Friday, February 19, 2010

The Answer

I've realized something: music is a medium by which I feel closest to God. I spent my morning off scouring YouTube for videos of songs I love. The video above is called "The Answer" by Shane Barnard & Shane Everett. And I'm going to go out on a limb to say that this song has probably had the most impact on my life than any other song. Gasp! I know!

In 2002 I went through a debilitating clinical depression. It had probably been brewing for almost a year before and I certainly handled it in ways that only exacerbated my symptoms. I had no idea what was happening to me partly because I'm a performance-driven person and partly because I had never experienced anything like it before. As the symptoms mounted, I even decided on a date for my suicide, worked out a plan.* If you've been through a depression you know what happened to me: exhaustion, insurmountable self-loathing, loss of interest in work and friends, crying jags, loneliness and unending emptiness. It was like God went and hid behind the clouds.

Music would sometimes make the clouds part. I could sense God in those moments and the reprieve from the crushing sorrow was refreshing. This song was probably played more by me in the summer of '02 than I can ever recall. Because I was in full-time youth ministry during that time, depression felt like I was marked for ruin. It was while I was on a mission trip to the mountains of Venezuela that I discovered this song on the album "Psalms". I would listen to "The Answer" over and over as a means of separating myself from the idea that I had become anathema.

"I have found the answer is to love You and be loved by You alone. All right.
You crucified me and the world to me
And I will only boast in You. All right."

That was all I had.

Katy, you'll remember this: our K-Life group had a golf tournament during that summer and because I was so completely physically & mentally exhausted, I spent the entire time worrying that people could see through me and that they were discussing my failures and shortcomings every time I turned my back. The paranoia was awful. But I made it through the day, fake smile on my face and my body feeling like it would collapse. As soon as I got in my car, I immediately turned on this song and I can remember sensing that the Lord was truly smiling down on me. That He was there, in my car, that He loved me, that He was carrying me. I wept and wept and played this song on repeat while I drove home.

The truth became clear much later (after therapy and a year of working the 12 Steps): I was never meant to be "good enough" for youth ministry. I was never meant to boast in myself or fill up on myself. The Answer was that I've been crucified in Christ (Gal. 2:20) and I have nothing to boast in but Him (Eph. 2:9). Who knew the pathway out of depression was that simple?

ANYWAY: that was a LOT of history to tell you that God has used music in my life to rescue me from depression, to draw me to His side, to give me moments of joy, to help me express myself, to make sense of Scripture...the list goes on. Are you like me? Or do you have other mediums by which you feel near to the side of God?

Go here to find out how you experience closeness to God.

Quiz from Sacred Pathway by Gary Thomas.

*If you are experiencing symptoms like these and think you might be suffering from depression, you can go here to find a Christian counselor near you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Angel

The snow is beautiful but my poor child looks like a vagrant: Christmas jammies, toggle coat, oversized pastel mittens 'n stocking cap and feaux Uggs that won't stay zipped. Everyone loves a hot mess.

Thoughts from the Tundra

It's snowing lovely big, fat flakes right now and Lil' Bit is taking an early nap. Ahhh. Just finished the coffee pot and wish I had some profound thoughts to spatter here but, alas, I got nothin'.

So I'll share a random memory.

Growing up with my younger brother was often a lesson in patience when it came to the dinner table. Josh was the quintessential picky eater in our family. He often turned his nose up at the most simple of meals. I remember (fondly?) the night when my dad warned him that if he didn't finish the rest of his hot dog, by God he was gonna get a spanking. Josh sat for hours with that 'dog stuck in his chaw, after the plates had been cleared, the table wiped down...and eventually in the dark when we all simply left the room. Kid had an iron will.

Anyway, as he got older Josh discovered barbecue sauce. But by "discovered" I mean that it became like his mealtime blankie, something that was required for him to hold a fork in hand. It was often my job to set the table for meals and I frickin' hated when my Mom would ask, a bit anxiously, "did you remember the barbecue sauce?"

As a Southerner, it's a requirement for you to be a fan of barbecue. But after years and years of smelling that crap doused over all kinds of food - eggs, sandwiches, pork chops, tacos - I got to the place where just the slightest whiff of barbecue sauce could turn my stomach. Even long after I had moved away and lived on my own, I still had a bad reaction. Once at Kanakuk, someone saw me turn my nose up at the mention of BBQ and asked, "girl, what kinda person hates barbecue? You must hate kissin', too!"*

You guys have any bad memories associated with certain foods?

*no, indeed kissing is still on my list of favorites.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snapshots from Haiti

My friend Missy has spent this past week in Haiti with a group called Visiting Orphans. She is staying in an orphanage far outside of Port au Prince where many other orphans are being transferred to for safety. Many of the kids were made orphans by the earthquake.

Anyway, Missy has been blogging about the trip and this post tells a few short stories via some photos. (Missy, were these all done on your iPhone?)

Check it out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On Managing Anxiety

Eden says it better than I can today.

For what it's worth, I believe that managing your breath has quite a bit to do with overcoming anxiety. A wise man, Mr. Bill Orender, taught me about deep breathing exercises about 6 years ago when I was suffering from panic attacks. I bet you don't realize how shallow you are breathing all day long, as you drive around town, running late from errand to errand and cranking in the caffeine to keep your system hoppin'.

I'm also a firm believer in yoga. It's not a religion for me - it's a workout in detaching from the physical pain of my body and the emotional pain trapped in my breath and my mind.*

*someone's gonna read this and go, "oh brother, it all started when she began reading those awful Harry Potter books! Pagan!"