Hope Whispers.

Hope.
It’s what sees us through the dark.
It’s what we cling to in order to remind ourselves that better days are ahead.

In it’s simplest form it’s the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen.

But what happens when we can no longer feel it?
What about when the worst things happen?
When your entire world collapses.
What then?

What about when the noise of life gets so loud that we can no longer hear hope calling out to us?
What do we do then?

What is our foundation built on?

Is it in the idea of hope?
In the idea that things will one day get better.

Is it in the struggle we find ourselves in?
The crippling depression.
The family that’s falling apart.
The God that seems so far away.

We allow these things to become the supreme truth in our lives.
That’s what defines us.
That’s what we build our lives on.

The answer to who we are becomes more about what we’re going through at the time instead of the child of the risen King that we are.
Instead of owning the fact that all of these struggles and all of the pain has already been defeated, we identify as depressed, lost, abandoned.

We allow our lives to become so cluttered with so much noise, that we lose sight of the calling placed on our lives.
It’s easy to let the noise take over.
Trust me.
I’ve spent most of this summer doing just that, but let me tell you, it’s miserable.

We were, we are called to be so much more.

It’s so easy to just isolate ourselves and tell ourselves that we aren’t worth it, but those are nothing but lies.
People need other people.
You are worth it.

You are worth it.
Repeat that to yourself as many times as you need to hear it.
Repeat it until you believe it.
Have people in your life repeat it until you believe it.
Do whatever it takes until you believe it.
Write it on a post it note and put it on your mirror.

Understand that hard times are going to come.
Your world will fall apart before your very eyes at some point.
The worst thing will happen.

But where will your foundation lie?
In the lies that you have believe all these years?
Or in the hope that Jesus has already overcome the world?

Life can get messy.
Really, really messy.
And it’s so incredibly easy to want to just succumb to the noise and to the chaos.
But we were called for something better.

We don’t have to walk through life alone.
We weren’t created for that.
We were created for community.

You don’t have to do this alone.
You have people that will fight with you, and fight for you on the days that you can’t fight.
You deserve that.

Life is a perfectly imperfect story that is written one day at a time.
I’m so thankful to have so many people that have willingly decided to write in mine, especially on the days where I couldn’t write anything.

Every story has a plot.
But not every story has a plot twist.

Will you let yours have a plot twist, where suddenly the light begins to break through the darkness?
Where the loudness and the chaos is suddenly silenced.
Where you no longer let the chaos and confusion consume you.

I pray that you find hope again.
That you realize it never left you.
It’s always been there.
Even in the midst of all the chaos, it’s been there.
It’s here right now.

It’s that small whisper reminding you to not give up.
Your whisper may be in a different form than mine, but it’s still there.
It may become hard to hear sometimes.
It may get lost in the shuffle.
You may wonder why it doesn’t just scream louder over the chaos.
But hope wasn’t meant to scream to be heard.
Sometimes it can be hard to hear it, but if you listen carefully, you’ll find it.

Hope is always there.
Always whispering.

Stepping Out Into the Sun Again.

Depression is one of those funny things in life that unless you’ve ever trudged through it, it can be very difficult to understand how it can drain the life right out of you.

It’s dark.
It’s uncomfortable.
It’s painful.
It’s numbing.
It’s consuming.

It makes stepping into the sun unbearable at times.

After all, it’s much easier to just stay in the hole that you’ve created for yourself.
It’s comfortable.
But greatness doesn’t come from being comfortable.

We are called to be more.

Brokenness exists.
In all of us and in different forms.

For me, it’s accepting the reality that my earthly parents are gone.
It’s being honest about my struggle with depression.

For you, it may be something completely different.

But beauty also exists.

For me it’s in the faces of the students in Refuge.
It’s in the faces of each person in my current cover photo on Facebook

It was in the simplicity of a Florida sunset and it’s rise the next morning.
It’s in my best friend.
It’s in my Creator.

I’ve spent most of the last almost three months hiding in the darkness.
Afraid to step back out again.
Afraid to fall.

But recently a wonderful friend reminded me that I do fall, but I always get back up.

Florida not only reminded me of the beauty in the sun, but also the Son.
He has blessed me with incredible people and an incredible story to tell.

Is every part of that story pretty and easy to tell?
Absolutely not.
There is a lot of hurt intertwined throughout my words.
But there is also a lot of beauty.

This is where faith comes in.
Trusting that no matter what happens, I will still give God the glory.

Three weeks ago, I tried to take my life on two different occasions.
I carefully wrote out a note addressing some key people in my life, saying goodbye to them.
Today, I want to carefully write to them again, but for a much different reason.
This time to say thank you.

To my intern family: I mean that last word with everything in me. Family. That’s what each and every one of you have become to me over the past two years, but more specifically the past two months. Thank you for holding me up on the days that I couldn’t stand on my own. Thank you for seeing me through this darkness and reminding me that there is still plenty of light to be felt.

To my Refuge family: You are world changers. And I’m so glad that God has chosen someone like me to be a part of your lives for such a time as this. You remind me in the simplest of ways that there is still so much beauty in this world. You have taught me how to love and how to hope.

Lizz: You are everything that a best friend should be and more. You have always walked beside me. I am so proud of the woman you have become. Thank you for loving me at my lowest and for giving me the strength to rise up again.

Murr: You have impacted my life in such a remarkable way, that at times it leaves me speechless. You have never been afraid to ask me the most difficult questions nor let me give the easy sugarcoated answers. You have challenged me to step outside of the comfort zones I’ve created for myself. You have reminded me that being honest about the dark and painful parts of life is okay. You have provided wisdom and guidance when I needed it most. You have given me the tough love that at times I’ve needed, but you’ve also let me cry when I couldn’t hold it in any longer. You are my friend and mentor and I’m so incredibly thankful that God allowed our paths to cross when they did.

There are so many of you that have brought hope and restoration to my life in recent days.
You have embodied what it means to be the hope to the hopeless and a constant reminder that people need other people.
You have held your hands against these wounds.
You have reminded me that even when it doesn’t feel like it, there is always hope.

Darkness is loud. And it demands to be heard. It can become easy to hear only that. To hear the chaos, the doubt, the lies that you aren’t worth it. But hope is always there, whispering. If you listen for it, you’ll hear it’s still, small voice in the midst of the chaos.
Hope is there.
He is there.
Whispering against the darkness that tries to consume you.

Stepping back in to the sun again can be scary.
But there is so much beauty and warmth to be found.

I pray that you are reminded that you still have warmth to feel and that you can still hear that quiet whisper of hope reminding you that it’s okay to step back out again.

Six Words.

“Are you going to kill yourself?”

Those six words dropped on me like a ton of bricks.
I was floored, and completely speechless.
I sat in silence across from Murr, hoping that he would forget that he’d asked me that.
He didn’t.

“You haven’t answered my question yet.”

My quick response was, “I don’t know.”
“Sure you do,” was his even quicker response.

And in that moment I sat there and pondered the question.
Was I going to kill myself?
I had already tried twice in the previous 48 hours leading up to that conversation, only to be interrupted by frantic text messages from Murr and Kristina.

That weekend I had all but disappeared from radar, leading to a host of people calling and texting each other to try and find me almost everyday.
At that moment in time I was okay. Well, as okay as I could be.

Saturday night I made the choice that my Refuge family wouldn’t be seeing me anytime soon.
I had made plans with friends for Sunday and had no intentions of letting anyone at church knowing.
That Sunday, I was a no call no show, which was the first red flag for some.
The fact that I wasn’t replying to messages and no one could reach me was the second.

“Okay now I’m worried. What’s up??”

No response to the 1:45 text from Murr.

“Hey, let’s go to the lake!”

No response to the 7:15 text from Aaron.

Murr texts again at 8:45 sending me the same message he’d sent earlier in the day, immediately followed by a second one:
“Please text something back so I know you are okay. It’s very unlike you to not reply at all.”

I sat there in the grass behind my apartment and read it over and over.
I didn’t want to reply.

Half an hour later, I finally did.
I wasn’t okay, but I was still there.
We proceded to have an hour and a half conversation via text message, until he felt that I was okay enough to not do anything.

I didn’t that night.
I told myself that I would give it one more day.

The thing about depression is that your body loves to stay awake all night and sleep all day.
And that’s exactly what my Monday consisted of.

3am depressive thoughts aren’t good for anyone.
They especially aren’t good for someone that is suicidal and has a razor blade and a bottle of pills at their disposal.

Monday, I was done.
I sent out what I was expecting to be one of the last text messages to Kristina, asking her in the midst of our conversation to tell all the other interns thanks for the laughs.
I wrote out a note, saying goodbye to specific people: Refuge, my intern family, my best friend, and Murr.

Lucky for me, Kristina is just as stubborn, if not more, as I am.
She kept me talking until she showed up at my house.
She stayed with me. She made sure that I didn’t do something that deep down, I knew I would regret.

Now that you’re caught up, back to Murr’s question:

“Are you going to kill yourself?”

As I mentioned already, my initial answer was that I didn’t know.
So Murr did what he does best, he asked more questions.
I changed my answer to “I don’t think so,” which as you could already guess led to more questions.
“So, if you don’t feel like it, you won’t? But if you do, you will?”

Once again, I sat in silence.
I didn’t know what to say.
I didn’t really want to say anything.

He went on to give me an analogy to ponder, that really put everything in perspective.
He began to tell me that when he married Jenn, he made a commitment to her, and that the commitment he made to her was not contingent on how he might feel at some point down the road.
He vowed to love and honor her forever, til death do us part, not until he didn’t feel like it anymore.

So again, he asked me the question I had been dancing around for the past twenty or so minutes:

“Are you going to kill yourself?”

Long pause.

“No.”

He then went on to ask me to list all the reasons why I shouldn’t stay and a list of why I should.
The second list was much longer.

When Catalyst rolled around on Wednesday, I sat with my back against the stage during prayer and just watched our students actively pray and journal and seek after Jesus, and it hit me: I had tried twice in the previous four days to take my life and leave them behind.
Tears slowly started to roll down my face.
How could I have done that to them?
I have a group of eight 14 year olds that have become attached to me at the hip.
That have shared some heavy things with me and so many laughs.
And here I was about to take that away from them.

“You are not alone in this.”

Six more words that dropped in my lap.

“We are all here for you.”

God’s grace and His goodness has been oh so evident these past couple of weeks.
Do I still have a lot of healing to do? Yes.
Do I have to do it alone? No.

I am a firm believer that people need other people.
That we are called to be the hopeful and to bind up the wounds of a broken world.
We are called to be the light that pierces the darkness.
We all have a story to tell.
We are perfectly imperfect stories still being written.
There are pages left to be written in, not only by us, but those that are a part of our stories.
And I have so many wonderful people writing in mine.

Last week I placed the second semicolon in my story; I almost chose to end my story.
I’m so glad I didn’t.

To be continued;