Do I deserve healing?

“You deserve to get better.”
“You deserve to find healing.”

In our depression, we often think, “This is how it always will be. Even if it was possible to get better, I am not worth the work that it would take to get there.” I have even had the thought, “I don’t deserve to get better,” as if it would be an injustice for me to be happy.

This is one of the reasons that you cannot get very far in therapy without developing a sense of self-worth. (See last week’s blogpost.) Unless we see ourselves as a project worth working on, where will we find motivation to work on our own personal growth? This is why depression can be such a vicious cycle.

To counter these thoughts of self-hatred, therapists will sometimes say, “You deserve.” I’ve even found myself using that phrase when trying to explain to friends that it is worth it for them to seek out mentorship and/or therapy. How can we convey to you that to seek help is not an injustice or a waist of time?

As a Christian, I’ve realized that this statement, “You deserve to get better” does ring false according to my worldview. We don’t deserve anything just for being alive. We are not entitled, we are not owed anything. And yet, we are still worth it!

Next time I want to say, “You deserve you get better,” I would do better to say, “You are capable of getting better, and it would be good for you to do.”

You ARE capable of getting better. You are capable of steadfast friendships, satisfying relationships, and personal growth. You are capable of living a life full of meaning and joy. Your capacity for greatness is nearly limitless.

And it would be a good thing for you to do. As a creature, you have a responsibility to your creator to be the best creation that you can be. It would be good for you to get better. It would be good for your family. It would be good for your friends and for the world. And it would be good for the glory of God.

Where Secular Therapy Falls Short

I have begun the very first steps of what may be my journey to become a therapist. It will be a long while until that happens, if it happens, but while I wait and work, I listen to a lot of therapy literature and podcasts. I love it. It fascinates me.

I was listening to one of my favorite therapy podcasts “Psychology in Seattle” when a patron wrote in a question that I had wondered for awhile. In summary, she asked,

What proof can you give that all people have value or worth? I can’t figure out why that is the case, but my therapist says that I can’t get any further in therapy until I accept and believe that every human has value just for being.

On the podcast, Bob answered, again in summary,

Imagine that your son does something that makes you angry, your little toddler. Is he worth less to you? Do you love him less? Of course not. He is your son. What about when he grows up and does something really bad, like stealing your car and wrecking it? Is he worth less to you? Do you love him less? Of course not. We all have to accept that we are sons and daughters to someone, friends and siblings. We can’t lose our value by what we do and do not do.”

I see what Bob was saying, and I agree with some of it, but his illustration does imply that we only have value based on our relationships with others, not inheirent in ourselves. And he hasn’t explained what gives us value, he has only tried to prove that it is there.

I have a worldview that lays the foundation that all therapists are building off of. I’m sure there are other religions that also attribute value to humans and I’m sure that even with or without religion, people can get very far in their growth without needing to prove this point to themselves. But having grown up in the Christian tradition, I can’t help but feel that this is truth, that we are made in the image of God, specifically designed and purposed by him.

We can conceptualize truth as boring, lifeless facts, but another way to conceptulize truth is by understanding that truth ought to propel us forward and open up more truth to us, in the same way that when you learn to ride a bike, your world opens up and many more opportunities are now available. This is the truth that I believe sets a firm foundation upon which we can kick off.

You, dear reader, were designed, fearfully and wonderfully, and given a purpose in which you can find great meaning. Created in the imagine of the divine God, we have a shadow of his divinity, not based on anything that we have done or can do. As one of his purposed creation, you have value that is linked to him.

Even more than that. If you acknowledge that value is determined by the price that someone will pay for you, (a diamond is valued by the maximum price that someone will pay for it), Jesus Christ paid with his life to be reconciled with you. What is the price of the life of God? There is no way to even comprehend the value of God! And he was willing to suffer and die just to have a reconciled relationship with his creation.

Of what value are you now?

A Very Rushed Post, featuring a story about my Niece

It’s been an exactly a year since I posted! Oh my goodness. I can’t let this go on. So here I am typing up a little blog post just so that it won’t be “over a year since I’ve posted.” That’s such a terrible reason, and I have almost NO time to type this either.

What’s to report? God is good! So good! All the time! Isn’t it incredible how He can be so good to us and we can still doubt Him when the going gets rough? Our church conference is this weekend, starting tomorrow, and the topic is “Grace through Suffering.” I know it will be good. And since band practice last night, which meant going over some of the songs we’ll be singing, now I REALLY know it’s gonna be good! The songs that have been chosen (I even got to choose one, yay) are so good!

God is very good to us. Sometimes His goodness is shown through his providence. Sometimes His goodness is shown through His discipline. One of the songs we’re going to sing this weekend has a line that says, “Why should I complain or want or distress, temptation or pain? He told me no less.” It makes me think of Job who said, “Should we receive good from the Lord and not receive evil?” If we weren’t so head-smart, we’d be able to see more clearly the goodness of our God in the good times, so that we could trust Him more fully in the evil times.

One time when I was babysitting my niece and nephew I had to swat my niece’s hand. Mariposa was about a year and a half old, and she is generally a very sweet child who wants to please, but she started testing her boundaries just a little. I told her twice not to touch something, and the third time she reached for it, I took her hand and popped it. It probably scared her more than anything. I’m not sure what I was expecting. I guess I expected Mari to get angry and reach for the item again, or I at least expected her to run away. If I had been on the receiving end of that hand-swat, I’m pretty sure I would have been angry, insulted, and rebellious. If I wasn’t angry, I’d be scared and try to get as far away as I could. Instead she burst into tears and fell into my arms. Without hesitation.

I was pretty confuzzled. I had just told her not to get something she wanted, and when she had insisted on getting it, I gave her pain. So why did she run right to me? How did she know I still love her? Why did she think (and rightly so) that she could come to me for comfort, right after I had inflicted pain?

Maybe because in her simple but trusting mind, she’s a lot smarter than the rest of us stupid blockheads!

I don’t have time right now to expound on everything this means to me or just what an impact her trustfulness in me made. I’ll just tell you now that I do love her. She knew I loved her. And after she was finished crying, she continued to cling to me and draw cuddles from me until it was time to go, when she started crying again and broke my auntie heart. I cherish that memory of her. We truly need to have faith more like that of a child.

Until Next Year! (haha, just kidding, I think) (Edit: I wasn’t.)

Cheers!
Ellie

It’s enough to know the next step

“Publish Blog Post” says Google Calendar. How can I publish what I haven’t written? I’m pretty sure I deleted the last reminder though and I don’t want to skip over this one, so as I brush poptart crumbs from my keyboard, here’s your latest installment of “How long will it take for Ellie to realize the obvious?”

I take very careful mental notes of everything new, whether new people, new ideas, or new experiences. Depending on how much coffee I had that day, I can usually recall with decent clarity the day I first met someone, thought of something, or tried something. I like to live in that moment and think, “One day this will be a memory.” I’ll store up that feeling and later recall just how it felt, just what I thought, and what came out of it.

It’s a good hobby! I think it comes so naturally to me because I always expect something wonderful to come out of everything. Being on the young side, I realize that small things that happen now could lead to huge changes for the rest of my life. People I meet, places I go, they could one day mean the world to me.

But I’ve found myself lately trying to figure out exactly who that is and where that is. I want to know! I want to know exactly where God is leading me, and I want to pay special attention so one day I can think, “I remember how it all started, and how it felt.” Several times, many times, I’ve thought, “This. This is where God is leading me,” but just as often those doors have been closed, those ideas have failed, or sometimes I just decided it wasn’t for me after all.

So you can imagine the tears, the disappointment, the discouragement, when I am called just to wait and pray. I’ve been tempted to think and feel that there must not be a plan for my life at all. I think I’ve forgotten that waiting and praying isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it can be very, very good.

It also came as an epiphany (although it should have been obvious) that I don’t need see the entire plan before I take the first step. I have so many wonderful adults in my life! As I think of all the conversations I’ve had and all the advice and prayer I’ve received just in the past few weeks, I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude! Maybe I should write a blog post about seeking advice from godly adults. But for now let me paraphrase one of the many helpful people I talked to, “If you believe you want to go to college, than I’d say go ahead and start. You might get a couple semesters in and realize it’s not what you should be doing, or you might get a degree under your belt and decide to go farther. Be in such a relationship with God and be so receptive to the Holy Spirit that you know, not the whole plan, but the next step to take.”

We were talking about college, but the principle applies to the rest of my life too. I can just forget about trying to lay out the whole map of my life. If I can just be so in tune with God that I know the next step, even if the next step is waiting, His plans will come to pass. And I know His plans are wonderful!

With love,
Ellie

A Quick Clarification of Feelings and Gut-reactions

I feel like I need to explain something about myself, because I’ve only recently begun to realize that people don’t think the same way I do. Surprise! Okay, I’m kind of kidding, because I do know that people think differently, but I didn’t realize they didn’t understand my way of thinking, and at the risk of sounding self-centered, I want to explain.

If you’ve known me for awhile or if we’ve had extended one-on-one conversations, you probably know some of my weaknesses. You have probably seen at least part of my struggles, and you probably know some of the doubts I wrestle with. That’s because I usually give out that information without hesitation, especially if you have showed a bit of your own vulnerability to me. But I realize some people might be confused as to why I so readily share those things. Here’s why–because I am encouraged when others share their own vulnerability, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This will sound mean for a moment, but when I hear that others are struggling with the same things I do or in the same ways I struggle, my first thoughts are thoughts of encouragement (to myself, I mean.) I think things like, “I’m not alone.” “Other’s have been here too.” “This problem is defeat-able.” “We can do this together.” That is why when someone shows a piece of their heart to me, my gut reaction is to show a piece of my heart to them, and show the same struggle in my own life. I will say (or at least think) things like, “Yes, I’ve struggled along those lines.” “That happened to me too at this time and that time.” “I deal with this too.”

What I’m realizing is that this doesn’t always come across as an encouragement. It either comes across as 1) trying to one-up their pain with my own pain or 2) giving them an excuse not to deal with it. That’s not it at all! My pain is no more important than your own, and even though some trials seem so much larger than others, I know that while you’re in them–they are all painful! What might be a small deal for one person, is huge for another, so to each his own. Also, if you are dealing with sin, there is no excuse to let it sit and fester. I only want to be there to help you.

Before I close, I do also acknowledge that my feelings above are not always the case. Sometimes I am in a bout of self-pity, I am too self-centered, and I talk before I listen. That aside, I only want to understand and be understood.

I suppose all I would like to say is that I really do care, I want to fight with you, and I’m sorry if I’ve ever hurt you by talking about myself instead of letting you talk about yourself.

Update on Life, April Edition

April hasn’t been a terribly busy month in the way of events, but it has been in the way of spiritual battles.

April was Camp Nanowrimo month, but sadly, I didn’t compete for more than a few days before I felt it best to quit Nanowrimo this time. And honestly, I feel like I’ve conquered an idol. When November comes, I’ll do it with spirit and gusto, but not with all my heart, nor all my time. 🙂

God has been dealing with me in the way of pet sins, small ones that we think don’t matter but have lasted a long time. Things like attitude adjustment and habit breaking. Sometimes breaking away from those sins can be very painful. I hold on to them and grow more and more depressed, knowing that I will only grow more so, but still stomping my foot like a two-year-old, unwilling to admit that I’m wrong. I still don’t understand how I can be so lenient about some things, and so stubborn about my own comfort. It is painful, but at the end of each struggle is grace and peace.

A funny thing happened after I wrote those two blog posts, Our Fallen World and In the World but Not of the World. I wrote those in perfect conscience, but afterward realized that I wasn’t applying a lot of the truths I had just written about. God has been placing messages in my life to show me where I am holding on the world and where I need to let go.

I’ve been reminded of God’s goodness through some passages of scripture. Psalm 103, being one. Also Psalm 73, Job 42:1-6, Daniel 2:17-23, and Acts 2. (I also heard and have been meditating on this sermon by one of our pastors.)

I recently fell upon an old hymn that not many know, but you’ve got to love.

Matthew Smith has rewritten the melody, which I like more than the original. Go memorize the song. It’s short, simple, and so true!

I’ve also noticed that my blog seems to have become a big love proponent. Every post seems to have the same central message, “Love.” I want some diversity as much as any of you, but I’ve had a recent insight on love that I want to share. It’s good! And it’s short.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is self.

I have had that in mind recently. If only we could love each other perfectly! If we could put aside our own interests to love each other with pure and unhindered love, then our joy in Christ could be full, and we could truly change this world. As for me, I am very self-centered instead of being God centered. I enjoy my own comfort and pleasure too much, but with God’s grace I hope I am getting better.

So that’s inward life right now, and God is always faithful.

The Mexico Mission Trip is coming together!
Last time Psalm 67 had a team there, they visited several Christian Rehab centers. They heard amazing testimonies from the people down there, ex-cartel members and lifelong drug addicts who had come to these centers and heard the gospel. Now they want to be pastors! However they have little resources for studying the Bible, and when our team leader suggested the idea of building a theological library for them, they had an enthusiastic response, even including tears. Several rehab centers asked if we could help put together libraries for them. So that’s what we will be doing on this trip! As far as our funds let us, we will be building shelves with the people there, and giving them books to help them study the Bible. Right now we are raising funds. If you feel led to give, you can visit the blog and donate. Or you can mail:

Psalm 67 Missions Network
3671 Telegraph Rd
Arnold, MO 63010

I’m very excited about the team I’ll be going with. Please pray for them by name:
Sarah and Billy Jackson
Gennie Jackson
Myself
Aaron Sutton
Russ Sanders
Mark Akins
Savannah Weber
Barbara Fudge
John Parker

I’m excited about the church we’ll be partnering with and the ministry we’ll be doing! It’s hard to believe the trip is less than a month away.

As far as reading goes, I have quite a few that I’ve been picking up every day to read.

  • Pentecost Today, a Biblical understanding of revival
  • The Universe Nextdoor, a basic worldview catalog
  • Writing Great Books for Young Adults, not a book for young adults, a book for writing books for young adults. I’ve read it before. Nothing special, I just had an inkling to review it.
  • The Thief, I’ve read it for the fourth or fifth time, and now I’m trying to find out how Megan Whalen Turner writes books so well. I have learned some things, but I also learned that she’s married to a professor. No way! No wonder….
  • The Dangerous Duty of Delight, a wonderful little book, derived from the book “Desiring God,” by John Piper
  • The Brotherband Chronicles, book 2, which is just pleasure reading. I finished all of the Ranger’s Apprentice and moved on the the Brotherband series, which I like more.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, and it’s been lovely. Read it if you haven’t.

I’ve umpired my first game of the season! And compared to the other two games that went on that evening, mine was a piece of cake. I think this season will be much better than last. ;D (Btw, I did end up writing a poem for my test, but it wasn’t nearly as cool because it had real references and made sense.)

And that’s just about my month summed up. I’m sure I’ve left out something, but this post is already too long.

So on to May!

May looks like a lot of fun! 😉 Just you wait.
Ellie

 

Edit: I know what I forgot to mention! Grace Camp Meeting at the beginning of the month! I might make a separate post to show a few pictures and share some notes. But if you want to listen to the sermons, go here. They’re all good!

Beginning Writer and some team work

First, by way of introduction….

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This is Jimmy!!!!

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Alright, so now that you know Jimmy, I can tell you he’s a new writer! He is writing me a lovely story about a “dee” (bee). Today he was super excited to do it–give me a story to edit and revise for him.

He is smart you know! Today he told us, “Lighting bugs must eat the sun.” When I told him it was too cute he said, “I mean, they sit out in the sun so they can glow at night. That’s like their food.” That’s why he should be a writer. I told him so and that is where this started, but obviously he’s had this idea of the bee in his head for quite awhile, since he learned about them in school.

So here’s his story.

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Translation: “Once there was a bee, but he didn’t have wings or a pattern. He was a little worm shape. One day he woke up. He was shaped like a bee, but he did not have a pattern like a bee, so he ate furious but they….”(I’ve only received one page. He’s still working on the second.
After he proudly gave me his work–I revised it. Here’s the second draft:
“Once upon a time there was a bee, well, he was not really a bee, not to himself. To himself he saw only a little worm shape, and honestly, he really was just a little worm. No wings, no stripes.
He waited quite awhile, depressed because he never thought he would be a bee. Not now, not ever. But the day came when he found that his head was shaped very finely, and his body as well. But he was not a bee, and he knew it, because he had no stripes, no pattern.
He went on with his life, admiring his head and eyes, but not doing much else–except eat honey of course; the real bees above poured it down on his head constantly….”
Watch out Washington! Look out Times Square! Here we come to rock the nation!
Happy Writing!
Electric Bubbles