It seems I’ve stirred the hornet’s nest yet again. To be genuinely honest with you, I’ve caught myself wondering and analyzing how I got into this situation in the first place.
My previous post “Does my Battle with Depression Qualify Me as Weak?” will give you all of the context that is needed but I’m considering this entry a “follow-up.”
I’ve grown up fully acquainted with reality. I had a job by the time I was 16 and I began paying what little bills I had at the time. I was allowed to date then but only because I had a job and could provide.
I had a family that did not mince words but, out of love, used the truth to prepare me for what an independent life outside of mom and dad’s watchful eye would look like.
I’ve made incredibly vast mistakes and I’ve had to learn from them. I’ve been deeply wounded by individuals and I have deeply wounded some as well. I’ve learned that there will be people who come into your life and will remain faithful until the end. There will also be those who enter into your existence for but a time in order to stretch you, grow you, or simply put: Irritate the snot out of you.
This is reality. It encompasses every single individual’s life. There is no alternate ending. We all live by the same rules and principles, we just find different ways to experience them. This is our common denominator.
Another common denominator for our lives is that no matter what we do, who we are, or what we say, there will always be some who oppose us.
They may do so for the right reasons or they may not. It’s a genuine crap-shoot depending on the circumstance and depending on whether or not you deserve it.
It’s going to happen.
There are a million outlets that each of us could explore in terms of justifying any situation to make ourselves look good. I’m not here to defend myself or give you, my readers and my friends, any reason to defend yourself when situations such as these arise. I am, however, wanting to challenge you, and myself, with this thought:
Circumstances and opinions do not, nor ever will define you. What you do and how you react to them, however, will.
The honest truth of the matter is that you will come across varying opinions, differing attitudes, and hurtful comments in the span of your lifetime. The flip-side of this truth is that there will be times when you are the aggressor on all of these fronts. We’re human. It’s going to happen!
Regardless of the situation, we are tasked, whether we are right or wrong, to respond in love. If you or I are wrong, apologize and seek restoration. If we’re the ones being transgressed against, forgive them and move on even if you don’t receive an apology.
Ultimately, life is one long call-and-response. Through it all, mistakes or triumphs, we will learn a great deal about ourselves and about other people. At the end of the day though, you and I are only responsible for ourselves and our own actions. We cannot control what other people think nor what they say. So then, what do we do in light of this?
Apologize if you have to. Forgive unconditionally. Ask questions often. Assume nothing. Love others like Christ loves you. Trust in God to work despite how feeble other people, or you, can be.
Basically, live your life and be who God wants you to be.
I was genuinely questioning whether or not I would continue writing on depression, anxiety, and my struggles with them. It seemed that no matter my intentions with sharing my struggles, I was always being placed in an inescapable category. My value as a child of God was being undermined and I thought that maybe pretending was the way out.
Then I began reading all of your incredibly encouraging comments, confiding in those that I trust with my life, and I realized this very truth:
No matter where I go, no matter what I do, and no matter what my intentions are, there will always be at least one person who says something that I don’t like or agree with.
The question is not “if” and it isn’t even “when” but rather, “What are you going to do about it?”
Let’s be honest, this is an area I will always have to be taking before God. Nothing lights me on fire quicker than hearing someone undermine me, or my other friends, because of our struggles. At the end of it all though, what difference does it make?
Does my validation come from other humans? Is my worth determined by my failures or even my successes? Will I ever be perfect?
Simply put: Nope.
I am made in the image of God. Yes, without Him I am weak. I can do nothing outside of Christ. He loves me. He forgives me. He disciplines me. He tells me that I am loved no matter what I do. If the God of the universe tells me all of this then why would I believe a human when they say something different?
With that all said, I am not going to quit being open and honest with my experiences concerning depression and anxiety. I’m not going to stop preaching hope. I’m not going to stop preaching love. I’m not going to put on a mask and pretend that everything in the world is always o.k. I’m not going to become a liar.
What I will do however, is learn how to constructively and lovingly deal with these types of criticism.
If I’m being more honest with you, that is something that, as you can tell of recent nature, I have failed at. I know that if I’m going to live on this earth for any length of time, I have two choices:
Learn to rest in Jesus or spend my entire life dictated by what other people think.
Hard decision right there.
As a side note, I do genuinely want to thank those of you who took the time to respond to my aforementioned post from the other day. Your words were a great encouragement and motivation for me. Thank you for being faithful friends. I do not deserve you in any way!