The Lost Song

For many years, I was a singer. A good one, and if I’m honest? Maybe even great.  I had range, impeccable pitch and an ability to pick out harmonies with relative ease. I spent hours honing my craft and struggling to learn an instrument so I could write music and perhaps, someday, even accompany myself.

And then one day it was gone.

Oh, not the talent – I could and still can sing.

But the passion was gone.  The desire? Completely vanished.

I lost my song.

My song, my talent – was my identity. I was known as a singer.

Until I wasn’t.

~

Throughout my 20’s, whenever I faced adversity or disappointment, I would withdraw. Darkness became my reality. Immense sadness took over. I now know depression runs rampant through my blood line, but at the time I thought I was broken. I believed I should be able to handle life like my peers. They had the same struggles as I did, but could bounce back and move forward.

I, on the other hand, took each setback so hard.

And then it wasn’t just circumstantial blues: a deep melancholy took over. I went to work. I went home. I buried myself in books or television. Anything to escape reality. On the outside things seemed so good. I owned my own home. I had a great job. Savings in the bank.

But I was entrenched in sorrow so deep. I wanted the pain gone. Several times I contemplated ending it all, but the grace of God kept me from following through.

Shortly before my 30th birthday my mother gave me an ultimatum: either seek professional help for what was going on or she would do it for me.

The story of my mental illness is a long one and much more complicated than “just” depression, but for the sake of brevity, (for now, anyway) I sought help and I received a definitive diagnosis. And with the diagnosis came treatment.

In March of 2000, I began to take SSRI’s (commonly known as “anti-depressants”).  Within a few weeks, I noticed a change. The world became brighter. My ability to deal with conflict became easier. I took delight in little things again. As I came up to six weeks on the meds, I began to ask myself, “Is this how other people get to live?” I was astounded by my transformation. Simply speaking: I had JOY!

But with any medication there are side effects. In my case I lost my song.

Up until that time, my identity was found in music, but in a few short weeks I abandoned it and moved on. My creativity didn’t go away – rather it shifted. I began to write more. I embraced a new passion for the visual arts. As I became accustomed to my new reality, it seemed I didn’t need the song anymore.

In the years since I have changed antidepressants several times, but I have never regained my passion for music. I love to listen to it, but being a part of it isn’t essential to me anymore.

I sometimes wonder if my passion for music was a gift from God for only a season. He knew my circumstances and my condition. Music was the part of me which helped with family issues, uncomfortable situations, disappointment and fear.  It was the thing I knew I could do well, perhaps better than most, in a time where I felt I had nothing to offer.

It’s been 17 years since I lost the passion. From time to time, someone who knows me from before will ask, “Why don’t you sing anymore?” And I’ll answer with some glib comment about having had my turn and letting the younger generation take over. The truth is I left my identity in it a long time ago.

Yet.

Lately I’ve been experiencing some renewal of musical passion. This time it’s not about my identity, rather my personal act of worship. I can write and paint and pray and meditate, but for me personally there is something missing from my expression of praise to God. He created me to be a worshipper – in all sorts of artistic ways, but I believe I may be being called back to my home in song.

This time it looks different. I have no interest in the limelight – I desire to put God in the center of it all. I don’t need attention, I desire to offer the sacrifice of praise. I long to put into words and melody my deep love for Him. My passionate desire for His will. Fears creep in such as, I’m too old, or I’m not talented enough. Yet the desire remains.

 

It’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

 

 

 

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I, Grieve (Written July 31, 2016)

A note: I wrote this last summer and I hesitate to post it here, but I feel I need to. I hope it gives the reader a glimpse into where I’ve come from and how far I’ve come. I still grieve. I still long, but God has taken my obedience and created renewed hope. Thanks again for reading! 

I firmly believe God created me as I am. I believe He has had His guiding hand on me all the way. I believe my journey – all the twists and turns – has been for a reason.

Despite all this, I grieve.

I grieve the mundane things I never had a chance to experience.

Being chosen.

Falling in love when young. Proposal. Wedding  Building a life with someone.

A positive pregnancy test. Being pregnant. Holding my own child in infancy.  First step. First words. First everything.

But, I’m no longer jealous of those who those who did get this. Through much time and even more prayer I’ve let go of bitterness.

Yet, I grieve. Sometimes that grief seems unbearable.

As I enter my late 40’s,  I miss what I’ve never had. I get sad that I have to do life alone. Despite the community I have around me, I still do most thing solo.

“Smug marrieds,” as Bridget Jones called them, don’t get it. They complain about spouses and children, never realizing their privilege.

I don’t know the feeling of having someone have my back. Even if I’m wrong, supporting me anyway.

I’ve always been the third wheel. Relegated to the back seat. Sleeping in a house alone. Never with. Always one.

And the lack of touch. The pain of not being touched. The gentle hand on the small of your back. A hand reaching out for yours. The hug when you’re grumpy. It’s not about sex (yet that’s there, too), more about scarcity. Taken for granted when you have it.

In this silent lonely place, I grieve.  I grieve because I fear I am in this situation because I am not enough. Or I am too much. I grieve that I don’t quite fit in.

I fear hope. I’m terrified of it. So often disappointed. So often rejected. Uncertain whether I can risk hoping again. I grieve this lack of courage. Too cowardly to move forward and try again. And again.

I grieve.

Prayer:

God,

I ask for courage to move forward. To risk. To have hope.

God, I ask to be found. To let go of my efforts and just be.

And in the meantime – God make me obedient. Make me courageous. Make me humble.

Heal my brokenness.

So be it, God. So be it.

 

 

 

 

Carousel

Several weeks ago, I had a meeting with the board chair of the non-profit for which I do the bookkeeping. I had made an error in one of the financial statements and I needed to go over it with him so that going forward we remained in compliance with government and organizational policy. During our conversation, I mentioned that I claim all responsibility for the error and would make any changes needed, even if it meant passing on the job to a more qualified individual.

This gentleman sat back in his chair and his face turned stoic.

“Uh oh,” I thought, “here it comes. I’m getting fired.” Instead this was his response.

“Sandra? Do you know what I said to my wife after the first meeting we had five years ago?”

Wide eyed, I waited for him to continue.

“Honey, tonight I met a woman and I think I like her more than she likes her.”

I think I like her more than SHE likes her.

 

Whoa.

 

In one short statement this gentle and wise man called out my biggest secret, my greatest regret.  I have been ensnared by low self-image for so long I don’t remember not being bound to it.

The reason why I’ve felt less than, even as a toddler, is a bit of a mystery. There is some indication it took hold during a childhood health crisis. I’ve also always been a high sensitive. Perhaps there are other determining factors, yet the outcome remained the same. I believed (and sometimes still believe) I was less than others.

Once you are made aware that other’s see your issues, they stay in the forefront of your mind. This happened for me. At my age, I thought I’d buried my issues, but it seemed their graves were quite shallow. I noticed how many times a day I had negativity about my looks, weight, hair length, work ethic, behavior – the list goes on.

The sad truth is the time I spent in “less than” thought was out of control. And the more I tried to fight the dark thoughts the more uncontrollable the despair became.

All I could do is pray. And live. And pray some more.

Then, during my quiet time some weeks later something happened. Something that doesn’t occur to me often. I had a clear vision:

In my vision, I could see I was at a boardwalk carnival. The lights, the rides and noise that carnivals have happening all around.

And I was on the trapped on an ever-turning carousel.

This carousel looked like any you’ve seen in the movies or perhaps in real life. Ponies and other animals to ride. Flashing lights. Merry music. Going around and around.

But it was clear to me, although the carousel looked like a normal ride, it represented all the thoughts and beliefs which had held me captive for so long:

Not attractive enough. Round and around.

Not smart enough. Up and down.

Not thin enough. Round and around.

Not cool enough. Up and

Not desirable enough. Down…

Round the carousel went – sometimes fast, sometimes slow but never stopping. Never letting me get off the ride.

But then Jesus appeared beside the ride. He beckoned me to come to Him. To jump off.  He would catch me.

Fear had me in its grip. Yet eventually I leapt off the ride and into His arms. He caught me. Just as He said He would.

He then took me by the elbow and led me through the carnival. I could then see that the carnival represented all sorts of sin I had dealt with in my life. He took me away from my greatest fears and He continued to take me away from all the other things that could harm me.

Finally, we reached the end of the boardwalk. From there we went out on to the beach and began to walk along the shoreline. Without saying anything I felt the deepest of intimacy with Him. An intimacy I knew I wouldn’t have been able to have while still trapped on the ride of self-hatred.

As we walked I could see off in the distance stood a man, his back to us. Jesus was leading me to him. At that moment, I knew the man represented my greatest desires. A family of my own – yes. But more than that, by taking me away from my fears and sin Jesus allowed me to see that my heart’s desire was out there, away from sin and fear, waiting patiently for me.

The end of the vision flashed forward to myself and the man kneeling in the sand and Jesus anointing our foreheads with oil.

By no means do I understand all that was being communicated to me in this vision. However, I do have some insight on some of its meaning.

I think I like her more than SHE likes her.

For many years fear has trapped me with thoughts that I am not enough for love – romantic or otherwise. And instead of facing fear and walking it out with God, I have chosen to stay on the up and down, round and round. The mantra “I am less’ became comfortable. But God, (delicious phrase – but, God) had other ideas. It’s become time to put away the lies and to embrace the wholeness and the “enough” of my being.

He is making me brave. Brave – so I may recognize I may not “be” enough for some, but for God I am plenty. In fact, my cup overflows. Brave – so I may finally, with a fullness of being, walk out His will. Brave – knowing I have much to learn, but He is leading me, grasping me by the elbow away from sin and into joy.

 

 

 

 

 

These are the days…

When the dog gets sick and the vet bill is way more than expected.

When you make a mistake at your new job. Not a little mistake, but a BIG one. A mistake that takes several people to fix.

When you step on the scale and it inched up – just a little – but enough that it affects your day.

When you know you want to write, that you made a commitment to write, but you just aren’t feeling it.

It’s been that kind of week. So much to be grateful for, but still so… ugh.

Yet.

The dog got better.

The boss gave you a ton of grace for your mistake.

The scale is just a measurement of your gravitational pull on the earth. And it really was a lot of water.

The computer was pulled out and something, not a lot, but something got written down.

So.

There is hope for tomorrow.