As someone who struggles with depression, I have also struggled with finding a reason to live. Life gives us so many reasons to desire death: struggles, hurts, suffering of so many kinds. I see them as things that make me long for heaven. There was a time when my hardships made me want to die so badly that I did try to kill myself… and failed. And not just once. This led me to wonder, what am I living for? Why won’t God let me die or take me? What makes life worth living?
When I had my first child, she gave me a reason to live—to care for her. But there were days when that wasn’t enough to keep me from longing for heaven. Then my sister died and left behind four beautiful girls and a husband who loved her. And I should mention, I was about 6 months pregnant when she died. This experience floored me emotionally and psychologically. At the time, I was not properly medicated for my bi-polar disorder and anxiety, and it was all I could do to hold it together. Having a life growing inside of me kept me alive, because if I killed myself I killed her, too.
When the baby was born – my second daughter – we named her Serenity Elizabeth Joy (Serenity because, at the time, she was serene, Elizabeth after my sister, Mary Elizabeth, and Joy because we knew she would just bring the world joy (plus it sounded great with the other names, I admit.) At 18 months old, my dearest Serenity E. J. became the strong-willed, energetic, outgoing, and defiant child that she is today. I love that girl with every ounce of my being AND she is one of my greatest challenges. She tests my patience, tries my resolve, and consistently checks on my own consistency.
I must admit, there were days I have wondered, “Why me?” I would pray and ask the Lord, “Why did you give me this child who I find to be such a challenge??” I prayed this prayer for nine years until one day it hit me like a slap in the face. I am the only woman who could possible parent this child. That is not to say that if I did die in some accident God couldn’t raise up another person to care for her. In Esther 4:14 Mordecai tells Esther, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” This tells me that if I killed myself God could raise up another to care for her, but I believe she was given to me for a reason.
Scripture says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
I was placed here to do the works that God has prepared in advance for me to do.
And I am just now discovering what those “works” are. Being a wife, raising my children, homeschooling my children, writing the books that God has placed upon my heart, blogging to hopefully share some bit of wisdom that might help others, and (perhaps) I will go to massage therapy school to help others not only feel better but also get better.
All this and still there have been hardships. A week ago, I found out that my brother, Dennis, died tragically. He was very young – only 49. He had just had his birthday in May. I love all my siblings. Even so, for some reason, Dennis and I had some kind of special connection. There was a running family joke that we were twins separated at conception. He had a different mom who (as I mentioned in a previous blog) had died when he was young. Though Dennis and I had our struggles in our relationship, I always loved him deeply. If I were not properly medicated right now, I am not certain how I would have handled his death.
(I cannot stress enough how important it is to get help if you struggle with something – anxiety, depression, bi-polar, or just general inexpiable sadness. Doctors can help, and finding the right kind of help can mean the difference between life and suicide for many people. If you google how many people kill themselves each year you may find yourself feeling like perhaps you should reach out more. But I digress…)
I have realized though that if I wait for the perfect moment where everything is right in the world and thinking at that time I can live happily, perhaps then I will never truly live my life. I have found myself sleeping through the rough days sometimes – asking my amazing MIL to keep the kids. Or sometimes I have found myself floating – you know, just going through the motions but never really feeling any joy or happiness, sometimes feeling nothing at all.
This leads me to thinking how do I go about my life living it and not floating or sleeping through it? How do I experience life, allowing those experiences to shape me but not define me? How do I live my life with happiness and experience the joy of the Lord on a regular basis?
The answer is so simple and yet so challenging for me to live out. The hardest part for me is that I have known it for years, believed it with all my heart, but struggle to feel it in my heart.
Philippians 4:4-9 says (my emphasis added):
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(And this next part is the HOW I live my life with happiness and experience the joy of the Lord on a regular basis.)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
That sums it all up in a pretty little package. Just read it again and DO IT. Then read it again, if you need to, and make a decision to do it. Make a decision to “think about such things,” to pray to the Lord asking for help, thanking Him for the good stuff and the bad stuff, and accept the peace that He extends to you.
The Friday, after finding out my brother was gone, I had a rough day. I was wallowing in my sorrows and feeling sorry for myself. I have that right in this situation, but it was affecting my parenting, how I was treating others, and how I felt about myself. I listened to a song (the lyrics aren’t perfect but the premise is good) and it made me realize I had to shake the devil off and LIVE MY LIFE.
So, I commit here and now before the friends and strangers that read my blog, that I will continually do my best to be my best self and I will live my life – truly live. Mary and Dennis are gone but not forgotten. They can no longer live, but I can and I must. I must make my life worth living by choice.
Sincerely from the heart,
Super Momma Maggie
(I plan to begin posting more on my other blog. It will be about my past life experiences that have made me who I am. If you are interested, check out www.maggieaspoon.com. And if you enjoyed this blog please like and share. Thanks!)