Beautiful Battle

I’ve always liked the analogy of life being a puzzle.  We are given pieces as we go through life – sometimes they fit right into the picture we can see, and other times, we have no idea where they go.  They just don’t fit anywhere.  If we’re lucky, we get some more pieces that fit around that one, out of place piece.  The picture starts to become clearer, and we understand how it fits in with the rest of our previous picture.  Sometimes, though, we never really see how a certain piece fits into our picture, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t belong.  I still really like the puzzle analogy, but I think it’s changed for me recently.

Puzzle pieces fit nicely together.  I’ve always liked that.  I instinctually have a tendency to think in black and white terms, and the analytical side of me likes things that fit together.  Throughout my life, I would always look for the other puzzle pieces to complete a certain part of the picture I was seeing, and it would frustrate me if they didn’t fit together nicely.  That had to mean that there was at least one piece missing.  I think I’m learning that life isn’t that neat.  There’s a part of me that’s always known that, but in recent weeks, I’ve been able to see things a little differently.

There’s still an aspect of the puzzle analogy that will always hold true for me, but not in a traditional, jigsaw, sort of way.  The pieces are much more jagged, and they don’t fit together nicely.  It’s become more of a stained glass window.  Each piece is it’s own separate color, shape, and size.  Because they don’t fit together nicely, it takes a little more creativity to put them together in any sort of recognizable pattern.  But the end result can be absolutely breathtaking.

Throughout my life, one of my biggest battles has been with depression.  I was well into adulthood before I realized that depression was my foe.  I wasn’t able to see it for what it was when I was younger, and no one else ever even considered it to be a possible issue.  After finally naming my foe, I can’t say that I was very successful at fighting it.  I was usually on the upswing before I would even recognize that I had fallen into depression.  I tried several different prescription drugs.  Unfortunately, my body does not respond well to any sort of medication.  What little help it provides does not even come close to outweighing the side effects.  That was a problem because I believe that part of my struggle is biological.  Of course, the bigger problem was emotional, and I have never been very good at dealing with that part of me.

I learned at a very early age that I was never going to be good enough.  I had nothing to offer, and I was not worth anything.  That’s something that is not easy to unlearn.  A couple of times in my life, I had started to see a counselor.  I knew I needed to change how I saw myself, but I had no idea how to do that.  Both times were good experiences, but something always happened that stopped me from continuing with the sessions.  I know that it was all a part of God’s timing.  He knew I needed other pieces, and I needed a better way to put those pieces together.

Five years ago, God provided me with a job that became the one stable thing amidst complete chaos in my life.  Around Easter time about three years ago, I hit my lowest point ever.  I honestly think that I never fully recovered from that battle.  I’ve still had ups and downs since then, but the ups were never very high, and I could never fully shake the ‘down’ feeling.  This is one reason why I wanted to quit my job, and one reason why God never allowed that to happen.  My job was the only thing that made sense to me so it was the only thing that I felt in control enough to change.  And something had to change.  I was tired of listening to the voices that constantly told me that everyone would be better off if I weren’t around.  But I didn’t know how to shut them up.

Last January, I found a counselor that I absolutely love.  She has been a perfect match for me and has helped me to start working through some of the lies that I have been taught to believe.  She knows, and understands, why I don’t want to take any drugs.  She suggested taking St.  John’s Wort as a natural alternative.  It has definitely helped.  I’ve had friends who have continued to stand by me and love me.  And I was completely overwhelmed by the reaction and support of those I worked with in my last few weeks at Blue Shield.  All of those factors combined to finally create a need to challenge the lies I’ve always believed because both things couldn’t be true at the same time.

As I sit here typing, I am happy for the first time in my life.  Maybe content is the better word.  I don’t like not having a job.  I still struggle with being single.  I have no idea what I’m going to do next.  But I’m happy.  For the first time in my life, I feel like I am more than one step ahead of depression.  It may always be a struggle for me, but I feel like I will be able to recognize it sooner and prevent myself from falling so deep into it.

There’s a part of me that wishes that I hadn’t struggled so much with depression all my life.  But there is another part of me that realizes that my picture would not be as beautiful without that battle.  I’ve realized that it is what runs through my picture and connects all of the jagged edges into the picture that God intended for my life.  It is not the only thing that connects them, but it is one thing.  I may never see the full extent of that, but I know that I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now without my battle.  And it will continue to join pieces together as I journey forward – maybe just in a different way.

One of the cool things about having jagged pieces of glass rather than puzzle pieces that have to fit nicely together is that I can connect those pieces however I want to make my picture.  A unique, creative, beautiful picture that has more flexibility to change as more pieces are acquired.  I had to laugh as I wrote that because it is so counter intuitive to what I’ve always thought and been comfortable with.  I love where God is taking me on this journey.

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