Monday, September 24, 2012

teary weekend

My younger sister had her good bye dinner with my family. She's getting ready to get trained in teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) so she can be a missionary somewhere. My Dad asked her how it came about, and she told about how she felt God led her.

Then I went home, and filled out some Spiritual Growth Assessment thingy. Which, of course, measures your Christian life based on some external and/or subjective symptoms of the stereotyped "good" Christian's spiritual health. For the record, my pastor has done an amazing job not turning this whole thing into a legalistic judgmental thing. But when I'm looking at the paperwork by myself... Well, it wasn't too bad, until I got to the part where you graph your spiritual level (once again, not in legalism levels, but the goal is for planning to intentionally grow in your spiritual life. Unfortunately, they do this by looking at certain stereotyped symptoms). Anyway, I colored in my blob of a Christian life, reflected on how I was short in the whole missions/witnessing area, and then considered how I would have looked better a few years ago, when I was trying to go back to the mission field, or even when I was on it.

I didn't put the stuff with my younger sister and then the spiritual growth stuff together until later, and I was rather taken aback at how upset I got. I haven't cried that much in a while.

See, here is something I've said many times, sometimes around tears. You hear people talking about "those people who wouldn't answer God's call to missions, so there aren't as many missionaries as there should be" or whatever. Lay on the guilt, despite the fact that without lots of people to send them, missions wouldn't work as well. (With sufficient selfishness, I used to tell people that it was fine they weren't going over seas. We couldn't all go, and I really, really wanted to go.) Anyway, the part of the story that I pretty much only hear from myself or people agreeing with me is about all the people who really, really wanted to go over seas, but due to being turned down or finances or health or some combination or who knows what, they are unable to go. Secret sufferers. Hey, what are you going to do? Follow the people trying to recruit missionaries around and inform them that the world isn't as simple or pleasant as they might think it was? Hmm, you'd think I was depressed or something. Actually, I haven't been too shy about telling my story of not getting to go back over seas. Perhaps I should be more shy than I am.

Anyway, I was so upset, and it hung over me through most of Sunday, until I talked to another of my sisters and had one final cry.

It isn't just the mission thing. Its the actually standing up for myself instead of being a complete doormat all of the time (now I'm just a partial doormat). That doesn't look so good on your Christianity rating on paper. Or depression and anxiety. Really? That's like a black mark. But don't worry, once you do some averaging of your total score, people don't have to know that you have a mood disorder. They can assume you fall short somewhere else.

But when I met with my small group, it wasn't so bad. They agreed with me when I said the paper was kind of like measuring someone's swimming speed in a swimming pool and later in a river but without accounting for the influence of the running water. See, the group has been pretty decent. The thing/one that isn't so good with this sort of evaluation is me. Putting it on paper, I could see what I've feared for some time; My faith life looks worse (at least on paper) now than it did a couple years ago, before I started fighting the depression and OCD.

But I wasn't completely swamped. I still knew that actually my faith has grown, even if it looks different on paper. So maybe before I got a bunch of outward indicators down, but now I've (more or less) kept faith through a year and a half of wanting to die. It might not look as good on paper, because they don't take the depression into consideration. But God does. Despite my tears, I knew that he was happy with my spiritual growth. And that is what really matters.

So there is my long religious story. I have passed the tears stage. Last night, I switched from crying to thinking that I had a sinus infection. It gave a physical reason for me to feel down, so that helped. Today, I might stick with the earlier dirty air (stale smoke from forest fires) allergy theory, with maybe an infection, but I'm not going to pay a doctor to see him about it yet.

But I'm soo tired. After talking to a bunch of people on Sunday about the work situation, and determining to try and stick out working afternoons, just hopefully getting off after 8 hours, I'm exhausted. And, of course, trying to figure out why. Never mind the emotional weekend or simple lack of sleep. Is it depression? Is my depression getting worse? Do I need to enact more anti-depression measures? Can I quit working afternoons? Seriously, Abigail. Give it time.

It doesn't help that issues keep coming up at work. They really aren't that serious, except as people make them out to be. Sure, problems, but not the end of the world. Problems that are just going to happen when you have a bunch of toddlers and one teacher (or even two teachers). One of my co-teachers assured me it wasn't my fault. But I'm struggling to emotionally grasp that. I know it in theory, but emotionally, I'm still working on it. My job is just straight out stressful.

And when I think about cutting hours, I get into the financial issues of my own, and that is also stressful. And when depression gets a little worse, it makes it that much harder to sort out the financial mess. That much harder to even look the financial mess head on.

Well, I'll call it a night for blogging now. :) I'm actually going to exercise tonight. I can say that, because I'm going to a tap dancing class, and I will almost certainly enjoy it, and I sure don't want to miss it. So that is good.


  1. You remind me of myself and how I use to have to do things at church that were somehow measured out. I don't think that is what God is looking for from you. But I have a weathered background with the church, so many might tell you not to listen to me. I think you just have to "be" sometimes. Look at the poem "Footprints" I think it speaks to this. ♥

    1. Thanks Shannon. I agree with you. I really need to "be" right now. "Be" carried by Jesus, too. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Abigail, I agree with Shannon that God isn't looking at the form/graph to see where you are spiritually. And from my own experience, I know that the spiritual life can have its ups and downs, strong and weak times. For me, it never stays the same. I try to think of myself on a journey.

    And sometimes I can't see the forest for the trees, to use a cliche. I can't tell where I am on the spiritual journey sometimes until I step back and look back and see where I've been.

    Sorry if I'm rambling. I can relate so much with your concerns and worries.

    1. I think I like rambling, so you are very fine. :) I think that the journey idea is a good one, though so different from my perfectionistic "I must be better than I used to be." I suspect sometimes it doesn't really matter where we are on the journey, just that we are on it. Yes, I'll remind myself of that. :) Thanks