Category Archives: prayer

Hope is Available

I wonder if Robin Williams knew how loved he was? Did he know how much he would be missed? Look at the outpouring of love this week in the aftermath of his untimely death, I wonder if he knew. I suspect he didn’t. I suspect he couldn’t see beyond the pain he was feeling.

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The darkest time of my life came after the birth of my second child. I had two babies—a toddler under the age of 2 and a newborn. And I was depressed. I don’t mean I was tired and weary. Yes, I was. But I was truly depressed. It was a very dark time. On top of that, I felt guilty for the depression. After my firstborn was delivered, I felt euphoric. I was elated to be a mommy finally. So, it was hard for me to accept that after my second was born, I faced crazy tears and a darkness I had never experienced. Where was the joy over this new and healthy baby? Thankfully, I spoke to my doctor about my unusual feelings. We quickly realized that it was the birth control pills I went on right after her birth. All those hormones wreaked havoc on my system. I immediately got off the pills and my hormones regulated themselves. The storm clouds cleared. Sunshine returned.

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Depression comes in all shapes and sizes. For this optimist, it was a shock when I experienced it but it was also quite a shock to watch my father go through it after his heart surgery. It’s a common phenomenon for heart patients or anyone who has had a serious ailment to go through depression. My dad was like John Wayne–strong, confident, steady. And yet, to watch him go through depression was heartbreaking. Even more shocking to me was the lack of response by his heart doctor. My mother would slip a note to the nurse during a doctor visit telling her how depressed he was. The doctor would come in and say, “Are you depressed?” My father, being stoic and never accepting what he perceived as weakness, would deny it. And nothing would be done to help him.

My mother is also very calm and steady, so it was also a shock when she realized several years ago that she was depressed. She was unflappable during her bout with breast cancer. Her doctor kept asking her if she was depressed during follow-up visits because some medication she was on could cause depression. One day, my mom was watching Grumpy Old Men, a comedy, and she cried three times. That told her something was not right. Thankfully, she sought help.

Depression can be caused by hormones or medication or traumatic situations. Some people have an illness, which is depression, and there are all sorts of manifestations of that. Unfortunately, I have also known those who have not sought help. Robin Williams’ death by suicide brought that home to me again this week. I ache for his family and friends, because I too had a friend who committed suicide. I have asked myself all the questions that follow. Did I…Could I…Why didn’t I…What if I’d…? There are no answers to those questions only a lingering pain. I simply understand the deep ache of what they are now facing. Suicide doesn’t just affect the person that takes his or her own life. Suicide devastates families and friends. There is not a week that goes by since my friend’s death (and it’s been 3 years) that I don’t think of my friend, of those last moments in her life, and wish I’d been able to help.

I didn’t know Robin Williams. I don’t know all that he struggled with. From the outside, his life looked to be ideal. But no one’s life is ideal. Everyone struggles. Everyone faces difficulties. He recently had heart surgery. He struggled with addiction. He struggled with depression. He faced financial difficulties. Here is what I know: depression is an isolating illness. It makes you feel alone, and in that isolation lurks hopelessness.

This morning, I was reading out of the book of Job. Surely, if anyone had reason to feel depressed and hopeless, it was Job. All of his children had died. His wealth had been taken. His health was failing as he suffered boils on his body. He was in severe pain. Friends came to see him, trying to help and also accusing him of sin in his life, which they believed caused his suffering. Job 3 is Job’s lament. “Why didn’t I die as soon as I was born…” “Instead of being alive, I would now be quietly lying down. I would now be sleeping peacefully. I would be with the kings and the counselors of the world who built for themselves what are now ruins…. I would not exist…I have no peace! I have no quiet! I have no rest! And trouble keeps coming!”

Surely, Job was in a desperate situation. He was in a very dark place. He needed help. He needed hope. Let’s skip over what all his friends said to him in response. Because what really matters is what God says to him in chapter 38. “Then Yahweh answered Job out of the storm… “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have such insight.” Later, God says, “Will the person who finds fault with God correct him?” Finally, Job responds to God with, “I know that you can do everything and that your plans are unstoppable.”

Life is temporary. Eternity is forever. The suffering we feel here on earth does not last forever. It is a season. There are answers and solutions to any problem. God has the answers. He can work miracles in our lives if we will but allow Him.

For those who cry when others are laughing…if your life feels dark and hopeless…if you think about ending your life…reach out to a friend, a family member, a professional doctor, nurse, anyone. I know it’s scary. I know you feel as if no one will care. There is someone who wants to help. Please, reach out and get help. You do not have to live with tears or loneliness or darkness. Reach out. Get help. If you haven’t reached out to God, then do so. People make mistakes and fail each other, but God loves you. Always. Let me repeat that. God. Loves. You.

For those who have been left behind by someone they love who took their own life, it’s okay to walk through all those stages of grief: sadness, anger, etc… There are organizations that can help you in the aftermath. Get help. But also, reach out to God. He understands your pain, your suffering, and He wants to help you through this very difficult time.

For those who do not face depression (yet), please remember that no one knows what situation another faces, what resides in another’s heart or the pain another suffers. Looking at Robin Williams, it would be easy to assume that his success, his laughter, his life would cause happiness. It’s never that simple. Be mindful that others are hurting and reach out to help, listen for clues that someone needs help or is asking for help, and most importantly simply love each other.

For those who have gone on, who found this life too painful, too dark, you are not forgotten. You are loved. You are missed.

Prayers

Do you believe in the power of prayer? I certainly do. Prayers can really carry you through difficult times, especially when you can’t seem to pray for yourself and others are lifting you up. God does answer prayers, not always the way we want, but He listens, He hears, and He is moved. Sometimes we think there are certain things we shouldn’t say to God, but honestly God already knows. He simply wants us to share with him how we’re feeling. It’s okay if you’re angry. He gets angry too. The amazing thing about prayer is that laying our burdens at His feet can really give us a peace that cannot be explained any other way.

A few years ago, my husband and I had been praying about his job. He was very unhappy at work. It was a toxic environment. We’d also been praying for our little dog Muffet, because she was getting very old. She was blind and deaf. We knew her time was short. Frankly, I was worried that I’d have to make a decision about her life, and I really didn’t want to do that. But even more than that, my kids were fairly young and I didn’t know how I would explain that to them. Death is hard enough but telling your five year old you had to put your beloved pet to sleep permanently just seemed like a huge mountain. At the same time, I was praying for my book Elvis Takes a Back Seat because it was at a publisher’s being reviewed for possible publication. Well, two weeks before Christmas, we received an avalanche of answered prayer. My husband was laid off work, and he came home early and found that our sweet dog had died in her sleep, and sitting in the mailbox was a rejection of my book. WHAM! All in one day. Talk about painful. It really was. But every one of those was answered prayer. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t scary when my husband was out of work, but his eventual consulting led to new opportunities that have been such a blessing. I don’t think he ever would have pursued that if he hadn’t been forced to. My sweet Muffet passed away peacefully, and even though we missed her so much it helped knowing I didn’t have to make that awful decision or attempt to explain it to my kids. Also, that rejection helped God lead me to the inspirational market. It was a journey I never would have anticipated.

Prayer, I’ve learned, is also more listening than us blathering on about our problems. Over the past few years, I’ve lost a few people in my life and it has been a painful parting. It’s been amazing to me how God has whispered in my spirit words of comfort and peace, and I have clung to those words and His hand during those times.

It’s also a great privilege to be able to pray for others and lift them up in prayer when they are burdened. So I would encourage you if you haven’t prayed lately, go ahead and give it a go. If you need prayer, don’t hesitate to ask someone to pray for you. You will bless them with that opportunity and you also will be blessed. If you are a prayer warrior, I ask that you lift fellow writer, Diann Hunt up as she is again battling cancer.