cross with flowers at church entrance

40 Days of Lent and My Own Personal Season of Disappointment

It has been a rough couple of weeks for me. There have been numerous disappointments over the past month. Things that I took for granted would happen, and then they didn’t.

Things that were a pretty big hit to my confidence and self-esteem. Things that were a hit to my faith.

I’m not talking about your casual, run-of-the-mill disappointment. I’m talking about the devastating feeling of being punched in the gut when you learned the news. I’m talking about the kind of disappointment that requires a mental health day (or two) off of work. The kind of disappointment that makes you think, “what’s the point!?”

Why would God let this happen? Why did he keep ignoring my prayers? Did he just forget about me, or did he not care about me anymore?

It’s been interesting because this season of disappointment and doubt has corresponded amazingly well with the season of Lent, which began on March 2 this year: Ash Wednesday.

I went to my first Ash Wednesday service this year. In the faith tradition I grew up in, we just didn’t observe Lent. I had never even heard of it until I went to college, when suddenly people were talking about giving up caffeine or chocolate for the 40 days before Easter.

I think some people feel very uncomfortable stepping outside of their own faith traditions, but I have found it beneficial to keep an open mind, and see if there is a potential spiritual benefit in partaking in other faith traditions. Lent is not even that far of a stretch for me, it’s still a Christian tradition, just not the brand of Christianity I was used to.

At our Ash Wednesday service, we sang hymns together and had a time of private and public confession of sin. It was a time to focus on our mortality, and our thankfulness that Jesus died for our sins. It was a time to be grateful for the grace of God.

I thought about giving up something for Lent, but nothing seemed right. I started out the season of Lent with a lot of hope, but found myself unfortunately collecting disappointment after disappointment. Our church had created a podcast especially for Lent, where members of our church shared prayers and Scripture and recited the Lord’s Prayer together. Many people talked about how much they loved the podcast, and how uplifting and meaningful it was for them to listen to it each morning.

But I found myself less and less able to listen to it as the weeks went by. I felt like my faith was failing as I watched and waited (and waited some more) for my prayers to be answered. And then they weren’t.

Read More »
cat looking in through slightly open window

The Sneaky Side of Depression

I think one of the most helpful things I’ve done in trying to maintain my mental health is to become aware of my own personal red flags.

There are certain things, when they start happening, that make me suddenly wonder if something is off. Suddenly I’ll realize, “oh, I’m not handling things well anymore.” 

For me, some of those red flags are:

  • Getting overly emotional at everything (more crying than usual)
  • Feeling tired and fatigued all the time (wanting to sleep as a coping mechanism)
  • The stopping of activities I normally enjoy (lack of motivation to do them)
  • Becoming extra critical and annoyed with others
  • Being extremely bothered by clutter (feeling obsessive about needing to have the house clean)

A few weeks ago I was at work reading one of my daily news emails that I subscribe to, and that day it was focused on the war in Ukraine. As I read about numerous innocent people dying, I suddenly felt so overwhelmed. I just wanted to start sobbing about the injustice of it all – literally, I was having trouble keeping it together. Now, I’m not saying that the war in Ukraine isn’t something worth crying about or getting emotional over. Obviously, it’s a very serious situation. But the reaction I was having was more extreme than was normal for me. That was hint #1 to me that maybe I was dealing with some extra anxiety, or even depression, settling in.

I thought over the previous weeks, and realized I had gotten out of some of my normal routines. I wasn’t writing or blogging anymore. I wasn’t taking time to pray or do other spiritually-focused activities. I certainly wasn’t taking time to exercise either. So what was I doing with all my time? I was sleeping a lot more, going to bed early and waking up late, despite setting my alarm for 5:30 each morning in the hopes that I would actually get up and write (which wasn’t happening). No matter how much I slept, I still felt tired. I was wasting a lot more time on Netflix and social media. It felt like I was busy all day, but I wasn’t really doing anything of substance.

And yes, I felt extra annoyed with people, especially the people I lived with. In my mind, the house was a disaster. Why did it feel like I was the only one in our family who pulled their own weight? How could everyone else stand to ignore the mess and clutter and go about their happy little lives? I had blown up a few times at my husband Dean, and had made it loud and clear that I was tired of being the “only one” who took care of things.

Basically, ALL of my red flags were showing. But this didn’t even occur to me until that day in my office when I was struggling to not have an emotional breakdown over the current news about Ukraine. 

Read More »
girl peeking out of big sweater

This is What My Social Anxiety Looks Like

I wouldn’t say that I have intense social anxiety, but at times it does pop up and inconvenience me. Normally it’s in large gatherings, or when I’m faced with meeting someone new, that I feel myself morphing into the most awkward version of myself.

On the Myers-Briggs test, I am an ISFJ-T. (Check out 16Personalities to learn more!) When I took the quiz, I scored 58% on the Introvert scale, which surprised me at the time because sometimes I feel much more introverted than that. I like people, and when I get comfortable around people, my fun and crazy side usually starts coming out – but I definitely feel most comfortable at smaller gatherings, and I do need alone time to recharge.

All that to say, even though I’m not an extreme introvert and I do like social gatherings, I do find myself struggling with social anxiety more often than I’d like.

antisocial moth meme

Social anxiety can be an actual diagnosable disorder (SAD), and I do not have that. I am talking about levels of social anxiety that probably everyone feels at one time or another.

My family and I recently began attending a new (to us) church. This is probably where I feel my social anxiety most acutely these days. For example, when I’m sitting in Bible class, but the class hasn’t actually started yet, here are some thoughts that are probably popping into my mind:

Hmm… I’ve never met the people behind me. I should probably introduce myself. They look like they’re in the middle of a conversation though. I shouldn’t interrupt them… I’ll look back again in a minute. Okay they’re still talking, I should just quickly say hi… but Bible class is probably about to start, I don’t want to say something and then get cut off… Maybe next week I can try to meet them.

There’s that person I’ve met before – I have no idea what their name is. I’ve already asked them three times, so I can’t possibly ask them again. I guess I’ll sit on the other side of the room until I get a chance to look up their name…

*after saying hello to someone* Hmm… they didn’t really smile that much when they saw me. They probably hate me. Were they trying to avoid me? Oh no, did I do something to offend them???

Wow, that person seems so popular and cool. They probably have a ton of people who will want to talk to them, so I won’t waste their time by introducing myself. Wait, now they might think I’m avoiding them… I guess I’ll just say hi and then keep walking… but I just remembered I have a huge pimple on my chin – I don’t want that to be their first impression of me – I’ll just keep my head down and pretend I don’t see them.

Can anyone else relate to these thoughts? They sound extreme when I read them, but these are thoughts that I occasionally have to battle. I know they are irrational 99% of the time, but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes they overwhelm me.

Read More »