Suicide still hurts

dadToday is an anniversary I wish I didn’t have to remember.  It has been 3 years since I walked up to my dads door, waited for him to answer, but he never did.  3 years since my sweet husband bravely walked inside to find him.  3 years since he walked outside to tell me the heartbreaking news.  “He’s gone.  He took his life.”

It is still crushing to even think about it all.  To remember the pain of the day and wonder what happened.  Suicide leaves questions that will never be answered.  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I am someone who always looks for answers.  I want to understand everything.  But this one, no matter how much information I seek, I will never fully understand it.

Suicide leaves behind so much.  It leaves pain and what if’s for all of those left here.  It leaves grief and tears.  Sometimes it leaves anger, hurt, or frustration.  3 years later, and although I have done so much healing, there is still healing to be done.  I don’t get anxiety when I drive past the community where he lived any more.  I don’t cry about my dads death every day.  But there are days that the grief just comes out of no where.  Days where I am just sad he isn’t here.

This topic is still something that not everyone is comfortable talking about, but it is one we need to talk about.  I have learned of 2 suicides this week and even though I din’t know either person, I have mourned over them.  My heart is broken for them.  For the pain they were in.  For the hurt they felt.  For the fight they fought.  My heart hurst for the their friends and family as they wrestle with all of the emotions that come with suicide.  My prayers for them are pleas with God to hold them together as they process.

Friends, our country needs support, encouragement and love for those who are hurting.  Depression is real.  Emotional pain is real.  Lets search our hearts and find compassion to see others.  To really see them.  We are all human and we all struggle!  If your struggles don’t look like someone else’s, thank God, then ask Him to help guide you as you reach out to those in your life who you know are hurting.

Be a friend.  Ask questions.  Offer your shoulder to cry on.  Don’t judge.  Just love.

And if you need a friend, let me know.  If you are looking for community to love you through your pain, Celebrate Recovery is the most incredible place to find people who truly love and accept folks just as they are!  I would love to help connect you!

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Call them if you need them.

Other posts on this topic:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

When God Fulfills His Promises

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Living in the wrong season?

blogRunning on empty, burning the candle at both ends……. Ever feel like this describes you?

Early on in my adult life, a good friend told me that there were “seasons” of life.  I remember feeling so relieved to hear this concept.  I  was happy to know that even though I felt as if things would never be different, that seasons come and go.   I have often struggled with wanting to be in a different season then I am in.  A lot of the time I don’t even realize that is what I am doing.  I have had seasons that are short and pass quickly and some that feel as though they last longer then I would like.

Right now I am in over drive.  Over committed, especially on a mental level.  I feel over whelmed and exhausted almost daily.  Why is this?  Why can’t I just shake this?  Why does this cycle seem to repeat itself over and over?  I have been reflecting and trying to figure it out. I find that when I feel like I do right now, it is because I am needing to be really honest with myself (and maybe to others too) about something.  I know that if I am doing the same things over and over and nothing is changing, there is a problem.  Who wants to admit that?  Who wants to evaluate what they are doing wrong?  Not me!  That is not fun, but I have found it is the only way for true growth.

I am well aware that I do “too much”.  Although when I look at my days, I seem to justify my busy time by saying I just do what I have to.  But do I really?  This is where I decided to write down all that I do.  I included every day things like grocery shopping, meal planning, and laundry.  Then I listed things I had committed to such as homeschool, marriage ministry, bible study, leading life group, and then the commitments we had made for the kids, dance, soccer….. I also looked at what I had committed to in my own spiritual journey, Celebrate Recovery, devotions, books.  Writing it all out really helped me to gain perspective on how much I really have on my plate.

I started wondering if I was trying to live in the wrong season?  I mean there is nothing on my list of things that I don’t want to do.  There isn’t anything bad on my list and I really want to do all of it, and probably sometimes even more.  I love being active and busy.  I truly find so much joy in giving and doing for others.  But is it possible that because I am overloaded and unfocused that I am daily missing the blessing of the season I am in?  I am committed to fulfilling dreams, passions, and desires that could wait for another season?  Am I in a season that should be focused on kissing boo-boos, reading stories, building the character of my children, encouraging my husband, and becoming a healthier me?  Have I placed my focus on too many things that the most important ones are suffering in this season?

What would happen if I boldly asked God to reveal to me what He has for me right now.  In this season.  Would I accept it if God said “Be a mother to your children.  Raise them to know and love me.  Care for them the way you always wanted to be cared for.  Be a good wife to your husband and meet his needs and help him to fulfill his dreams.  Continue to grow your life as a follower of me.  Seek Me before you commit to things.  When you want to do good, make sure it is to show the love of Christ and not for mans approval or praise.”  That is truly where I feel like God is calling me…… So what is stopping me now?

Honestly, guilt, fear, and a lack of trust in the Lord.  I feel guilty if the kids don’t get to do everything they want to.  I feel bad if I have to say no to a very worthy cause.  I am sad to disappoint someone by not being there.  I am afraid that if I give up things, I will loose my sense of worth.  I think that if I am not doing visible good things that no one will see me as good.  I try to find my confidence in what others think of me. I feel pressure to keep up with a certain level of busy, or else I am being lazy.  I am too focused on the outside world and not enough on my bible, time with God, and investing in my family.

All of that is hard to say and hard to admit.  But it is truth….. Stepping out of the dark, into the light.  Out of denial, and closer to Jesus……

So now, I am reevaluating priorities.  Looking at my list and praying about everything on it.  Does it mean backing out of some things for now?  Does it mean saying no to things I would like to do?  Will I miss some fun opportunities?  Will someone possibly be upset with me for saying no?  More then likely yes.  But if I truly seek God and His will for this season (and every season to come) I trust that I will be fulfilled despite what I am giving up.  God is good and His plan and timing are perfect.  He doesn’t want us running on empty, exhausted, and overwhelmed.  If I am feeling this way, it means that I am doing something He doesn’t have for me.  We live in a world where there is always something or someone begging for your time and energy.  I am going to choose to enjoy this season I am in and know that there will be a time for other things!

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Making others change?

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What is wrong with people???  I mean really, people just seemed to be imperfect, sheesh, what is their problem?  Why can’t they just do what I see is right and good?  Why are people always hurting others, including myself?  Why doesn’t anyone see ME over here??  Why doesn’t my husband just change?  He admits his faults but then he just keeps on staying the same.  I am always here for everyone and no one is ever here for me………

That may have been my thought process (and don’t get me wrong, I can find myself caught up in that thought process again sometimes).  Admitting how ridiculous I sounded is hard, but its the truth.  I really was constantly frustrated with everyone.  So, again, this is a CR plug, but once I started CR I realized I was in some major denial.  First of all, as badly as I wanted to control everyone else and make others see they needed change, I couldn’t do that and in fact realized how much I really did need change myself.  Secondly, I have crazy high expectations for myself, which in turn make my expectations of everyone else extremely high too.

I am reading a book right now called Marriage Minute by Dave & Ashley Willis.  I read this quote “Don’t focus on improving your marriage.  Focus on improving yourself, serving your spouse and growing daily in your relationship with God and your marriage will start improving on its own.”  Today reading that I smile and nod, because I know it to be so true!  But back a few months ago, I would not have agreed.  I would have rolled my eyes and said “Whatever!  That is dumb, the only way MY marriage will be better is if HE chooses to do things different.”

I finally saw that I was actually causing a lot of problems by trying to “fix” everything. all the time. everyday. every hour.  I would say the same things over and over.  Complain about the same things over and over.  I always thought I was helping, communicating my feelings, telling him what I needed.  This all seemed so healthy.

I did slowly start seeing things that I needed to change about the way I handled issues, but what really changed is that I finally decided that even though it didn’t make sense to me and my very misguided view of things, I was going to just stop being the way I was.  What I had been doing hadn’t worked in the past. Ever.  So, I stopped.  I stopped spewing every thought I had at Joel.  I stopped telling him every.single.time. I thought he was messing up.  I stopped trying to make him do everything MY way.  I stopped being a bitter, over reactive, controlling wife.

I started praying about all of it.  I started praying when I was upset with Joel instead of immediately telling him.  I started journaling my thoughts, sometimes in letter form to Joel, but I never showed him.  I would type it out, then I would pray and ask God to help direct me.  Sometimes it meant I didn’t say anything about it but other times it meant that I would have a discussion with him much later about what had happened.

Guess what happened???  Our marriage started drastically changing.  The more I focused on myself in my recovery, and my relationship with God, the more things started changing.  Suddenly I felt so differently about my husband.  I felt like he was willing to listen to me and I actually saw him start making a lot of really positive change and I wasn’t asking him to do it.  I was so proud of the new turn our lives were taking!

No, things aren’t perfect.  My husband didn’t magically stop making mistakes and neither did I.  Our life isn’t all sunshine and we still have so much to work on, individually and as a couple, but we see positive change!  Recovery is a process.  There are days and weeks where things are right on track.  Then there are days and weeks where we have to stop and refocus.  We like to call it imperfect progress at CR.

I am choosing to be different.  Choosing to turn my will over to God daily.  We all have a choice and no one said it would be easy but I will tell you, it is amazingly rewarding!  I love what God is doing in my life!  God is doing something BIG in my life- does that make me special?  Well of course, but anyone can experience God moving in their life too.  We just have to choose to let him work in our lives, rather then trying to make our lives work for us.

Celebrate Recovery- For ANYONE with hurts, habits, or hangups.  It is a choice you won’t regret!

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Turn on the light

I wanted to do a little bit more explaining about Celebrate Recovery and the journey I have been on since July 2013.

I was stuck.  Stuck in a pattern of unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.  I lived on a roller coaster of emotion.  I was constantly looking for happiness and ever finding it for long.  I had accepted that I had issues years ago.  I knew that I had all this “stuff” I needed to deal with.  I would often tell my husband that maybe I needed to go to counseling.  I held onto a lot of hurt from the past, a childhood that wasn’t perfect and was dysfunctional, an absent father for the majority of my life, along with struggling to let go of mistakes I had made trying to cope with all of that.  I would find myself angry and wanting to blame everyone around me for the way I felt.  If things would have been different then…… If you would act different now……. If we wouldn’t have made that choice.

Struggle.  That is what I felt daily.  I could feel this person I wanted to be always standing in the background.  It was like I knew who God was calling me to be, but I couldn’t figure out why in the world I couldn’t just be her.  I was insecure, never sure of any choice I made and always looking for others approval in my choices because I was not confident in myself alone.  I was always over thinking everything, to the point that I would decide all kinds of things that were not even true!  I would play out situations and decide what people really thought.  I struggle with trusting people to be genuine.  Why would they be nice to me or compliment me?  This thought process lead me to believe that everyone disliked me.  I even did this with my husband.  Nothing he ever said or did was good enough because there was no way I was going to allow myself to believe he really wanted to say and do nice things for me.  I wasn’t sure how to be positive about anything.  I saw EVERYTHING in a negative light.  I struggled to see positive.  After starting CR, I learned I am co-dependent.  Curious what that means?  I am sure it is much more then you think.  Here is a quick link to explain a little more about it.

To sum it up, I was a mess.  When I finally started going to CR, things started to change.  I wanted so badly to get better.  I wanted to be healthy for my family, for myself, and I truly believed that I needed to do this because God was asking me to.  I almost felt an urgency to do it.  The first few months were hard.  I began to realize that although my past and present troubles were very real, that I was making choices every single day.  I was choosing to stay where I was, those people, those situations, they were not making my choices, I was.  It was hard to hear.  It was easier to allow myself to blame all the other stuff.  It was easier to apologize to my husband for the way I behaved, then explain to him why I acted that way, after all he understood that I had issues and loved me any way.  (thank you Joel!) But now, now I am facing a harder truth.  A truth that if I want healing, I have to work for it.  Fight for it.  Choose it.

After about 3 months of going, I really started to see so much change.  It was all gradual, but day by day, I was defeating disfunction, irrational emotions, and turning over my will to God.  I have a sponsor who is so amazing and continues to help me through this process.  She was so great in the beginning to be patient and help me understand all the of steps.  To talk me through each situation as they came up.

I started focusing on myself, and what I needed to do to get my life back.  It is crazy because the more I worked on figuring out my stuff, the more that the other stuff seemed to work out on its own.  When I stopped trying to control and really just relied on God, everything started falling into place.  Being able to be calm and in charge of my reactions was a huge step!  Starting to see positive things all around me was such a joy!  The changes that I see in my marriage are amazing!  Am I a new person?  Yes!  Am I free from all of those “issues”  no, I am not.  I still struggle daily.  It is hard to explain it all.  Most of the time you hear people say they are in recovery from things, you don’t hear them say “I am recovered”  because that is just not the case.  Those struggles become easier to deal with, you learn and grow, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t still struggle sometimes.

CR is like turning on a light in a dark room.  When the light is off, you can’t see anything.  There are obstacles that are in your way and you almost feel helpless trying to navigate around them.  But when you turn the light on, you can see the obstacles clearly.  You know they are there and can see how to move them or get around them safely.  The stuff that is there in the dark, is still there in the light, but now you can safely see it, or in CR terms healthily deal with it.  It is not magic, the light doesn’t change what is there, it just allows you to see if all differently.

I want to encourage anyone who is reading this to decide not to be stuck.  Everyone has hurts, habits, or hangups.  Maybe it is not controlling your entire life, but maybe it is greatly affecting a part of your life.  Maybe you can’t relate to any of the struggles I face, but my prayer is that my transparency will help you to be honest with yourself.  I am so thankful and blessed to have found CR, the community that comes with it, and the healing power of stepping out of denial and turning my will over to Jesus!

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I’ve got to start somewhere

I keep struggling with where to start on all of the things I want to share.  I feel like being fully transparent is something God has asked me to do.  I have decided to start today by just sharing a written version of my short video testimony that was played at Momentum Church 2 weeks ago.  I will continue to share my struggles and go deeper into my story, but it is way to much for one post or even 10!  I love music and this song just keeps speaking to me.  Through all of this, I just pray that all the glory is given to God through me sharing my journey.

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6 months ago……

The alarm goes off, I get out of bed, and I try to decide to be happy, but I am not.  I know that I can’t be happy because nothing will go right.  I know that what I planned to do will not happen.  Something will get in the way.  I wanted to have coffee with my husband but he is running late.  I wanted to start school on time but the kids are not cooperating.  I thought we had plenty of time to leave the house and get where we were going without being late.  I just knew I had 2 sticks of butter for this recipe but I only have 1.

Disappointment……. Not only did I anticipate it, I lost it almost every time things were not going well.  Maybe you can relate?  This caused my mood to be ill almost all the time.  I allowed these negative thoughts to take a hold of my day, I allowed this mind set to suck the joy out of my day.  I would loose it over the smallest things.  I would find myself with uncontrollable emotions over things like my kids not doing things as quickly as I would like, not being able to find a shoe, or my child simply having an accident that I needed to clean up.  I found myself constantly feeling guilty for my behavior towards my husband and my children.

How about relationships?   I continuously over evalutated every conversation I had.  I came up with all kinds of reasons why people disliked me.  I would decide that I was unworthy and unwanted.  Then after a period of feeling very hurt, would come anger.  I was angry because I wanted to be loved and felt no one cared about me, and it just wasn’t fair.  So my relationships suffered.  I did this with everyone.  I couldn’t imagine for a second that someone really cared for me or about me.
I knew I had “issues”.  I had known this for years.  I always thought because my issues weren’t BIG that I could handle them.  That prayer, reading my bible, doing devotionals, and going to church were going to be enough to overcome them.  But I was wrong.  I finally gave in, and decided to go to Celebrate Recovery.  It has been the most eye opening choice I have made.  I have begun the healing process.  A process that has been nothing short of amazing, emotional, difficult, and rewarding.  I see a change in me that I didn’t even know was possible!

I have been able to find peace and hope in trusting Jesus with all of my stuff.  Admitting all my faults, and realizing that although hurts from past played a part in a lot of my unhealthy emotional habits, that ultimately it was up to me to be a healthy person.  It is my choice to surrender and overcome.

I have not overcome every issue I have and I know that it will always be a process, but I have found that when I turn my will over daily, I am a new person! I am starting to see a huge change in my relationships.  I am able to be a more loving, understanding, wife mother, and friend. I also see progress with the way I view myself, which is helping me in so many areas of my life.  I see a huge difference in the way I am able to handle stressful situations.  Before now, I was always allowing every stress in my life to consume me and cause me to become angry, upset, and resentful.  Now I am able to stop and see good, even when things are not perfect!

Today, I can honestly say that I do not have any less stress.  In fact, the past few months our family has faced a lot of unexpected stresses.  I feel as though working through these healing steps have prepared me to respond to these stressful situations in a healthy way, rather then allowing my irrational, unhealthy thoughts and reactions to take over.  These steps have taught me a healthy way to process, heal, and honestly just live life!