The Garden of Proof

Springtime makes it difficult to feel negative about earth and humanity, at least for me.

We live in a world where flowers grow on trees and in the cracks of cement sidewalks and somehow I am supposed to believe that our world is somehow flawed? It’s hard to focus on “evil” when all you can see is the triumph of beauty over decay. It is true that humankind is determined to destroy all of this beauty, for gain and wealth and progress, and it’s good to remember that although nature and the earth can flourish without humans, we cannot progress without it.

God, as our creator envisioned a beautiful world for us, and made humans in his own image. It’s silly to believe that He didn’t design us (and our world) for good things. Even though we, in our own strength, our flawed and imperfect, that doesn’t mean we were designed to be evil or mean. We were created to be beautiful and to love and that’s what I see when I spend time in the garden. Dirt, dusty walkways, and fresh blooms growing towards the sunlight.

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Not searching for a soul mate

People always talk about searching for a soul mate, but I don’t think you can really. He or she just has to be there. If you search, you put conditions on what you’re looking for – you go to places where he or she could be – then you look for people who fit the the qualities on your internal check list. You ultimately decide on the one who most closely resembles your soul mate within that pool. I am not saying this approach is never successful. I am suggesting it allows many people to settle down with the best “of the worst”, or the best of that particular group. There is a degree of compatibility and a mutual understanding that it’s the right time to step into that phase of your life, then three kids later, you have a life together. Maybe that’s not so wrong. In reality, the human race definitely would not have survived otherwise. But it’s not just that. That process isn’t less reliable or faulty necessarily.

All I’m saying is, I’ve never been able to do that and not even by any choice of my own. I’ve tried and failed, and ultimately feel like garbage and a terrible human being and like surely I have malfunctioned. My internal warning instinct goes off – like a skunk emitting spray – there is no helping it – it is a defence against predators – or maybe I’m the predator – out to rip apart an unsuspecting victim as an innate natural ritual. I’m exaggerating, A LOT. I probably just haven’t liked anyone enough or the right way.  I have a really tough time with the idea that someone who is a complete stranger becomes your family. You rely on that person entirely and trust them entirely, and if I’m ever going to do that, it’s not because the person meets certain adjectives on a list. In fact, I don’t know how I’m ever going to do that. Maybe I won’t.

The point is, there isn’t a formula. You can say “try online dating” or “travel” or “be more open-minded”, “take risks” and although that may widen the prospects – it will no more guarantee that that one person will finally find the way into my heart before I turn wild on him. I have to trust in something greater than myself for this. I have to have a little faith (and confession, 50% of the time, I don’t).

Depression

depressionDepression isn’t something that’s easy to understand, unless you’ve been there. It’s sadness, for sure, but it’s long and drawn out, and so much blacker. You cannot feel love. People can say kind things to you, show their support, and it might help a little, but mostly it just gets sucked into the void of feeling alone and unloved. It’s like a wall turns all their love thoughts into negative arrows, and those stick with you and the love is lost. Everything feels like a chore. You know going out somewhere would be beneficial, but when you try to go you feel sick and too tired. In fact, you’re always too tired. Sleep is your friend – you get a reprieve from the darkness – and you really can’t do much else anyway. Sometimes you believe entirely that the world would be better off without you in it, you can see their smiling faces in this imagined future much clearer than you can see that in a future where you exist. You have no hope. Hopelessness was the strongest feeling I ever had. Some days, I could grasp a bit of hope, or try to freeze out all feelings period, but the days I couldn’t stop crying, those were the hopeless days. The worst days. All the advice columns tell you to read inspiring and uplifting things. I would read my Bible and the things that use to give me encouragement just couldn’t penetrate into my soul. Then you feel more discouraged because nothing helps you feel better. There were other moments when I would just phase out, even at work. I could hold on to my own thoughts long enough to do the job. Other times, my thoughts were so scattered I couldn’t grasp any of them long enough to get anything done. I couldn’t make a decision at all. Circumstances made my choices for me. When I finally got clear of the worst of it, I felt like I had lost more than ten years of my life. I’m writing this now, so maybe, you feel less alone; so maybe someone who loves you will understand your behaviour a little better. This blog is dedicated to my journey to re-gain my life. I hope something you see here is helpful in even the smallest way.

A few statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association:

  1. Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world.
  2. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people from adolescence to middle age.
  3. 20% of Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives, (that’s 1 in 5 Canadians!)
  4. Women typically have a higher rate of depression than men, but men have a higher rate of death by suicide.
  5. Other useful sites: Mental Health HelplinePublic Health Agency of CanadaDefeat Depression campaign.

If you’re feeling like the sadness is out of control, or you’re contemplating suicide, call 1-866-531-2600 or someone you trust. Don’t do anything until you call. 

6

Fear and Faith

I have been afraid of a lot of things.

If you’re not a “religious” person this post isn’t going to make a lot of sense to you. Here’s your disclaimer, but I am, and this is on my mind.

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The other night at Bible Study, my cousin reminded the room that we don’t get our righteousness from any action of our own. We can’t be righteous no matter how “good” we are, because we’re human, and we’re definitely going to mess up at some point. If we could, we wouldn’t need Jesus. Our righteousness comes from His death on the cross (Romans 3:22). More than that, you accept that righteousness BY FAITH.

The next morning I work up and randomly opened to Romans 5 and then Romans 4. Abraham’s FAITH was credited to him as righteousness. His wife was barren, but he wanted a son so badly, he just clung to his faith in God despite all the factors. That’s faith and it counted as righteousness. When I believe in God’s power, it is in my spiritual bank account as righteousness! All the times when you want to beat yourself up for your failures, forgive yourself, ask forgiveness, and hold on to the righteousness. This is not an excuse to behave badly. It is however, liberating for a person who is constantly punishing him or herself for every bad choice and wrong decision. I whisper to myself “I AM RIGHTEOUS!” because I AM! That is a pretty powerful revelation if you can grasp it and all it takes is faith.

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So how does all of this relate to being afraid all the time?

I found this scripture in Psalms 55:22.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fail.”

I never even underlined the part about the righteous, because I wanted to not focus on it. I could barely maintain righteousness; casting my cares on God was a big enough task on it’s own.

But then I realized, I AM RIGHTEOUS! Well, not me alone, but Jesus giving me his righteous. So LOOK!!!! God won’t ever let me fail because I AM RIGHTEOUS! I’m not saying I’m suddenly fearless but I have to say, I get a lot of peace from that bit of insight. I can do this life. I can face all the people, career choices, money, health, life issues because I cannot fail.

Think about that for a while.

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Photo by Joe Wiseman.