Not depressed

I haven’t been depressed for a while. But I said it out loud today. “I’m not depressed.”

The move to Virginia certainly brought up feelings like depression – loneliness, fatigue, a little hopelessness. For me, that’s different from depression, which is lots of hopelessness.  But the transition of moving was hard, like a mild depression without all the full-on depression characteristics. I wondered if the feelings would intensify and change to depression. I think I lived with some fear that it would come back due to the move.

But today, in my psychiatrist’s office, I told him that I’m not depressed.

We’re going to reduce one of my meds, which makes me a little nervous, because it’s the med that brought me out of depression in the first place. But it has a weird side-effect – chewing. I chew my teeth together all the time; I’m grinding my teeth all day. In an effort to keep this from becoming a permanent motion, we’re cutting that anti-depressant in half. I’m a little nervous about it, about the depression returning without the full medication to keep it at bay. But I think I’m in a better place emotionally, and so I’m willing to give the reduction a try.

It’s nice to not be depressed. My days are full of light, not grayness.  I can hear when birds chirp – the finches found my feeder, and seeing them flit around gives me a brief joy. I don’t dread each day, which I had been doing after the move here. I have energy, and am seriously considering adding exercise back into my routine. This was never a workable plan when I was depressed: I knew I should exercise, but couldn’t work up the energy to do it. I still probably sleep too much – I nap almost every day because I have nothing better to do. But I’m sleeping well at night, so I’m not worried about it – I’m napping from boredom, not depression.  I’m eating and sleeping well. I look forward to seeing people. Looking forward – that’s not depression.

I still have brief bouts of sadness or anxiety, but can usually recover pretty quickly with prayer. Getting my eyes off myself and back onto the Lord – who He is, how He sees me and loves me – eases those emotions. When I was depressed, I couldn’t lift my eyes from my misery, and sure couldn’t see God in it.  I had to trust He was there, because I didn’t feel Him at all.  I depended on the truths I knew from Scripture about God’s goodness, because I didn’t sense it, didn’t believe it with my emotions. I had great friends reminding me of His presence and companionship, His faithfulness and care. That’s the emptiness of depression – so self-focused that I was unable to see God with me. Those negative emotions have lessened. Now it’s just occasional – normal – feelings.

It’s nice to feel normal.

Living Here Now

I had another realization this week.

As this year has passed, and I’ve struggled to “settle in” to my new home, I’ve been treating it as a temporary assignment. As if we’re only living here for a year or so, and then moving again (which is what happened with living in Florida – we were there only 15 months).  I’ve been reluctant to commit my emotions to living in Virginia, because I’ve been looking to the future as impending change, and I’ve been looking back with deep longing. I was finally feeling settled in Florida when we moved, and so I’ve been missing it a lot. I’ve compared my day-to-day in Virginia to my days in Florida, and every day came up wanting.

Then a morning devotional grabbed my attention with the story of Lot’s wife; I was challenged to not spend too much time looking back. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with looking back at memories and lessons learned. But to spend time longing for days past is time wasted. We don’t live our lives backwards, and I’ve been keeping myself from moving forward by not fully embracing my current living situation. I’m missing out on what God has for me “now” because I’m focused on “back then.”

Some of this is simply the natural progression of moving and adjusting to a new home. As I’ve said before, this process takes time – a year, at least. And we’ve been a year now in Virginia, so it’s time for these things to be working themselves out. But I realized that I’ve been clinging to the past, and that’s different.

I live here now, in Virginia. And in many ways, I am embracing it: I got a job; I’m slowly making friends; I think we’ve found a church home. We’ve explored the area. The boxes are unpacked. We’ve hosted out-of-town guests.

But I haven’t given my emotions to life here. They’ve been focused in the past.

It’s time for my emotions to catch up with my actions, with my life. I’ve prayed about contentment, but with my emotions stuck in the past, it’s hard to be satisfied. So now I’ll pray that I can embrace my life in Virginia with my whole life – emotions included.

I’m going to live in the now. God gives me today. This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:74 (emphasis mine, personalized).

What do I want to be when I grow up?

As I’ve said before, I’m in a holding pattern right now.

We just moved here 9 months ago, and I’m still getting established in life, routine, church, work, etc. I still feel “new” here. Relationships are slow to come by, and feeling at home takes time, at least a year, based on my earlier relocation experiences. Finding a church base takes time too, and we’re in that process right now. But finding ministry where I can serve takes even longer, as I’m discovering every week.

So as I wait, I wonder. What do I want to do with my life? Or rather, what does God want me to do with my life?

I’m in the second half. I’m a relatively new empty-ester, and now is the time, if ever, to reinvent myself. Or at a minimum, to discover something to do with my life that gives it meaning over these next 20+ years.

Yikes, that’s a long time!

So many folks I know go to work in a new environment once their children have left the nest.  So, since this is where I find myself: where do I want to work? What kind of impact do I hope to have on coworkers, clients, the folks who God places in my life?

Am I doing what He wants me to do right now? I’m praying that I am able to minister to folks/families in my current job as a brain trainer  (like a tutor, but for cognitive skills, not school subjects). I pray every day for my students, for our sessions, that God will use me in my current job and situation, and that I will be open to where He wants me to be eventually – here, or in another job.

What would I like that to be? What skills has He given me to use? How might it be different from ministry? Is there a difference between work and ministry for me? If so, what does that look like? What job? What ministry?

How do I not look too far ahead and simply trust Him for the outcome?

 

All packed…

Husband and I have spent the past several days in Florida, packing up the house and getting it sent off to Virginia. We took advantage of the beautiful resort spa-like pool in our neighborhood – spent lots of hours in the water, surrounded by palm trees and tropical plants.

Cleaned the house, touched up the paint, saw friends for dinner and breakfast. Stayed with a good friend once our beds were gone, enjoyed some delicious pizza and live music downtown. 

It was a wonderful trip, though incredibly bittersweet. We have loved our house, have great neighbors, and did I mention the pool?! It’s hard to leave.

Moving is difficult- such a major transition. For me, it takes a year before I can even begin to call the new place “home,” and a second year before I really feel settled and at peace. That’s a long time, and I was just getting there in FL before we had to move again. 

So I’m accepting the fact that I will feel unsettled for awhile. It’s ok. I’ll come to love our new house. I’ll find friends at church and work. We’ll develop a routine. We’ll get used to the new empty-nest (Florida was our first one) and I’ll do what I can to make it our home. Lord willing, we’ll enjoy entertaining family- and friend-guests.

I suppose I’d better get busy learning my way around town!

Finding a church

We’re shopping for churches. Sort of. I mean, we’d have to attend to officially be shopping, and we aren’t really trying yet. In the five weeks I’ve lived here, we’ve been to one church one time.

I don’t like the shopping analogy, but that’s what it is – trying on different congregations. Finding a church to attend regularly. Trying to determine if it’s a place where we want to become active participants, where we can contribute to the local body of Christ. Where the message of the Gospel is taught. Where we can become engaged, not simply entertained.

Some people never miss church – it’s where they are, every Sunday. On vacation. In snowstorms. Not fair-weather attenders, but faithful followers. I can’t say that’s me. I know church is important, and I have been an active member of several congregations in my lifetime, where I’ve been able to serve and be ministered to. But not since my childhood have I attended every single service the week has to offer. Not even close.

When we were first married and we missed a Sunday, I was overwhelmed with incredible guilt. Hard to distinguish if it was the Holy Spirit, or my own accusations. But like anything, it became easier to miss the more I missed. When I felt particularly guilty about missing, I might do a Bible study lesson or watch a sermon online. Not always because I wanted to, but sometimes simply to assuage my guilty feelings.

These are not pretty things I’m admitting to. I’m not proud of my spotty attendance in this search for a new church home. And I don’t want to make excuses. I’m hoping that if I write it down, it will help me figure out why it’s so hard.

In the 15 months we lived in Florida, we attended 3 different churches – repeatedly each time – until we finally felt like we might have landed in one where God could use us and we were comfortable. We were just getting settled into a routine there; that lasted a few weeks, and then we moved to VA.

So now we start over. Like I said, we’ve been to one church one time. We haven’t been back, nor have we been to the other churches on the list of potentials. It takes effort, and it’s easy not to go. It’s hard to always be the strangers, the ones sitting in the pew alone. A greeter shakes our hands and we are welcomed. Barely.

But I’ve been in this place before, and I know that relationships happen in small groups, in repeated fellowship. So I’m joining an evening women’s Bible study at this church. Maybe it will make Sunday mornings easier.