Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Teacher Is Always Quiet During a Test

I have been having a rough go of it lately: a lot of things on my mind and far too much idle time to feel sorry for myself about this and that. I really do have good days, but sometimes the bad days outnumber the good days and that's when I get very overwhelmed and anxious about everything. I can handle school related anxiety, but when it comes to my personal life I can hardly bare the hours I'm awake during the day. This has left me thinking a lot about why I become so frustrated with God and at the same time completely hateful toward myself. Sometimes I just want to tell God that I'm tired of trying and that I just want him to give me a straight up answer to all my problems that will fix everything. He rarely makes any test of my character easy... actually, I don't think he's ever designed any test of mine to be easy. I always learn the hard way even if I try my hardest to think through my issues clearly.
Yesterday I stumbled upon this quote:

"When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always             quiet during a test."

Touche, God. I then began to think more and more about this and came upon Genesis 22:1-3 where it talks about Abraham and Isaac.

1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and     he said, Behold, here I am.
 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah: and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee. 
 3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

Hopefully we all know that next Abraham is fully intending to carry out God's will, even though he loves Isaac more than anything else in the world, and when Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac, God stops him and tells him that he is well pleased with Abraham's obedience. Abraham was no doubt wondering why God wanted him to perform this seemingly unthinkable task but was willing to do it anyway. He probably wondered where God was after He commanded Abraham to do this thing. Why wasn't God telling him that everything was going to be alright? Why would God want him to do that in the first place? Why wasn't God answering Abraham's silent pleadings to spare his son and think of something else to sacrifice? Where was God? God was there, but he was watching silently to see if Abraham had enough faith to do something so unbearably hard because he had more faith in the higher powers than he did in his own thoughts.
I must admit that if God demanded that I murder someone that I love dearly because He said so, I would probably snort and move on with my life, ignoring what he asked me to do. But that's really the way a lot of us approach hard tasks that are set before us. I know that when I'm faced with something hard, I often want to completely shut it out and hope that it eventually disappears. I just don't appreciate struggle; sure, I appreciate the results of my struggles when they're positive, but I detest struggling like I do most of the time. I too wonder where God is and why won't he remove this burden from my shoulders because I don't think I'm strong enough to get through. I can always feel God's thought process though: "Come on Christine, we've been through this many times before. You can do it, don't tell yourself otherwise. I can't help you with things you need to figure out on your own. I'm not here to hold your hand, that's what you have your brother Jesus for. In fact, Jesus will even carry you if you'll just let him."
Great. Now I feel bad. Every time. I know that I'm not the only one who just looks to the sky and wonders why things have to be so difficult. I love Heavenly Father, I really do, but I wish that he'd just give me a break more times than he does.
Which brings me to the past two days. As I said previously, I have been having a really rough go of it as of late and have been hoping that something wonderful would come along. Well yesterday I received a wonderful letter from a friend and today I got flowers. For the first time in a long time, I felt pure joy. I've never gotten flowers before and it really, truly made me feel completely blissful. I was able to handle a pretty busy and confusing first day at work with a good attitude and a positive vibe because of those two things. So Heavenly Father blessed me through two people who I care very much about. I keep forgetting that I usually receive blessings that way. For me to feel joy and to smile to myself every time I think of what those two people did for me, is an incredibly big deal. I'm usually so inside my head that I can't seem to get out of my mind palace without some major complications.
After thinking all these thoughts and pondering the story of Abraham and Isaac, John 14:27-29 came to mind:

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
 Peace. Untroubled heart. Unafraid. Rejoice. Believe.

Those are all things that I wish I had a better handle on in my life, and I've had to learn (the hard way, of course) that I can't gain all those things on my own. I need others to help me through, and if I have faith in God, He will give me peace and the wisdom and strength to be braver than I was yesterday.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oh Me...

I am now living in Utah, determined to actually get a life.
I love my family and everything, but I need to grow up at some point and I figured that twenty years old was probably as good an age as any. Yes, I, Christine Elizabeth Casper, weirdo, Whovian, Potterhead, Ringer, avid fan of good books and food, am twenty years old. That's two decades under my belt, folks. So what's it like to be twenty? No different than being eighteen. But I'm much different that I was two years ago.
Two years ago I lead a sad and numb existence. On paper, nothing should have been wrong with me: I have a family that loves me, I go to church each Sunday, I graduated in the top 20% of my high school class, I had a really good job, a scholarship to college... So why was I so empty?
Many people would likely find the actual reasons for my "condition" to be all in my head or not real, but suppose, for a moment, that things like depression truly could alter the way you participate in life and keep you from seeing how good you really are. You see, that's the whole problem: when you are in the thick of your battle with this, or any mental imbalance, you see yourself as this grotesque creature who ruins everything they touch.
This, my friends is what depression looks like:
Wait, what? That's right: funny man Jim Carrey suffers from depression, showing that depression is usually present in the most unexpected people.
It's also a fairly common mental imbalance- there are millions of Americans medicated for depression every single year. It's really nothing to be ashamed of. There are different types of depression, the kind that I have has to do with a lack of a chemical called serotonin in my brain. This likely comes from events or habits formed throughout life that cause you to feel like you're never good enough and that you don't deserve any form of happiness; the list does go on from there. My type of depression has lasted longer than two weeks and is therefore labeled as "clinical depression."
Why am I saying any of this? It's all very curious, I know. One of my hopes is that one day people will feel comfortable enough with issues such as depression to talk about them more openly. There are so many people in this world that would get help if they only knew that they weren't alone. I felt alone. I felt like I had to be one of the unlucky few who had this "disease" and that I could be cured some day. The truth is that I will never be cured of my depression, I am just learning how to control it better. It's not a disease either. Cancer is a disease, lymphoma is a disease. Asperger's syndrome is not a disease, obsessive compulsive disorders are not diseases, these are mental disorders.
So are you handicapped if you suffer from a mental disorder? In some senses, yes. But not in ways that the general public considers handicaps. Happiness is a choice, right? Yes and no. When you have a mental disorder it's difficult to convince yourself that you are deserving of one thing or another; for me, this was happiness and love. 
I would try and try on a daily basis to be more happy... to be happy like everyone else around me. I tried to copy others, to no avail. Through this past year I have learned that your happiness is never the same as someone else's happiness. I had to work through my issues to figure out what the hell made me happy and ways to recognize that happiness. Now I have a better handle on all that stuff and am ready to "face the world" again. I was never hospitalized or anything of that nature, so no worries.
I can't tell you that I haven't had days where I don't want to try and be happy because I did something that I deserve to suffer for. I can't tell you that I haven't wanted to fall back into my old destructive habits, or even that didn't actually repeat some of them. Those would be lies. With everything that's difficult, you have to take it day by day and I have resolved to try my hardest to be better today than I was yesterday. I look to the future far more than I look into the present and while it's wonderful to have goals, it is equally as, if not more, important to experience the here and now. I am still learning how to do this. I'm socially awkward to begin with, so it's probably going to take a while for me to master that skill. I have gotten better though!
I don't like feeling as though my issues are something that need to be hidden from the world. Secrets create tension, in my experience. There are many people who know of my struggles but I just wanted to put it out there on the internet so that maybe I can help others come to terms with their issues and do what they need to do to work on them.
I've typed a lot. I will hopefully write more later.