If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you won't be surprised to read that I have been having some emotional struggles lately. It's nothing new--ever since I battled with post-partum after Monkey was born, depression has been a bit of a back seat driver in my life, always hanging around, looking for opportunities to butt in where he doesn't belong. Especially on an, er, shall we say... monthly basis. I have truly come to view it as a biblical thorn in my side (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10), something that reminds me to rely on Christ and not on my own strength. In some ways I have become thankful for the growth opportunities it has provided.
But I digress.
The frustrating thing about depression is that it can make all of my emotions a little bit muddy. I have to really work to sort out what is true and what is getting mixed in with my thorn. Let's say, just for example, that Mr. Fantastic and I were to possibly... oh, let's say... disagree about the furniture for the basement. Not that that would ever happen. (It totally happened.) And then let's say I got upset enough to cry about it, which is of course totally ridiculous. (And also completely true.) I would, in a situation like that, have to do some real soul-searching and ask myself, "Does Mr. Fantastic have unrealistic expectations and/or is he expressing his feelings inappropriately? Do *I* have unrealistic expectations and/or am I expressing my feelings inappropriately? Do I feel THIS strongly about the basement furniture? Is there a deeper issue in my marriage that is coming to the surface here? OR... am I just feeling a little bit extra-sensitive and overly-emotional today? Would this conversation be going differently if we had it 3 days from now?" (The answers were: no, not until I started crying, no, no, yes, and ABSOLUTELY.)
Which brings me back to today. Well, not just today. For the past couple of weeks or so, I have been wrestling with some emotions. Normally, as in the example above, it takes me anywhere from a few minutes to a day to be able to sort out the root cause of my emotions--whether they are "true" or just being seen through my depression filter (or a little bit of both, which is often the case). In this case, though, it really has been weeks of sorting through and digging down and finding what is at the heart of the matter.
And then it hit me: It is discontentment. I am not content. I am going through my days wishing things were different. I find myself being sad or angry over everything from changes at our church to school decisions to wanting different dishes. EVERYTHING. This thread of discontent has woven itself into just about every area of my life.
But just like the furniture situation, it seemed important to look a little closer. How likely is it that I am actually unhappy with every area of life? Possible, but not likely. So where is this coming from?
That's where I am now, folks. If you were looking for an insightful, lightbulb moment... well, so am I. I haven't had it yet. I do feel like recognizing the discontentment--and realizing that there is likely one root issue (or maybe 2) that are really the foundation--has helped me to take a few deep breaths and let go of some things. But as silly as it sounds (Shouldn't I KNOW what's bothering me?), I just can't quite pinpoint those root causes.
And then I remembered something that I heard from a pastor somewhere along the way... Satan is the great deceiver, and often that means he doesn't tell us an outright lie--he takes something good and twists it. Sex, for example, is a beautiful gift from God, but Satan has twisted it and convinced us to use it in ways it was not intended--ways that leave us empty and guilty and with all kinds of consequences. And look at guilt--it is actually intended to serve a good purpose, to bring to our attention when we have done something wrong and help us to change; Satan, however, loads us up with false guilt over things that have already been forgiven--or things over which we don't need to feel guilt at all.
So what if this discontent is Satan twisting something inside of me that is actually from God? What if God is trying to lay something on my heart--a new challenge, a step He wants me to take, a new leading in ministry or parenting or even my marriage--and I have allowed Satan to take that desire for the next step and twist it into a desire for more of... everything?
I feel like there is truth to this. I feel like it needs to be studied and prayed over. I picture myself with a huge knot of yarn, slowly inching my fingers along, trying to untangle it all. Somewhere in there is the truth.
I called this post "part 1" because I am just on the beginning of this journey, and I am inviting you to come along. Tomorrow's post might be titled "part 2" or it might be something totally different. I have no idea where I am heading. This is a whole new kind of transparency for me--the kind where I don't know the outcome. Are you ready for this trip? I know I'm not. ;-)
By the way, you might want to grab your Bible and a copy of Jennie Allen's book Anything. I think they're going to be key components...