Have you read yesterday's post? Because if you haven't, maybe check that one out before this one. It's kind of a sequel; an unexpected sequel.
Yesterday was a rough.day. Yikes. When I shared about my struggles with mental illness, I didn't think it was going to show its face so strongly in the rest of my day.
My day up until that point had been pretty good. I had stayed at the Willems' house for night, so I didn't have to wake up early. Val had put some freshly cut flowers on the nightstand, so the room smelled heavenly. The movie night had gone well, so I was feeling good about that, and I was ready for the day. Things were business as usual all morning, until around noon. I could feel a migraine creeping in; mine are always a slow build, which gives me time to run for cover. Literally. I crawl under the covers and try to sleep till it leaves. So I went home and tried to sleep before the full force of it hit me.
I woke up, feeling ready to continue with my day. The migraine has calmed down some, and I had a BBQ to get to. My friend Jayelle was having a bunch of work friends over to her place. I hadn't met most of these people, and I didn't remember the names of the ones I had met. But I wasn't worried- that's a pretty new feeling for me. I used to dread events with new and unfamiliar things for at least a week before it happened. So the fact that I was looking forward to this was great!
We can skip past the scenes of me getting ready, trying to find my shoes, etc...to me showing up in Morden, parking on her street, getting out of the car, and then turning around and getting right back in again.
Cue the panic attack.
I've had panic attacks before. Thankfully Kari has always been nearby to help me breath and come back to myself, but this time, I was alone. My head was just saying "nope, nope, nope, I can't do this," over and over again. My fight or flight instincts kicked in, and I decided flight was the best option. I tried to drive for a little while, but ended up pulling over. I don't know if you've tried to drive while not being able to breathe, but I don't recommend it. So here I am, sobbing and hyperventilating on the side of the road in Morden. I can't decide whether I should keep my car running to keep me cool, or turn it off to save gas. In the hard moments, making decisions is almost impossible.
I managed to calm myself down enough to keep driving, after I texted Jayelle to apologise for flaking and explain myself. As I get close to Winkler, I check my phone. She wants to make sure I'm okay, offers to come to me, tells me I should try and come back; she'd bought gluten-free buns and a cake for us. If anything, she at least wanted to make sure I got food.
I pull over again, this time into a parking lot. I feel the panic coming back. My hands and feet start to go numb. And I sob. All of my fear, self-doubt, frustration, and anger at myself comes pouring out. It's been a few years of dealing with depression and anxiety, but I still get frustrated by how much they run my life at times. I feel like I can't be a "normal person;" I want to be able to just show up at a BBQ and not have it be a big deal. And sometimes it's not. But yesterday, it was the biggest deal, apparently. Thanks, brain.
My therapist (yes, I go to therapy. And you should too!) has helped me find ways to calm down. It takes a while, and sometimes doesn't work on the first try, but I did my best. I found all the green things. It helps ground me. So my breathing got back to normal, my eyes were blurry and red, my face was puffy; I felt like the biggest mess. I picked up my phone and opened up Instagram. The first thing I saw was a picture of pink flowers, and this quote:
"It's about learning to show up and let ourselves be seen just as we are, massively imperfect and weak and wild and flawed in a thousand ways, but still worth loving."
I decided to show up. I started up my car and drove back to Morden. Jayelle was waiting for me outside, and after a moment of panic (which she helped me through) I managed to get there. It took an hour and a half from the time I left Morden till when I finally got back there and through the door. And guess what? I had a good time! I got to chat with some people I hardly knew till I really knew them, laughed a ton, ate good food, and enjoyed a beautiful evening with new and old friends.
This was a huge victory for me. I have never gone back to something I've left before. I always go home and feel sorry for myself, upset that I couldn't do it. But no that day! I'm so thankful to have friends who support me, push me, and try to understand when even I can't explain what I'm feeling.
I know a lot of you struggle with similar things as me. That's why I wanted to share this with you. There are days that are struggles and days that are victories; you get to have both. If it feels like you've been trapped for a while, good things are coming. You don't get to stay in that place. It can be really hard, and some days you might not feel like trying, but trust me, it's worth it. Turn around and try again. I'm so proud of you.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
This is one of the first verses I ever memorised. It wasn't years and years ago, when I was in my grade one Sunday school class. It wasn't my first year at university, which was...oh gosh, 6 years ago. No, it was last year. That's right, up until last year, I knew absolutely zero Bible verses. Sure, I knew stories, I knew approximately what Jesus was saying in certain sections of the Bible, but I had nothing in my arsenal. I don't mean to use as ammo to attack people; I don't believe God intended His words to be used for such things. I mean for me to use, to remember, when things are hard and it feels like I'm under attack.
I am one of those people who struggles with anxiety. I also have depression, which is a fun bundle of worrying if my friends care about me and my brain saying "of course they don't," and having days where I don't want to talk to anyone. I have had some really dark days, and when it's really bad, a few dark months. It's scary, to not be able to "snap yourself out of it." These verses I have memorised are helpful for me. When I have to get myself somewhere, and my anxiety is pulling me back inside the house, I will whisper that verse from Ephesians over and over while I drive. I might look like a crazy person, but remembering God doesn't want me to worry, and that He will take care of me, helps bring me peace in those panicky moments.
Memorisation isn't for everybody. I know it can be difficult to sit down and focus on remembering a verse. I use the app Scripture Typer. It lets you import verses from your preferred edition (I like the NLT) and it walks you through 3 different steps to help you memorise better. I have also filled my office with paintings of Bible verses. I sit in the office every day, so I wanted to fill it with reminders of who God is and the promises He keeps. It's easy to get stressed and overwhelmed. There are only so many hours in the day. But seeing these verses reminds me to take a few minutes and spend time with God each day.
Start putting together your arsenal. Take those bad days down! If you have verses that have been meaningful to you, start to memorise them. Instead of retreating, numbing out, or distracting yourself, practice turning to God and His truths in those moments. I hope your summer time is filled with the best days, but don't forget to thank God for those ones too! He's there in all things.
Talk to you soon!
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope."
Ever feel lonely? It's kind of hard to imagine, being alone. I have so many people at my fingertips that I can reach out to in a minute. But we can't force people to respond, to stop screening us, or like our pictures on Insta. It's almost worse to know that your text has been seen, and that your friend has chosen not to respond. One of my biggest struggles is applying my worth to how fast people respond (or if they respond) to me. If a friend ignores my text for days, I feel myself spiral into doubt about myself and my worth to that person. I assume that they are tired of me, that I'm annoying them, or that I'm too needy. But the minute they respond, all is forgiven. I immediately feel better about myself. As you can imagine, this can lead to a lot of time spent feeling pretty disposable. No one deserves to feel that way.
I am with you always.
I'm living out of the city for the summer, and I feel pretty isolated out here in Altona. I would venture to say that ALL of my friends have moved out of town, most of them to Winnipeg. I spend a lot of time wondering how all of my friends are doing, what I'm missing, and the things everyone is up to. I feel out of the loop. And the insecure part of me believes that I'm being forgotten, because no one is rushing to tell me about their day, or asking about mine. Am I asking? Not often. I get really down if I'm continuously ignored ; I think that's fair, right?
I am with you always.
I am exploring youth pastoring this summer. This means I work in an office a lot of the time, in a church that can be pretty empty during the week. It's for the best, because I get a bit antsy and have solo dance parties. Mary Lou definitely walked in on me singing realllll loud one day. Whoops.
I am with you always.
I'm not used to acknowleding that there is an enemy working against us. It's not my go-to response when things go bad, or when I feel like who I am isn't good enough. The enemy tempts us to believe lies, which is not something that could ever come from God. God doesn't want us to feel alone. In Matthew 28:20 He promises that He will be with us, even to the end of the age. I take a passive role in applying my faith to my daily struggles. Rather than proclaiming Christ's victory over my life, I allow myself to sit in sadness and believe that it's what I deserve. Because we will never deserve God's love, but He gives it anyway. So when I feel lonely, I will remember that God is with me always. I will remember the friends He has placed in my life, whether they were for a season, or a lifetime, and I will be grateful. I'll pray for energy after a full work day to reach out to someone I care about. I won't be passive in my sadness, because I'm not meant to stay in this lonely place. God has a plan for each of us, and plans only work if we keep trying to move through the hard stuff.
I'm being challenged to turn to God in all things this summer. My prayer for you is that if you're experiencing difficult things this summer, that you practice searching out God's truths and applying them to your life. And reach out. Don't struggle alone because you believe you deserve to; you don't!
As I sit here typing this, I have...oh...6 tabs open on my computer. I have my phone laying next to me, and there's music playing loud enough that you can hear it throughout the church. By the time I've decided on my next sentence, I will have probably checked my phone.
Yup, just did.
My life is full of distractions. I think I almost search them out. I don't like to sit and be still; something inside of me whispers "this is wrong...you have to keep moving!" Not moving in the physical sense (I spend most of my day at a desk), but mentally. It's hard to focus my attention on one thing for any lengthy period of time. I am constantly flitting from screen to screen, picture to picture...but what am I looking for? I never reach my quota. I never lay in bed at the end of the day, satisfied that I've consumed enough media for the day. I've fallen asleep while scrolling through Instagram.
Have you ever tried to tell a friend something when they were clearly distracted? They might nod, smile, glance up at you every so often, but you can tell that their mind is somewhere else. We're that friend when it comes to Jesus. He could be showing you this big, open door, with neon signs flashing, arrows pointing, shouting "Come this way!" but we just nod. And then complain that God never answers us, or tells us where to go. It's easy to place blame. It's harder to listen.
Someone who inspires me to slow down and take time with God is my friend, Levi. Have you met Levi? He's one of the Sr. Youth leaders here at LSCF. He plays the bass? Glasses, cool shoes...oh. You probably know him as Lenny. Or Levy. Or LenDogg...
He is a very intentional person, both with the people he cares about, and God. He sets aside time with God like someone would make a plan with a friend. Because that's what God asks of us; He wants to be our everything! He wants us to take time out of our daily lives to get to know Him as a friend, and as the Father.
This can seem daunting. How do you hang out with God?! Don't worry, there's no right or wrong way to do it. For me, I need a quiet place, preferably outside. I like to be able to see God's creation, and living on the prairies, you can see everything for miles. If you're looking for a place to start, you should read Ephesians 1:15-23. Paul is writing a letter to the Ephesian church, encouraging them in their faith. Paul's prayer is applied to you today, not just past followers. The entire book of Ephesians challenges us to live a life that is God-centered, not self-centered. Below I've included a break down of Ephesians, with some key verses and ideas pointed out.
I hope you're able to take some time to get to know God this summer. Like any strong relationship, it takes time and consistency. And don't worry, God is opening and doors and windows miles ahead of where our noisy feet drown Him out. We never run out of chances. Our Father has all sorts of plans for us, we need only to listen.
This is my cousin Lanea. And while I can never spell her name correctly on the first try, this beautiful name matches her beautiful nature. She is only 11 (a running joke. It's her excuse for everything), but this girl is filled to the brim with the spirit of God! She is one of my biggest encouragers; the wisdom she has is unreal. There is over ten years between us, but she's the one I hang out with at family gatherings. My partner-in-crime, she reminds me that climbing trees is fun, that trampolines should always be jumped on, and every cat deserves a cuddle.
So why am I introducing you to this great little lady in my life? Because she is fearless in the name of our Father.
Isaiah 6:8 says, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here I am. Send me!"
This is such a simple statement, one that I've spoken to God with complete honesty and truthfulness. But the minute I feel that God is sending me somewhere I don't want to go, I cower. My willing heart goes and hides in a corner. I wish I could be more specific, like "God, please send me somewhere with a solid political system, a mild (but not too cold) climate, where the population can speak English, and everything is air conditioned." Maybe I wasn't so willing after all.
When I told Lanea that I was going to Brazil with Action, she emailed me to let me know that, while she would miss me at gatherings and fish-fry's, I was doing something way more important! She immediately put aside her own feelings to support me. I think that's where I falter. I think of my own discomfort, my own fears. When God calls, when He asks who will go, I think we can all learn from my cousin; while we have insecurities, what we're doing is more important!
This applies to all of us, no matter what we're doing. If you're working at a camp this summer, a fishing lodge, a berry patch, or a gas station, there are going to be moments where you're unsure; your confidence might waiver. It's easy to give in to the pressures of the world around us. But God doesn't call us to an easy life; in fact, He says the opposite. John 16:33 says:
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
So I want to encourage you to be a light in your world this summer. God doesn't just send people to far away places; He may be calling you to make friends with a co-worker, or mow your grandparents lawn for them. There are so many ways to serve, so many ways for us to show God's light in everything we do. It may not always be comfortable, and it may not always be easy, but it is always worth it. God's love isn't complicated.
Take some time, maybe 10, 20 minutes, to listen to God. If you are willing, ask God what He wants from your summer. He will send you. Are you ready?
"The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone."
- John 1:4
Well, this is new and exciting, isn't it? I thought I should make some introductions, as I am new in this particular position. Although, you've hopefully seen my face around a bit. My name is Brooklyn Friesen. I am normally a senior youth leader here at LSCF, but for the next two months I will be wearing the hat of Youth Pastor! (Is it a hat? Overalls. It's definitely youth pastor overalls.)
Now, please don't panic. Steve isn't gone. Well, he is, but he'll be back! He's taken some much deserved vacation time to spend with his family. He and his wife, Karen, have three beautiful boys, and their youngest, Josh, just turned...6 months, I believe? So some family time is definitely necessary. If you want to keep up with him and his family over the summer, I suggest you check out their vlog! Yeah, that's right. Steve has a vlog. It's awesome. Here's the link:
I don't have a whole lot to add right now, but keep your eyes open for some events coming your way in July! I might post some devotions on here, maybe just write about my day...which at the moment is an empty office, so that might get old quickly.
Don't worry, I am keeping busy. I've got a lot of great ideas to share with Steve for the fall, I get to be creative, and so many lovely people from the church have invited me over for lunch! That's probably my favourite part of this job so far; getting to know the different people that make up this church family. Now if only I knew everyone's names...
So come follow along as I figure out who gets what mail, how to plan a youth event, and where to get a good cup of coffee in this town. (It's Darren Willems. In case you were wondering. #ChemexLife)
That's it for now, but I'll check in soon!