In January, I shared a bit of what was going on in my life. At the time of writing, I was not sure when the resolution, or healing, would come; the foreseeable future felt dark and uncertain. Concluding that post, I indicated that writing out my heart was forming a sort of closure for me, for that situation.
Which is true, it did. But this month is proving to be a tricky month for me emotionally.
A year ago, I graduated from college, full of excitement. And about a week later, I was offered a position at a job I really wanted. A few months down the road, I would go on to marry my best friend. Everything at that time felt perfect and certain and good.
This is a rather bitter month for me, as my life is starkly different than what I had thought it would be a year ago.
I won’t go into a lot of detail about the situation that was the catalyst for this change; I mention it briefly in my post from January. However, I am still dealing with ripples of anger, hurt, and resentment; God and I are still working on forgiveness. Truth be told, looking back, I know God was calling me from that position. However, I’ve been learning to put into words the lack of trust I had in God at the time, to provide for me and my husband, should I be without a job.
In the way the situation played out in which I left my job, I spent two weeks questioning my abilities in my position and questioning my judgement. When I left, this mindset created the perfect storm for depression. I began to fall into feelings of guilt for bringing this really tough situation into the beginning months of my marriage, feelings of incapability at anything I pursued, feelings of frustration at not being able to find a job (and with that feelings of inadequacy at not finding a job). I became jealous of other people, for loads of things. Couple this with being at home all of the time, and I was finding a dark, deep, sad place in my head. (And no, loved ones, I never contemplated suicide, though I was becoming exhausted.)
I’ve learned that depression is like a toxic relationship; it separates you from people who care about you and persuades you that people would think differently about you if you told them what was going on.
I’ve learned that depression makes you think you’re weak, as people experience much worse than you, and not all of them become depressed. (I know this is not a true statement; depression lies.)
I’ve learned that depression robs you of your energy; it spins you round and round in a mental maelstrom until you’re at the bottom looking up, realizing you don’t have the energy to get back to the top.
I’ve know for a long time that I struggle with self-advocating for my emotional needs, especially when I’m struggling with something hard. In this particular situation, I struggled with voicing to my friends, family, and husband the ways I needed to be supported. There is a story in Exodus (Exodus 17:8-16) where, during an Israelite battle, as long as Moses held his staff up, the Israelistes won, and whenever he grew tired, his friends held his arms up. I needed someone to hold my arms up, to get in my dark place, and support me. (Not to mention, my husband and I became a tad distant, as this was weighing on us in separate, horrible ways.) But, I didn’t know how to voice this, and I don’t know if I wanted to. I have a great fear (probably stemming from social anxiety in middle school and high school) of being a nuisance, a burden, or receiving pity or charity because people feel bad for me. And so, I tend to seclude myself from people when I’m struggling (and couple that with depression, I got really good at hiding my pain and just saying “I’m fine/ I’m hanging in” when asked). I needed someone to counter me by saying I wasn’t fine, but I wasn’t going to ask someone to do that.
I scrolled through jobs like some people scroll through Instagram; it was constant and all of the time. I applied to any and all jobs that I remotely qualified for, jobs in my field and not. There was even a period of time where I applied to 23 jobs in 10 days. Of those 23 jobs, not a single one reached out to me for an interview. From December through Valentine’s Day, four total jobs reached out to me for an interview, all of which I scheduled, three I attended.
I spiraled into several mental, emotional, and spiritual breakdowns. Our finances struggled. Our marriage became tense. And I deeply struggled with trust and faithfulness with God during this time.
My husband and I are both on leadership teams at our young adult church, and in January, we were repeatedly asked if we would be interested in leading the upcoming mission trip to the YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii. Though we were really interested, we knew that it was not a financially or logically responsible idea. We kept declining the suggestion, until one evening, over dinner, we both looked at each other and decided to pursue the possibility of being leaders. We knew that if this was something God wanted us to do, the way would be paved.
I reached out to the person organizing the details of the trip and she told me that there were not currently leaders, that she would be excited to take my husband and I on as leaders, and that they would work with us in our finances. Before we knew it, we were leading a team to Kona, Hawaii.
I had still not found a job, but there was something about the upcoming trip that just filled HB and I with peace. I can only describe this feeling as the feeling when you know you’ve met your soul mate; a serene, peaceful, rightness. It was almost like we knew, deep in our hearts, that Kona would lead to answers.
Right before Valentine’s Day, I interviewed at a job that was similar enough to what I had been doing that I felt comfortable, but it was new enough that I was excited by the challenge. The interviewer expressed strong interest in having me join the team, and intimated that an email with the next steps would be passed along in the coming week.
We left for Kona on Febraury 20, a full three months since I had left my job. Kona was a beautiful experience. Being outside all day everyday did wonders for my mental state, my emotional state, and my spiritual state. Being on the trip with my husband did wonders for our marriage. Working all day did wonders for my sleep. Being in an environment saturated with Christ did wonders for my relationship with God. Being able to travel, explore, swim in the ocean, did wonders for my soul.
I built friendships, opened up, breathed in and pushed out the ugly I had been feeling. I felt joyful and restored. It felt good to do something productive, and it felt wonderful to feel valued as a team member again. I felt seen as who I was, not by any or all mistakes I could/would make. My husband and I didn’t have all the answers about leading the team, but our team was incredible and let us find our feet. HB and I have already talked, several times, about returning in the following years to continue helping the teams there to upkeep the campus, and even possibly, as part of a family discipleship training school.
Kona was fundamental in one other way. HB and I both received a call from God, separately, while we were in Kona, about His plan for our marriage. We do not have any answers, but we know what God calls, He will sustain and provide. Knowing that God has placed a direction for our marriage at our feet has been such a powerful support and encouragement when everything else feels so uncertain.
The day after getting back from Kona, I received an email from the job I had interviewed with before leaving, and they offered me a position and were curious as to when I could begin training. We came home on March 1st, and right as my training was getting set up, stay-at-home orders were being put in place. So, in truth, I have yet to leave my house for work since starting, even though I am deemed essential.
On Decemeber 20th, I immediately resigned from my job. On February 20th, HB and I left for Kona, Hawaii. On March 20th, I started my new job.
I still feel rather adrift, in regards to what I want my career to be (I’m still not sold I’m suppossed to be in Human Services for the rest of my life, at least not in this capacity). I still have some days where my depression hits hard, but they are much fewer and farther between (and yes, I am pursuing the idea of finding a therapist). Thanks to my momma, I’m taking Vitamin D3 tablets, to help keep depression at bay a bit and to keep my biology and neurology the way it should be.
I still can’t visualize more than a week ahead in the future; maybe this is a subconscious choice to take each day as it comes. I have occasional flashbacks from the fallout of my former job, and I have occasional memories from the work I used to do (which hurts my heart, as I never really had a proper good-bye). But I am somewhere new now, and I feel valued.
I recently shared this story, in significantly less words, with our young adult church. I was nervous (not mention I had to record it for the live stream, and my recording
capabilities on my laptop are horrid), but I’m a strong believer in proclaiming the things God is doing in our lives. I also knew that God doesn’t just move once. My story, which He is redeeming, has the abilities to impact someone else, and given the current state of the world, God could use my story to encourage someone else. My story is beautiful because it has God written all over it, and God could use it to bless someone else, which is just as beautiful.
I mentioned this in my post from January, and I ended my story for church with it, and I want to share it with you. There are two things; first, one of the most encouraging songs during my “winter” was “Seasons” by Hillsong. In that song, there is a line that goes: “If You’re not done working, then God I’m not done waiting“.
Second, I repeated this to myself constantly during my time of depression, waiting, seeking: You are still God, You’re still in control, You still have a plan, and it is still good.
You are still God and it is still good.