Thursday, May 31, 2012

There's No Escape

What do you do when you have been living a certain way your entire life, thinking it's normal, and then one day you find out that you need to change? You find out that there is more to life than this way of thinking and acting. What do you do?

What if the way you have been living has affected relationships you have for as long as you could remember? You knew that something felt "off," but couldn't put your finger on what it was. What do you do?

Is it so easy to just change? Do we ever simply change as soon as we know we should?

Changing our habits and ways of thinking is not like changing your pants or shirt or hair color.

It looks more like a gradual process. Like a metamorphosis. You know, that thing where the juicy, sometimes slimy caterpillar turns into a butterfly after being in a weird-looking cocoon for a while? That's what that is.
-----------------------------------

For me, this looks like God showing me that He loves me. Like, reallyreally loves me. And it's not like any love that I have known before. So, it's not the love I felt from an abuser. It's also not the love I felt from my family. This kind of love is one that I cannot escape.

My roommate was wise enough to hold up a mirror to my ways of thinking acting and remind me that there is nothing I could evereverevereverEVER do that would separate me from God's love. Is says that in Romans.
-----------------------------------

What do I do with that information? How can I love people more? How can I feel the depth of God's love? How can my thirty years of thinking become revolutionized?

Well, I don't know how everything works. But, I do know that God promises things. His promises are littered throughout the Old and New Testament. And He fulfills every one of theses promises. And if these happen to be prophecy for the future, then because He has followed through in the past, we can be assured that He will follow through with those things too. Because God never changes.

Beyond that knowledge, I just know that changes in my life need to happen, and God is the one to do it.

Oh, Hello There Motivation... Where the CRAP Have You Been?!?!?

So, a few weeks ago, I went to Ohio feeling victorious and on-top-of-the-world. I came back feeling like THIS. It wasn't pleasant. I didn't feel like getting out of bed, let alone running a few miles. So, I didn't. Instead, I walked. I think I may have jogged once, but other than that, nothing.

I suck. Haha!

Or not.


I don't really suck. But, I am veryveryvery aware at how emotional I am and how I let my feelings dictate things in my life. If I'm in a season of depression, instead of pressing in, I drop everything that isn't necessary for basic survival. In short, I do what's required of me, but no more. I hate that I do that.

So, tonight is the night. I am hitting the street. I am going to....wait for it.... run. Gasp.

Hopefully, I won't die. :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Making a Good Thing an Ultimate Thing

I've been attending Celebrate Recovery for almost 90 days. I began attending shortly after my father's death this past January. Because of my history with alcohol abuse and depression, I knew I had the potential to revert to old habits..... unless I was intentional about healing within the context of community.

So, I went to my church's website and looked up someone that I thought could help. I saw a woman's profile that I knew was in charge of Celebrate Recovery and saw that she was also in charge of Benevolence. Now, for those of you who know what benevolence is (or decide to google it right now), just pretend you don't know what it means. In fact, go ahead and pretend that you think it means Bereavement (which has to do with grieving and processing through the death of someone you know).

I initiated communication with this woman and asked if we could meet. When we were chatting, I mentioned that I saw she was the Benevolence Pastor and said, "That means that you help people walk through their grieving, right?" Her response was, "Not really, no." And then we moved on. It wasn't until weeks later that I actually looked up what Benevolence is. Haha! They're two completely different things.

Regardless of my vocab error, she ended up inviting me to come to a study of Life's Healing Choices, which walks you through some practical ways to experience freedom and healing in your life. I wasn't even sure at first what the class was about, other than general healing. As I dove in deeper, I realized that it held to the same principles as Celebrate Recovery. In fact, the author of LHC was the founder of CR.


I attended CR for the first time, but I found out that there are specific groups that you can go to that will walk you through whatever your struggle is. I prayed, but it wasn't quite clear to me what my issue was. At the time, all I knew was that my father was dead and I was hurting. The more I prayed, the more God showed me that He wanted to walk me through freedom in my food issues. So, when I decided to start attending Celebrate Recovery regularly, I chose to join the group for women struggling with eating disorders.

At first, I simply shared that I struggled wtih emotional eating and was trying to work through grieving my father. That was the "reason" that I was coming every week. Then, something else started becoming more and more clear. It wasn't the food. It was around this time that I realized how deep my issues with alcohol went. I also realized that I never walked through recovery in that area. I simply substituted food for the alcohol.

So, instead of the "Hi, my name is Lindsay-Marie and I struggle with emotional eating," it became, "Hi, my name is Lindsay-Marie and I'm a recovering alcoholic. When I stopped drinking, I replaced it with food, causing my current struggle: emotional eating."


I recently received my 60-day chip at Celebrate Recovery. Soon after receiving that, God showed me a deeper level of what was going on. Before the food was alcohol, as I stated before. But what caused the alcohol? Before all of that, was a relationship. A bad one.


Last year, when my friend and I were leading a Bible study, we did a series based on the book Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller and the sermon series (which was based on the book) called Idols by Jay Pathak from the Arvada Vineyard in Colorado. We called it "No Other gods." One of the things that stuck with me was the definition of an idol. I honestly don't remember who said it (which is why I referred to both the author and speaker), but that is not nearly as important as what they said.


"Idolatry is making a good thing an ultimate thing."


Alcohol isn't bad. Relationships aren't bad. Food isn't bad. Neither was the golden calf that Aaron and the Hebrews made in the Old Testament. That stuff gets sticky and sinful when you make these things your everything. My relationship with my ex-fiance was unhealthy because I was so dependent on him for everything. The changes were so subtle, but there was a point when I remember thinking, "Oh, this can't be good."

It wasn't until he was out of my life that I realized how seriously connected we were. And it wasn't until the night I drank an entire bottle of vodka and then did drugs for the first time that I realized that I wasn't in control. And it wasn't until I stepped on the scale to see that I had gained 60 pounds in a year and a half that I realized the food was a problem for me.


Idols aren't always obvious. It can seem like you're in a healthy place with whatever it is. It can seem like you can stop whenever you want. It can seem like this thing doesn't control you; you control it.


But the reality is that if you are having issues removing anything from your life, it has an unhealthy hold on you.


That's where I am.


My name is Lindsay-Marie Yates. I am in recovery for idolatry.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

So, Here's the Deal With Depression...

As long as I can remember, I've struggled with depression. I knew I was depressed, but I was in denial about the severity of it until a few years ago. I don't like taking medicine. For any reason. So, when a doctor asked if I wanted to go on anti-depressants to help, I told him, "Absolutely not." I wanted to try counseling at the church to see if maybe the depression was spiritual.

After two years of meeting with someone at the church, depression is still something that I struggle with. I think part of me was hoping that being free from some of the strongholds in my life would cure it. But, it didn't. It's still there. Sigh.

Some people may be reading this and thinking, "Everyone gets depressed sometimes. Just push through it." You are right. Part of surviving depression is learning how to do life anyways. Going to work when you don't feel like getting out of bed. Showering when your thoughts are telling you that there is no point. Feeding your cat even though that small and simple task seems to take a toll on you.

See? It's not just "the blues." Who gets more depressed from having the task of feeding a cat? When that does affect me, it only makes me more depressed. I can chuckle about it now, since that's not how I'm feeling it, but in the middle of it, it feels like my world is imploding. Literally. Like a whirlpool that I can't get out of.

So, what do I do? Well, I don't have it all figured out. So, instead of giving you a "Ten Things to Do to Overcome Depression" list, I will just tell you about my recent encounter with it.

It started when I was in Ohio for my dear friends' wedding a few weeks ago. I was spending time with my friends and family and trying to enjoy it, but part of me knew that I was just going to leave in a few days. That made me a little sad.

Then, there was the wedding. I used to hate weddings. I felt awkward and very, very single.

Now, I love weddings. I love the idea the two people found each other and have decided to commit their lives to one another, living as one unit, and some day possibly having tiny little children. I love it.

Sometimes, though, the thought of, "How are you 30 and still single? How are all your friends finding someone and getting married? You are not a grown up. Grown ups settle down. You're still a single hippy!"

These thoughts don't happen every time. They just happened to be there on my way back to Virginia this time.

That's not what caused the depression, though. It just laid a foundation for it.

What set the depression off will probably seem stupid to many people. But, it's not about the thing. It's about where my mind went because of it.

I got home about 1 am and found that my carefully matched, accessorized and hung curtain had been ripped off the wall. More than likely from my cat, since he likes to mess with it. Usually, someone would just hang the curtain back up. Instead, it sat there for a a day. Two days. Three days. A week. Every time I saw it, it just made me feel like even if I hung the stupid curtain up, my cat would just try to knock it down again. And that made me feel hopeless about the curtain.

And then it bled into other areas of my life.

I didn't want to run anymore. I didn't want to go to work. I didn't want to unpack from the trip or do laundry or clean my cat's litter box (well, if I'm honest, I never want to do that). The list goes on and on. And it started with the curtain.

But, like I said, it was never about the curtain. It was the thoughts that came after. The ones that said, "Wow, you're not a real grown up. Your curtain won't even stay on the wall!" It seems silly now, and I'm even laughing at myself a little bit. But, then.... gosh... it hurt. I was being my own bully.

I thought maybe I was just being lazy and needed to press in to be more disciplined. But, the more I was praying, the more God was showing me what was really going on and the lies that I was believing.

Over the years, for various reasons, my self image has gotten a little beat up. I have healed from a lot, and am continually healing. but, there are still some sensitive areas. One of them is that, "I don't deserve to be treated with respect."

God began showing me this past week that this lie that I don't deserve to be respected bleeds over into the things that I own. It looks like this: "Your clothes don't deserve to be treated nicely. You don't deserve to have nice things. You don't deserve to have a neat and tidy room."

I may sound crazy, and I'm okay with that, because everyone has a little crazy in them. But, that's what my crazy looks like. It looks like a messy room with dirty clothes and a curtain that is ripped off the wall and laying on the floor.

So, what do I do in the middle of that? Gosh. I have no idea.

But, this time around, I prayed through it. I pressed in. I talked about it and was honest with some friends.

And I hung that friggin' curtain up. And secured it tighter to the wall. And I did laundry. And then put it away.

It took a week and a half, but I did it.

Cause I'm a survivor.

And depression can kiss my booty.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Complacency

I want to be where God had been pointing me. I want the things He wants for me. I want to have "finished the race" well.

I just don't want to do any of the hard work to get me there.

It's not just in dealing with my food issues and training for the race. It's in cleaning. It's doing my laundry. It's in digging deep with the Lord in areas that He wants to surrender. It's budgeting my finances. It's spending time in The Word. It's taking time to worship.

My complacency is literally bleeding into every area of my life.

So, what to do?

Not sure yet.

I think that my first step might be asking God to change my heart to help me be more disciplined.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Veering to the Left and Dealing with Sciatica

Two things are going on right now:

1. I can feel my sciatica flaring up.

If you don't have this, or know nothing about, just know that the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, and when you have issues with it, your entire lower body can be affected. Last time it flared up, I couldn't walk without a severe limp and a lot of pain. Let's just say I'm trying to prevent it from progressing any further as I have TONS to do this week.

2. I have been obsessively weighing myself.


I have noticed that my curious fascination with how much my weight will go up and down in the AM versus the PM and the day after I run vs. a "resting day" has been veering to the left a little bit. I have found myself more and more discouraged if I weight myself the day after I run and it's the same. Or more. Then I beat myself up all day. I visualize myself getting heavier and looking ugly. It's sick. Solution: I am giving my scale to a friend to keep it safely away from my obsessive mind :)

That's where I'm at.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Platform for a "Moses"

I first felt God giving me a platform when I was a counselor at a camp in college. The Director heard me playing the piano and singing and asked me to lead worship to mix things up. I immediately told her no. At that point, I had played piano twice in public. I was plagued with stage fright and severe anxiety about getting up on stage and having a group of people looking at me.

I felt conviction later that day as I spent time in the Bible and prayed. God used the story of Moses and his fears of inadequacy to show me that it wasn't about how I felt, but about God wanting to use me for His Glory and Purpose.

It took all summer, but eventually, I led worship (once) for camp.
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Fast forward seven or so years.

I was heavily involved in a small group in Columbus, OH and felt God leading me to go through the church's Worship Training Center. I wasn't sure what God was going to do, but I knew that I was going to say, "Yes" to whatever it was. I ended up doing the very thing I fought years earlier. Me and my guitar this time. We led worship, led people to the throne for a while at that small group.

But God started stirring something else in my heart.

He began revealing that I was going to be more of a leader, with a bigger platform. It scared the crap out of me, but I kept saying, "Yes."
-----------------------------------------------------------------

What I didn't know was that a year after I started leading worship, I would be assuming the role of "small group leader." Our original group split in two. I stepped up and walked through a season of struggling through loving people in my group through some hard times.

For the first few months, I went back and forth between fighting the call of leadership God placed in my life and obediently walking it out all the while despising what I felt like God was forcing me to do.

In between struggling with God and despising His will, there were moments when I actually enjoyed doing what I knew God was leading me to.

After a year, the members of our group were called in different directions and we disbanded.
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Six months ago, I moved to Virginia. If you haven't read that post, or need a refresher, read this.

I dove in head first, being intentional about relationships and getting involved at church.

Pretty soon, I felt God again pushing me, pulling me and prodding me towards a platform again. Once again, I wasn't interested. I just came from having responsibility. I didn't want anymore. I wanted to coast. I wanted a break.

But, God wanted something else.

He wanted me to open my heart to those around me. He wanted me to share how I ran from Him and then He called me back and poured out His grace on me. He wanted me to be a light that spoke of the depth of His grace and forgiveness..... and how if we run from Him, we don't come back empty-handed. He wanted me to stand up and say, "There is more" and "He is worth it."
-----------------------------------------------------------------

The issue with these platforms that He has called me to is that it makes me so aware of my insecurities and inadequacies. I sometimes ramble and scramble to articulate what I'm trying to say. I fumble and stumble over words that are meant to be concise.

But, didn't the same thing happen to Moses? Did God say, "Oh, whoops, I forgot that you aren't the greatest speaker. You're right... let's just let someone else do this thing." No!

God used Moses anyways. Why? Because it's not about the person on the platform. It's about God, who places the person on the platform. And, the more they dim themselves, the brighter God can shine through them.
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Something I learned this weekend as I Emceed my first wedding is that I am able to communicate in a different way and reach the audience in a different way because of who God made me. He could have made me the best public speaker, or without ADD, or without social anxiety. But, He didn't. And because He didn't, I am able to point all the glory to Him when things go well.