Real Talk: Confessions

Confession: I have serious digestion problems.

Confession: I have depression and anxiety.

I don’t remember when I started struggling with either of them, but both became very serious in November when I started attending a group at my church. It was a recovery group for women who had experienced sexual abuse.

Confession: I was sexually abused in my childhood and it’s something I never dealt with until now.

Reasons I avoided it and lies I believed: It wasn’t rape, so why did it matter? It was probably my fault anyways. No one would believe me if I told them.

Going to the group every monday night was admitting to myself that what happened to me was abuse and that I had to get healing from it. As the dam of denial began to broke, all the emotions that I was holding flooded through my soul: fear, despair, disgust, rage, apathy, to name a few. This not only affected my emotions but my body as well. I had panic attacks on the daily, and had serious digestive issues. Like I said, I’ve had mild anxiety and mild digestive issues since I was in high school. But this was life altering, and definitely interfering with my daily life.

Guess which issue I went to the doctor for first? That’s right, my stomach issues.  I knew no one would judge my faith, or tell me to pray more if I told them I was taking stomach medicine. I briefly mentioned the anxiety during the check up and my doctor said she’d love to meet with me to talk about the anxiety. I kind of shrugged it off and went about my life excited to have some IBS medicine for my stomach that could normalize everything below my belly button.

The medicine worked beautifully, I had no idea why I had waited for so long to get some help. I kept thinking my symptoms weren’t THAT bad, or that maybe it’ll just fix itself on its own but thankfully I got over myself and asked for help. My doctor wanted a follow up meeting with to make sure the IBS medicine was working and so I went in there thinking “i’ll tell em the medicine is great and then walk out and go about my life.” But since it was January, they decided I was due for a check up. They took my blood, they did a lady test, and then asked me about my anxiety. My doctor is a Christian so I told her about the stress I was experiencing due to processing all the memories. And she empathized and said let’s get you on something that’ll help you through this time. (Side note: I had thought a lot about taking medication before this, and had talked with a lot of women, my community group, my mom, my friends from college, my counselor, and really wrestled with this) And I decided that If I was going to take care of my stomach, I needed to take care of my brain too.  10 mg of Lexapro, every morning until January 2018. 

The first two weeks were scary. I felt like I was carrying this dark little secret around and no one could know or they’d say I wasn’t a Christian. The imagined judgement I felt from people was worse then the initial side effects. As the side effects subsided, so did the imagined judgement. No one actually told me that I needed to “have more faith” or that I was the cause of anxiety and depression. I told myself those things.  I told myself that I didn’t trust God, that I needed to have more faith and pray more and read more of the Bible and memorize scripture. However, as I attempted these things my anxiety robbed me of any joy in Christ. I over thought every word I prayed and every word I wrote down in my journal.  My depression told me it didn’t matter and that God never really cared anyways so neither should I. Depression and Anxiety were the reins, and the Enemy was steering me all the way to destruction.

As I processed the memories from my childhood in the group, I replaced the lies I believed with truth, God began to open my eyes so that I could  begin to understand and grasp that I am lovable, I can trust others and God, I am worthy of God’s affection, I began to experience healing and freedom.

As the medicine began to really start working, I realized a lot of nervous tics I had that I didn’t know were anxiety related started to fade. I stopped obsessing over my breathing (I’d lay in bed at night and convince myself that I wasn’t really breathing), I stopped rubbing my fingers together and shaking my legs when I sat. The panic attacks stopped. The feeling of overwhelming dread faded. I could focus on one or two things at a time. I could focus and really pray, I could really journal, I could really meditate on truth in God’s word without wondering if I was doing something that was upsetting God.

Right now I’m sitting here wondering did God use anti-depressants to help me get closer to Him? It sounds so weird. I feel like the church makes it black & white, you trust God or you don’t. You have faith, or you don’t. I still have this little voice in my head that says “Wow you’re on medication, you really don’t trust God.” It takes a few seconds during the day to take a pill. But, the rest of the day I got to trust God and know He’s sovereign. If I can trust God and take medicine to make my stomach feel better, then I can trust God and take anti-depressants to help my brain feel better. And you know what, after a month or so on the antidepressants, I no longer needed to take the IBS medicine for my stomach because my digestive issues are gone!

I’m 3 months in and have been so lucky to a) found a medcine/dosage that worked on the first try. b) to be surrounded by such supportive and loving people. c) to have had an amazing job to work at during all this crazy stress (my boss brings her dogs to school every day and I get to love on them during my break. how amazing is that?)

I had a much different blog in mind when I opened this document, but I think what came out is good. I hope it helps you feel less alone, maybe it helps you understand mental health issues more. Maybe it’ll start good conversations about getting help. I’m open to any questions or comments. Please know that this is simply my story and experience so far. It might not look like yours, and it probably wont. Medicine affects everyone differently, so don’t let someone elses negative or positive experience effect your decision. Let that be between you, your doctor, your family and close friends.

Until next time, thanks for reading my friend.

-Marlie

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My story (pt 1)

 

The biggest lie I believed about the Gospel was that I didn’t need it. I would never admit that to you, because as a church kid I knew Jesus was the answer (to every question in bible class and in life.) But my life didn’t really reflect that. I was raised in a Christian home, I went to sunday school, church camps, VBS, Awana, played in a christian basketball league, youth group, bible studies, service projects. You name it, I was there. i was baptized when I was 9, went down the aisle at “decision night” at every camp. Rededicating, rededicating, rededicating. This time I’ll do better, I’ll be better, I’ll love more. This time I won’t screw things up. Jesus was the answer, but I didn’t grasp yet that I was the problem. I continued a cycle of experiencing emotional camp highs, and the lows of reality, my own imperfection and how exhausting legalism is. I was trapped on my treadmill and I was going nowhere.

I knew the Gospel was for sinners but I, much like the Pharisees, assumed the only sinners were the immoral people: the murderers, prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts. I felt entitled, proud of my morale life, and stuck my nose up at people who “couldn’t pull it together.”

The Lord used a number of trials in my life to knock me off my pedestal. I lost two friends to suicide, one when I was 11 and another when I was 13. These were earth shattering losses. Stomach in knots, crying until your eyes hurt, and many sleepless nights. I wanted a place to lay my weary head and heart, and there was no soft place to lay down in the house of legalism and religion. Just more rules, to-do’s, and a lot of “dont question God or get angry at him.” I began to leave my Sunday only religion, and begin to actually pray and talk to God at night when I couldn’t sleep. And in the mornings when I didn’t want to go to school. I listened to a lot of music, journaled some, and cried a lot. God was there through all the doubts, the questions, the anger, the frustration.

In college, I experienced another significant loss when my parents separated and divorced after 25 years of marriage. All I ever knew, all my stability and hope was in my family. I was in the middle of my college career and didn’t have any time to process the loss of my family unit. But I was surrounded by an amazing support system of friends and professors nonetheless. I spent my last semester abroad in London and had a life changing experience seeing London, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Once all the classes were done,  I walked across a stage with a funny hat and a harry potter gown on, and some words were said and then I was suddenly done with college. I hugged a lot of people that day and haven’t seen many since that hot day in May 2015.

I was plucked from my current life and was placed back in my mom’s house in Northeast dallas. I had no job, no friends in the area, no money, no church home. Ground zero guys, and I hated it. I had dreams ya know, and it had been a few weeks since I graduated college and none of them had come true so OBVIOUSLY my life was over (sarcasm). My darkest moments were that summer. I doubted myself and I doubted God. they say the good thing about hitting rock bottom is that the only way you can go is up.  And as soon as I’d given up all hope, I looked up and saw a rope.

To be continued…will marlie ever find friends? does Marlie decide to travel back to London the next year to meet Chris pine? Will marlie hug all the cats in the world? all these answers and more next time on THIS HERE BLOG THING.

 

 

 

 

Weddings&Funerals

wedding

About a month ago I attended a wedding.  Two of my good friends were getting married. While picking out what to wear, I had unknowingly put together an outfit that was all black. “Marlie, you’re not going to a funeral,” I laughed. No, this was a time to celebrate. I found a grey sweater instead of a black one and headed out the door. That became a common theme throughout the day, you see, I’ve been to 7 funerals. I’ve done it:  Wear black, drive to the church, grab  tissues, stay strong, but end up crying in the bathroom, stand for the family, sit down, stare at the casket as the pastor says words you’re not listening to because  you know they can’t take the pain away, heart aching, stomach churning, get in your car and drive back home. It was such a relief to be going to a new church, in nice clothes and it not be for a funeral. On the drive over there, I was full of excitement, I entered the church and heard laughter instead of sobs, and  there were  smiles instead of solemn faces.

Instead of a casket, there was a beautiful couple standing on stage to stare at. Did I cry at the wedding? Yup, I sure did. Because they played the song from Beauty and the Beast during the wedding and that was not even fair. You can’t play  a beautiful song at beautiful events and expect me to keep my composure. All this to say, I’m thankful for the truth in Ecclesiastes. That there is a time for everything. A time for wedding and a time for funerals. A time for laughter, a time for mourning. A reason for every season under the sun.

In Memory of Katie

Monday night, I got news that my friend Katie had passed away on Sunday. Katie and I were close friends through junior high and high school. We met once or twice to catch up after highschool and college, but it had been a year or so since we last talked. Below, I’m just going to share a lot of memories and stories. Maybe in another post I’ll write about my feelings but right now it’s just time to remember Katie and the impact she had on my life.

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Every 4 years, my highschool band goes on an out-of-state trip. Lucky for us, this trip landed on our senior year. We went to Disneyland and Universal Studios in California. I remember Katie and I went through the House of Horrors together, and one of the funniest moments was when we both  were scared by the employee at the bottom of the stairs who was just standing there to warn us about the steps. This was in 2011 and Facebook Groups were a big deal, and so Katie and I decided to create a facebook group and the title was so oddly specific like: “I yelled at the employee at the bottom of the stairs at HOH in Universal Studios.” I think we were the only members of the group.

One day she invited me to a Jonas Brother concert and i was hesitant, but it was free and Katie was my friend. So I decided to go. I was not a fan of the Jonas brothers walking into the concert venue. The Jonas brothers were more than my little teenage girl heart could take. When the concert was over,  I’m pretty sure I wanted to marry all of them.  A two hour concert that night wasn’t enough JB for us, we jammed to their music on the car ride home. And I spent that night listening to their songs on Youtube.  And we spent the next few weeks/months talking about them. Katie’s passion for bands, movies, music, art was infectious. She’s the sole reason why I went through a Jonas Brother phase.

Speaking of phases, with adolescence comes phases of crippling self-doubt and loneliness. That was a tad bit dramatic, but its true. I remember having moments, days, weeks even when I just felt like no one liked me, that I didn’t have friends, or that I didn’t belong anywhere. On multiple occasions, I remember Katie being the person who brought me out of those dark phases, just by smiling and saying hello. On band trips, there were a lot of times where everyone was just standing around waiting or we would be going to a mall to eat, and everyone would group off with their friends. I knew I could always count on Katie to not run off and leave me. Or to include me in a circle of friends that she was talking to. i never felt judged by katie, I always had this sense of acceptance when I was around her. That I could be whoever I wanted and she’d still love me. Her faithfulness was such a light in my life.

It’s hard to think of a time in highschool where she wasn’t there. Band, band trips to Corpus, band trips to San Antonio for State and BOA, Anti-homecoming, Prom, the Snowpocalypse Texas had a few years ago when we went ‘sledding’ and made cookies afterwards, the trip to sixflags, your harry potter themed birthday party, bowling, my 18th birthday party, New Year’s eve where we played Apples to Apples for 3 hours on the floor by the front door. I’ve never lost someone who I’ve shared so many memories with.

We got together last year for frozen yogurt at the same shopping center where we took our group prom photos. I remember thinking about how everything had changed so much since Highschool. We’d gone to different colleges, met new friends, studied different things, yet, there we were siting on that bench eating Fro-yo like nothing had changed at all. It was not awkward, or forced, it was just authentic friendship. Laughing, talking, venting, dreaming. That’s how I knew i had a true friend. For that I am incredibly grateful. Thank you for your faithfulness, for sharing what you were passionate about with me, for always being down to do anything, for being an open ear, and a great source of joy in my life. I miss you already. but, i know I’ll see you again. 12250083_10153251410263317_5605255206383773078_n

 

 

 

 

Why?

I wrote this in April. Forgot I never posted it!

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Ever hang around 3 year olds? They ask “why?” all the stinking time. I’ve heard moms deal with their 3 year olds and more often than not they’ll answer a few of the “why’s?” then when they get fed up with answering it or don’t know the answer they’ll ignore it or just respond with “Just Because!” or “That’s just the way it is.”

I’ve been asking God “Why?” a lot this past year. If someone had told me a year ago, I’d be where I was today. I’d laugh and say “No way. That’s terrible, I’d never be able to get through all that.” Here I am today, going through it. I am spouting off the Christian answers to life’s troubles to try and soothe my soul. “It’s happening for a reason.” “God will redeem this.” “You are not alone.”  Deep down having no earthly clue what to do because  I haven’t heard from God at all since any of this happened. I’ve felt really lost. Confused. I felt like he was done listening to the why questions I kept asking and has just settled with ignoring me or saying “Just because.” Believing that you are suffering for no reason is like the worst feeling in the world and this morning I had reached that point. I believed that this was all for nothing. This morning, after deciding that God was never going to answer why, I gave one last little silent plea:
God, Why am I in pain?

He answered that question with a question.

“Is it worth it?”

“Is what worth it?” I asked

“if a year, 5 years, or 15 years down the road, you told your story, this

story, with this pain. And a person was so moved by your testimony that

they accepted Christ, is this pain you are feeling right now, worth it?”

I stopped folding my laundry immediately. And thought about it. My heart pounded and I shook my head yes. There’s a lot of hurting people out there. And the more I go through, the more I struggle the more I can say with confidence to others: “Um, I went through this and this. and there is no stinking way I did it by myself. God comforted me, God gave me reason to wake up in the morning. And I know you are  struggling and I want to point you to Him who can help you too because life sucks way too much to try and do it alone. He loves you”

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When

they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has

given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

Sunny days

Sonset

This was the sunset from my bathroom window.

John 8:12 popped into my head.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

What a reminder. What a comparison.

God is love. The Sun is a ball of fire.

God loves. The Sun shines.

*My actions do not effect the Sun. I can stay inside all day, I can be outside all the time. The Sun is going to shine nonetheless. The sun’s ability to shine or not shine has nothing to do with me, but without the Sun I would cease to exist.
God does not love us base on what we did. Your actions, your words, your sin is not a measuring stick for how much God loves you. His Love does not waver each day based on your performance. It is constant.  God is love. It’s what He does, It’s what He is.

*At night, I might not be able to see the Sun, but I know it’s still there because I am alive. Without the sun and it’s heat, we die.
Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed: by darkness, sin, circumstance, addiction, lust, depression. He is our hope and he is our Comfort through the night.  His comfort is like the warmth of the Sun. You can not see warmth, but you can feel it.

*The sun does not make darkness. Darkness is the absence of the sun.
God does not create evil, or make bad things happen. He cannot make evil anymore than the Sun can make darkness. He is the Author of all life, and all good things. Darkness is the absence of God.

I heard this song recently, True Love by Phil Wickham, and the song starts out with:

“Come close, listen to the story about a love more faithful than the morning.”

I was confused at first, how could God’s love be more faithful than the morning? and then it hit me, one day the sun won’t rise, the morning won’t come, but God’s love will still remain.

thankful for the sun, even more thankful for the Son.

-Marlie

Good grief, Christians.

“Think you’re having a bad day? Watch this video of a 6 month old baby get his ear replaced.”

I found that article scrolling through my news feed. It really irked me. When did grief become a competition? When did our struggles turn from a burden we carry to a badge we wear proudly on our shirts? We go through crap, and it’s obviously much worse than anyone else. Right? Or if someone is complaining about something, we make sure we put them in their place. See, I can be an idiot sometimes. At school, occasionally, there’s mini competitions in conversations of who is the busiest. Especially in the beginning of the semester, and dang it sometimes I fall into the trap of responding to someone who just hashed out their schedule for me  and I, like a jerk, responded:  “that’s your busy day? that’s nothing compared to my busy day!”  Comparison turns a group of young adults into a bunch of 6 year old kids at the lunch table. Arguing over who has the toughest life.

Children eating lunch: 

Little boy: My goldfish died today. 
Little girl: My great grandma died today!
Other little boy: Oh yeah? Well my papa died today. 

And then as we get older, it’s not only about what happens to us, but what how much we are responsible for. 

Middleschool kids at the lunch table: 

Boy: This sucks. I have football practice after school every day, and I have to do chores at home. 
Girl: oh Yeah? Well I’m in all advanced courses, orchestra, choir and newspaper! Plus, my mom’s sick so I have to do all the cooking this week. 

And then, it’s what happens to us, what we are responsible for and how our problems compare with the world around us. 

College students at lunch: 

Girl: My boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me today. Didn’t even say why. 
Other girl: Well at least, you’re not dying of AIDS like the kids in Africa. Get over it. 
Boy: My dad’s sick of cancer. He might not make it. 
Other boy: Well, my dad is dead. So, just be glad you’re dad’s still alive. 

Other than all these situations taking place at lunch (I’m writing this and thinking about how hungry I am), the people in these conversations all lack one thing: Compassion. Instead, they use comparison. People use comparison as a club to beat each other up with. Think you got it bad? *swings club* Just think about someone worse off than you and be thankful, then you won’t have much to complain about.  There’s two things when it comes to suffering and I think we get them mixed up a lot. 

Mentality of suffering:  People say “think” a lot when using comparison. And that’s just the thing. You know the saying, a picky eater at the dinner table and his mom turns to him and says “Now Johnny, think of all the hungry kids around the world who’d be lucky to have that.”   Gratitude is a mentality. Someone might have a negative mindset, meaning it’s in the mind. We all have different perspectives of the world, of our own lives based on what we have seen and gone through. My band director has been an EMT for 22 years, and at the beginning of each year he tells us “Look, I’ve seen a lot of things in my life. My reaction to your crisis will likely not look like your reaction.”  A war veteran has a different view of the world than a 14 year old girl. Why? Because they have lived through different things. We all experience and see the world through different eyes. And process it through our own past, and present. A person can be thankful that their life is not as bad as the others around them, but that does not change the fact that their life might be in crisis.  Gratitude is important. But, someone will always be better off and worse off than you. So sometimes people get stuck. They don’t allow themselves to grieve because people keep telling them that they don’t have a right to. Only the people at the bottom of the totem pole have a right to be sad. Everyone else has to suck it up and keep moving.  I want to challenge that. This whole “thinking” yourself out of a rough time. 

Actuality of suffering: I started running this summer and as I was running I was thinking about how my mile run (which is really just a jog/walk) failed in comparison to the many who have completed half and whole marathons. I respect those people a lot. Their physical strength, mental stamina, work ethic. It’s incredible. But,  as I ran that mile, knowing that people around the US could be running a marathon right at that moment did not make my mile run any easier for me physically. My heart still pounded as fast, I sweat a lot, I breathed heavily. What if someone told me “Hey Marlie, while you run, just imagine the runners who are running 2 miles, or 5 miles or 100 miles! Then you will no longer be tired at the end of your run!” Yet, knowing they are running a 5K does not make my mile run any easier. The same applies to grief. Understanding that people are suffering greater or less than me effects my mentality, my view of my suffering.  It does not change my  actual suffering. I still have to run, sweat, breathe, keep going. step after step. It’s like the kid in middle school from earlier, his dad was on death bed, and the other kid instead of having compassion, says well at least your dad is alive. Yeah, he can be grateful for his dad’s life, but he still has to spend  long nights at the hospital, watching the dad he knew and loved have the life drain out of him. Some life to be thankful for, right? 

Instead of comparison, instead of the “well at least…” or the “just be thankful you…”  can we start having compassion for one another? We serve a very compassionate God. And if anyone suffered, it was Jesus. If anyone suffered, it was God. And He has compassion for us.  When we come to God in prayer, lifting up our pains and sorrows, God does not point to the cross and says “I had it worse.” He points to the Cross and says “I understand.” He understands loss and grief. He understands us. 

 

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.–Ephesians 4:31-32