The Turkish Inspiration Fairy

Yesterday I was sitting in church when a few words of poetry floated into my brain…in Turkish. It took me a moment to realize that I had just began my first poem in Turkish! I immediately opened the notes app on my phone and began tapping down the words (insert sheepish comment about not paying attention in church here). I’m not saying it’s perfect or beautiful or even good at all really in Turkish (thought I definitely owe credit to my friend Didem who helped me with editing), but I still feel something indescribable right now. I feel like Turkey and my life here has wound its way deeply into my heart. Something feels different. Good. Mystical. Like home. Here’s my poem, along with a photo I took last year of my brother and his wife.

Yalnızım dedim

Here’s a translation in English, although it doesn’t really sound the same to me…I didn’t think of these words in English first, so it’s kinda funny to hear them like this.

I’m alone, I said.

You said, I’m here.

I’m so afraid, I said.

You said, I will never abandon you.

I have no strength, I said.

You said, There is strength in weakness.

I have no one, I said.

You said, I am yours.

My spirit is weary, I said.

You said, Come, I will give you peace.

Ok, ok, I said. But do you love me?

You said, My darling, don’t you know?

You are a part of me.

I love with with all that I have.

 

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One of those days

Hard to get up and go days,

Hard to put on that smile

To just feel normal days.


Feeling the air press against me days,

Feeling like I’m not awake

Like I can’t find my center days.


Seeing the darkness days,

Seeing my own frailty

The horror of separation days.


Finding you with me days,

Finding you gentle

Finding you listening

Finding you solid ground

Finding you here

Finding you loving me

Finding you with me days.

Sacred Sadness

**Disclaimer about this post: Chronic depression is an illness just like any other, and should be treated physically (in addition to spiritually) with the help of a medical professional, whether that be through lifestyle changes, counseling, and/or medication. Please, let’s all get the help we need.**

“Why should I be sad when Jesus is with me?” That was pretty much the thesis of every testimony I grew up hearing in the church. Between the lines I read, “I shouldn’t be sad, and if I am that means something is terribly wrong with me. I’m not faithful enough, not trusting God enough, and just plain not good enough.” For many years that message didn’t cause major problems for me – I was a mostly happy kid.

But in my early twenties I started to struggle with fairly regular bouts of depression. At first I simply had no idea what to do. Nothing in my faith narrative had equipped me to deal with depression. I thought it was all mental – that if I just willed myself to believe I was happy because God loved me, that I would be. Because, let’s face it, it’s pretty freaking awesome that God loves us. For real!

So yeah, I knew that God loved me and was with me. I mean, I really knew it. I started to engage in inner healing prayer and dove deeper into scripture narratives, where I regularly found myself encountering God’s presence.

But it didn’t, and still hasn’t, erased all sadness. And I don’t know that it should.

I no longer believe that my depression is only personal to me, that it’s merely a sign that something is wrong with me. Rather, sadness is a sign of the sacred. It’s a reminder that something is terribly wrong in the world, and that we have a God whose heart aches as a result. God allows the depression, giving me a glimpse of the horror that is the separation between us and the Father. For a time I am privy to the pain and isolation that so much of humanity experiences on a daily basis. God doesn’t shield me from all hurt because if he did, I would would miss the sacred calling to truly know Him and to enter into others’ pain with Him.

In walking through depression, I walk a sacred journey hand in hand with Jesus. He too was a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” To know sadness is to know Jesus.

My desire now, when I feel the heavy mantle of depression descending is not only to ask, “God please let this be taken away from me.” It is also to say, with fear and trembling, “Let your will be done,” expecting that no matter what happens with my own life, God will surely show up.

Pain demands to be felt.

tfios“Pain demands to be felt.” This quote from the film The Fault in our Stars had me ugly crying a couple nights ago. I’ve never been a fan of pain, whether that’s the migraines that feel like nails pounding into my brain, or recently, processing the death of a good friend. I’d rather just medicate. Pop some pills, turn on Netflix, and disengage.

I can’t answer why it is that we need to feel pain. I’m still half in denial myself that we do. But pain seems to cause a whole different sickness, quite separate from the physical manifestation. Unfelt, unprocessed, it festers in our souls, making us capable only of attempting to shut it out. But, truth? That attempt is too exhausting to keep up while also trying to live. So, I’m choosing to feel my pain not because I’m courageous, but simply because I am tired. I’m tired of holding up the façade that I’m unaffected, or even more dishonest, that I’m happy with the way some things go. As comfortable as it is sometimes to smile and pretend, I’m confident hopeful that transparency brings life and intimacy.

Here’s to feeling everything. Fully. Let’s do this!