Tag Archives: Friends

Sleep on Now- The Loneliness of Depression

I took a week off of work and stayed with my sister. Depression had gripped me so tightly that I could not breathe. I just wanted the pain to be over. It was good to have this time off, but I didn’t get better. In fact, I might have just realized how bad it really is.

This depression has been so thick, so debilitating, so all-consuming that I have related to how Job felt and how Christ must have felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. I don’t really know what they went through. I have no idea. But I believe it took them to their limits, and this depression has taken me to mine.

During this difficult time, I could feel my friends becoming less able to be there for me. I knew I was sliding into a dark place that no one could really understand. But I hoped that I could still feel them on the other side of the darkness. I knew they couldn’t be with me, but I hoped I wouldn’t feel like they left me.

It makes me think of Christ in the Garden of Gethsamane. He asked his closest friends to stay with him, to pray with him. He told them that his soul was “exceeding sorrowful even unto death.” They knew he wasn’t okay, but they fell asleep anyway. And when he wanted them to be there for him, when he went back to see if they were still there, they were asleep. And in the agony of loneliness and pain, he asked, “could ye not watch with me one hour?” I understand that question. I understand that loneliness, but I probably would have slept too…

The human body can only do so much. I think of what Christ said, “The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” Humans can only do so much. No matter how bad your friend is hurting, sometimes you physically cannot be there for them. That doesn’t say anything about how much you love them. It just is evidence of our human weakness. And like Christ, I have come to understand that sometimes my friends just aren’t capable of being there for me in my greatest struggles.

I don’t think I know what Christ went through. He suffered pain and emotional anguish that I cannot even imagine. But I do know that because of that, he understands. He understands when my friends can’t be there for me. He understands my begging for any other way. He understands the agony and pleading for the end of the pain. And because he understands, I am not alone. God is always just a prayer away.

So I too can say to my friends, “sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough.”

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Worth Saving

I have a best friend who saved my life. Not literally, and yet very literally. She didn’t push me out of the way of an oncoming car or anything like that, but she saved me from giving up the life I have.

I love my best friend and I love what she did for me. But only recently have I realized that it wasn’t really her that saved me.

She didn’t save me. But she did make me realize that I was worth saving. She didn’t give me worth, but made me realize that I could be of worth. She didn’t make me a better person, but she did make me want to become a better person. It wasn’t what she did for me that changed me, it was her influence changing my thoughts that changed me.

She helped me realize that I was worth saving. She helped me understand that I was worth being of worth. She gave me a reason to save myself. She gave me a reason to try for something better. Because she saw the potential in me that I couldn’t see in myself.

She didn’t save me. But she gave me a reason to be saved. And I am so grateful for that.

Giving Thanks and Helping Others

Recently I got a message from someone I talked to in an online support group a few years ago. They thanked me for talking to them and helping them and told me that they’re doing better now and helping others. It brought tears to my eyes reading her message to me and reminded me of the story of the 10 lepers.

During my second year of college I went through some health issues, both mental and physical, that kept me at home and in bed most of the time. I didn’t feel like I could do much of anything so I was on the computer a lot. I ended up joining a lot of different support groups online. I started out with autism groups and telling my story there. It gave so much hope to people that I joined more and more groups. Eventually I ended up joining groups called “To Write Love on Her Arms” or TWLOHA. If you haven’t heard of TWLOHA, I encourage you to check out their mission statement here.

Anyway, I talked to hundreds of people through these support groups. Not all of them talked to me back and most of my interactions with people were limited to a single conversation. I knew I was helping people and possibly saving lives, but I couldn’t continue doing the same thing when I recovered because I just didn’t have the time anymore.

I have often thought about that time in my life and all the people I talked to and have wondered how much of a difference I really made. So it was nice to get that message and to know that someone noticed the change in themselves and realized that I was a part of that.

As I was thinking about all of this, I thought about Christ and the one leper that went back to thank Him after He healed 10 lepers. Christ says, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” I know how much it meant to me to know that someone recognized that I helped them and thanked me for it. I think it would mean a lot to Christ for us to thank Him for helping us and healing us. God definitely wants us to go out into the world and help others like He has helped us, but to turn back and give thanks is what sets us apart from the others that have been helped.

Christmas is a time to give and help others, but I think Thanksgiving comes before Christmas because we should give thanks for the help we’ve gotten before we go out to help others. I know that I can definitely give thanks more often and I will try harder to recognize Christmas as a time to give, but also as a time to give thanks.

“Lead thou me on”

One of my favorite hymns is “Lead Kindly Light” by John Henry Newman. And one of my favorite lines in that hymn is

“I loved to choose and see my path; but now, Lead thou me on.” 

I love this line so much because I’ve lived it. My journey to get to know God and become His friend hasn’t been an easy one. I haven’t always wanted to follow God’s plan for me. I loved to choose my own way and plan my path in life, but because God saw something greater in me, that has changed. 

Today we had a lesson in church about life’s plan B’s. Most people have a plan for how they want their life to turn out and what they want to happen, but sometimes life changes that plan. Sometimes our plan A changes to plan B because of life circumstances. How we choose to respond to life’s plan B determines how the rest of our life ends up. 

This is where the song comes in.

In my life, I loved thinking that I was in control and that everything would go how I planned it, but that didn’t really happen. Life happens and our plans change. And after having so much thrown at me and going through so much pain and heartache and despair, I finally put my life in God’s hands and said “Lead thou me on.”

“I loved to choose and see my path; but now, Lead thou me on.”

Now I still set my plans, but I am always open to changes to those plans. At the moment, I am in the midst of what could be a very big change in my plans for the rest of my life. I don’t know yet if it will happen or not, but if it does my plans will definitely need to be rewritten.

But the amazing thing is that I am at peace. No matter what happens, I will be okay because I have stopped trusting in my own plans and have put my life in God’s hands. 

It’s not always easy. Sometimes I wonder why God allows me to go through such hard things. But so far, I have never had a trial that I haven’t been grateful for. I wasn’t always grateful at the time, but I’m grateful now.

God sees us as eternal beings. He isn’t just looking at the next few years or even the rest of our lives. He is looking at forever. And with forever in mind, our comfort now doesn’t really matter as much as what we can become. 

So with that in mind, “lead thou me on.”

“Take my yoke upon you”

A yoke is what binds two animals together and allows them to work side by side to pull a load that they wouldn’t be able to pull separately.

I see the atonement of Jesus Christ as the yoke that allows him to work beside us. He has taken our sins, sorrows, and problems upon himself that he may share our burden and in turn lift our souls.

When he says my yoke is easy, I take that to mean that taking his yoke upon us is easy. All we have to do is say that we want his help and he comes and walks beside us without a second thought.

He also says “my burden is light”. This can be interpreted in many different ways. I interpreted it to mean that he has already borne his burden, so now it is light. He went through unbearable trials alone so that all of our burdens would seem light in comparison. His lonely struggle made him strong enough to help us through anything we may go through, and understanding enough that he knows exactly how much we can bear and when to step in and help and when to allow us to keep working.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest to your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:28-30

For those of you who aren’t religious (as well as those who are), this can also be applied to friendships. I’ve always said that I’m grateful for my trials because not only have they made me stronger, but they’ve also allowed me to be able to understand other people’s struggles and help them.

I think friendship is the “yoke” that allows us to pull together, to help each other through this life. Sometimes we have loads that we can’t bear alone, but together we can get through more than we can alone. Our burdens can become light as we share with one another our strengths. Not by sucking up other people’s strength and giving nothing back because that just leaves a bunch of broken people, but by sharing, trusting and mutually helping one another to bear burdens that alone would be overwhelming.

By Cgoodwin (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I originally posted this as a note on my Facebook page in 2011 and decided to re-post it here with a few edits.