Sundays With Rae

a blog for women by a woman who is trying to get her life together while still loving Jesus

Let the Rope Go

One of my favorite events to watch at Field Day is Tug of War. There’s nothing more exciting than two teams battling to take the other team down. Parents and teachers on the side encouraging students to pull. Students pulling with all their might. Just when you think one team has it, the other team gathers some strength and now it looks like they have it. Two or three minutes seems like an eternity but eventually a winner prevails. Some teams win by any means necessary. Once they’ve pulled as much as they could, they let go of the rope and watch the other team fall to their defeat. A win is a win. When we’ve expended all of our energy in a game of tug of war with our problems, we need to let the rope go.

We face all sorts of problems. Depression, financial stress, family concerns, illness, doubt, anxiety, and a host of other things. We’re on one team and we put our problems on the other team. Sometimes it looks like you’re winning, sometimes it looks like the depression is winning. Sometimes it looks like you’re winning, sometimes it looks like the illness is winning. You’ve been pulling for years now. You’re worn out. Your whole life revolves around this tug of war. Allow me to be the person on the sideline yelling, “Let go of the rope!” Not only have you picked up a rope you weren’t supposed to, but you’ll never have the strength to win a war you weren’t meant to fight.

Whatever it is that you’ve been at war with, pulling and tugging, choose to drop the rope and let God do the fighting for you. Choose to walk in deliverance, choose to walk in healing, choose to walk in liberty. Stop fighting the desire to go to therapy. Stop fighting with the bank. Stop fighting with your boss. Stop fighting with the doctors. Stop fighting the medicine. Let the rope go and enjoy the other events life has to offer. If He did it for Israel, He can do it for you.

Deuteronomy 3:22 “Ye shall not fear them: for the Lord your God he shall fight for you.”

September 2019

Everyone’s Depressed

I was hesitant to write this post because I was embarrassed. Me, the former therapist, mental health advocate, was embarrassed to discuss depression, go figure.

In recent years, you’ve heard people talk about mental health a lot more than they use to, especially in the black community. All of this awareness made it possible for some people to not only get the help they needed, but to share their story with others and inspire them to seek help. As I observed this slight shift in our culture, it appeared as though most people at one time or another has experienced some level of depression. Whether it was trigged by a certain event (loved one’s death, childbirth, etc.) or just showed up, a lot of people have danced with depression. Everyone except me, of course.

Earlier this year, I went for my yearly check up and I was telling my doctor about some extreme fatigue I had been experiencing. Her response was, “are you depressed?” In my head, my response was, “girl, who are you talking to? I take trips, I meet friends for lunch dates, I go to events, I’m involved in my church, I have an active prayer life. I’m out here living my best life!” But instead I told her, “no, I don’t think so.” She went on to talk about vitamin deficiencies that could cause certain symptoms and said that stress also plays a vital role in our physical well-being (which I knew). So, I decided that I was stressed. I left the doctor, almost offended that she would think that me and my awesomeness could be depressed.

Fast forward to a month or so later and I’m meeting up to have an early dinner with a friend who graduated with me from my therapy program. I was physically drained but we had been trying to meet up for months so I knew I couldn’t cancel. As we’re catching up on life (it had been almost a year), and I’m explaining to her my current state of being, she says you should go talk to someone. It had been over two years since I’d seen my counselor, and I’d considered going but it never really seemed necessary. After all, it’s not like I was depressed. But when my friend suggested it, I realized she was right. I NEEDED to talk to someone.

There are different types of depressions. According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (what doctors/therapists/counselors use to make diagnoses) it is considered a mood disorder, which sounds pretty scary. People hear depression, and they automatically think suicide, which is not true. Suicidal thoughts can be a symptom of depression, but many people do not experience it as a symptom. Other symptoms include:

  1. Depressed mood or irritable most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful).
  2. Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities, most of each day
  3. Significant weight change (5%) or change in appetite
  4. Change in sleep: Insomnia or hypersomnia
  5. Change in activity: Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy
  7. Guilt/worthlessness: Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  8. Concentration: diminished ability to think or concentrate, or more indecisiveness

(https://www.psnpaloalto.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Depression-Diagnostic-Criteria-and-Severity-Rating.pdf)

I know some of you are reading this and telling yourself, “omgoodness, that’s me!” Like I said before, most of us have experienced some symptoms of depression at certain points in our lives but an official diagnosis should come from a medical professional (in my opinion, a counselor/therapist/psychologist, but that’s just me).

So, what now? I scheduled an appointment to meet with my counselor. My counselor isn’t big on labels so it’s highly unlikely she’ll say, “yes, Jocee you are depressed,” and I don’t need her to. I think some people need a diagnosis to know they are not crazy for feeling how they feel (no one says anything when someone gets diagnosed with diabetes after experiencing extreme thirst for months, which is a symptom of diabetes). If this is you, seek help and get better. If you’re like me and perhaps experiencing the symptoms but not interested in the diagnosis, seek help and get better. Someone can believe they do not have diabetes, but if their sugar levels says some sort of intervention needs to happen, they should seek treatment even if they reject the label.

I’m not going to lie, I feel like I have a strong case of that black woman syndrome. Life is a lot right now (for no particular reason, I should add), but it just doesn’t seem that bad. I tell myself other people have it worse and I have to just get through it. But my friend helped me realize, my life can be better than this. God intended for me to enjoy the fruit of my labor (Ecclesiastes 5:18) and that’s what I’m going to do. I encourage you to do the same thing.

And one more thing: Stay off the internet and talk to a live person. This is your confirmation, this is your “sign.” Sometimes you can’t talk yourself through a situation (like you’ve been trying to do), you have to pray and talk yourself through it with someone else who knows what they’re talking about. If you don’t have insurance, this is a site with licensed professionals at a reasonable cost and some offer telecommunication (video chat) and phone calls https://openpathcollective.org/ (there is a $49 sign up fee). And it’s okay if you have to try a few people before you find a good fit.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.

April 2019

Everyone’s Happy but Me

November 2018

Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is on the way. Everyone’s excited about the food, gifts, and family getting together. Everyone’s happy, but you. If you’re being honest with yourself, it’s not just this time of year that leaves you feeling this way. You wake up with it and it tucks you in at night. Maybe it came about after a loved one passed or it started off as a random sadness that never left. Whatever its origin, its presence has taken over your life.

I have been in that place and at times desperately tried to get out and other times simply accepted it as my reality. You feel powerless to your own emotions and even if you were given control you wouldn’t know what to do with them. You have been in this space so long it feels like home. And in a sick, twisted way it’s comforting. Happiness and joy are strangers to you and you don’t have the energy to become familiar with them. I have good news! This does not have to be your forever. It may very well be your right now and even your tomorrow, but not your forever. So, what to do while waiting for your morning?

Pray

Everybody has told you to do it but you don’t want to. Or maybe you do it, but it doesn’t seem to help. Do it anyway. And I don’t mean the “fancy” prayers you hear in church. I mean the ugly, truth-telling prayers that you only want God to hear. I didn’t want to have a conversation with God but countless times I told Him, “I can’t do this” (“this” ranged from getting out of bed to going to work to smiling) and I told Him how upset I was with Him. It was all I could say and it was all I needed to say. Eventually God showed me that I could do “this” and He wasn’t scared of my unpleasant feelings. In the midst of our sadness, we often times don’t have a lot to say to God or rather what we deem to be constructive things to say to God, but it’s important that we say something, keeping the line of communication open.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing

Confide in Someone

Maybe you’re not a talker, maybe you don’t want everyone in your business. Be careful because your silence can kill you. Whether it is your best friend, your parent, your sibling, your pastor, talk to someone. Emotions are heavy and they become heavier when you carry them by yourself. A lot of times those around us don’t know what to say, but you telling someone calls out what you’re feeling. It’s not a secret you have to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. It is where you are in the moment and it is okay if someone else knows that; it is helpful that someone else knows that. Whoever you confide in should be someone who builds you up, not makes you feel bad for feeling how you’re feeling. They point you back to Jesus and remind you who you are in Him. They know how to give you space while checking in with you. They may not be able to solve all your problems, but a listening ear can help you get up the next day.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Seek Professional Help

When do you need to seek professional help? When you’re ready. I did it as a last resort and wish I had gotten help earlier. My heart had been so broken, I wouldn’t even let God pick up the pieces to put it back together. I talked about it with family and friends, but I was still too fragile to do anything about it on my own. So when I had enough, I sought professional help. I didn’t go to a Christian counselor and I honestly can’t tell you why (yes, I can, I went with who my insurance covered), but after reading my counselor’s website and reading about her approach to problems, I felt like she would be a good fit for me. If this is the step you want to take, I encourage you to do the same. Do your research and find someone who will be a good fit for you and if they’re not, find someone else. Talking to a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, life coach, or whoever you decide to talk to doesn’t make you crazy or weak. If you decide to take medicine, that doesn’t make you crazy or weak either. Whatever route you decide, remember all your help comes from God so whoever is doing the helping should be pointing you back in His direction.

Proverbs 19:20 Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. (NLT)

Get over it. (You can’t)

Just pray. (You did)

It’s not that deep. (It is)

You’re being extra. (You’re not)

That was 10 years ago. (It feels like yesterday)

Why can’t you just be happy? (You don’t know)

Pull it together. (You tried)

If it were that simple, you would have done it already. Whatever you are feeling right now is a very real feeling but it’s not who you were created to be. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14). You are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). God is always with you (Isaiah 41:10). By His stripes are you healed (Isaiah 53:5). This is your truth. Feelings are fleeting, they come and go, but what God says is forever. Everyone else may appear to be happy, but trust that your joy is coming in the morning. As you go through this holiday season and the new year rolls in, believe that you will be happy too.