behind me and pulls me under.

After weaning off of the Effexor, I started having horrible physical reactions. My neck stiffened, I had unbearable headaches, nausea that made me throw up, and insane vertigo.

This is when I went to the doctor thinking I had a bad ear infection. I didn’t and was diagnosed with an inner ear inflammation due to allergies. Predisone was prescribed which sent me into a wild manic state followed by a quick and furious drop. It was truly the worst mood shift I’ve EVER had.

The vertigo persisted as did all of the other physical symptoms. My anxiety also shot through the roof because of this. Another doctors visit ended with a referral for an MRI. I didn’t go in for that because I didn’t want to spend the money.

My husband called my psyche practitioner because he was worried about me. She told him that it sounded like withdrawals from the Effexor. She sent in a prescription for the lowest dosage of it to reintroduce into my system.

I also realized that I had been taking 150mg more of one of my mood stabilizers that I was supposed to which also contributed to the horrific side effects.

After sorting out these issues, I’m starting to physically feel better and mentally blunted. My moods were highly unstable, but now they are way more even.

After dealing with all of these withdrawal symptoms, I have an even deeper compassion for those who go through DTs from stronger drugs. What I went through was minimal compared to what they must grow through, yet I felt like I was literally going to die some nights.

The one thing that I’ve been clinging to through the many downs that I’ve experienced over the last few weeks is the verse Psalm 56:3:

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” 

Repeating this over and over in my mind or aloud has slowed my heart rate, slowed the racing thoughts, and stopped the throbbing in my temples.

I one day further in my healing process.

Until next time, friends!

img_1191-5

Just to Clear Things Up

WE DO NOT HAVE A VIOLENT RELATIONSHIP.

Whilst writing my last post, I didn’t fully consider how it may come across to some people as I recorded what happened between my husband and I.

I’ll say this once: WE DO NOT HAVE A VIOLENT RELATIONSHIP.

My husband told me that I wasn’t “going anywhere,” because he didn’t know if he’d see me again if I left.

I’m perfectly free to come and go from our home as I please, so long as I’m not having an extremely low depressive episode – because, ya know, the suicidality can be strong with me during those times.

My reaction was to get away because I didn’t want my family to see me in that awful state, I guess. I don’t fully know what was going through my mind at that point.

All I know is that I was determined to go. That’s why my husband wouldn’t let me past him, that’s why I pathetically swung my purse at him a couple of times (I’m the size of a middle schooler, so there’s that).

He didn’t tackle me, throw me over his shoulder, or body slam me onto our couch.

He just picked me up and sat me down.

That entire interaction probably took place over the course of 35 seconds.

I only write this because some people have been asking him if we’re OK.

WE are fine.

Anyone who knows what it’s like to struggle through mental illness or have a loved one who does more than likely gets it.

For some reason unbeknownst to me, I have been given his love, and it’s been God’s way of tangibly saving my life.

So, to the clear the air, this doesn’t happen (honestly, I don’t think anything like this has ever happened) regularly, we spend a lot of our time laughing, we kiss our kids at least 5,000 times a day, and we generally have a really good time.

I’m not an unstable person 99% of the time.

I was given a medication that has been reported to be incredibly dangerous when mixed with bipolar disorder and mood stabilizers.

I just weaned off a medication that sent me into a full blown manic state on top of all of this.

Sunday had all of the ingredients to produce a perfect storm.

I’m actually feeling tons better.

It took me about two days to get my legs back under me.

I feel like I’m back to normal.

Thanks for your concern, though.

img_1191-2

Committed: My Stay in a Mental Health Facility

A nurse had me strip down to nothing. I was completely naked. Exposed.

Vulnerable.

you are not your illness

Trigger Warning: There is a bit of talk about suicidality in this post. If hearing about someone’s struggle with wanting to self-harm will trigger you, only read the last couple of paragraghs – or nothing at all.

After seven weeks of spiraling depression, I finally hit the bottom. Landing in a lightless pool of tears, I momentarily struggled to get to the surface, finally succumbing to the slow weightless gravity of the depths of that cold well.

Light started to glimmer on the stillness of the top.

A child’s sincere prayer was heard, and by the strength of the Almighty, I was brought out of the depths, and placed on the flourishing green grass surrounding that dank, stoney well.

I’ve fallen in that same well a few times before, each time being lifted out, not by my own strength, but by the strength placed in others by God Himself.

Two suicide attempts, countless hopeless hours wishing I could just drown, and one solid, peaceful plan to end my life; I finally decided to reach out for the right kind of help.

I was completely against being committed to a mental health facility for so long, but I had needed to be there more times than I have fingers.

After seven weeks of falling, crashing yet again into the same cold water, I cried out for the aid I truly needed.

Only sleeping two or three hours a night for two months has a horrific impact on your thinking.

I had had five good months. Five months of even moods, increased energy, and motivation.

Coming down from that high place made the fall even worse because I hadn’t had that many days without depression and anxiety in more than 10 years.

My focus became fuzzy. I would completely zone out at work. I began to forget things that were on my openly visible to-do list that I kept on my desk. Irritation stung more than ever before to the point I was having trouble being around people.

Finally, the exhaustion and inability to complete a thought caught up to me, and the cracking dam broke loose.

I picked up my kids from daycare with tears streaming down my face. I don’t cry in front of people, but they could not be stopped. Driving to a safe place, with my precious babies in the backseat, they were more than concerned as their mother wailed for relief.

My three almost four year old daughter said loudly from the backseat “Lord,  keep my mommy safe, and make her feel better.” That was the light that danced across the top of the deep.

My husband met me at this safe place. I had called my psychiatry office to talk to the doctor on call. I was hoping that it was my regular practitioner, but it wasn’t. The nurse on the other end said my husband had just called two minutes prior to me picking up my phone.

He’s the one who always makes the call for me because I’m either too upset or too ashamed.

This time I didn’t care. I needed help or I was not going to make it.

I kept telling my husband over and over,  “I need to go to the hospital. I need to go to the hospital.”

The doctor rang me back, and asked me a ton of questions.

Even though I told her that I was struggling with suicidality, she was most concerned with my sleeplessness. Most doctors try hard to keep their patients out of psyche wards because they can be brutally scary and often times unhelpful.

Ambien was prescribed, and I got a whopping three hours of sleep that night. I had a previously scheduled psyche appointment with my regular practitioner that week, so I was urged to vow to safety and make it to then.

Sitting in her office, she blatantly asked me if I was having self-harming thoughts. I learned a while ago to not lie about this.

“Yes.”

In the past, I had been prescribed either new or additional medications and placed under constant surveillance for about two weeks at home.

I was tired of putting my family in a situation where they had to baby sit me, so I said again: “I need to go to the hospital.”

“OK. I need you to not leave this office until your husband can come and take you. I’ll make the call to see when they can take you in.”

I was urged to choose a women’s facility close to my house that only housed eight beds. They could get me in the next morning. The nurse called me that night as I was waiting and asked me if I had a plan. (A plan for suicide that is)

After careful research, I had coldly calculated an incredibly detailed plan two years prior to this phone call. It’s the one I always go back to when I tip over into the dark, cold well of apathy.

I’ll never share it with anyone outside of a practitioner, so it isn’t outlined in this post at all, and never will be in any of my writing.

I will say that when I do hit the bottom, it is a very peaceful and satisfying process of thoughts because I feel like it would actually bring me relief.

Many say that suicide is selfish. It’s easy to be the judge when you’re on the outside and think you know everything.

While some people may want to commit suicide to throw blame, guilt, and revenge on those who cause them pain,  (Don’t get me started on my many, many thoughts about 13 Reasons Why), some people have the true belief that their existence is causing pain for those they love.

In the past, I blamed others for these thoughts as well as thinking the world would be a brighter place without my darkness. However, as I’ve aged, In those moments, my thoughts are not about what the world has done to me, it’s about what I’ve done to the world around me. Maybe it is slightly selfish in the fact that my thoughts centralize around me, but my intention is to better the lives of the ones I love the most.

“I’ve always felt like a burden to my family since I was a kid. I truly believe that my husband should’ve chose another wife who was full of joy and never would put him through the worry and hell that I’ve put him through. I believe that I will cause my kids more trauma throughout their life by being who I am than I would in ridding myself from their lives in one fell swoop while they are too young to really remember me. While I have great friends, none of them would be forever changed by my absence.”

These are the lies that swirl around the depths of my mind when I can’t see the light.

I can be greatly logical in my thinking, and after a few years of intermittent counseling, I can ground myself enough to know that when this happens, I must say something. Even if I can’t fully verbalize what it is I’m thinking, I can say to my husband “I’m not really OK,” and he knows that action needs to be taken.

This time, I was ready to take extreme action.

I packed my bag, kissed my husband goodbye at the locked door on the HOPE wing, and was shown to my room.

All of my personal belongings that I had packed were confiscated for inspection. No phone. No tablet. No contact with the outside world.

No strings, nothing with alcohol in it, no medications of any kind.

While I had my own private room, there was no shower curtain, no comfy bed dressings, and no sharp pencils.

After settling into my near empty room, I was submitted to a “skin check.”

A nurse had me strip down to nothing. I was completely naked. Exposed.

Vulnerable.

Every scar, bruise and discoloration were questioned and noted.

All of me was laid out before a stranger who didn’t trust me, yet wanted to help me.

Finally clothed and fetally curled up on my noisy bed, a different nurse peaked in and brought my lunch. I could eat in peace, but was urged to come out to the open room for dinner.

Dinner time came, and my clouded eyes stayed down as I sat down for my scrumptious hospital dinner (sarcasm for those who missed it). I didn’t know if the patients talked to one another, or if I was supposed to sit silently eating food off my plastic spork.

Around the table, the ladies started asking me what my name was and told me theirs. As usual, I didn’t feel like talking to strangers.

Group session was later on that night where we had to state positive things about ourselves, set positive goals for the night, and vow to safety.

Given my ineffective Ambien, I resigned to my bed for a mostly sleepless night. Surprisingly, I didn’t miss my phone at all. I missed having a clock to track my time.

The only clock was at the end of the hallway.

Each hour, I would peak my head out and see how much longer I had to stay in my room.

Each room had a door within a door that looked like something that would be down the through the looking glass in Alice in Wonderland. This trick door was cracked at night so the nurses could do their hourly checks without waking the “clients.”

I forgot that we weren’t referred to as patients.

The next day, I went through the group activities, sat through the clergy talk as he struggled to relate God’s word to our situation, and got to know the ladies a bit more.

During our group movement time, we banged on a drum to sound out our feelings to the group. Mine was “sad-mad.”

I had been there for over 24 hours and the psychiatrist hadn’t seen me. This infuriated me because I felt like they were discarding me and that I was unimportant. I was also sad because, ya know, depression.

We then went out into the hallway to throw around these foam balls while getting to know each other’s names. I really wanted to just sit still, but as we moved and giggled, I literally felt parts of my brain that had been inactive for a while, light up. It was a strange sensation.

My husband came for a visit, then it was dinner time and group session time all over again.

I did get to see the doctor after all, and was given a book and a new prescription which was supposed to help me sleep.

It didn’t, so I cracked open the book, and vigorously went through the first 50 pages completing the exercises along the way.

Having physical injuries in the past, I was no stranger to physical therapy. I finally came to the realization that my mind was in need of physical therapy if I was going to make strides toward healing.

Instead of taking it slow, I devoured the next 100 pages along with assignments and turned them into the doctor at the end of the day. I had told him the evening before that I wanted to go home as soon as possible. He just smiled and nodded, and I said, everyone says that, huh?”

“Yep.”

After turning in my assignments, he said “So, about going home early, I think we may be able to get you home on Monday. We have to get you some sleep first, though.”

I slept six hours that night, but not without getting to know the ladies a bit more.

Bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, extreme general anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, alcoholism – labels we all had prescribed to us.

However, I got to know them by their first names, careers, family situations, and personalities.

We joked around about being in a mental health facility – some being repeat offenders. We colored, talked about our medications, upcoming vacations, and favorite restaurants.

I got to peel back yet another layer of stigma that had been ingrained in me about mental illness, and see each woman as living, breathing human beings with real lives, real thoughts, and real struggles.

Being next door to the geriatric mental health wing, we could hear the screams and disruptions from patients fighting off delusions and hallucinations, and felt a little fear, but mostly sadness because we knew how real that person’s thoughts were to them.

We all formed a bit of a bond, unlike most patient client groups that grace the HOPE wing; at least that is what we were told.

We watched TV together, told funny stories about our lives, and encouraged each other through our darkest thoughts.

I tear up thinking about these women because I would probably never befriend them in my normal life, but in our little safe corner of the world, they each impacted my life because they made me realize that I’m not alone and not defined by my illness but rather a someone who has an illness.

I don’t go up to people and say: “I’m Fatima, and I’m Bipolar.”

I am not defined by an illness. You are not defined by an illness.

You are not cancer, you are not hyper-tension, you are not diabetes, you are not ADHD, you are not dyslexic -No. You may deal with these things, and God help you if you do, but you find your truth and you lay it out there. You find what and who you truly are and you own it -you declare it.

 I am Fatima. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and creatively old soul, and I’m training my crippled mind to grow stronger as I deal with a disease called Bipolar Disorder that often gives me symptoms of overwhelming sadness, irritable anxiety, and panic attacks as well as rarely giving me symptoms of high energy and impulsivity. 

Even if all of these titles are stripped from me, and I’m left with nothing else in this world, I can cling to this truth – The Truth. I am a daughter of the Most High. I am seen. I am heard. I am ultimately healed, even if I only see it in eternity. I am protected, redeemed, free – I AM LOVED.

While I still have two or three more posts to finish my 30 post truth challenge, I have found so much healing and support through this journey.

I’ve been humbled by the outpouring of messages and comments that have been shared with me, and I have seen each one even if I haven’t responded yet. Thank you for seeing my journey of truth, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing pieces of your journey with me. I’m grateful for your honesty, and impressed by your bravery.

May the God of all peace, wisdom, and understanding surround your heart today and each day moving forward.

I’ll bring the coffee next time.

Until we meet again my friends,

img_1191-1

The Problem with Unprocessed Grief part 3

It became a wound that never healed, and would often fester and overflow with infection causing me to have outbursts of deep depression and panic attacks. It caused me to lose all sense of direction in my life.

I strive to conclude my thoughts on unprocessed grief tonight.

I’ve taken you through the morning and following days of my father’s death through my eyes.

I broke down after recalling my last words to my father.

I’ve recounted my vicious battle with anorexia and bulimia and my darkest depression through most of high school.

Tonight I wish to conclude this chapter on my thoughts about unprocessed grief.

Leaving you in my junior year of high school, starving for perfection; starving to fill the hole in my heart. Starving to feel the hole in my heart. I started my senior year with a new boyfriend.

He was nice, and to be honest, I fell in love with his family more than I did him. I had known them for several years already, but I got to get the inside scoop on how they interacted.

I hadn’t been a part of a nuclear family since I was five years old, so naturally, I didn’t know how they worked. I found them fascinating like a strange life form. It was something that I liked to step back and poke with a stick.

Having a mom and dad who loved each other and were on the same team baffled me. The dynamics between siblings was a whole new world to me. (Truthfully, I still don’t get this one).

It was a nice change and learning experience for me. I was able to talk to this boyfriend unlike I could my last one. I began to process all that I had dealt with, and began to consider my grief.

Like most high school sweethearts, we moved on, and I began college. This was a new start for me with new people who didn’t know my past.

They say that college is where you truly find your tribe, and I wouldn’t say that was my experience at first, but I certainly found many friends and experiences in which brought me great joy.

I chose community college because I wasn’t ready to leave home, and the price was much more satisfactory. I stayed there far longer than most do, much longer than it is intended for.

I had no plan for my life.

When I was a child, my dad had bought me this human body anatomy set. It was similar to a puzzle, but it was small model of a human body with all of the plastic organs to assemble together.

See, I wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember.

My dad often found his copy of Grey’s Anatomy in my bedroom, because I loved to read about the human body. I even considered the Cambridge Student’s Programme for teenage students for early an early medical introduction.

When my father had his surgery at Duke, I enjoyed talking with the doctors and nurses, trying to glean as much information as I could.

However, when I started college, I decided I wanted to study law.

By the end of my first semester, I did not.

The next few semesters were met with confusion and low grades.

I took classes ranging for anatomy and physiology to dialects and voice for the stage. I didn’t have a guiding voice to give me advice or direction. No one to remind me what was always my true interest.

I started dating my now husband during our third year of college. His drive and ambition was inspiring, and I started to get myself together.

I once again resumed my headway toward a career in medicine, and committed to a pre-med major. I finally moved on from community college to a state university, and excelled in my bio and chem classes. Physics was the worst class I took out of nearly 200 credit hours that I took over the course of my college career.

About half way through my semester, my depression plummeted as well as my grades.

I started skipping classes and sleeping in late. I hadn’t found a sleep aid that kept me from my near nightly panic attacks.

Most nights, i muffled my sobs in my pillows so not to attract attention from my roommates.  Several times I would end up calling my now husband who would more often than not come over in the middle of the night and hold me until  my crying gave way to slumber. He would then sneak out before the sun to get ready for his job that started at sunrise.

The semester ended, and I was on academic probation with the potential of losing all financial aid.

Throughout all of this time, one thing remained the same; I led worship on a regular basis and thoroughly enjoyed music and singing. I met with an academic advisor at a local christian college to see if their worship arts program would be something I would be interested in.

Too expensive and adding too many semesters to my college career, I chose to take some music and theatre classes at the university that I was already at.

Reluctantly giving up on my medical dreams, I fell deeper in love with music and the theatre in general.

I found my tribe.

I decided to tailor my degree so that I would have music, dramatic performance and production, dance, stage design, and Christian religious studies. I even landed a paid worship internship at a large local church I had been attending.

With a few years of experience, and this type of education, I was setting myself up for a career in worship ministry.

While I was happy with all of that, and finished each semester on the Chancellor’s and Dean’s lists for receiving a 4.0, my depression and anxiety were off the rails.

I was completely miserable, and felt adrift.

Struggling greatly with suicidality, my future husband convinced me to finally reach out to a counselor.

I saw one at the university, and I cried like a baby when I told her that I just didn’t want to live anymore. She gave me the option to get into a facility, to which I naturally declined.

Having the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality, I decided that I could get my junk together on my own.

Fortunately, the church where I was interning at had a counseling center with a sliding scale on their prices.

There, the realization of my unprocessed grief surfaced.

I was angry with my dad. I was angry with my mom. Most of all, I was angry with myself.

Part of my depression was caused by my anger being turned inward. The other part was PTSD, but I’ll talk about that later.

The pain of losing of parent so young is something I could not process. For one, I had no help to do so. I couldn’t make sense of the pain because I never left a state of shock.

It became a wound that never healed, and would often fester and overflow with infection causing me to have outbursts of deep depression and panic attacks. It caused me to lose all sense of direction in my life.

It caused me to be afraid of commitment. I was sure that as soon as I gave myself fully to anything that I would have the rug pulled out from underneath  me, and I simply could not handle that. To this day, I still have issues with trying something new because I just know that something is going to go wrong. (It never does)

I regret giving up on medicine, and hope to God I one day get a chance to redeem myself. However, every time I learned more about the human body, every time I looked a slide of different cancer cells, saw their complexity, saw the intricate, surprising beauty; I saw my daddy.

I would think about seeing patients and inevitably see my father’s weak face, and I would run from it.

There are still levels of grief that I have yet to process.

Not having him there for my college graduation, my wedding, the birth of my children; these events, as joyous as they were, felt slightly incomplete.

Last year was the 14th anniversary of my father’s death. My grief overwhelmed me.

As I walked down the stairs at home and into the living area, I was hit with the realization that I had lived more of my life without him in it than I had with him in it.

That wound opened wide, and I mourned unlike anytime before. The rawness of his absence was greater than it was immediately following his death. My husband was at work, as was my mother, but I could not be alone. My dear mother-in-law came to keep me company because I couldn’t be left alone with that kind of pain that day.

I’m still processing my grief, and probably will until I meet him again in heaven. But I am processing it.

I am healing.

The problem with unprocessed grief is that it slowly infects your body, heart, and mind. It affects your decisions. It affects your relationships. I affects your world view, and perspective of God (if you believe in God).

Since losing my dad, I’ve lost a beloved aunt, and my dear grandparents who I cannot talk about without crying. But because of my experience with the grief from my father’s death, I’ve been able to work through the grief of losing those other great loves of my life.

Until tomorrow my friends,

img_1191-1

 

 

The Fragrance After the Rain:When Panic Pours and Evaporates

The fragrance after the rain and the cool mist in the air is a nice reprieve from the storm.

I had a panic attack today.

It was the first one I’ve had in a while. Sometimes I can feel them thundering beneath the surface, other times they are a sudden deluge.

Today I saw it coming on the horizon comparable to the black clouds that hang low over my beautiful blue mountains on a spring day.

Mondays always make me a bit blue as I mourn the ease of the weekend passing. However, my day was normal as usual. There was nothing out of the ordinary at work. My children were gems. Yet my anxiety decided to misbehave.

Being extra fidgety and having hot flashes, my nerves were electric.

Once I got home, I laid my kids down for a nap, and I did some writing. I felt flush, and was extra hot, My chest started growing tighter and tighter. The shortness of breath began. Sometimes I cry during these attacks, other times I don’t. I couldn’t mumble an audible sound as my throat contracted.

Breathless and in the fetal position with my fan on high, petting my kitty cat, Gus, I surrendered to the attack on my bed. I tried to check in with my body from head to toe, but I didn’t make it past my chest before the intrusive thoughts flooded in.

So I sang. Not aloud, but in my mind,        

“So I called,                                                    and you answered.                                                                                                   and you came to my                               rescue, and I  want                                                                                                   to be where you are.”

I repeated these lyrics over and over and over and over.

I repeated them over and over until my chest began to release and my breathing steadied.

I repeated them until I was lulled onto the surface of slumber. I rested for probably 30 minutes in a partial stupor which was just enough for me to come out on the other end of the attack, and begin to recover.

Panic attacks always leave me worn out, and in a bit of a fog.

However, I’ve recovered from this one better than the others.

I’m still exhausted, but I’m not tearful, I was able to eat dinner, and I haven’t been irritable with anyone. I’m not shaky, sweaty, or in any pain. My anxiety is still sprinkling down, but I can feel the Lord sheltering me from the storm.

I’m grateful that when I called, He answered.        

 “On the day I called,                                     you answered me;                                                                                          my strength of soul                                      you increased.”                                                                                                                                Psalm 138:3 (ESV) 

The fragrance after the rain and the cool mist in the air is a nice reprieve from the storm.

I know that these things are all a part of my journey to wellness, and I hope that I don’t come across as a pitiful victim as I share them. I hope to reveal my heart in hopes of finding freedom and helping others so we can struggle and grow together on this road to recovery.

Monday is almost over! Here’s to a happier Tuesday!

img_1191

 

The Anxiety of Christ

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

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