Hello, Insomnia, My Old Friend

4539066536_d5b0cb95a8_oIt may have started with the antique grandfather clock in my childhood living room. The mahogany behemoth bonged on the half hour, and whether I was conscious of its waking me or not, the booming rattled my bones: 10:00. 10:30. 11:00. 11:30. Midnight.

Around eighth grade, I began to struggle with falling asleep. As I lay there, I anticipated—dreaded—the half-hour intervals of time. The midnight gongs were the worst: the official passage into the next day, the extended knell of loneliness, the reminder that I was the only person awake in the world. Around then, I would stand in the hallway outside my parents’ room. I knew it was selfish, but I wanted someone, anyone, to join me in my tragic vigil. I rarely even had to say a word. My mom would sense my presence and whisper, “Just close your eyes and lie real still.” It’s like she, too, never slept. [Read more...]

In the Marrow of Depression and Anxiety

8025692978_ddec2400e8_mBy the time you read this, I’ll be feeling much better. Therapy will have commenced, medications will have been adjusted, and clinging to the One who clings to the brokenhearted will have kept me affixed to a drip line of peace.

I can say this with some confidence, for it’s not my first time off the high dive. An episode with postpartum depression knocked me out in the spring of 2005. A thyroidectomy, and the resulting difficulty with getting my levels adjusted, incapacitated me in 2011. Today, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. Hormones seem to be fluctuating. Obsessive thoughts have sparked actual conflicts, causing more anxiety and guilt. Constantly trying to “hold my thoughts captive” has depleted my energies and now sunk me into a depressive state. [Read more...]

Sexist Assumptions and the Difficult, Dirty Work of Grace

IMG_7501My husband was deep into a bathroom remodeling project when he asked me to stop by the home improvement store to grab a faucet connector. He had purchased the wrong size on his previous trip, and I was out running errands anyway.

A young female employee met me in the plumbing section. I tried to decipher the details from my husband’s text but couldn’t figure out what the succession of measurements meant. The employee didn’t know either, so I called my husband to confirm.

After I hung up, the employee shook her head: “Don’t you love how men send their wives out to do their dirty work?” [Read more...]

Writing This Post Was on My Bucket List

8090579758_67a1c8f185_mI’ve never left North America, seen the Statue of Liberty, or dipped a toe in the Atlantic. Nor have I ridden a motorcycle, bungee jumped, snorkeled, or skied.

I haven’t eaten beets, bratwurst, bread pudding, or anything with tentacles or pincers.

I’ve never had an actual, entire, beer.

I’ve never completed Harry Potter, Moby Dick, or A Tale of Two of Cities, nor seen The Godfather, Braveheart, or one episode of Star Trek.

And never—not once—have I dived.

And I’m mostly okay with this. [Read more...]

Dollar Store Evangelism

7983352_ae05874354_oBecause I enjoy the finer things in life, I ran into Dollar Tree the other day to grab a few bottles of shower gel. The store is a bright, stale-plastic-smelling establishment specializing in glow bracelets, “chocolatey” Easter candy, and knock-off pregnancy tests. (Why didn’t they carry those during my childbearing years?) While it’s preferable to the more staidly dismal Dollar General, it’s certainly not a place for spiritual awakening.

The young man at the checkout, who probably had already swiped several dozen last-minute gift bags across the scanner by this point in the day, smiled warmly at a sixtyish woman standing in line in front of me.

“Are you having a good day?”

“Why, yes!” she beamed, unfolding a few bills from her coin purse. She thought a bit. “You’re so friendly to everyone here. I really like that.”

“Well,” he said, looking up shyly, “I just like to treat people the way I would like to be treated.”

The woman brightened immediately. “You know, the Gospel of John says Jesus even lays his life down for his friends. And he says we are his friends if we do what he commands.”

My eyes caught his, and in a microsecond, everything was said: I was trying to be nice. I didn’t mean to bring Jesus into it. I’m trapped and embarrassed you’re hearing it too.

[Read more...]