Seasonal Affective Disorder

sarahs!!

So there’s the real case of seasonal affective disorder. Mine typically falls in the summer. Most everyone else I know has it during the winter. But y’all, for a woman with a diagnosed sweating disorder summer is zero fun in the south…ZERO. So summer tends to be on the grumpy side for me in some ways, but alas, there’s not a thing I can do about the seasons except wait it out and look forward to fall.

The same holds true in seasons of life we find ourselves in. I was thinking about it this morning, as I am wrestling with a particular season I am finding myself in. I am attempting to wrestle my way out of them but just like the weather seasons, I am seeing I have to work through them and be patient for the next season of life.

What I am finding out though is that deep sadness about the changes of season are overtaking me, just as they do for those with S.A.D. in relation to the weather. I have wanted to socially withdraw, and have for a large part over the last few months. I have chosen a mindset of hopelessness rather than being filled with hope at the view of the season. And very similar to S.A.D. it is caused most commonly by the lack of Light.

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation-whom should I fear? The Lord is the Stronghold of my life-whom should I dread? (Psalm 27:1, CSB)

 

In the season I am currently in, the lack of Light that I have allowed to affect me has been rather unsettling. It’s led to some old behaviors I thought I had turned from years ago, and much of my former self is starting to seep back in…a self that was about controlling the outcome and future, a self that was reliant only upon itself and not upon God, a self that chose it’s own whims over the priorities of God and the urgings of the Spirit. It’s been a season of quiet in many regards that has left me wondering whether I am alone in this, but finally realizing that I have chosen that for myself…and only for self has that been the choice.

When I reduce the Light I so desperately desire daily in a season, then I become akin to this disorder and the hopelessness that it exudes. Seasons are hard to navigate in life, and some last for far longer than we’d like, much like summer in the South. One thing remains though, the need for the Light in our lives throughout the season, to give hope, to draw us to one another and to fight the lies that we are alone in the heat of it all.

Calling in the Unknown

What does vision and calling look like? What about the mission of your life?

For years I have wrestled with these questions, thinking about predetermined paths and expectations that were just never voiced. Once you are on a path, you have a logically laid out means of pursuing that path and you STAY.ON.IT.

A couple of years ago that mindset changed for me, first with Jon Acuff’s Do Over, where he said you can have a different path, one where you lived into what you felt drawn to rather than the one you had prepared for. But you gotta do the work, you gotta put in the hustle. (There’s alot more to that book, and I highly encourage you to grab it if this is resonating in the least with you).

The calling I had at 25 has changed, pursuits and interests have pushed me to consider options I had not seen before…and now a decade later I wrestle with letting that calling go and accepting the heart cry of obedience.

But what does that look like? 

Exactly the question I have spent months wrestling with. I need the template, the design and the future all mapped out to what that looks like for me. What it means to live fully into obedience in calling.

The scary thing is that there’s not a template, there’s no simple or easy map to lay out before me. My limited knowledge self wants that, but the obedient child of God knows that I don’t get that. Yes I get resources and tips, I research and prepare, but also know that stepping into an unknown is incredibly scary and racked with doubt. I have given excuses and ultimatums to God about what He’s been pressing in on me about…because I wanted the map all to myself. I want easy and comfortable, immediate affirmation and success.

One would think after 10 years of life lived I would know better than that. None of that comes immediately, or even before you step out into the unknown…and it may never come. So the human self makes the excuse, stays in the comfortable and keeps in line.

So living out a mission, a calling, a vision simply reflects who you are trusting, who you are obedient to, and how you prepare yourself each step of the way. It doesn’t look like the person next to you who is pursuing their dream, nor the person who has the platform you respect and admire. It looks like you…stepping out and pursuing what you feel is your calling now, in the hard and the ugly. In the days you simply just don’t want to and the days you really need to. It means pushing aside excuses and sometimes living in the doubt of it all for a time. It means both no schedule and freedom, and boundaries with a regimented plan.

This newness and shininess has long since worn-off, but the calling? Yep, still there. It’s still burning deep and leaving me hopeful and buoyant in expectation. But not the expectation of anything beyond simple rejoicing of obedience.

There are days ahead where counts and assessments will come, where the need will wane and I will wonder once again if this truly a calling and wonder what it all looks like lived out. Answers may come, but if they don’t I know that fully and completely that it’s not about what I get out of it, but what I give away.

All of it.

Every single bit.

The goodness of a calling, a mission of life is that it’s not to benefit me. and that’s the absolute beauty of it all. It’s never about me, ever.

 

 

All the Questions. 

I ask a lot of questions. I like context and clarity. It’s something as I have gotten older that has provided me with both, and saved a lot of time assuming something else or misunderstanding a situation/comment/task. 

When I was fired from a job, I had a lot of questions, none of which have ever been answered. For a while that unknown, that “no-cause” just left me deflated and assuming a lot. It welled up anger that had to be dealt with, and it also took me to God asking Him a lot of things about how He could let that happen and so on. 

We take a lot of questions to Him, maybe not all of them because we are human and we often try to answer the majority of them on our, in our own thinking, instead of laying them before Him. However He answers in His time and His way. But I find that some questions I ask, and this may hold true for you too, just don’t get answered. 

We hold some elite company in the Bible as well with this. When we look at the life of Joshua we can see his ordainment to lead the people of Israel into the land that was promised. Confidence and influence are with him, as is God. We see him lead them across the Jordan, obedient to the commands of God. 

Then he meets a Man. The commander of the army of the Lord as a matter of fact. Joshua doesn’t know this, only that this Man has His sword drawn. Joshua asks Him a question, of whether He is for them or heir adversaries (Joshua 5:13-15). His question, it goes unanswered. What follows in that very brief synopsis is God meeting Joshua right where he is at, and that’s all that mattered. 

You see I believe that often it’s not our questions being answered that we are in deep need of, but that we need to encounter God and be obedient in humble worship. That we need that time with Him far more than our future revealed or a question deeply answered. He tells us over in Jeremiah that His ways, His thoughts aren’t ours. The sovereign Lord of all is answering our questions so often by giving us what our limited understanding couldn’t comprehend-time spent with Him. 

It took me seeing Joshua and Job (Job 42:5,6) have their direct questions go unanswered to see they were answered by the loving, caring and reigning God for what their deep need was, Him. To know that when I take all of that to Him, He gives what He knows is needed…more of Him and less of me. 

Maybe not. 

I applied for the job. I interviewed and felt really great about it. I had the balance of experience and education, along with willingness to learn and grow in the position. I honestly felt like I was the perfect candidate. But several weeks later, after an enthusiastic email to check how the committee was doing on the search I got the pat email from the lead. They’d gone another direction and hired from within. 

Ouch. 

And I wondered why I had even gone through all that to be disappointed and let down. I felt like God had specifically been leading me to this position, and that this was exactly what He had been working on me for. I wasn’t crushed but I certainly felt like God and I were on different tracks. 

I have friends talk about their job disappointment, loneliness, hard situations where they’ve felt like God has left them or forgotten them, or that it’s a sort of punishment. While I don’t think God punishes (only disciplines) His children, we sometimes a lot of times juxtapose our feelings and desires upon God’s will. I’ve even been in these same situations of hurt, loneliness, forgottenness and toxic jobs asking God why He’s left me. 

Recently I was thinking and praying for a friend’s situation, and their heart, when I found that maybe I’ve had this all wrong. Maybe in this God isn’t wishing I’d pray more about changing the situation, but that I’d listen and change my own heart perspective. That my focus inward had allowed me to be consumed with my will and way to fix it instead of waiting, listening and being open to His direction. 

“Look as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My Hand…” Jeremiah 18:6(b)

You see I’m the clay, He’s the potter. I don’t get to tell Him what to make me into….I can try but I’ll be left a messy heap on the wheel. He’ll continue to work me over with His hands and I’ll be a stubborn clay needing more water added as I grow dry. The potter isn’t so concerned with how the clay wants to be worked as He is the need He knows for it and it’s usage. 

I may think this job isn’t what I am supposed to be doing, but He’s got a plan to use me in it for His time and His good. I may see this place I’m in, whether physical location or mental state as not what I can be best used in and He knows the plan for His kingdom is being worked out in me days, weeks, months down the road right there. 

Maybe He’s called me to walk loneliness, hurt, exile or a difficult job out with Him. To bear out His image in those instances, those hard days and weeks, simply so that it brings another into the fold, it advances His kingdom and His will. Maybe it’s about letting the potter decide the use of the clay over and over again, and being formed into His image for His work and not what I think is His work. Maybe it’s about drawing in close to Him and not to my own feelings and will. 

Maybe it really is all about Him and not about me at all. 

What If?

I sat there in a movie theater with a friend not really knowing what to say. We were at a screening and had decided to use the time to talk about some heart issues we both had been experiencing as of late. She looked at me with such fear and pain in her voice asking “But what if this is it?”

I looked at her and shared that I too had asked that same question, with longing, fear and pain. What if this is it for me?

She looked with such honesty, seeking an answer as if I held some secret. Me, another single female with a job and a mortgage. Me the woman seven years older, and supposedly wiser, yet still single.

What-ifOh my heart hurt, and friends, it still does…because this What If plagues us in some very quiet times-no matter our marital status. It whispers ever so softly that it echoes out into every corner and crevice of our lives. We begin to wonder what if this happens? what if that doesn’t? What if? What if? What if?

Those two words will slither and crawl throughout our lives when we are at our most vulnerable, when we aren’t on guard or we just aren’t prepared. I remember not too long ago my “What if?” snuck up and sucker punched me hard. I had to pull over because I had started to sob. It was speaking fears and doubts I had left unchecked and running loose. It was the reality of no control that I chose to carry with me as if I could control it. Oh that illusion of control will mess you up friends if you aren’t careful. You’ll think you’ve checked off this on your timeline of life and not its time to for that….when in actuality we are on God’s timing and that may mean you don’t get that, or not right now but when He believes you are ready.

I wish I could tell you that it’s easy to answer the what if of my friend, or of my own life. But it’s not. It’s difficult because the what if is a lie. It’s a lie of comparison. It’s a lie that our story has to be like that person or those people. It’s a lie that tells us that we can control it and we are in command. We aren’t.

You aren’t.

Neither am I.

So that night, after sharing that hard conversation with no answers with my friend, I began to wrestle once more with the what ifs? that were circling my own heart and mind. Then very clearly I realized that I had laid down that struggle before of my future but I hadn’t let go of my present. I was still wrangling it with both hands, herding here and there like wild cats. Yet God stood there all the while waiting for me to relinquish and rest. To allow Him His work and me to trust. I go before Him, even in the moments since, seeking to give my present and my future back over to Him when I try to pull it back.

It’s not mine.

Those questions? Well they are a lie that is used as a weapon to distract, manipulate and take us from His truth. And that’s when I cling to His word that tells me exactly where I am if I just keep faith and remember it’s not about me.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

1 Peter 5:6-10

Let the Music Get Down in Your Soul

As you all know, I’m a music nut. Junkie. Whatever you want to term it. Music speaks to my heart, my inner self in so many ways. Those of you who are like that get it. It’s hard to describe because you just feel it. I cannot sing, I cannot play an instrument. Yet I appreciate the art. I could go on but I shall stop.

I realize it’s Wednesday (Tuesday’s post needed to be written and posted for reasons…) but my question for you today is

What speaks to you? What specific thing or art speaks to you directly in a profound way?

And let me share my favorite song (and band) with you…