Valentine’s Day is just another day on the calendar, it’s true. But with all the cultural hype surrounding it, I find it easy to let my thoughts spiral into doom and gloom about checking the “single” box yet another year. It’s at times like these when I need to be especially intentional about seeking truth and speaking truth. If I let my mind run it’s default route and allow my voice to follow, my Valentine’s Day will consist of sobbing to A Walk to Remember while eating globs of Nutella and writing sappy rhymed poetry. Since that scene is something I want to avoid :), I’ve gone through articles I’ve read and written and chosen the 4 that I feel best put singleness and relationships into their proper perspective. If you need some fresh perspective too, I hope these articles challenge and encourage you! Continue reading “5 Articles for When You Don’t Have a Valentine”
Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts made a lasting mark on Christian culture, and rightly so. In her “dare to live fully right where you are,” she recounts her transformation from despair into joyful gratitude through the simple practice of counting her gifts, blessings from God that are all too easy to miss unless we commit our eyes to intentional sight.
“Morning shadows across the old floors,” she writes. “Jam piled high on the toast. Cry of blue jay from high in the spruce” (p. 45).
I read the book when it came out in 2010 and was captivated by Voskamp’s poetic writing and fresh expression of a timeless truth. And today, healthy and healed, when I count God’s gifts, a gloomy demeanor on an off day is put into perspective, an inward focus turns upward and outward, and joy begins to diffuse the despair.
But when I was severely depressed, this practice backfired. In the years of the deepest depression, I fought back with Voskamp’s advice. In a tear-riddled journal, I etched my gifts hard into the pages day after day.
And all I felt was shame.
Shame at how God had given me so much, yet I still had a perpetual lump in my throat.
Shame that the hopelessness I felt outshouted the hope I had in Christ.
Shame that God had given me so much to live for, yet, on some days, I wanted to die.
If the same has happened to you, you are not alone.And if the same has happened to you, remember this:
Faith and feelings are not synonyms. Continue reading “3 Ways to Fight Depression When Counting Your Gifts Doesn’t Help”
Unclean am I, I am unclean, because of a bleeding that won’t stop, no matter how much I adhere to the doctors’ instructions, more outrageous and extravagant by the day. Weakness does not just fill me; it is me.
I feel cold in the sun.
I want to seek Him, Jehovah, the Lord, the One who saw and loved Hagar abandoned in the desert. But I am cut off. Shame and sin are mine, are me. An unrepentant woman. I hear the whispers: “It’s her sin. If only she would repent, she would be healed.” I am unclean, unclean am I. I used to have a name before the condemning blood.
When I heard about him from my mother, when she told me about what he did for the blind man that used to beg at the end of our street, all I could think of was how much he sounded like the One who saw and loved Hagar abandoned in the desert. But compassion was a word for others; it could never apply to me. For my uncleanness, my sin, they said, had cut me off from the people. Compassion should not be shown to one who willfully persists in iniquity. It might imply that misdeeds were acceptable in the eyes of Jehovah. But with Mother’s story about this Jesus, I saw that this man did not play by the Pharisees’ rules.
A rebel, a kind rebel.
I touched him, merely touched him, and I was healed. For a moment, I was thrilled, but then I felt the question like a slap.
“Who touched me?”
I should have known better.
His voice wasn’t angry, but I knew it would be as soon as he realized that I, an unclean woman, had touched him. And if he was as powerful as my mother said, he would most certainly realize.
I feared that he would be angry, that I may have tainted his power with my unclean hands. But I was desperate; he was my last chance. My hands went numb and my body began to heave with tears that left me gasping for air. With my last bit of strength, I moved toward him, then fell near his feet, my hands scraped by the gritty ground.
“It was me! Forgive me, it was me.” The tears kept coming, but my face grew numb. I kept my head to the ground, waiting for the blow, or the curse, or the command to leave.
But instead, in a gentle voice, he said “daughter.”
I lifted my head in disbelief, and he looked in my eyes, really looked-not through me or past me as the others do. And when he looked in my eyes, his own filled with tears. And with a lump in his throat and a soft smile, he said, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace, and be freed from your suffering.”
He called me daughter, and he called me free. This compassion, this love, still feels strange and unreal. It’s been so long since I’ve been clean that I have to remind myself that my encounter with him wasn’t just a dream. But as I wake up every day with strength in my body and the memory of his words, I know that it is all true. And now I can proclaim with joy, just as Hagar did when he rescued her, “I have seen the one who sees me.”
This fictional account is based on Mark 5: 25-34. Hagar’s words are from Genesis 16:13. Italicized words are direct quotes from Scripture.