fight

Writing on the Mirror by Michael Nichols

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A mirror is a place we use to examine ourselves to see if we're prepared to go out, to see whether or not we look decent, be sure the hair is laying right or that you don't still have tomato sauce on your face from that delectable lasagna. It's also a place where we a lot of things wrong with us, question ourselves, and often times can be a source of negative self image (or pride on the flip side, if we're unwilling to see the important flaws).

I've never really been 100% confident in the way I look. I'm always asking for advice on different clothing, different hair. It may be that way because I used to be ridiculed for my face, for my slender figure (which isn't typically a man's desire, but hey, that's the way I'm built naturally). It doesn't help that I'm susceptible to the occasional anxiety attack. I don't know whether they are a result of the ridicule or if the ridicule I used to face simply exacerbated the anxiety that may have surfaced eventually.

About a week ago, I suffered one of these attacks. This one was triggered by my tendency to base my feelings about my relationship with God on my ability to make good choices and also to abstain from sins that are particularly tempting to me. When I have an anxiety attack, the worst symptom I experience is the racing thoughts. They just don't stop. They are many. They are negative. They are violent. The are self-deprecating. They are scary. They are also false. Even if there is something wrong with you, they are false and scary because they destroy.

... But why? Why do these thoughts happen? If God is good, why do I have the spirit of fear? Either one of two things must be true: either God is not good, or someone else gave me the spirit of fear. So I remembered something that I should not have let become trapped in a dark, unregulated corner of my mind: the enemy comes to destroy. Jesus comes to give life! So I prayed, "Lord, protect me from demons, protect me from the enemy."

The racing thoughts dissipated immediately.

I'm nothing special, but sometimes, the enemy tries to put us in a place where we think we're worthless because we're sinners. Jesus begs to differ. He died and lives for us. He knows what we need when we need it, so when we as His adopted and highly dysfunctional kids are scared and need Him, He will step in and say, "Child, I love you, and I will keep you safe from the enemy." I needed to remember that. I needed to be reminded that the One who's in me is greater than the one that is in the world. At that moment, I needed a miracle, and I wanted Him, my heavenly Father, back.

So since then, I've had this thing where I write on mirrors with dry erase marker. I write my sins, insecurities, and my remedy. There's something powerful about that to me. Maybe the words over my reflection help me to see myself in the context of Christ's love and truth. By doing what He did a week ago, He gave me a reason to give back into His Spirit and fight the spirit of fear in Jesus' name, because even though I'd never lost the reasons or lost my faith, I lost my fight and gained some doubts and baggage. But praise God that He is greater than any anxiety and greater than anything I see in the mirror.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCO8XLs5TOY

Entering Rest (3): Deep Valleys by Michael Nichols

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the [valley of the shadow of death (KJV)I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." -- David, the Psalmist and King of Israel (Psalm 23 NIV)

An almost cliche Bible passage at this point is Psalm 23. It's the one we've probably all hear a hundred times over, whether we're followers of Christ or not. If you haven't heard it in church, you've probably heard it quoted on a crime show by a cop that's trying to keep his faith or by a mobster trying to justify his crime. I've heard it said that it's just a Psalm about the Lord guiding David through some troubles. I've also heard it said that it's a Messianic prophecy (in plain English, that it was a telling of Jesus sacrifice).

I don't bring up the passage, however, to dispute doctrines or theories. I just want to confront this thing called a valley. I hear the word most frequently used to describe a low point in a persons life, something external that they're going through and that they [hopefully] will emerge from on the other side. There is another word for low point that brings a much greater sense of despair (of varying degree and duration), though, that needs to be confronted: depression.

Depression is that cloud that hangs over a persons head for a long time, the storm that doesn't have wind at its back to move it along, the unshakable feeling that nothing is ever going to change, a constant lack of energy/motivation/passion or at the very least the presence of a vacuum slowly draining that energy, a desire for change but without resolve to make it happen, a fear of failure or personal endangerment or loss, a reclusion from reality, dreams without fruition, the fear/thought of not "getting by," a lack of desire to excel, often but not always masked by feigned apathy and even bitterness to protect the part with the pain from being damaged further (which can lead to an abnormal silence from the individual in question), not a simple imbalance of body chemicals, but a state of being in which a person believes he/she is caught in a endless loop which can lead to the exhausting sensation of chaos and insanity and in the end an amplified preference to rest constantly rather than work. This is at the very least how I would define it because I've lived with it.

It can be a monster, and the thing that make it so difficult to fight is that depression is constructed within our own minds out of the things that make up our own lives. Not just a monster, but a monster inside of a dungeon inside of a hole in the ground.

The easy path is to stop trying to fight it and let it have its way with you. Rest, and maybe you'll be safe. Heck, maybe it's just a nightmare to wake from. That's how I've felt about it, anyway (I dare not say "you" without really meaning "me").

The irony of it, though, is that it's exhausting. You're not resting. You're constantly working to keep the walls from falling down, to save yourself, to hide your heart. What you once thought was rest becomes the slave driver at your back.

It's a fact that things can bring us down, and a lot of times we don't want to get back up and feel insane for it. It's a fact that we can pretend not to care, to go silent, to protect ourselves. Do we really want that for ourselves, though? Wouldn't it be better to let go and truly be able to rest?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYuGuxr7MB0