Archive for the ‘struggle’ Tag

Saving Trust   1 comment

My achievement demon was finally beaten (as I posted), but it was a double-team effort, not a solo act.  Berly deserves special praise for her unusual trust and courage to stand with me in this battle as she lived out our fundamental commitment to support one another’s personal struggles.  It is a long story, a good story, one well worth telling, but too big for a blog.  The only way for me to escape my work-driven value system was to resist its demands, which meant choosing a job which was good for my soul but bad for my pocket.  I have been employed part-time and seasonally for 40 months as our savings slowly dwindled.  I have looked for other employment, but not aggressively, taking it at the pace my spirit has needed.  

Imagine how much trust and courage this has required of Kimberly and how badly I needed this trust when struggling with my own self doubt.  She has said many times, “we may lose our home, but we must not lose our souls,” and so we have continued to make the hard choice of trusting God to keep us afloat financially while we take the steps we have both needed to make room for our weary hearts.  Think how much Kimberly must trust me not to be selfish, not to take the easy way, not to use my struggle as an excuse to slack off, and to instead accept that I am doing all that I can within the sphere of my emotional strength, making the best choices I know how in harmony with my spirit.  We have built this mutual trust by sharing honestly, often, about our deepest heart issues.  We trust one another not to use our neediness to get an advantage over the other.

My win over this perverse accomplishment-based value system is not full or final.  I cannot suddenly begin to live as though I’m now free of its influence. as though this lifelong weight can no longer distort my self perception.  Don’t look for miracles here or you will be disappointed.  I am in recovery mode, and it will be a long, slow rehabilitation.  It will take whatever time it takes, and trying to hurry it would undermine the process.  But you can be sure that Kimberly and I will stay faithful to the path before us.

Posted January 22, 2014 by janathangrace in Personal

Tagged with , , , , , ,

So Life Goes On… Unfortunately   16 comments

At the time of my last post, I was finishing up my work for the school year at Lynchburg College library.  I get furloughed during the summer months, which punches holes in our finances.  Even when I am working, I don’t make quite enough to cover our basic expenses, so our savings are slowly dwindling.  I applied for numerous summer jobs, but no one was interested.  Three years ago I started a lawn service to try to cover the summer deficit, but I discovered that putting out flyers got me very few customers.  Though I really enjoy yard work, I hate–really hate–sales, and in order to get customers I have to sell myself (the most loathsome form of  marketing to me).

Being depressed gives me no energy for that kind of entrepreneur activity… or for most other things that are needed in this world to sustain life.  I enjoy my library work, and it gives me a distraction from depression.  Now I wake up every morning miserable, and though it doesn’t improve my feelings, I have fallen into the habit of doing house projects to distract myself.  Hey, if there’s nothing I can do to make myself feel better, I may as well get stuff done.

But for the last few days, it all seems so pointless.  Why should I pull the weeds or repair the rocker or wheelbarrow when neither the work nor the results give me pleasure?  My active depression actually pushed me to work on projects just to help me get through the day, but for the last three mornings, I have not woken unhappy.  So I still have very little energy, but now even less incentive… not that it matters.  Nothing really matters.  When life is reduced to simply finding the least painful way to survive each day, what is the point?

Posted June 4, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

Tagged with ,

Life is Hard   Leave a comment

From Anne Lamott, Help, Thanks, Wow:

Human lives are hard, even those of health and privilege, and don’t make much sense.  This is the message of the Book of Job:  Any snappy explanation of suffering you come up with will be horseshit.  God tells Job, who wants an explanation for all his troubles, ‘You wouldn’t understand.’

And we don’t understand a lot of things.  But we learn that people are very disappointing, and that they break our hearts, and that very sweet people will be bullied, and that we will be called to survive unsurvivable losses, and that we will realize with enormous pain how much of our lives we’ve already wasted with obsessive work or pleasing people or dieting.  We will see and read about deprivation and barbarity beyond our ability to understand, much less process.  Side by side with all that, we will witness transformation, people finding out who they were born to be, before their parents pretzelized them into high achievers and addicts and charming, wired robots.

But where do we even start on the daily walk of restoration and awakening?  We start where we are. We find God in our human lives, and that includes the suffering.  I get thirsty people glasses of water, even if that thirsty person is just me.

Posted April 17, 2013 by janathangrace in Reading

Tagged with , ,

Tailwind   2 comments

Since I work till 2 a.m., Kimberly and I keep different sleep schedules, even on the weekend.  Being the only one awake late at night can be very lonely, and feeling a bit lost tonight, I flipped through some TV shows—a little basketball, a bit of news, the tale end of 48 Hours, a CSPAN symposium of legal experts pontificating on Dr. Seuss (the ethics of Whoville, surprisingly interesting)… channel-surfing to try to ride out my negative energy.  I wandered into the kitchen, looking in the frig and cupboards for something to fill my soul.  But I came up empty.

Then I took a desperate measure… I opened Anne Lamott.  For me, reading without a smidgen of positive energy is like trying to get a plane off the runway at 30  mph.  Apparently God puffed a tail-wind, a penny miracle to aid  my shaky effort to break free of gravity.  This one time my sputtering spirit settled into a quiet purr of reflection.  My life seems to be more stagger and flop than gliding, but I’m grateful for tonight.  May each of you find a little breeze of grace today.

Posted March 24, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

Tagged with ,

Does Happiness Still Run On This Line?   4 comments



Yesterday I was so sick at heart I felt nauseous.  Life does not make sense to me right now.  My last few blogs show I am oscillating between anger,  faith, sarcasm,  acceptance, doubt, misery, hope… the only constant is depression, which drains my energy and darkens my outlook.  What used to restore my spirit no longer works.  “Happiness is a choice,” they say.  Balderdash.  You can decide your actions, and to some extent you can direct your thoughts, but you cannot pick your feelings like a vending machine treat.  Some folks find cheer in thankfulness or service or friendship, while others find comfort in meditation or nature.  You can keep an eye out for happiness, but it may not show up at any of these stops.  I don’t control it’s schedule.  I can only wait for it.

For some years now I have found consolation in discovering and working to heal my soul’s wounds, but I cannot get at the root of my current turmoil.  That process simply doesn’t work for me now.  Kimberly and I have also solved our conflicts by talking through our issues, but since we can’t make sense of what we are going through now, that approach doesn’t work.  When my emotional energy is dragging, I don’t have enough flex in my shock-absorbers to cushion the bumps, so I’m easily disheartened or hurt or agitated, and Kimberly feels it more sharply because she’s also deflated.  The proverb “as iron sharpens iron” has been profoundly true of us through the years, but during this season it seems often to be “as iron notches iron.”  We need to find a new way of supporting ourselves and one another.  I know we will find a way, we always do, but in the meantime it is painful and discouraging.

Posted February 7, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

Tagged with , , , , ,