Time to Heal

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When I started this project 9 months ago, I promised to be truthful and real, no matter how it may look. I didn’t want to sugar coat my life or make it something it wasn’t because this project was to be about realness, about being broken and finding Jesus in those moments when your low seems like it can’t get lower. It’s also about the good moments, the love and joy and the healing and happiness. It’s about life, the good and the bad and the tough and the easy. I never want it to deviate away from those principals.

With that said, I have struggled with depression most of my adult life. Sometimes, it hides in the inner corners of myself, and I push through with smiles and laughter and it doesn’t seep into my daily life. Then, there are those times where seemingly out of nowhere it grasps me and drags me down, confining me to the comfort of my billowy blankets, unable to face the world. When the latter time start to outweigh the better times, I know it is starting to be a problem.

That time is now.

In deciding to open up about my depression on here, I am doing something that many people don’t like to do, myself whole-hearty included.

I am admitting that there is a weakness in me, a flaw, that I am no quite sure how to handle.

I am admitting, to the friends, family and readers that I don’t have it all together. That, is a very hard thing to do. But, then again, it isn’t much harder than navigating the world of depression itself.

There are people out there that believe depression isn’t real, that it is or isn’t cured by medicine, that it’s lazy, that it’s a matter of “get over it”, that it is selfish, that it is an excuse .. that it’s this or that.

I am here to tell you my personal story, and only that. I know depression robs me of moments with my family and loved ones. It steals my joy. It takes the things that I hold dear and makes them undesirable. It takes the core of who I am and leaves me lost and lonely, even amongst people who desperately want to pull me out of it. I know depression is real, that I fight it daily, and that there is no one in this world that wants rid the sadness inside of me more than I do.

My husband and I made the move from Mississippi to Maryland to live closer to family and pursue our dream of being full-time missionaries. That is still our dream. Right now, my sweet husband is allowing me time to heal myself, before we move onto the next phrase of trying to help and heal others.

This season, as I am calling it, in my life is going to be about me. Of finally taking my health in my own hands, and doing what I need to do to heal. My 20’s have been plagued with these bumps and bruises of pains and hurts that I have gathered along the road of life. I’ve tried to heal them with time alone, hide them away and bury them, but they always come back, bigger and stronger.

Now, I have to face them.

I’m telling you this now, because that’s my job as Editor and Writer of this project. I am telling you this now because there are dark spots in our lives sometimes, and we don’t have to hide them, not from God, not from our loved ones, and not from anyone. I am telling you this so that you know, whatever you are dealing with, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel pain, to crumble sometimes, to not stand strong.

It’s okay to take time to heal.

I thank you all for your kindness, your thoughts and mostly, your prayers during this time,

Jenny

Photo Credit by Flickr Creative Commons Vinni123

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Why I won’t go Home

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I was born and raised in the great city of Pittsburgh, a city I love, a city I stand for. It doesn’t take long into first meeting me that I start to gush about my hometown. I love the sports, the black and gold nation of Steelers, Penguins and Pirates and their fans. I love the bridges that are snapped in like Legos over the still rivers that line a beautiful skyline.  I love the people, a small town demeanor in a big city lifestyle.

Pittsburgh is my home, and I miss it everyday. It’s been almost 6 years since I have lived in it’s billowing comforts, but I know I won’t ever live there again.

I know that I won’t ever go home.

Since my move away from Pittsburgh, I have lived in many places and have been willing to move whenever I felt like I needed or wanted a change or whenever I felt God calling me somewhere. But, I have never once thought of living back in Pittsburgh.

If you have been a reader from awhile, you know that my upbringing didn’t foster a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings in my life. I grew up in a family that defines dysfunction and there are wounds from it that are still barely scabbed over. Unfortunately, those pains hang over my beloved city like an inescapable chill. A visit there doesn’t bring me the same comforts that it used to, but instead attempts to claw at my healing and rips away old wounds while creating a halt to my moving forward.

This is a very hard balancing act, because I have two younger brothers that I love more than life itself in that city. I have an aunt that became like a mother to me, took me in when my mom threw me out like the garbage and she raised me like her own. I have a step-dad that is an important male figure in my life and who has never once treated me like anything but his daughter. There are friends, best friends, that helped me through the hell of those rough years and the pain afterwards.

In other words, in the darkness of that pain, there is so much light.

In a way, Pittsburgh is just a metaphor for the life we live everday. There is pain and darkness, hurt and sadness. There are open wounds that we try and cover over each day, hoping that in time they will heal and the sting of life won’t hurt quite as much.

But, in those moments there is light. There is a God to lean on, to provide us strength and healing like nothing else can. There are friends and family that guard our hearts and build us back to being stronger than we ever were before.

I won’t ever live in Pittsburgh again, but the longer I let my hometown stay besieged by the pain, the more power I give that pain, and the people that caused it. The more I shield myself from the darkness, the more I miss the light.

Part of this move to Maryland was to be closer to the people I love in the city I call home, and yet here I am dragging my feet afraid to open the door.

I will visit and see the people I love. And I will look at the foundation that sits in between the rivers, and think about sitting in it’s midst on hot summer days studying for finals. I will remember the good I achieved there, the non-profit I started, Hearts and Crafts, that partners the Art Institute with children at Children’s hospital. The Habitat work that lead me to New Orleans and ultimately Mississippi. The people that shaped my life, the road that lead me to who I am now.

I won’t see the clouds, but the light shining through.

Is there something you can’t face for fear of pain?  Please let me know how I can pray for you.

Jenny

Growing Up Broken


Growing up, I was a daydreamer. I would lay out in the grass, sun warming my skin and just dream.

I’d dream of a family that would sit at the table every night, laughing and sharing their thoughts and excitements, while passing around bowls of homemade potatoes and bread.

I’d dream of a mom that kissed away my fears, that engulfed me with love, and that would cuddle up next to me at night, reading me stories before tucking me into bed.

That’s not the mom I had.

The mom I had wasn’t addicted to drugs or suffering from a severe mental illness. She wasn’t a junkie and there no diagnosis that would help understand her.

She simply didn’t have the capacity to love me.

I was 8 when my mother came into my room and made me watch as she took each ceramic doll I had collected over the years and smashed them all against the wall, laughing as their angelic, plastered smiles shattered and fell into small piles onto the carpet.

I was 10 when she started locking me in my bedroom with a padlock and key, every night, leaving me terrified of fires or being forgotten or trapped.

I was 13 when she told me she loved my two younger brothers more. That I was a mistake, detailing all I had taken away from her, just from the unfortunate occurrence of my birth.

I was 17 when she cancelled me off of her insurance, as I laid in the emergency room, having serious heart arrhythmia from a bad combination of diet pills and years of bulimia.

And at 18, just a few days after my high school graduation, she kicked me out; taking just a week to convert my old bedroom into a personal at home gym.

I was broken. My heart ached and I encountered the most crippling depression I could ever imagine. I welcomed death, but lacked the courage to greet it personally.

I was lost, alone, and utterly defeated.

But luckily, God wasn’t done with me yet.

There were times over my life that I got very angry with God. I didn’t want to see Him or face Him. I turned my back to Him completely.

And when I did speak to Him, or even acknowledge Him, it wasn’t friendly..

Why didn’t I deserve a family?

Why didn’t I deserve love?

Why had I even been born?

or worse…

Why am I not good enough for her?

Why am I not good enough to be spared this pain?

and of course….

Why did this happen to me?

What did I do to deserve this?

The Why’s and constant longing for my mother set the tone for my late teens and early twenties. I became a shell of a person, desperate for love however I could get it. Lie, cheat or steal, I needed that emptiness filled.

But my God is so good, he snatched me back when I wasn’t even looking.

My heart began to turn towards mission trips and volunteering. I began to slowly let God back in, although at first it was a very slow and cautious relationship. The closer I got to Him, the more I let Him use me. And the more He used me, the more I felt a sense of purpose, a worth outside of being my mother’s daughter.

That’s not to say I didn’t still struggle. I still had anger and hate in my heart. And right below that ugliness was a deep depression that could consume me at any given moment. It was a hole of self-hatred that I could not fill.

I wanted a mom.

I needed a mom.

But every time I tried to reach out to her, she’d slam that door on me, leaving me more broken than before. ‘Not being good enough’ for your own mother’s love is something I just couldn’t move beyond.

Then, God came in for the save.

Just a few months ago, I was blow drying my hair when he spoke to me clearer and louder than I had every heard before.

“You would have nothing you have right now if not for her. This life wouldn’t be yours, if not for her.”

It literally knocked the wind out of me. What??! I should THANK her? Be happy at the brokenness that was my life for so many years? I just couldn’t accept that.

The answer came quick:

Yes.

And there it hit me and healed me almost instantly.

I idolized my mother. I would do anything she wanted and I followed her like a sad puppy, begging for love and attention. I was going to be a nurse, just like her, because she was…even though I can’t stand the sight of blood.

And the few times I went to youth group with friends, she called it “a cult” and mocked me.

God had bigger plans for me.

He was going to use me. He wanted me and needed me to carry His message to others. I was going to work in the midst of disasters to bring people His hope.

And for that to happen, we BOTH were going to have to deal with some heartache.

And here I am now, living on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, 1,200miles away from the family that threw me away, doing just that.

There was nothing and no one that could heal that hurt but God.

I have no anger or resentment now. My sadness is gone. I’m no longer the fragile, little girl, praying through teary eyes that God would give me a mom that could love me.

Instead, I’m all God’s child, and there is more than enough love to fill me up.

I have learned that being a Christian doesn’t mean that we will live a life without pain, but that despite, or in some cases because of that hurt and pain, we WILL be used for the good of God.

Jenny