Thursday, April 18, 2013

How can I give?

Answers to yesterday’s challenge: rib, arm, leg, eye, ear, toe, gum, lip, jaw, and hip.
Did you get all 10 answers right?  If you got all 10 right, you get a prize!
You win (drum roll, please) The Cool Award!  There you go.  You are now cool…

OK, that was fun…moving on…

Today’s post is titled, “How can I give?”  A couple questions I often ask myself are, “how can I be someone’s friend, when all I do it take?  How can I give of myself when I am so empty?”

When a person is struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness it might seem impossible to take care of anyone else, a spouse, friends, family, children, etc.  In my darkest of times, I couldn’t even take care of myself.  I couldn’t eat, sleep, make good decisions, or function as a normal adult.  How could I possibly take care of anyone else?

Through it all, however, I still wanted to look out for my loved ones…because, well, I love them.  I am a caring person.  Since my relationships are of high importance to me, I feel responsible for keeping up with my end of the deal no matter how down in the dumps I am.

Everyone knows that relationships are a two way street.  However, most of the time these days, I feel like I have nothing to give – I feel like it’s a one-way interstate pointed in my direction.

When I am struggling with severe depression, I feel like all I can do is take, take, take.  Conclusively, I feel like I am taking too much.  Everyone has been so helpful and encouraging toward me and my illness.  When I was really sick last year, I was scared that, in the end, I would lose all my relationships.  I thought my friends would get tired of me.  I was afraid that I would end up alone.

When my depression is really bad, my feelings of emptiness take complete control over me.  If I have nothing inside, then I have nothing to give.  If I have nothing to give, then I cannot be a friend…I cannot love.  Seems to make logical sense, right?

This unfortunate dilemma is a result of, again, listening to my feelings rather than listening to reality.  Feeling like I have nothing to give is, well, just a feeling.  If I feel like I have nothing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have nothing to give or I am not worthy of having friends.

This is where being Catholic really comes in handy.  (…that is a horribly severe understatement!)  The truths of the Catholic faith are the only thing that can get me through a time like this.

You see, just the mere fact of being alive is still participating in God’s plan.  So, even if I cannot do anything else besides lay on the couch and watch movies, I am still loving God and He is still loving me.  I might not feel like I have anything to give, but I have more than I think or more than I feel.

For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son…

Jesus still loved and prayed for those who crucified Him on the cross.  He still gave them everything He had, although he receives nothing in return.

Because of Our Lord’s example, friendships and relationships can be given special graces.  Yes, it seems counter intuitive to love without being loved in return.  But because of His great sacrifice, Jesus elevated relationships to a higher, supernatural level.

I believe it is because of this great gift from God that my earthly relationships actually grew stronger as a result of my depression.  What?  Yeah, I never would have believed you if you told me that last year.

When you are open and honest about your burdens and struggles, you are free to be yourself.  You don’t have to pretend that everything is perfect anymore.  Because you are being authentic, your friends will get to know you better.  Also, they will be more inclined to share more honestly with you.  Thus, in conclusion, your friendships will be forged stronger.

I wish I could have realized this in high school when I was pretending to be perfect.  I realized that I desperately needed friends in my life.  I realized that I definitely couldn’t do it on my own.  What I didn’t realize, unfortunately, was that I didn’t have to be perfect.

Challenge of the Day:  When you are tempted to believe that you are not a good friend, spouse, sister, brother, daughter, son, mother, father, etc, remember that God makes up for everything you lack.

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