Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lord, please help me understand what is going on in my head

Lord, please help me understand what is going on in my head. I know that a lot of things have been going on in my life the last couple of years, but I am recognizing that my personality seems to be changing. I think that as I write this prayer, I need to just do some thinking with my fingers to try to better understand what's going on. . .

I used to be a strong, self-assured person. I was the eternal optimist. I was almost always exceedingly joyful – happiness seemed to spill over, even when problems came my way. My ex-husband used to get upset with me and would say things like "the glass isn't always half full - it's usually half empty or less". I enjoyed life. I didn’t need to look for happiness; it was just part of my life. What happened? Why is it that I need to be intentional and seek You out to regain my joy?

I find myself being this weepy wimp that is regularly sad and depressed. The slightest thing seems to bring me to tears. Why? I never used to cry. Even when I was on a diving team and hit my back on the diving board when I was practicing a new dive and forgot to dive out because I was concentrating on getting more height I didn’t cry! Years later I found out how badly I had injured my back when I saw the x-rays. When my parents got divorced I didn’t cry. Except at the mediation appointment in 2003, I didn’t cry at any time during my divorce proceedings (and they lasted from 1999 to 2003). What is different now? Lord, please help me understand!

I find comfort in very little these days. The only thing that I really enjoy these days is being at church, when I’m reading and talking to You, and teaching the ESL classes. I wish we had services at the church every day of the week. I so look forward to going. I even find myself sticking around after the services because I don't want to go home. I regularly am one of the last people to leave church. I don't want to leave this place where I get such joy. I had a great time at the Ligonier Ministries conference a few weeks ago – I didn’t want it to end. Why is this? Why can’t I seem to find happiness in other things? It seems like I just put on this happy “face” other times. I have gotten very good putting on this "face". I'm sure that not many people would even be able to know that it isn't genuine. It has gotten so bad that sometimes it seems comforting to be sad. . .I get into this “funk” and just want to wallow there. . .why would it feel comforting to feel sad? I can’t understand it. Is it because I am allowing sin to overtake me?

I have lost interest in so much. I have always been the type of person who is always busy, but it’s somehow different now. When I worked in New York City I'm sure that I was perceived as having a Type A personality. I probably worked at least 70 hour weeks then I had an hour by train each way to work (not mention the walk or subway ride between Penn Station and Rockefeller Plaza and the drive from Princeton Junction to my home). In New York you get paid a great salary and have great benefits, but the requirements of a job are a lot. I loved working. Even in college I always got an overload permit so that I could take 21 credit hours of classes each semester. On top of that I worked to pay my bills. I did get financial aid, but that covered my school bills so I needed to supplement it. I was on my own since I was 17 and needed to stay there during the summer and all breaks. I always lived in an apartment off-campus. I had turned into a career student - there 5-1/2 years as an undergrad then started working on my MBA - and loving every semester! I was only 2 classes short of getting a 2nd undergrad degree with a minor before I started my masters' work. At the time I worked on my masters' I also went to the local community college and started working on an Associates in Automotive Technology (which I loved! I still wish I had taken the class where we rebuilt an engine).

I’m still extremely busy, but I find myself doing more alone type activities. Even with work I can do a lot from home – just accessing the office from my computer in the house. I not only am doing more alone type activities, but I seek them out.

I never was the “girlfriend” type of person, but now I seem to avoid being around people except when I’m at church. Why do I seem to be keeping people at arms-length? I have this internal dichotomy going on because I also seem to have this great longing to talk to someone. I have found myself sending a few e-mails to both my pastor and his wife about things that are going on. Why? I know he is extremely busy and I’m sure there are far more important things for him to take his time with than some petty things going on with me. Why am I bothering him? He has been very gracious about it and hasn't made mention of it, but I know I can't continue doing this - it isn't right of me and I know he is far too busy to have me continue.

Even with everything I have told him, I still haven't even touched on my deep inner turmoil - I have only touched the surface. I know I value his opinion about things and You have greatly blessed him by giving this great wisdom and discernment (both things I am praying for). His wife is my daughter’s Sunday School teacher and so somehow when I type an e-mail it seems right but later I wonder why I did it. It isn’t like we are friends, but she just seems very approachable.

I have had a couple of meetings with my pastor and one with him and his wife. I do appreciate their taking the time to talk with me and I do feel they were productive meetings. When all has been said and done though, I am left thinking that they must think that I am really screwed up in the head. That I am SO not together (why would it matter what they think? why do I want to put a "face" on this?). I have found myself on occasion not wanting to look them in the eye because I am embarrassed at their knowing such personal things about me. It doesn't seem right that I feel this way. Again, why? Why do I want to cling to my problems and personal dilemmas? Why is it that I can only seem to feel totally free to talk when it is to You alone, Lord?

At the meeting I had with both of them (which was yesterday), my pastor asked how they could pray for me. I have so many things that I wanted to say but just blurted one out. Later I thought about it and then sent off an e-mail with some of the things I am praying for that have been huge for me. After I sent it I regretted that I said so much. Why couldn't I leave it at the one thing I said in our meeting?

Lord, you know that a number of the things I mentioned were about my relationship with You. Why couldn't I leave these requests to be between You and me? I, again, was left feeling that I said way too much. I also feel very uncomfortable with how I stated things. When I am praying or writing out prayers to You, I can pour out my heart. When I re-read the e-mail I sent, the way I wrote about the things I am praying about seemed so self-righteous. The words I chose seemed so fake to actually say it in that manner to someone - it was the way I am in my private thoughts and in my private written and spoken prayers to You, but in re-reading the e-mail it seemed weird to put it in writing this way to a person. I know that when I am actually praying I talk in much more detail, but even these short snippets I listed seemed so sanctimonious in writing to another person. Again, seeing my pastor and his wife tonight, knowing how personal I was when writing my prayer requests, seemed embarrassing when I saw them in person. Why do I have this thing about sharing things with someone? Why would I be embarrassed about sharing prayer requests in the manner I use when I am praying in private? That, also, somehow seems so wrong.

I am becoming obsessed with reading. The things that I am reading are good books – actually great is a better way to describe them. I am finding myself even reading when I am at a long stoplight (I haven't, however gotten to where I was when I was a kid and read even while I was walking around). I can’t seem to get enough. Lord, I am learning so much through the books that You have brought my way, but am I overdoing it? I’m reading Puritan authors, I’m reading books by fantastic godly men, I’m listening to great sermons and programs on my iPod, I’m still persevering with my in-depth Bible studies, I’m learning so much about You. . .. How much is too much? IS there such a thing?

I used to love playing piano – sitting down for hours at a time was something I regularly did (and loved doing). Now I rarely touch the piano. It seems like when I am giving a piano lesson is really the only time I play. Why? I used to get so much joy from playing. The few times I have sat down at the piano lately I play a song or two and then can’t seem to bear playing anymore. I know that I have had some problems with my eyesight and having difficulty reading the music, but this was a passion of mine. What happened?

I find that my emotions are on a roller coaster. I’m up, I’m down (more down than up). The highs are very high but the lows are lower than they have ever been. Is this just a season I’m going through? Is part of this health related? Is part of this because I’m not eating right? I know that I am eating a lot of pasta, rice and potatoes and not much in the way of fruit and vegetables because they are cheap. My food budget for the family is about $80/month right now. I would venture a guess that there have even been months where I have spent less than that.

I know that I have been regularly getting fevers – no clue as to why I am having them. I don’t feel sick, I am just hot. I'm not uncomfortable (except that a number of times my eyes are burning). Interesting . . .my son seems to notice it more than I do. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure if I would have really realized it if it weren’t for him. Is it because it has been going on for so long that I haven’t noticed?

My tremors have been getting worse (although last summer was much worse than it is now, but I think that was a temporary thing more related to my lack of sleep). My migraines have been coming back on a regular basis. When I was at the conference I had a major one. One thing that I noticed was that I had a bulge in the back of each side of my head. Once the migraine subsided, the bulges went away. It was weird that the headache only lasted a couple of days - it totally disappeared that Sunday night (not the gradual lessening of it over many days). It was also interesting that during the seminar sessions that Saturday morning they totally left me and I was able to completely concentrate on what the speaker was saying. Once each session was over it came back. Is there some sort of fluid building up in my head that is creating some sort of pressure? The drive home took about 5 hours because I needed to stop so often to rest my eyes because the pain emanated from the back of my head through to my eyes. I am finding that I am often taking 25 or more Advil a day to keep my back and head from hurting so much.

Lord, looking over what I have just typed, it seems like I am a major basket case. Wow! When I put everything down in one place it sounds absolutely pathetic. What's even worse is that there are more things I could have listed. Is it because my relationship with You isn't where it should be - that I wouldn’t have these internal conflicts going on if it were? I don't feel this is the case, but why AM I having these conflicts? Where am I going wrong? What do I need to do to get to where I should be? Am I writing this so that I can get a better grasp about what is going on? Why is it that sometimes I seem to want to avoid even thinking of my problems with myself?

Thomas Watson wrote that "afflictions are a friend to grace" and that "they augment grace. The people of God are beholden to their troubles; they would never have had so much grace if they had not met with such severe trials. Now the waters run and the spices flow forth. The saints thrive by affliction as the Lacedemonians grew rich by war. God makes grace flourish most in the fall of the leaf." Lord, why is it that you had me read this tonight?

I know that You want us to be filled with joy and praise; that You want us to live joyful lives. These feelings of sadness are so intense, though. Job said that if we pray and remember our blessings, You will restore us to joy and righteousness (Job 33:26). David wrote that the study of Your Word can bring us joy (Psalm 19:8). David also realized that he needed to praise You even in the midst of despair (Psalm 42:5). I am spending extensive times studying Your Word. I am praying like I have never prayed before in my life. I am trying to praise You.

It seems the more I try to draw close to You the more I feel so detached from "life" - like an outsider looking in.

Lord, please help guide me to get my head together. Please help me know what I need to do. I am so confused. Please help me!

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