My year away from Jesus: Part 4
In the deepest level of my depression pit; where I was surrounded by the darkness of my heart and the heaviness of my situations, I feared that I would never see the light of day. What was more unnerving was my lost of desire to pull myself out of the depression pit. I figured I would live out my days and die in this state of mind.
Daily my mind raced through thoughts of darkness; I thought of her and the love-filled heart slowly beat in my chest. I thought of the man that stole my love from my grasp. My anger quickly inflated in the pit of my stomach at the mention of his name.
I scrolled through the card catalogue of my memories, pulling details of the numerous conversations that her and I had that proved that I was a better match for her than the man that she was dating.
Deeper in to the pit I go.
As my personal life sunk deeper into the pit it seemed that my professional life followed close behind. I soon heard that the parents of my students were complaining about my teaching methods, my discipline of the students and even my attitude.
I guess I can't blame the students or the parents. The only person that I can blame is myself. Of course I must admit the students were a challenge for me. Many of them came into the classroom with bad attitudes or with the desire to behave badly, but that's one of the many roles of the students. While the students were difficult, my attitude toward life, teaching and the students didn't remedy the situations.
I felt ashamed. I felt as if there was nothing that I could do right. I felt even more worthless and even harmful to the students. I questioned my entire future. I questioned my existence.
Deeper into the pit I go.
"I had swooned; but still will not say that all of consciousness was lost. What of it there remained I will not attempt to define, or even describe; yet all was not lost. In the deepest slumber-no! In delirium-no! In a swoon-no! In death-no! Even in the grave all is not lost." -Edgar Alan Poe (The Pit and the Pendulum)
Although I was in such a difficult place in my life, both personally and professionally, I knew that the smallest iota of hope was still hope to hold on to. Truth was, I wasn't dead. Everyday I was given a new opportunity to redirect my heart from the darkness of the pit to the glorious light of God's presence. Yet, that was easier said than done.
As a Christian walking through life and the variety of trials and tribulations, there are three areas that help with ones personal growth. These three Elements often empower us and keep us encouraged as he journey through our darkest days and our brightest nights. Unfortunately as I tumbled through my personal life and my professional life deteriorating, these are the very same elements that I ignored.
Prayer- For many prayer is a complete mystery that leaves them lost in confusion. They feel as if they are talking to the wall in front of them instead of to an almighty creator of the universe.
When I first decided to accept God's love and I began to follow Jesus' commandments, I had the same thoughts that many have about prayer. I felt ridiculous speaking under my breath to God. As I read more about God and his almighty power of the universe, I realized that the privilege to communication with this God was a spectacular treat that we should marvel over.
All of that changed in the pit. As I left the blessings of God behind to pursue another lifestyles, I left my desire to pray with it. Throughout my time in my depression I must admit that I would try to pray, but I couldn't seem to find the words or the drive to connection with this God that I once considered so close.
I realized that I had no where to turn. I had to pray. I had to find the words and the passion that I once had. Too often I would find myself in my room trying to speak my heart out to God, but with no prevail. I was completely discouraged, but with the loving words of a caring friend I realized that it didn't matter the words that I used, God's focus would be on the intentions of my heart.
So I kept praying.
Bible reading- For many reading a Bible is a chore. The idea of using our precious time reading is preposterous for so many. Also, many have it engraved in their minds that the Bible is something that is not meant to understand or apply to their everyday lives.
As I desired to know more about God and what He has to say about life than reading the Bible became very important to me. At one point in time I would read for hours and study the background information of the readings. I loved to find the true facts behind the scriptures that I would find throughout the Bible.
Just as I found myself running away from prayer, I also distanced myself from Bible reading. I attempted to read far more than I attempted to pray, but I wasn't reading to connect with God. Instead I read in order to check an items off of a check list. Also, I continued to go to church, but I didn't always connect with the message that the pastor would share.
From my days as an avid Bible reader, I remember that there is so much to apply to our everyday lives, but if I do not read consistently then it is more difficult to sense God's direction in my life.
I began to read as often as I could, but I quickly found that my attention span had shrunk to very little. In order to remedy this I realized that I needed to build my stamina while reading and praying. I read a verse at a time, asking God to reveal whatever I could understand. Over time I was able to read more and more verses from the Bible, gathering God's direction for my life.
I kept reading.
My year away from Jesus: Part 3
As I have grown I have always had so many questions, by none of them plagued me as much or for a long as relationships. From the time that I became interested in relationships, I have been trying to figure them out. And to no prevail.
Whether we are talking about simple friendships to romanic relationships, either way I am utterly lost. To be honest, friendships/relationships don't come easy for me. This is probably because I over think the concept of relationships.
The odd thing about all of this, regardless of the fact that I have zero percent knowledge of friendships/relationships I have had some very meaningful relationships over 28 years. Throughout my years of school, I have had a multitude of meaningful friendships over the years. Even with the multitude of friends that I've had, I have always dealt with loneliness and depression. I grew into the mind of not being good enough for true friendship. As if I were destined to be my own best friend.
As you may have figured out, this attitude carried into my teenage years, basically crippling my dating life. To be completely honest I didn't become interested in woman until well past the normal age of an adolescent boy. When I finally became romantically or sexually interested in relationships, I was still too nervous and scared to build these relationships. Often I admired ladies from a far, wishing that my luck would change.
Soon before I knew it my friends would start dating and pouring their energy into these newly developed relationships, leaving me alone questioning how to create one of these relationships for myself.
When I transitioned from High School to College, I thought my luck would finally change. Due to the fact that I'm in a new place surrounded by new people, I was determined to turn my luck around. In many aspects I was successful. I gather my scattered nerves and began to talk to more girls and even flirt with them (Or at least try to) but it never led to an actual relationship. It often lead to a dear friendship.
When I finally found myself in a relationship I felt a multi-layered chest plate of worry and stress lift from my shoulders. We were in a relationship for two years. I felt like I finally fit in to the society that I had been apart of my entire life. I thought I had finally figured out all of my questions about relationships, but as I got further into my first relationship, I realized the questions would continue and get even more complicated.
I soon found myself desiring commitment, but fearing it as her and I approached the idea. It started with talks of marriage, which soon became an engagement, which many of my family members were not supportive of. Throughout this time of confusion, I wrote a series of songs that expressed my true emotions and I asked my fiancé to read them and consider them. In doing that a I was hoping that we would work through my nerves and my weakness, but instead it broke us up.
When we broke it up after two years I became some what of my old-time shut in. While I continued working in various campus ministries and classrooms, I rarely put time and effort into any aspect of my personal life. It would be nearly seven years before I actually enter into another romantic relationship again.
Before I knew it I was moving from Flagstaff to Phoenix Arizona to teach. During this time of transition I faced multiple trials that wore down my outlook on my own value. Due to that worn down muscle of faith I began to search for people to show me my value. I soon found myself in a relationship with a beautiful woman. This woman made me feel loved in a way that I've never felt before. The way her eyes gleamed with joy when she looked at me. Her smile reassured me with total honesty that she trusted me. I finally knew what it was like to be in love.
With this new found relationship building up my confidence once again, I slowly stopped turning to God to define my value. Instead I turned to her. Anything that was expected of me from her, I would do it to the best of my ability. The mornings were filled with loving good morning texts and the evenings were spent talking over the phone, where we would share stories of our days and ending with a small Bible study and a time of prayer.
We would meet up on Fridays after work and we would spend the weekend together. We would go out to dinners. We would go to concerts. We would even go to church on Sunday mornings.
Everything seemed perfect!
It was in that perfection I would soon get lost. As I got more immersed into the relationship with my new love, my relationship with God suffered and was left for dead. As the relationship with God diminished my mood began to change, leaving me more frustrated as time went by.
What was it that left me so frustrated and irritated? What were the steps that lead me down into the depression pit, where I would feel lost and confused about who I am? What were the events that would strip away my confidence and value?
As her and I got closer both physically and spiritually we started to talk more honest about our expectations and desires in the relationship. To say the least, our expectations were entirely different in so many ways. For instance, my value of money is very limited. I understand that we need money to live, but I have never be solely driven by the desire to be rich or to be wealthy. On the other hand, my love had grown accustom to having a certain amount of money to live on, which was far more than I made at the time that we were together. Secondly, I grew up in an environment were my best friend and perfect companion was always myself. I didn't also have the attention of the world around me so I learned how to entertain myself. This is something that she never truly learned and many times she struggled when she was alone with her own thoughts and feelings.
Due to these differences, amongst others, I often found myself on the phone with this beautiful lady trying to ease her mind about our relationship and the potential that I saw in the two of us being together. A number of times she suggested that we each date other people to see if there may be better chemistry with another person. I continuously protested, explaining that it was only her that I wanted to be with. Regardless how often I tried to ease her mind, she continued to come to the conclusion that she wanted to meet and date a few other men as a way to solidify her feelings for me. While I disagreed with the idea I decided to support her in this journey.
To be honest, I had no intention to date other women. My plan was to allow her to meet a few other people but I would keep my presence in her life, showing her my interest and my true intentions for us. I would do all of this in hopes that I would win to the woman's heart.
With every date that she went on, fear filled my heart and clouded my mind. I tried to hold myself together by distracting myself with movies, television and writing; but more often than not I was up all night hoping to hear from her. While sometimes that worked to my benefit because she would make late night visits to my place after her dates, most of the time I was left with a sleepless night.
Looking back at these events as I write these words, I realize that I should have spent my sleepless night seeking after God and strengthening that relationship. Unfortunately this was the beginning stages of my descent into the depression pit that nearly devoured me whole.
As she took to a new love interest and they soon grew closer, I felt like I was once again left to myself; left to my darkened thoughts and my lonliness. The person that I felt the closest to in my entire life was leaving me behind.
I quickly found myself fighting for her attention. I would try to text her first thing in the morning or right as she got off of work, hoping that we could get together and re-create the bond that initially linked us together; but I was often ignored or she was already busy with her new love.
Deeper down the pit I go.
Throughout these last two years I have been through multiple ups and downs, but I must be honest in saying that this series of events was the precipice of my descent to my year away from Jesus. It's unfortunate that the same person that made me feel valuable and loved; the same person that made feel like I was the most important person in their life was the same person that made me feel undesired and useless.
It wasn't until my encounter with God that I realized my value and purpose once again. I began to press into God's presence regularly. God began to break the stone from my heart, making it flesh again. God brought blood to my dried vines, allowing my heart to feel again for the lost souls of this world.
It is in that God that I am defined. It is in that God that I made whole. That is the God that I will trust!
I still have many questions about relationships; but I do know that my relationship with God is the most important relationship that I can put my energy into. I have learned first hand that if I trust in God and follow His plan with unwavering faith, then God will guide me and comfort me when I am hurt. God will bring people into my life and God will ask me to leave certain people behind.
Now I have a newly strengthened trust for my God and I have a better understanding of my own personal weakness. I have learned that God is truly strong when I am at my weakest; so I lean in to God when I am weak
My year away from Jesus: part 2
One of my favorite things is to hear the true stories of people that I admire in some way or another. The reason for this is simple: when you get into their mind and you hear why they act the way that they do. I love to hear what motivates them in their chosen art form and the work that it took to get the success that they were able to accomplish. Along with their success, I am also bound to hearing about their failures and the trials that they have faced. Through hearing these stories of trial and triumph, it inspires me to be an open book with everything that I have faced and I have seen over these last two years.
With every story that is worth telling, there is always a beginning. My story is no different. In order to completely understand the beginning of my descent from God's favor I need to better understand what caused my turn away from Jesus. What was my motivation for betraying my Heavenly Father? I realized that I am to blame for the struggles that I faced in this period of time. With that said, I also realize that I must take specific steps to getting out of this dark area of my life. I just needed to figure out what those steps are and commit to the process.
As I looked retrospectively through the last two years, I began to see what the ultimate cause was: My desire to be admired and loved.
Truth be told, ever since I was a child I have always wanted to know that I was important to someone. At a young boy I lived with my single-mother, my older brother and my older sister. To say that I was spoiled was kind of an understatement. My mother and I would often spend time together, watching tv and movies. It also seems like most anything that I wanted I would get, as long as I cried And whined for it enough. I was the baby of the family.
I often visited my grandmother and my great grandmother on the weekends with my cousin. My cousin and I were best friends! We grew up together. We had many of he same interests and we would spend Hours hanging out, watching tv or we would be outside digging in the dirt and playing with toys. The bond that I had with my grandmother was great. She is one of the primary reasons why I love a good story. My grandma used to read to me often. Her and I would often share stories that we were reading or what we have read.
As far as my relationship with my father it started off nearly absent. I know that I would see my dad once during the week and on certain weekends. Often when I would see my dad it was awkward and something that I didn't fully understand. As a young child I remember laying in my bed and trying to figure how why my mother chose to make him my father. Why would she pick him? What does the word "father" mean? I didn't know how I was suppose bond with him or even why I should bond with him. All I knew was a stranger entered into my life and I was told that he was my dad.
Over time I got more comfortable with my father. He would pick me up from school and he would take me to the movies or to Disneyland. Of course I had fun! We would ride our favorite rides and eat food at the park or I would drag him to the movies to see "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie" which was released in 1995 or various other children's movies of that time.
Even with all of these people around me, often I felt like I was alone most of the times. I would sit in my room and hide within my own thoughts. I grew up with a lot of questions, but I didn't always voice them. I don't know why. Possibly because I felt like if I were ask these questions I would quickly become an annoyance to my family. Maybe I didn't ask these questions because I didn't fully understand the reason for the question.
None-the-less, I believe the root of these unanswered questions sprouted from my desire to figure out who I was and why I was important. This blood thirst for love and attention continued through my childhood entering into my adult life. As I aged, I poked and prodded for attention from some while shunning the attention of others. I quietly sought the attention of my peers through self-defeating phrases and statements, hoping they would verbally protest and share their views of me. Views that showed my value to them. By them protesting my negative statements that I shared of myself and replacing with with a statement of acceptance, it made be feel important and valued to the person.
This quirk of mine easily transitioned into my value as a man of God. God has quickly reassured me that I was loved by Him. Jesus' words and actions pealed back the curtain of deception that clouded by vision from His ultimate plan. Often I would lay in my bed, thinking of my value to the people in my life. I would often think that I wasn't truly valuable to my family members. I believed that they only told that they loved me because they were obligated to due to the fact that they were family members. As these thoughts clouded my mind, God quietly spoke to my heart, saying, " It may have seemed that you family didn't love you or didn't want you, but I sent my son to die for you. That is how important you are to me. Also, I did that because I wanted to. I did that because I wanted you."
I woke up in tears.
I have my purpose. I have realized that I am worthy of God's and acceptance. God did not have to build a relationship with me, but He desired to. He saw a value in me that I couldn't even see in my self. This built my confidence and soon lead my actions in ministry and work.
Being a young child who deeply craved the attention of others echoed through my growing spurts and the effects still ring loud through my adult life. I sought the attention of my parents and siblings. I sought the admiration of my peers as a young boy. Even as an adult I hope to be loved and admired by the ones that I love. I search for this acceptance, but I am never satisfied with the value that is placed on my shoulders. My mind of doubt kept me from seeing that I am valuable.
I am important.
I am worthy of love.
I am blessed.
I am all of these things and so much more. It is not because of my actions that I am valuable to the world; it is because of the sacrifice that Jesus offered in my place that holds my importance. When Jesus pulled me from the pit of despair and depression, I was given a love that opened my heart to my true potential; my true purpose. The same purpose that I discovered early in my walk with God.
I have recently been reassured through the Holy Spirit that my value is the same in God's eyes. My value did not diminish or magically vanish due to my diversion from God's grace of the last year. I also learned that I didn't need to search for my importance or my value, I already had it! My childhood did not have to be filled with self-defeating phrases to get people attention. I did not need to lose my morals in romantic relationships to feel loved.
Our value is God-given; it does not vanish over time. It is not added to by good deeds. It is simply laid upon us when God, our Heavenly Father, looks at us with eyes welling with tears of joy. It is simply granted to us when Jesus willing accepts our punishment for our disobedience toward a Perfect God and He hangs naked on a cross. Lastly, we are empowered by our value when we willingly walk in God's perfect plan for our lives, trusting him completely.
James Chapter 3: Part two
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.”
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
Pure= Without imperfections or impurities.
Peaceable= Not argumentative or hostile.
Gentle= Not severe, rough or violent.
Open to reason= Capable of rational behavior; open to other thought.
Full of mercy= Compassion shown towards an offender.
Good fruit= Positive impacts and growth of a person or persons.
Impartial= Not Bias, but fair.
Sincere= Free of deceit or hypocrisy.
Anthony K. Giesick
I grew up loving stories and quickly found myself loving writing poetry, stories, songs! Here is a sample of what Beautiful Feet Writings is all about!.