Crazy how life can get us down sometimes, and yet, the simplest act can lift us up. Often for me this “lift” comes in the most unexpected way.
My heart was heavy today.
I don’t know about you, but lately the burdens of the world have been all consuming. I’ve been here before, the only difference is that now it seems like the whole world is carrying these types of burdens daily. And it’s hard to even find anyone who has the time or capacity to help.
Here is my list of burdens, simplified immensely:
- A friend is facing the same pain and spiritual abuse from the church leaders that hurt me five years ago.
- A little boy I do respite for. A boy with sad eyes that tell the tale of his pain.
- The frustration, change, hatred and division that came after Covid.
- A group of young moms I care for, but don’t have the capacity to lead on my own anymore.
- A complete lack of motivation to finish the year of homeschooling my boys.
Luckily, I can now recognize the symptoms of depression almost as fast as they appear. The hopelessness and lack of motivation and strength is all apart of this. Instead of being paralyzed and confused about it all, like I used to be, I now am in the place where I know the steps to take because I have been here before.
Step one: Reach out for help. I contacted six people in my life. Yes… six. Six, because everyone is busy and I knew that if I only looked to one person, I could easily get discouraged and spiral downward if they didn’t respond. You see, I know this because I’ve been here before. The more support the better. Five out of the six responded. All five said they were praying. Two of them reached out to connect later in the week. One dropped off a coffee for me within the hour and gave me a hug. This confirms three things I need to know when I am down: I am supported. I am cared for. I am loved.
Step two: Walk in the sunshine. The doctor who first diagnosed me with depression four years ago was amazing. I was in pain, I was tired constantly, I was unmotivated and exhausted, and had fallen into an unfeeling sort of state. I thought something terrible was wrong with me and that it had to be something bad. A brain tumour, a rare disease, a demon.
It was depression.
I thank God for the doctor who looked at me simply and said: “Fifteen minutes a day, walking in the sunshine, will give you as much of a boost as taking an antidepressant.” I took his words to heart and over the next four months, quite literally walked myself out of depression. While I walked I memorized scripture.
Today was sunny. The air was crisp, but warm for December. I pulled on a toque and my jacket and I went outside to walk.
Step three: Focus on something other then my pain during the walk. Like a memory verse, or prayer, or nature.
Today it was trash.
Huh? You’re probably asking yourself. Trash??
Yes. Today I was saved by five pieces of trash and a whole lot of prayer.
I saw that first beer can lying there. And something inside me knew I just couldn’t leave it behind. It wasn’t my mess to clean – but it’s my road. I may be helpless in other areas of my life, but this was one thing I could do. And as I picked up that beer can, I realized something remarkable about the weight and the pain of my problems: I was focusing on all the things I couldn’t do and they were all huge. But I am not completely helpless. I can do small things.
As I picked up each small piece of garbage, suddenly each one stood for the bigger issues. Just like my burdens, this trash wasn’t mine. I couldn’t stop the litterers. I can’t stop people from making horrible choices. I can’t fix the worlds problems. But just as I could reach out and pick up the trash, so I could do something in each situation I faced.
One beer can. I can’t fix abusive church leaders. But I can listen. I can empathize. I can offer encouraging words, because I’ve been there.
One piece from a blown out tire. I can’t take away the little boy’s pain. But I can be a mother to him each week he is here. I can open my home as a refuge.
One coffee cup. I can’t change the actions of the world around me. But I can love. I can listen. I can respond kindly to those who see things differently than I do. I can help bring unity to the people around me by choosing not to argue and fight.
One energy drink. I’m not able to be everything to these ladies and I can’t do everything for them that I’d like to. But I can give them what I have: hope. I can offer them community. I can pray for them. I can send an encouraging text. I can offer support when I have the strength to do so.
One can of iced tea. Maybe I can’t handle another six months of homeschooling. But I most certainly can handle one more day. And then another one. I can handle one day at a time.
I came home from my walk. My hands were full and numb from carrying the cold cans. But somehow, my load was exponentially lighter.
I can do something good, even if it is small.
I know somewhere down the road, there is more trash to pick up. Maybe next I’ll bring a bag along with me.
But for today, five pieces of trash were enough.