4: Seasons

Take me back to the time
When I was maybe eight or nine
and I believed
That Jesus walked on waters blue
And if He helped me, I could too
if I believed
Before rationale, analysis, and systematic thinking
robbed me of a sweet simplicity
When wonders and when mysteries
were far less often silly dreams and childhood fantasies
Help me believe
Because I don’t want to miss any miracles
Maybe I’d see much better by closing my eyes
And I would shed this grown up skin I’m in
To touch an angel’s wing
And I would be free
Help me believe

-Nichole Nordeman

When I signed up to #write31days, there was one part of my brain that knew that meant writing for 31 days in a row, but that part of my brain never really communicated that well to the rest of my brain. Meaning, while I’ve been drowning in work, maintaining my sanity, and spending enough time with my friends/boyfriend to ensure that I still have people at the end of October, the days have been ticking by and here we are, 10 days late into the game.

But if you know me, you should have expected this all along. I always say, if you can’t live with the phrase ‘better late than never,’ you will probably not like me. I’m what I like to call a says-yes-to-too-many-things-person.

I digress.

Today, it is meaningful for me to write, and this is one of the reasons I am choosing to write. I would rather wait 10 days and give you something heartfelt – something that has been tossed and turned inside my head recently – rather than write just because a hashtag says I’m supposed to and then give you some words that are just sort of out there because I feel like they should be, I guess. This, to me, is better. This is more.

I was walking home from the gym this morning (should’ve added to the above list: maintaining my body so I don’t hermit into oblivion while eating cheesecake), and as I kicked the acorns and stepped on the crunchy leaves, I was trying to figure out why I have felt – and do feel – so isolated from other Christians, and the church (little c).

I am hesitant, a little, here, because I feel like I may say some things that will offend people. And that certainly isn’t my goal. But, if saying some things offend some people, but also help other people who have felt or are feeling the same way, then I am going to say those words anyway. You know why? Because God is bigger than all of it. That’s why I don’t worship the church or put my faith in the church. I worship God. I put my faith in God. And I hope that if you read these words and are offended, you would do the same – that you would worship God for the work he has done for me and will do for me, and that you would put your faith in Him to reveal what is right to all of us. Don’t think too much on me and what I think and what I say and what my perspectives are. Trust me – you can spend your time much better elsewhere.

From my experience, a lot of Christians (and just the general population, too) don’t know how to deal with trauma and tragedy. It’s easy to say – and even fully believe – God is in control – when your biggest obstacle to face is something like passing Chemistry, or leaving a job interview. I am not diminishing these matters, but, they are certainly not life or death. When we deal with circumstances that are quite literally life and death, the shockwaves permeate through the people who surround it. What do we say? What do we do? How can I help? What…. How…. I…. and it often ends with distance, avoidance, and moving on.

And it seems like the church would be better at this, as we are supposed to be a home and a balm for the hurting, but it appears as though we are just as bad as it as any other institution would be.

Now, I want to make a couple of things clear. In the very immediate aftermath of my dad’s death, the church I had grown up in my whole life was very supportive and responsive. We had the resources we needed, we had the counsel and prayer that we needed, and we had the support and assistance we needed for the month, or two, or three that followed. I am in no way diminishing that or have forgotten. It was a beautiful act of grace that we were well cared for and well loved in the ways that were best for us.

The church I had been attending downtown, however, was a different story. When I returned, all of the leadership knew what had happened. Yet not a single person on staff – not even once – asked me if I was okay. If I needed to get coffee. If I needed to get lunch. Come over. Talk. Hang out.

And it’s hard for me to blame them. It’s hard because, do you know how easy it is, in the very near aftermath, to offer condolences and write letters and send flowers and give hugs? It’s a very easy, thoughtful, direct way to say, I care and I’m so sorry. Do you know what is way harder? It is way harder to get into the trenches and sit a while. To get into the trenches and say, I have no clue what to say to you, how to act around you, or what to do for you. But I love you, I am here, and I am praying for you. 

And that’s all I wanted someone from leadership from church to do for me. And they didn’t.

Why is it that we are so bad at helping the hurting heal? I truly believe it’s because we don’t have any concept of the level of grief and the depth of pain that comes alongside tragedy – unless you’ve been there. Or, unless God has created your heart so empathetic that you can quite truly feel what those who suffer feel. I wish I could explain this to more people. I wish that I could somehow tell all people who want and desire to love and lead their church well that hurting lasts a very, very long time. And no – you won’t be able to pull anyone out of their pit. But you sure as hell can get down in there with them and hang out until God does. (that’s a paraphrase of something Jen Hatmaker said once.)

I think that’s why I feel so isolated from the church. I would sit in service, trying hard to continue breathing regularly, and trying so hard to ignore the pain that was tearing apart my insides, and listen to sermons about racial diversity and discrimination. And you know what I was thinking as I listened to every word? Yes. I agree. I want that, too. I have The New Jim Crow sitting on my bedside table. But I haven’t opened my Bible in six months. And some days I can barely get out of bed. And sometimes my head is clouded so thick with replaying memories and reliving the sounds of my heart breaking, that to think about going outside and doing anything practically useful for another cause is a task as impossible as moving the moon. 

I sat there and wanted nothing more than to be loved, and to be cared for, and to be nourished, and I felt as though I was receiving more tasks and more callings when I could barely handle the calling of, go forth. eat. work. interact with my creation. love people. I left feeling discouraged, not known, and isolated. Like everyone was running a race and I was trying to lift myself off of the pavement at the starting line, and not a single person leading our race came back to offer me a hand up.

The image popped into my mind this morning of a delicate glass sculpture, plummeting to the ground and breaking into a million pieces. Because that’s how I felt – and often still do feel. Like I am this fragile thing that has been broken into a thousand pieces, and though God is piecing me back together, I don’t have the strength and the naivety and the smoothness of a lot of the Christians around me. I don’t have the shiny glow or the pristine cleanliness; I don’t have the sharpened features or the elegance of the center display.

To be completely honest, I am about 95% okay with that. I don’t particularly care if other people think I’m a good Christian, or a bad Christian, or if I say the wrong things or do the wrong things. Of course, I never want to hurt or offend or do anything intentionally negative – ever – but as far as my personality, my experiences, my perspective, my worldview – I don’t really care if people don’t understand it. I don’t even expect them to. I’m okay with being the broken shards that are slowly being molded and sanded back together. Me and God, we are here, and He is making me new, and I am watching. It is a slow, sometimes excruciating, delicate, process, but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with not looking like the Christians I see around me.

What hurts is not that I feel like I’m different, but rather the effects of that. The effect of feeling like I can’t relate to most people my age. That I can’t talk about what I really think and what I really struggle with with people, because I’m afraid of judgment, of being abandoned, or maybe the worst of the three: the well-intentioned but extremely misguided phrases that almost patronize my pain. Christina, God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle. Just have some faith. 

It has taken me a while to really grasp the meaning of different seasons. For so long, my initial reaction to other peoples’ lives and perspectives was always bitterness, or immediate detachment, or complete avoidance. Then it moved to a more arrogant, almost childlike, no one will ever understand me so I won’t ever tell anyone anything ever. I am slowly coming into the realization that we are all living different lives, in different seasons, and we all have different flaws and weaknesses that are being remedied by our King. And that means that you with your happiness and your optimism and your simple pleasures are no less or no greater than me, who feels mostly cynical and pessimistic and burdened. You with your house and your spouse and your kids, you are no greater and no less than me, a single childless apartment-renter. You, with your cancer and your chronic suffering, are no greater and no less than me, someone who has been fortunate and undeserving of a life fairly free of health problems. There are no competitions, here, in the kingdom. I am running my race and you are running yours and God is King over all of it.

Through the lack of local church leadership intervening to comfort my heart, God has all the more strongly made me grateful for the Church (big C). The people in my life who do love the Lord, and who do pursue me, and who do continue to love me despite all of my very apparent and very heinous flaws. The people who do sit with me in the trenches. My constants. My people. No two have done this for me greater than Kate and Nathan. Did I tell you what Kate did for me for my birthday two years ago? I feel like I did. But it’s so amazing, that I’m going to tell you again. She wrote a whole bunch of notes and prayers and encouragements to me in a journal and mailed it to me. I had no clue. It had been going on for months. Who else do I know that has ever loved me like that?

Kate is the kind of person who, when I say, “Kate, I just, I can’t pray. I am so hurt and so angry and I literally have no words,” she replies, “I don’t know what to tell you, Christina, except that I love you deeply and I have not stopped praying for you.”

And Nathan. Sweet Nathan. I am amazed at God’s timing. Nathan and I started dating in September of 2012, when we sat outside our dorms and talked for a bunch of hours and I basically told him we had to date because I really liked him. I think after enough of my pleading, he said something like, “Ok.” (Bless him for him putting up with me and keeping me this long. That was definitely not the Woman thing to do. Whatever, man). This was just 6 months before my hospital stay; 7 months before my dad’s death. God’s hand was in it every step of the way, providing what I needed before I needed it. (He had been preparing Kate for even longer. One whole year longer.)

Nathan has – and is – battling severe chronic illness, and has been for quite some time. Perhaps there was no one better to share with me in my suffering, and hold me when it hurt, and keep silent when there were no words. Perhaps there was none better to take me into a world of our own, where we could spend hours in his dorm watching The Office and making trips to do his rounds as a Resident Advisor, and going to the vending machine, and going over to the corner store for other snacks, and come back, and six hours to pass without me even realizing how long we had been hanging out.

And these are just two of the many people who loved me so fully and so well during that time – and who still do. Greg and Will come to mind next – two of my dear, dear friends. Daniel, who was my best friend and is now brother; my aunt, and my family. I’m sure there are more names and more love that was poured out, but it’s past midnight now, and my normal bedtime was about 4 hours ago.

My point is, the little-c church did fail me, in my opinion. That is certainly no way I would want to treat another member of the family of God. I’m not saying that it was intentional, or malicious, or that they are even aware of it – as they are likely not – but it did hurt. It does hurt. But here’s the thing: I’m not mad. I really am not. Why on earth would I count on a human or a group of humans to do for me what only God can do? The fact that He has even given me Kate or Nathan or my new family or my friends is solely out of his grace. I deserve none of it and am owed none of it. God has been very kind to my hurting soul, and He has provided what He has deemed necessary and helpful. And I trust that.

But you know what this lack of response has helped me do? It has helped me count all the more only on Jesus. And that sounds so cliche and cheesy, but listen to me. No one can heal you like Jesus does. No one can complete you like Jesus does. No one can teach you and mold you and grow you like Jesus does. No one can give you words – or silence – that hold your heart like Jesus does. And not in some vague spiritual hippie way of just like, ~being with Jesus, man~, but in the real, Biblical sense of being more than conquerors over all this life throws at us because of what He’s accomplished. The Biblical sense of Jesus’s promises, and how they don’t change or shift with time or circumstance. Love was displayed on the cross 2000 years ago, and that cannot be altered or changed or reversed. The people of the church will always fail me. Kate will fail me. Nathan will fail me. My family will fail me. Me will *certainly* fail me. Jesus will never fail. And as every door that I run to so that I can open it and find satisfaction slams shut in my face, the closer I get to understanding that there is one door that leads to a soul satisfied. Written on the door is the name of Jesus. Not church, not friend, not boyfriend, not family, not financial freedom, not success in my career. Jesus.

Sometimes, I’m not content in this season. Because it is hard and it is trying. But right now, I am content in this season. You may look over and see these broken pieces and these shards and it will be the ugliest piece of handiwork that you’ve ever seen. But that’s okay. It’s not ugly to me anymore like it used to be. I know whose pieces they are, and I know that He is doing great things with them. And I’m content to wait in the interim.

3: Recommended

Today has been a long day. I was intending to write more of my story here, but I think that instead, I am going to recommend some things that have been very helpful for me in the past few years.

  1. Hinds Feet on High Places. This allegory is one of the most powerful things I have ever read outside of scripture. If you want to talk about a God who meets you, carries you, walks with you, and never leaves you, even amidst the most torturous of journeys, this is where you will find Him leading Much Afraid to the High Places.
  2. Music. When prayer has felt impossible to reach, and when my Bible has gathered dust on my shelf – when it felt as though my pain was too heavy to reach for either – music, for me, was effortless and worshipful. I could hear the truths of scripture by listening to artists who echoed scripture, and I was encouraged by songs that brought raw, real honesty before God. A list of songs that have ministered to me in more ways than I can articulate are below.
    Small Enough – Nichole Nordeman
    SMS [Shine] – David Crowder Band
    Never Let Me Go – Hillsong United
    Hold My Heart – Tenth Avenue North
    Even When It Hurts (Praise Song) – Hillsong United
    Carry Me Through – Dave Barnes
    He’s Always Been Faithful – Sara Groves
    Prince of Peace – Hillsong United
    Awesome – Charles Jenkins + Fellowship Chicago
    Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) – Hillsong United
  3. Jen Hatmaker. You may not agree with her; you may not actually make any of her recipes; you may not understand her sarcasm or her sayings; but no other person that I don’t know has ministered to me so greatly through her Facebook updates, her blog, her books, and her overall worldview. She is gracious, her heart aches for the things that tear the world apart, and she is the most genuine “celebrity” that has ever existed. She gathers the hurting in and tells them about the love of Jesus and the imperfect church that is still the church and stirs your heart in the most beautiful, guilt-free way to give yourself wholly for the things of God on this Earth. I cannot recommend her enough. Also, if you want a laugh, just go read this Worst End of School Year Mom Ever article. If you want to cry and laugh and feel your heart lean more gracious, go get her book For The Love.
  4. Kate. I wish everyone had a Kate in their life. I cannot express in words what this woman has done for me, to me, and on my behalf. She has somehow managed to live on literally the other side of the country, be one of my absolute best friends, be one of the – if not the – strongest prayer warriors on my behalf that I have ever known, and be my strongest advocate and supporter even when I felt that God was altogether absent. She never once was accusatory, or judgmental, or condescending, or hurtful, or distant. She didn’t shy away when the pain struck and she didn’t wait for me to “get better.” She wept for me, she prayed for me, she wrote to me, and she took me to the throne of grace for intercession more times than I will ever know. Oh, and have I mentioned we’ve spent about, eh, I don’t know, *maybe* 7 days in total in person with each other?????? For my birthday in 2014, I opened a package from her in the mail, and it was a journal of prayers and encouragement and writing to me. Who does that? Kate does that. She is seriously one of the best friends anyone on the planet could ever have. Also, she’s a vegan (what even?) and does yoga like a boss and coaches gymnastics and walks everywhere and lives in Seattle. If you’re trying to be a Better Adult, watch Kate’s life. For real. And find your Kate. Just, if you try to take my Kate, I will fight for her, because, she is my person. And Jen (see #3) is ~our~ person. There are lots of special bonds here. AND THEY ARE NOT EASILY BROKEN.

I think that’s all for today. I’m super tired. But lest you thought that everything I wrote on here was going to be morose and depressing, I hope there were at least some smiles reading everything above. It’s important that you know here that I, now, in the present time, am more or less okay. Because in the entries to come, you’re going to need to know that I make it out alive. And I do.

2: Desert


Depression came very slowly and all at once. All of the emotions inside of me escalated rapidly into anxiety; at first it came with events, or with moods, or with lack of sleep. Then it was a few times a week. Then it was daily. Then, at some point, my body didn’t want to try anymore. It appeared that even anxiety was too much of an effort. I was exhausted.

The core of my life was shifting. My parents were divorced, my dad was dating, and my mother was verbally and emotionally attacking my siblings – my sister, in particular – every chance she got. I was also falling in love with the most wonderful man I had ever met – as he battled severe chronic illness. It seemed as though everything that had been familiar was being pulled out from under my feet, and I didn’t have any solid ground to stand on.

It didn’t help that my dad, who was my number one spiritual leader – who I looked up to, who I mimicked, who I listened to, who I trusted – was making decisions I didn’t agree with. It was the first time ever, in my entire life, that he and I had not seen eye-to-eye so blatantly. In contrast with my freshman year of college, I never went home. I avoided home (homes?) like the plague. My dad was moving forward with his girlfriend, and my mother was slowly spinning out of control.

I need to make something about my walk with Jesus plain, here. God revealed himself to me when I was in 9th grade. Following a difficult breakup, I had the very clear, very real epiphany that God was breaking my heart for what broke His. You shall have no other gods before me. I am the bread of life. I am wholly satisfying. And though I faltered in the years to come, many times, my beliefs were strengthened with truth over the years. There was a time in college when I gave away the majority of the belongings I owned; I spent hours a day in prayer; I read Piper and Spurgeon and Edwards and John Owen. I had entire chapters of the Bible memorized and gave to and attended church faithfully. I took notes at each year’s Secret Church like my life depended on it.

I don’t say all of that to say: look what a pretty Christian I was. I just need you to know that I knew theology. I read about suffering. I read about dying to self and living for Christ. I read about being more than conquerers, and could recite to you exactly how and why we are more than conquerers. I could spout out any verse on almost any topic that you brought up. I could even tell you where I was in my Bible-in-a-year reading and what I was learning. I ate, breathed, and slept marinated in the truth of the gospel and of God. I was foundationally joyful, and rooted in the all-satisfying goodness of my God.

And yet depression came.

So all of the common “Christian” retorts of, have you read your Bible? God provides joy; there’s no reason to be sad! Christina, your hope should be in Jesus, not in your circumstances! washed over me like telling a diabetic, You know, you probably wouldn’t be here if you would just eat less sugar and product more insulin!

Because despite my wholehearted devotion to Jesus, my deep love for understanding the word and desiring God, my knowledge, and my prayers, I spiraled further and further down.

I want to make something abundantly clear: telling a Christian that they shouldn’t be depressed is like telling a Christian they shouldn’t have cancer.

Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

You will have trouble. You will. Did my fundamental belief that Jesus died for me, loved me wholly, and had overcome the world ever disappear in my depression? I don’t think so. It was the trouble of the world, and it fell like a fog so thick that I felt like I was suffocating. I know Jesus has overcome this, I would think, But I feel like I can’t breathe. 

If you haven’t been there, it sounds awfully dramatic. But if you’ve been there, you know. Yes, it sounds crazy to jump off of the top of a building. But if you feel like the entire building is engulfed in flames, and the smoke is clouding your lungs and the flames and licking at your heels, it seems like the only sensible move is to jump. Because who can live like this? 

I stopped wanting to get out of bed. I couldn’t eat. My stomach was in constant knots. I lost probably 15 pounds in the span of a few weeks. My stomach was in knots so badly that, when I started feeling like I was going to pass out every day, I had my best friend take me to the emergency room. They pumped me full of fluids and gave me anti-nausea and didn’t notice the gashes I had made along my ribcage.

You’re probably having bad side effects to the anti-depressant your doctor gave you. They said. Go see him tomorrow, and have him take you off the medicine. 

A week or two later, I was sitting in my statistics lab class, staring out the window, and I thought, if I was home right now in my room, I would take every pill in the Ibuprofen bottle I have. I just want out. I am so tired of living like this. I am so tired of feeling like everything around me is crumbling and having no control at all. I just want rest. I don’t want to hurt anyone, or cause any trouble, or disobey God. I just want to rest. Breathing is exhausting.

There is no other experience like it in the world, and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. Through my processing of the pits of despair in which I found myself, my heart broke for others who had fought this battle for so much longer than I had; in different eras, in different centuries, in different parts of the world. I grieved for those who did end up taking their life, and for the families affected; I grieved for the grip satan seemed to have so strongly on the depressed. I grieved for those who had an empty hopelessness that sometimes didn’t get better with medicine, or therapy, or both. I grieved for the broken world around me that sought after so many things – drugs, relationships, success, careers, religion – when what our hearts were made for was God.

Thankfully, I made it out of the hospital. I was there for 6 long days – including Easter. I met some beautiful, incredible women. I was prevented from carrying out any harmful actions towards myself. I realized that there are some things comparable to death – like, staying in a mental institution. I felt a little bit more sane after leaving.

Whew, I thought. I’m finally on the road to recovery. I can make it through this. 

1: Before


I am having trouble finding words today.

I want so badly for my words to find significance, and communicate clearly and concisely, yet I find that I don’t even know where to begin. I feel like I have lived many lifetimes, and they are all here scattered before me on my desk, and I don’t know which one to pick up first. To go in chronological order seems a bit boring and perhaps not the best way to communicate; to go in a random order may be disjointed and nonsensical.

I find it hard to ease into things that, to me, have been so deeply significant. I have never been great at small talk, and I don’t know how to gloss over the imperfections and the pain that life brings. It’s like I’m standing with you at the top of a cliff and the only thing to do is just to jump down into the ocean. There is no ladder, there is no trail, there is no lift.

So we’re going to just dive into my ocean. I hope that I can make sense of it all along the way.

Psychologists and Psychiatrists have a well-known approach that our childhood significantly affects the rest of our lives. And it makes sense. Not in the stereotypical ways that are often portrayed, but rather in that so much of who we are comes from beliefs deep-rooted in what was our “normal.” Children, the most innocent of us all, are so impressionable. And they don’t know any different.

My most vivid memory of my mother was when I stood in my room in 7th grade, and she told me that she was embarrassed to be seen in public with me because of the makeup I wore. In the moment, I think I lashed back in a typical preteen fashion. Whatever, I don’t care, I didn’t want to go to that event anyway.

The next day, walking into the mall, I recounted the story to my dad. Tears I didn’t know were there flowed.

“Dad, do I embarrass you?” I asked, as casually as I could.
“Of course not, sweetie,” he said. He put his arm around my shoulders. I broke.
“Mom told me yesterday that she’s embarrassed to be seen with me,” I said through tears.

And so the occasions with my mother went.

Another time, vividly.

“I feel like you don’t want to spend time with me.”
“Christina, that’s stupid. What do you want to do? Go to the mall? I can take you to the mall.”
“That’s not what I’m saying…”
“Well what do you want then? Money? I can take you to get whatever you want.”

And another.

“I feel like you hate me,” I said, tears flooding down my face. As dramatic as it sounds, there were real, true, hard feelings sitting underneath the teen angst. Not in the you-didn’t-let-me-go-to-my-friend’s-house hate me, but more along the lines of, why do you never talk to me about how my day was? Why did you drop me off at school on the first day of high school, when my heart was pounding out of my chest, and not even say “have a good day”? Why is it that when I return from my job at 10pm and you’re sitting on the couch in the living room, you completely ignore me entering the house, like I’m not even there? 

“Christina,” she rolled her eyes. “That is ridiculous. You know I don’t hate you.”

And she walked out of the room.

It’s no secret that I get along with guys much better than I do with women. I don’t think I trust women. I think I am afraid of what they’ll think of me, or what they’ll think to be seen with me as their friend, or what they’ll think about my hard, tough, skin, that has been weathered so much more than I feel like it should have in my 23 years on this Earth.

But guys, on the other hand, I easily befriend. Because my dad and I were best friends.

My earliest memory, believe it or not, of my dad, was when I was in the backseat of his old car, eating a Nutri Grain bar on the way home from preschool. He would talk to me and spend time with me. Some of my saddest days, when I would cry myself to sleep, was because he was on a business trip and I couldn’t see him or talk to him. I loved him so much that sometimes I worried he would die on a plane crash when he was on a business trip.

Despite his working long hours and moving up in his job, he always made time for me (and later, my siblings). His first inclination when he got home was to open a beer, sit with me, and talk to me about my day. Or watch The Soup. Or go to Costco and shop for the week. Or make dinner together. Or figure out where to go to dinner. Or just simply sit with me.

When I worked my first job in 9th grade, he picked me up at least twice – if not three times – a week from work, after having traveled straight from his commute downtown from work. He never complained. He would often take me through a drive through on the way home, because I was starving, and he would gleefully ask me how I was, how my day was, what I had done that day. I can’t remember him ever having a bad attitude even though he probably hadn’t seen home in more than 12 hours at that point.

My dad taught me everything I knew. I would ask him questions about theology, about food, about driving, about stores, about business, about the economy, about politics, about the why‘s and how‘s of God. We would joke together, laugh together, cry together, and just be together. I felt as though I could ask him anything and tell him anything.

I know it tends to be cliche to say “he was my best friend,” but he was. There was no one else I wanted to spend Saturday mornings with (at Costco). Well, I say no one, but I’m not including my misguided teen relationships. But, let’s not dwell on those.

In almost every way, he was the perfect man. He taught me how to love, how to forgive, how to listen, how to learn, how to drive a stickshift, and how to worship Jesus with reverence and humility. He had his flaws. Anger sticks out to me as one of the major ones; it didn’t take much to set him off. As Jesus softened his heart, so his anger diminished. I’d like to clarify here that he never once laid a hand on my mother, myself, or my siblings. His anger came more in the loud-voiced yelling or disbelief. The kind of anger that both scares you and keeps you in line. The kind of anger that I imagine most dads have, perhaps a bit more intensely at times.

Neither one of my parents was perfect. But I can clearly and confidently say that my dad and I were as close as best friends could be. I never once felt anything within miles of that with my mother. She was consumed with herself, consumed with money, consumed with drugs, consumed with keeping up the status quo. Consumed with everything but her family.

As can be expected, my parents fought constantly. On the one hand, there was this selfless, Jesus-following man who sought to keep peace at any cost. On the other hand, you had this self-absorbed, self-satisfying woman who sought her own gain at any cost. The push and pull of this was destructive for all involved.

Arguments began with a myriad of things: the tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt she had racked up illegally in his name; the illegal drugs she was ordering from Mexico; my tears to my dad about how desperately I longed to be loved by her; the way she ordered her life as though there was no one involved but herself.

Going away to college was one of the best and the worst things that ever happened to me. I was glad to be away from the day-to-day, but I was also returning home each weekend, attempting to be some sort of glue to hold my family together. I wanted to support my dad as he desperately prayed for redemption in our household and in her heart. I wanted to spend time with my siblings. I wanted to be the great band-aid that would help all see reason and join together.

In Fall of 2011, my mother moved into the guest bedroom downstairs.

In Fall of 2012, they were legally divorced.

In March 2013, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, because I was ready. I wanted out.

31 Days Challenge: Introduction + Hello

C.S. Lewis - The Screwtape Letters

I am excited, I am nervous, and I am overwhelmed. On the pages of this website, you will journey with me into the darkest times of my life. I feel dangerously vulnerable yet vehemently open; unsure of where to take this yet certain my story needs to be told.

I have titled this series He Met Me In The Dark. Sometimes, life is clear and bright and the world around you is in plain sight. Other times, there is a fog so thick and so dark it seems as though all the light in the world has vanished. What used to be so plain – the road ahead, the people around you, the presence of God – now seems like it was just a dream, or another life all together. It is there in that darkness where hearts break, where spirits are weakened, where strength fails. It is also there in the darkness where God shows up just as presently as He did in the light.

And sometimes more intimately so.

My purpose for writing is threefold. First, I want to chisel away at the walls that separate us. I want to expose my pain, my struggles, my suffering, and my heartache that others experiencing the same might feel less alone. I want to extend a hand and say: your suffering is not unnoticed and it is not meaningless. Your suffering should not be felt or experienced alone, and, if you’d be so kind, I would like to step into that with you. 

Secondly, I would like to offer resources for all parties involved: those who experience any blip on the radar of suffering, tragedy, or depression, and those who love people who are experiencing any of the above. My hope and my prayer is that my experiences, my thoughts, and my [hopefully-well-articulated] advice might help hearts learn better to love themselves, love each other, and love the God who loves them more than they can imagine.

Third and lastly, I would like to display a God who is unchanging in circumstance. A God who loves so deeply and so fiercely that He weeps with us in our darkness, and who never, ever, lets go. A God who waits patiently as we learn to walk again; a God who not only redeems our suffering but provides abundantly throughout. A God whose grace and mercies are new every morning. A God who allows us to ask questions that sometimes have no answer, and who allows us to feel all the ugly corners of anger and sadness and heartache and bring them directly to His feet.

I cannot promise you that you will agree with anything that I say, or any ways that I responded to my life. I cannot promise you that you will understand, that you will not question, that you will accept me for who I am and what I’ve been through. In fact, I can almost assuredly promise you that you will not wholly understand – as I would not wholly understand your life, because I am not you, and you are not me. That said, I ask for grace. I ask for grace as you, hopefully, view this from a lens that accepts differences and showers empathy upon hurting souls.

Even so, I can take it. More than the absence of judgement or critique, I wish that God may be glorified as you witness a testament to His faithfulness. This is not fundamentally about me or what you think of me. This is fundamentally about my God.

Come and listen
come to the waters edge,
all you who know and fear the Lord
come and listen
come to the waters edge,
all you who are thirsty
let me tell you what He
has done for me
let me tell you what He
has done for me
He has done for you
He has done for us
come and listen

{david crowder band, Come And Listen}

As I write each day, a link will be posted for each day for that particular post. It will help to read in chronological order if you can.


Day 1: Before

Day 2: Desert

Day 3: Recommended

Day 4:

Day 5:

Day 6:

Day 7:

Day 8:

Day 9:

Day 10:

Day 11:

Day 12:

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Day 21:

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Day 31: