Claiming my witness...
I turn 36 years old this next week and feel like I am just starting the best time of my life. Let me explain.
I remember very clearly the day in 1994 that I bought my first scrapbooking magazine and looked straight at my husband to tell him that I would someday have a career in this industry. But before I could move toward that goal, I had to work to reclaim my health. I was suffering from chronic depression and social anxiety and at times was barely able to take care of my two young children. I knew fear and desperation first-hand, and the only thing anchoring me to this life were my little ones. Tears well up in my eyes as I write this story for you because I can remember the pain so vividly, but I always hoped I would make it through it with a story to tell.
This is the first time I am sharing that story in depth because I feel that it is time for me to fully enter the next chapter of my life and to realize the dream that began in me so many years ago. When I saw that my creativity and quality craftsmanship could find their place in a hobby that can uplift and encourage women to process their difficult times, I always hoped it would someday happen. I know first-hand that crafts can be a healing force in our lives. When I was so sick that I could barely leave my home, I quilted and scrapbooked around the clock. I mentioned this to the doctor who eventually helped to heal me, and he told me that I was desperately trying to heal myself because participating in an enjoyable activity creates serotonin in the brain. That is what my brain was missing. There wasn't anything wrong with my intelligence or my personality or my motivation. I had managed to graduate college with a cum laude degree in Spanish, but there was a very big imbalance in my brain's chemicals. So for years I had blamed myself for many things that really had nothing to do with the Real Me. And now seven years after my healing, I am still learning to reach out in ways I never imagined were possible for me. I am taking a chance today, and I am so very scared. I am trying to show myself and my children that we really can do great things if only we do our best, follow-through and then turn the rest over to God. I am fully trusting in Him to guide my way into the scrapbooking and crafting industry. I hope you can forgive my sounding boastful. I am not trying to be arrogant. I am only now finding the confidence to say that my time will come so that I can use my life experiences and talents to comfort and encourage other women who may be experiencing a life that is very different than what they had imagined for themselves. I surely didn't look at my future as a young woman and say, "I can't wait until I am too scared to go grocery shopping!" or "Boy won't it be great when I stand in the kitchen for hours on end staring at every open cabinet struggling to decide what to feed my children." And I know I didn't think, "Ah, it will be so nice to sleep for 18 hours every day and have no energy to do the things I need to do." But all those things happened to me. And many more.
Life does not usually turn out like we had planned. People like to say that God will not give you more than you can handle, but I am not so sure of that. It sounds nice, but I am not sure that it is quite the right perspective sometimes when the pain seems more than you can bear. When you are having to live your life moment by moment, constantly giving God your grief or fear or panic, it just doesn't sound too comforting. And it certainly doesn't help to point out the fact that some people's lives are full of so much more pain than others. We'll explore those ideas more at a later date.
But for now that chapter of my life has ended. I am a fully-functioning, positive-spirited, resourceful and successful parent to my children. I have spent years teaching myself the ins and outs of paper scrapbooking and now its digital counterpart. I am a design junkie who is beginning to see great things happening in her career. But I will never forget the days when none of this seemed possible. I can call up the memory of that overwhelming pain and desperation at will and do so often to remind myself of how it felt. I never want to forget it. It was my refiner's fire and God has used that time for me to be able to connect with others. I welcome that connection because I know of many days when a friendly, understanding, non-judgmental word was worth more than pure gold to me.
I hope I can be that kind of woman for others. I suppose this is my witness. And I am fully claiming it to be used for God's glory. Use me as an interpreter for those who need help understanding depression and all of its very complex and disturbing pieces. Help me to share the story of what it is like to live in that "land" so that others can understand their loved one's struggles.
God, I am going way out on a limb here, but I know how many other women are feeling this kind of pain. I ask that you use me to comfort and inspire them so they can emerge triumphant on the other side of their grief. Thank you for holding us in the palm of Your hand when we can barely stand on our own. Thank you for making me who I am and letting me experience this life with all it has to offer. Thank you for the growth and strength that come from suffering. Amen.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Claiming my witness...