What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Perfect Mary

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Paul said this to the Philippians church (in Philippians 1:6). But, God, through Paul, is saying this to each of us.

It is a promise we can hold onto. Sometimes I have trouble being confident, as Paul was confident, that God is at work in my life. In Alcoholics Anonymous we have a saying that says, “Believe I believe you can recover.” This is often said to a newcomer, someone still struggling with the compulsions and urges of the addiction, who can’t see that a sober life is possible (or even desirable). But the oldtimers know that recovery is possible and ask the newcomer to believe they believe. In the same way, when I have trouble believing my life will get better, I can believe that Paul believed it would – that it would in fact be perfect by the time Christ returns. When my confidence is lagging, I can count on Paul, in this passage and others, to remind me that all is not lost, that the adventure is not over.

Today is one of those days. I feel like I don’t know if I will get better – physically, spiritually, or mentally. I feel unsure of what the next step should be. I feel uncertain of what the next right thing I should be doing is. My confidence might be lagging, but Paul’s is not. I can think about Paul’s confidence that God is working and give myself a little pep talk: God is not done. He is still working. Paul said so. I choose to believe.

So today is a little better. I applied a Biblical principle, a recovery concept, and a mental health skill (cheerleading statements to myself) and now life doesn’t seem so fatal. Maybe, I’ll do another good thing. Maybe I’ll take a walk (with my shoes on).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Doing the Right Things

Sometimes doing the right things can turn out to be the wrong things. You say, “What?”

That’s what I said after I took my walk today. Walking is the right thing to do, right? Walking is supposed to be good for me on so many levels. All my doctors and therapists say it is good for at least four reasons. 1. Helps with weight loss efforts, 2. Helps with blood sugar control, 3. Improves overall general mood, and 4. Gives a sense of accomplishment. As one doctor put it, it gives four times the bang for one activity.

So how could I lose? With the benefits keenly in mind, I stopped being sedentary for a few minutes this afternoon to get four times the bang. I followed the advice of a therapist and went for a walk. I didn’t let myself think about it or argue myself out of it. I didn’t come up with a bunch of reasons, good or bad, for not going. There were several that came to mind like the fact that it’s too hot (84 degrees forecasted for today). But I didn’t let that dissuade me. I just did it. I did it for me, for the benefits it can provide.

I didn’t want to hesitate in my resolve to go so I just left the house, iPod playing in my ears, and headed to the housing sub-division next to our house. The cul-de-sac loop is very close to a half mile, round trip. I’ve walked it many times before and survived. I thought I might even try two laps making it an even mile. The walk was going well until the three-quarter mark on the first lap.

The first twinge of a “hot spot.” That’s what I call that prickly, sore spot, where a blister is beginning to form. With no choice than to keep walking toward home, I tried to walk as normal as possible. Each step told me to stop walking but I couldn’t just sit down in the middle of the road and wait for my husband to come home from work to come get me. By the time I sat down in my living room, the blisters, one on each foot, had popped. My feet, which normally ache after walking, feel fine except for the two hot spots.

So what went wrong? In my hurry to not give in to the procrastination I did not change into my walking shoes. My previously tried and trusted sandals were not up for the challenge of a fast-paced walk. I should have changed. But, now I have the blisters to deal with and a lesson learned. Urgency is not always the best plan of action. Next time I will do the right things, starting with putting on the right footwear. There are no shortcuts to doing the right things.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I’ve been tired a lot lately. That makes doing a lot of productive things harder to do and definitely harder to get done. This is not the same kind of tired that comes from not sleeping enough. It wasn’t too long ago where that was going on. I remember. This is a tiredness that isn’t related to sleeping enough. I’ve been sleeping enough, seven to nine hours a night, usually in one long slumber.

This tiredness arises from being depressed, the other polar-expression from my mania of January. (Yet the mania is still here mingling with the depression thoughts. This is called “mixed-states” and is a key identifier of my Bipolar II Disorder.) I haven’t been here in a while and it is not comfortable. It is a hard place to explain to someone who will never be here, and even those who are “here” with me don’t understand it.

I’m left feeling isolated and alone even in a crowd. I have felt this way before in relationship to my alcoholism. People don’t understand what it’s like to not be able to take their offered “just one drink.” One drink is all it would take for me to get started and a start is all one drink is for me. I heard at an AA meeting last week the solution to that kind of loneliness. A meeting filled with other alcoholics who do get it. People ask why I still go to meetings after more than a decade without drinking. What was said at the meeting was that people who ask that question never will understand why meetings are so important to our sobriety. It cannot be explained in a way that will make sense to someone who has not experienced the craving, the required second, third, fourth, etc. drinks that always follow the first one.

The same is true for Bipolar Disorder (probably for type I or II). However, there are no AA-like meetings for this issue. And, I don’t think there are any “groups” that will help either. Those groups would be like the blind leading the blind, I’m afraid. So, I feel alone and having to trust the professionals with the training but no personal experience to tell me what works. Right now, I don’t trust them very much and so nothing seems to be working.

I will go on being tired, for now. Tired of being alone. Tired of being sick. Tired of being tired. And, getting by the best I can.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Immovable Faith

Tuesday’s reading for 40 Days in the Word was Mark 5:21 - 43. It contained two stories. One was about Jairus's daughter being ill (then dead), and the other about the hemorrhaging woman touching Jesus' robe.

Jairus, even after being told to stop bothering Jesus because his daughter had died, believed Jesus could and would act. He trusted Jesus while everyone around him was saying it was too late. Neither the crowd, nor those he was personally acquainted with, nor relatives could sway Jairus’ confidence in Jesus. He listened when Jesus said, "Trust Me."

The hemorrhaging woman sneaks up behind Jesus desiring to touch His robe. She's praying and thinking that all it will take is to just touch His robe. There were lots of people touching His robe, jostling, pushing, reaching out to Jesus, but none of them were healed. But, this woman! Healed instantly and Jesus knew it had happened ("Jesus felt energy discharging from Him . . ." vs. 30). But He wasn't cross or upset or ready to shame anyone. He wanted to verbally bless the one He had just healed. He wanted to recognize her for her faith. She stepped forward when He asked in spite of her fear and shame. She did not let her disbelief (or the disbelief of all those "touching" Jesus and not getting healed) sway her from acknowledging her faith.

Both these people experienced God's power through Jesus when disbelief was all around them. They had faith that was steadfast, immovable. Not like mine full of doubt and despair. I don't trust Jesus to heal. I don't believe He will – He hasn't yet, right? But I haven't approached it from the place of steadfast faith and trust either.

At the end of every 40 Days in the Word assignment there’s a section to write out a prayer based on the lessons learned and the application made. My prayer centered on getting beyond my self-reliance and self-trust – but I do not feel anymore ready to trust than before. A huge amount of repentance is in order but I don't have that either. Taking things into my own hands is still my chosen, automatic course, even while I know it is stupid to think doing the same thing over again, expecting different results, will solve anything.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bridges, Roads, and Ditches

Job interviewing. My son, who is graduating from college this spring, is off to Chicago for three busy days of job and internship interviews. Wow. Where has the time gone! Sending him off for the first day of kindergarten seems so fresh, yet so much has washed under the bridge, over the road, and into the ditch since then.

We’ve been kept safe from the rushing water so many times. Catastrophic illness, pre-mature deaths, severe childhood accidents, loss of financial means, divorces, broken bones, broken hearts, and so many other things have happened to people we know. We observed the mishaps of loved ones, prayed with and for them, and thanked God it wasn’t us. Those things have washed under the bridge, passing us by, not touching us, but close enough for us to see what could’ve been.

Other events have touched us, but not required drastic changes in our lives: the deaths of parents, both of my husbands’ and my father; passing grandparents; physical and mental illness; loss of employability; unexpected symptoms of illness; losing touch with once-close friends; losing cars and the sense of driving safety we took for granted; and having to adjust dreams and goals. These things have washed over us, nudging us in different directions than we wanted, or expected, to go. But, in the end we are still standing on the road setting new goals and looking ahead toward new adventures.

A few things have put us totally into the ditch and we have left part of ourselves there – not all for our detriment, however. Unrealistic goals, unimportant belongings, material desires – everything from “fancy” vehicles to bigger and better houses, one career that was too stressful to maintain mental health, extravagant vacations, and other things and ideals we thought we could not, and would not have to, live without have been abandoned or adjusted. We, as individuals and as a family, have climbed out of the various ditches, looked back at what was gone, and moved on again.

Some of the ditched stuff is still missed, but maybe there will be a time when they can be pulled out, dusted off, sand-blasted to get the rust off if needed, and retrieved for future use. Some we just don’t need and are not part of God’s best for us. Acceptance comes hard sometimes when looking at what’s lost or gone. But, when acceptance is found, peace rushes in behind it. That’s what I really want anyway – peace.