I've started a list of all the gifts God has given me that I'm thankful for, to live out the command "give thanks in all things" (1 Thess. 5:18) in my daily walk.
Just when I thought I was over my little bout of seasonal depression, it hit me hard again yesterday. Feelings of hopelessness. I'm not accomplishing anything in life, why do I even bother? Feeling like I haven't accomplished anything signficant professionally (at work), creatively (writing), as a mother (a call from Blaze's teacher that was discouraging), my marriage has its ups and downs and don't even get me started on our financial state... I can't lose weight, I have no self-control, I'm not even sure if I believe in God, because if he existed, wouldn't he help me more, as I've been faithfully praying for his strength?
I have a couple friends that have shared their ups and downs in life, and I noticed that when they are struggling with their faith, they are usually doubting the goodness of God. They feel like he's a killjoy that is deliberately withholding good things from their lives or even maybe punishing them. I have never felt that way about God, but then I realized that when I'm struggling with my faith, I do something maybe even worse: I start to doubt that He even exists. It's all just wishful thinking. There never was a creator, it's all just a bunch of random mutations and natural selection.
Deep in my funk last night, I randomly picked up a book that's been sitting on the pile of six or so books on my bedstand. It happened to be "Rise Above" by Gwen Shamblin. I opened it to a dog ear mark where I had stopped reading it many months ago. A few pages into it, I found myself reading a section about depression. Weird. She was talking about how most depression is a result of being overly self-focused. Before you go to the doctor to get some pills for it, she suggests you try something first: go through a whole day focusing on other people. What I had been focused on was "oh woe is me." I had forgotten to focus on things to be thankful for and instead I had started comparing myself to others: thinking things like "most people who are 40 years old have accomplished much more than me, make more money than me, etc." This is a deadly trap and I had fallen for it again!
My kids like me to read to them and sing to them when I put them to bed. Sometimes I'll read but skip the singing and put on a short tape of lullabies instead. Sometimes I'll skip reading and just sing one or two of their favorites, "Jesus Loves Me" or "White Coral Bells" or "Over the Rainbow" or "I Know You" from Sleeping Beauty. Tonight I read to them, so I was going to skip singing, but suddenly I really wanted to sing. I sang for them and then I went to my room laid on my bed with my song book and sang five or six more favorites - "Sweet Adoration", "All the Heavens", "Psalm 42", "Lamb of God", "Wonderful, Merciful Savior," "Lord, You're Beautiful."
At the end of my singing my heart was at peace again. Faith restored. Of course God exists. I promised myself that this morning I would add to my list of gifts, and also focus on others, instead of myself, by getting into prayer. Fasting-a-meal this morning.
Here are the latest additions to my list of gifts:
11. Delicious sandwiches at Schlotsky's with my mom
My mom is back from Hilton Head, and when I picked her up from the shuttle stop in Ft. Collins she treated me to dinner at Schlotsky's, one of my Ft Collins favs
12. Morning birdsong heralding spring
It's lighter in the morning now and during one of my morning walks, our neighborhood was full of birdsong! Like little heralds of spring – or rather, little promises of spring (still a lot of snow)
13. A call from from Kerry.
An old friend, my roommate during the years 1998/1999. Oh the memories!
14. Making cards for my parents' birthdays.
Famous movie quotes for Dad; opera lyrics for Mom.
15. Still love to re-read my story even though I've read it a thousand times and it still needs a lot of work.
16. A warm, crackling fire to snuggle up near to
B. has been good about keeping our stove stocked these days
17. Giving horsey rides
Blaze gave the twins horsey rides on her hands and knees, and then jiggled them on her leg. They giggle like crazy. How can I not smile?
18. Good nuggets of truth from Oswald Chambers
These are from his lesser known "Still Higher for His Highest" devotional
19. Homemade waffles and blueberry syrup
At Mom & Dad’s on Sunday morning. Dad makes the waffles; Mom makes the syrup.
20. Piggy tails
Blaze fixed the twins' hair in piggy tails and also got them dressed for church for me, what a great help.
21. “Does grass grow UP because it is worshipping God?”
We were sharing cute things that kids say at our mother's Bible study, and Stacy shared this one from her son.
22. My kids shuffling around in my big fuzzy slippers
23. Looking over our old photos
Found some old favorites of B. and me – can’t believe this great guy says he’s still in love with me
24. Used book sales
B. is watching the kids for me tomorrow so I can go with a friend, Shannon, to a big used book sale - I get to spend all morning browsing BOOKS. Oh, I can't wait (even though I'm sure to be tempted to buy more than my $15 budget)