Five Reasons to Smile

Well, it’s been a month since I’ve last written anything. Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t (months do fly by quickly!). Either way, I wanted to let you in on where I’ve been for the past month and share a tiny bit of my personal life with you.

To explain my absense, let me rewind a little. I don’t think many people know this about me, but throughout college I struggled with depression. That depression only got worse my senior year, as I was in the midst of working two part-time jobs, attending school full-time, planning a wedding, and trying to keep up relationships with my friends, family, and long-distance fiance.

busyI felt exhausted and over-worked. I was running on empty. I felt hopeless. I was irritable. I just remember working shifts at Long John Silvers and finding it hard to smile and greet customers. I felt like I had nothing left to give. I sighed a lot.

And even more, my depression affected the way I viewed myself. I felt so far away from God, but I told myself it was my own fault. I had neglected to seek God, I had neglected to read my Bible, I had put him on a shelf for so long and I “knew” that God was done giving me another chance. I felt like damaged goods. I felt worthless.

Suffice to say, I was at a very low point by the time I graduated college. And, because stuff like that doesn’t just disappear overnight, this was the baggage that I came into marriage with.

heart handsLuckily, my husband doesn’t let me continue to live in that pit of despair. He is ever speaking truth to me. He reminds me that I have worth in God’s eyes. He is patient and loving.

His unconditional love plus the general joy and excitement that comes from being a newlywed shook me out of that dark pit I was in. My depression waned during our whole first year of marriage.

And then all of a sudden the end of July came and there I was again in that low place. I felt like I had to make a conscious effort to smile. I was sighing all the time again. I gave up on my goals. Everything just felt hopeless. And when it came to blogging, I figured it was futile: who really cares anyway?

So to be completely honest, that’s why I haven’t written in such a long time. I’ve been a little preoccupied with trudging out of a “pit”.

When I am depressed, I believe the absolute worst about myself. But this past month as I’ve been working through all of this, I have found that one of the biggest weapons to combat that is the truth of God. I have to remind myself that those negative, self-shaming ideas are lies. The truth of God says that shame and guilt that cuts us down and makes us run from God is not from God – that is straight from Satan.

clouds2 Corinthians 7:10 says “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

I have been clinging to that verse. When I am at a low point, thinking the worst about myself, feeling regretful, guilty, or ashamed, the key is that I have to ask myself, “is this guilt I’m feeling drawing me closer to God, or making me feel like there is no way that God could ever love me?” If it’s the latter, then I can know without a doubt that it is not truth.

Because, see, God is a loving Father. His intent is always to draw you closer to him. So if my thoughts and feelings are pushing me further away from him, then I can confidently call them what they are: lies.

I don’t know about you, but that gives me at least a little hope. That gives me more confidence and freedom. And even though remembering that truth doesn’t just magically make depression go away, it at least gives me the boldness to silence the lies and draws me closer to the One who will carry me through the dark days.

You’ll be happy to know that lately I’ve been feeling a whole lot better! I think a lot of it was adjusting to a new routine, dealing with emotional and physical exhaustion, on top of other stuff in my life right now.

happyThough my regular goals went out the window because of this, lately I’ve had a new goal: discover the things that make me happy and surround myself with them.

This past month, there were days when it felt hard to smile. I don’t want to have to struggle to smile…how awful is that?! So I’m starting a list of things that make me smile. Things that warm my heart. Things that make me feel warm and fuzzy.

This is just the beginning, but I thought I’d share it with you. And if any of you out there are going through the same thing, I hope that you can find one thing that makes you smile today, too, and surround yourself with it. Even if that means listening to one song or replaying one movie over and over. Do it. Smile. 🙂

  1. Frank Sinatra/big band music
  2. The movie You’ve Got Mail
  3. Christmas
  4. Autumn – pumpkins, Thanksgiving
  5. Doug the Pug

Doug the Pug 1Doug the Pug 2

(Photos from the Doug the Pug Facebook page)