More Of My Book: Mending (+ free wallpaper!)

More of My Book_ Mending

Happy Tuesday, lovely readers. I hope you’ve had a wonderful week.

Tuesday always creeps up on me and I almost forgot to post. But I suppose I didn’t, since I’m here now.

 

I was inspired this week by one of Ann Voskamp’s blog posts. It made me cry (in a good way), and I highly recommend reading it. Her writing is exquisite.

 

Anyway, I wanted to share the final segment of chapter one of my book. I’m at 13k right now, and because April so far has just been chaotic and impossible, I’ve brought my goal down to 20k. That doesn’t mean anything significant – it just means I’ll be writing at a more manageable pace.

 

My book is turning out to be different than I imagined, but I’m really happy with it. And my cabin mates – Hannah, Jonathan, Hann, Jessi, Anna, Rachel, another Anna, and a few others still – are some of the most encouraging people I’ve met. I’ve accomplished more than I ever would’ve without the encouragement.

 

Today’s segment is on depression. Sound depressing? Maybe. It’s a tough topic. But instead of giving us the excuse to wade neck-high in self pity over our feelings, I want us to find hope in the truth that we have to hold onto.

 

Enjoy!

 

The word depression used to frighten me. I thought of teenagers sitting alone in their rooms, wearing all black, blasting rock music, and choosing not to be happy. It was always a touchy subject in my mind, and a bit intimidating.

But then I experienced depression of my own and my entire perspective changed.

Contrary to popular belief, depression is not a bad word, nor is it entirely a bad thing. We shouldn’t act as though topics such as depression should be avoided; rather, we should confront the problems we have without shame.

The problems arise when we allow our depression to control us. Bad things happen when we let our minds wander much too far, when we allow ourselves to think such negative, distorted thoughts, and when we trade God’s truths for our feelings.

And as much as depression has become such a cultural norm, and it should not be brushed under the rug as “a ploy for attention,” we need to face it and learn how not to be consumed by it.

 

What is Depression? Can Christians Be Depressed?

 

As I’ve said before, I have nowhere near all the answers. I’m not a professional. I’m just a girl wanting to share what I’ve experienced and what I’m learning in my crazy life, and the things that have immensely helped me.

I know that depression can have multiple forms, none of which should be taken lightly.

Whether your depression is medical, clinical, or emotional, it hurts. I know it does. It hurts to feel empty. It hurts to feel like nothing matters. It hurts to feel constantly weighted by a seemingly unshakable dark cloud. It hurts, because depression is a fog, and you can’t see anything in front of you except the inky blackness. All that’s visible is the here and now, which can seem to be so overwhelming when everything feels utterly hopeless.

People often attempt to say that Christians can’t suffer from depression for the simple reason that our lives should be in total order once we’re saved. Or, that being depressed is a sin or a petty feeling and we should just get over it.

I highly disagree.

Instead, I’d say this. Christians often suffer from depression, and torture themselves over it because they believe they shouldn’t feel the pain or numbness. This only leads to feeling worse, because you can’t just whip yourself out of a mindset or condition – especially one that’s not even a spiritual problem in the first place. Healing is a process. If it’s medical or clinical depression, a person will need medical attention, and not just lectures from someone ordering them to “snap out of it.” Similarly, those with emotional depression will need time to heal. Time to rebuild the joy in their hearts. No amount of sermons, books, blog posts, lectures, or conversations can heal a tormented soul – only God can.

 

Is There Anything I Can Do About My Depression?

 

What sets us apart from the rest of the world is the fact that we have a hope to hold onto. We know that God will hold us up when our weakness is the greatest. We know that God cares for us and loves us unconditionally. We know that in our Lord, we can find true rest. We know that God’s presence is with us always. We know that in our lowest times, God still reaches us. We know that even when life is full of torment, God loves us and wants us to rely on Him for strength.

Hearing those things doesn’t make everything instantly feel better; of course it doesn’t. It may take years to grasp those concepts, even the ones found in the verses we memorized as kids. In the middle of our depression, those truths, while comforting, may seem distant or not applicable to us. This is normal. We’ve trained our minds to think things contrary to truth, and it’s only natural for it to take time for us to come back to what’s right and good.

Nevertheless, we must keep feeding our minds with what the Bible says. Thinking the thoughts that God says about us. Reading the Scriptures over and over. Praying for God to bring us through. Meditating on verses that remind us that God has a plan through it all. Believing God for the strength and peace He promises.

And while none of these things are magic, they help. And slowly, with the proper approach and by filling our minds with truth, we can begin to mend.

 

*aj

 

Still reading? Enjoy a free wallpaper!

mend wallpaper

Sneak Peek of My Book!

Sneak Peek of My Book!

Happy Tuesday, my friends!

 

On Saturday, I announced to you all that I am writing a book. Aaahh! I’m really excited, and I am having a ridiculous amount of fun with it.  And what better way to kick off the excitement than to share a sneak peek of the first chapter that I’m writing?

 

My first chapter is about stress, anxiety, and depression, and effectively dealing with it. While this may seem dismal, fear not! I decided to write this book, specifically dealing with issues pertaining to the Christian life, in order to confront the tough things we all face.

 

So while some topics may seem more serious or somber, I want to share this message: there is always hope, and God will never abandon us.

 

I hope you enjoy this excerpt. The writing style is slightly more formal than what I use here, on Scattered Journal Pages, because I’m not quite sure who my audience will wind up being for my book. Who knows where I’ll be by the end!

 

Stress: Parts 1 and 2 of Chapter 1

 

If you’d mentioned the word “stress” to me when I was a preteen, I would’ve laughed and said that it probably wasn’t that bad, whatever it was like. If you’d slipped the words “anxiety” or “depression” into a conversation, I might have solemnly said, “Oh, Christians don’t deal with those things.” But I would have been undeniably wrong.

Whether you deal with any of these things or you don’t, or whether your depression or anxiety is medical or emotional, all these things are real. They’re painful, and there is no questioning the fact that they exist. However, they don’t have to undo us. They don’t have to ruin our lives.

 

Stressing Over Work, School, and Life in General

 

When I started high school, I had no idea what I was in for. I was sure I wouldn’t survive. So many days, I did school from 8 A.M. until 10 P.M., with only a few breaks, and I was utterly overwhelmed. I was terrified of failure, terrified of a B, terrified that I wouldn’t learn or something ridiculous like that. I was so scared that I would not get everything done, and of course I did, but I barely made it.

It was awful.

School became where I got my identity, and not who I knew God saw me as; that was poisonous. I placed so much of my worth on how much work I got accomplished, and for that year and the next, stress became my way of life.

I was absolutely miserable.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe your job’s got you tied up and it consumes every thought. You’re a workaholic. Or like in my case, a schoolaholic. Maybe your living situation isn’t the greatest and it weighs on you emotionally. I get it, because I’ve been there.

But that’s not what God wants for any of us.

Anything that takes up most or all of our thought life becomes greater than God in our finite minds. I don’t mean to condemn at all, because I understand what it’s like entirely.

Stress is like an ache, something that gnaws at the depth of your soul. It’s that pit in your stomach that manifests itself when you’re lying in bed and you remember all the things you need to accomplish. It consumes every thought, and every decision is made with whatever is wrong in the back of your mind.

It is so painful, so often unbearable, but many times, it seems inescapable.

And that’s what’s the worst of it.

 

But we are not without hope.

 

Stress Over Things out of Your Control

           

I think a lot. Many times, I worry about other people’s problems and forget that they can be handled by the people whose problems they are. Or maybe they can’t be handled. But it’s alright.

Sometimes I think that I must be responsible for everyone else, and every problem in the world, and that so often causes me uncalled-for stress and pressure.

I’m not talking about “bearing each others burdens,” as Galatians 6:2 says. I think it’s absolutely wonderful to help others, to have compassion, to pray for them, and to support them in their times of need. That is a beautiful thing, and something none of us can live without.

What I am speaking about is when we’re constantly letting ourselves be consumed by things that we have absolutely no power over, be it another’s poor life choices, the happenings in politics, or things that go on in the world.

But it’s not our responsibility to “fix it.” Oftentimes, that’s such a difficult stress to overcome, and simply because we can do absolutely nothing about it.

For us Christians, we don’t have to let that stress overtake us.

Because we know that the world is in the hands of God.

And while it’s definitely not easy, it’s possible to leave the weight of the world on God’s shoulders and not our own. We know that He sees all. We know that He wants the best for us. Yet, we spend days worrying and nights sleepless over what we cannot change.

The evil in the world is not of God’s orchestration; it is because of sin. We live in a fallen world, and we can’t expect it to always be good.

We have pain, we suffer. But this world is not our home, and the way the world works is out of our control.

By prayer and trust in God, let us let go of the misconception that says that we need to handle it all; we don’t.

We have to let God be God, and let Him be in control.

 

So, what do you think? Would you want any more excerpts of chapter 1 this month? Let me know in the comments!

 

*aj

 

BONUS:

I made a wallpaper for my iPod yesterday, and wanted to share it because I thought it really fit. This is one of my favorite Bible verses ever. And oh my word, graphic design is so. much. fun.

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.

 

Dear Christian Teens: You Were Made for More (+ EXCITING NEWS!)

Dear Christian Teens_ You Were Made for More (+ EXCITING NEWS!)

 

Dear Christian Teens,

 

You were made for more. You were made to do great things. And it all starts right here.

 

I understand what it’s like to be stressed out over school and work and life in general. I understand the pressures we face from all sides – the pressure to be perfect, the pressure to give into temptation, the pressure to be consumed with busyness – it’s rough.

 

But we don’t have to give into the pressure.

 

People are going to tell us (if they haven’t already) that the teen years are all about fun. Partying. Living it up. Chilling out, messing around.

 

And then after we turn eighteen, get shipped off to college, and come out somewhat alive, we’ll be ready for a fantastic life. Get a good job, get engaged, and hopefully find something fulfilling in our lives. Maybe add a little religion to our busyness. Can’t hurt, right?

 

But that’s not the right message in my estimation.

 

Because if the time we turn thirteen until the last day of being nineteen is used to just get by, what will the rest of our lives look like?

 

If we don’t learn how we should live now, how will we know how to live when we’re adults?

 

If we don’t invest in our faith now, how do we expect to be mature Christians later?

 

If we don’t love others now, how do we expect to love our future families?

 

If we don’t practice serving God now, how do we think we’ll be effective in the future?

 

But this shouldn’t be discouraging. No, now is a great time to make the most of our lives.

 

Today I turned sixteen. I’m finally starting to grasp what it means to be a teenager, though not by the standard of the culture.

 

I’m learning what it means to prepare myself for my life instead of just getting away with the bare minimum. And to be honest, it’s a difficult lesson to learn.

 

But I’m investing in my faith by studying the Bible regularly. I’m learning how to be discerning. I’m learning how to use my personality to serve God the most effectively. I’m finding the roots of my faith.

 

And you know what? These are some of the most fulfilling things I have ever done.

 

Working hard is scary, I know. It’s easy to watch Netflix all summer instead of getting a job. It’s easy to be lazy (which is different from rest, by the way). It’s easy to disrespect our parents, and it’s easy to think that we always know best.

 

Taking cues from authority figures will truly lead us in the right direction. Learning how to work hard now will help us develop a good work ethic for our adult lives. Knowing why we believe what we believe is so important in having a strong faith.

 

But it doesn’t have to be painful.

 

It doesn’t have to stress us out.

 

No, in our stress from everyday life, we can grow our faith and strengthen our relationship with God. We can find comfort and peace, instead of anxiety. Instead of freaking out over not knowing how to be productive, we can pursue efficiency while there’s less pressure.

 

We can surprise the people around us who expect us to rebel by being kind, loving, and patient.

 

Dear Christian Teens, you really were made for more. More than just scraping by.

 

And instead of being crushed by the pressures, we can live with hope. Hope that we are never alone. Hope that God will always lead us. And hope that this isn’t the end.

 

Oh, guess what! I have exciting news. Gabriela and Nadine persuaded me to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. Which means…I AM WRITING A BOOK!

 

Crazy, right? When you all took my survey, I got lots of people begging me to please write a book. That made me happy, and motivated me to actually pursue writing more than just 700-word blog posts. And I’ve actually gotten most of my book outlined, but here is where you guys come in.

 

If you want a certain topic to be addressed in more detail than I would be able to on this blog, TELL ME. Even if I’ve addressed the topic on the blog before, LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE BOOK. Comment on a post of mine, shoot me an email, tweet me, or whatever floats your boat.

 

I WANT YOUR INPUT!

 

Hopefully, by the end of April, I will have written 25,000 words. Who knows if that will actually happen, but I am going to try. Pray for me, peeps! Thank you all!

 

*aj