Recently I read the following experience on a friend's Instagram... now keep in mind this was a repost of a repost, etc., so I don't actually know the original source and can only assume it's true- however, true or hypothetical, there is a really good message here and I wanted to share.
A brother served as a missionary with his wife in Africa. They were a very zealous couple, but the wife became pregnant, so they returned to the States. The brother and his wife raised their son (who is doing well spiritually) and not long after the brother and his wife were invited into the travelling work as a Circuit Overseer. He then became a District Overseer. About ten years ago, someone very close to him passed away, and it was very, very traumatic for him. He became very depressed. He couldn't make Christian meetings. Yes, this District Overseer, for a while, was unable to go to meetings. Sometimes, friends, we judge our brothers and sisters who suffer from depression. How many of you have said this of a brother or sister: "If he can go to the mall, he can go to the Hall?" Is that an accurate assessment to make? Many friends believe this assessment, but the line of reasoning is flawed.a person may be able to go to the mall and may not be able to go to the Kingdom Hall. The Kingdom Hall is smaller and can be very claustrophobic for a person suffering from depression. Yes, we should be at Christian meetings, but for those suffering from depression, it is not easy to be there. So, one might be able to go to the mall and not the Kingdom Hall... it ends here, but we get the point.
This experience and application really resounded with me for two reasons: One, I have been that person on occasion who can manage to do other things yet still misses a meeting- and two, because I know I have also been that judgmental person on occasion... and I'd like to talk about both aspects of this.
So as far as missing meetings- let me say that it's rare for me to have to stay home due to depression or anxiety, but it hasn't always been this way. I have struggled with depression since I was an adolescent and been on medication for it since I was 24. During this time, anxiety, panic attacks, a total lack of energy, etc. have all been a reality for me. My basic way of dealing has always been to push myself through, and generally with a mask on, which has made it very difficulty, because often I feel very little understanding from others and I know that that is my own fault, but I don't really know another way to be.
Anyway, about three years ago I went through a very severe major depressive episode which lasted about five months. Unlike other times, this time everything came to a screeching halt. I literally could not push myself through. I couldn't go to work, I couldn't deal with being in public most of the time, and while I dragged myself to the meetings for the most part, often I would leave almost as soon as it started because just entering the building sent me into a panic attack. The noise and all the people coming at me were just too much.
After a while, I began to think that just maybe, if I could ride out the panic, I'd be okay- so I would sit there in my seat, crying and feeling utterly ridiculous- but once the song and prayer were finished and the talk began and things were much quieter, I'd find myself starting to calm down. I would give myself permission to leave just before the end of the meeting, but usually I didn't end up needing to do that. So the experience taught me a few things... one, that to SOME extent I could take control of my depression and all its related issues, and two, that in many other ways, I could not. This meant that I had to learn to trust myself to assess my own needs and not beat myself up over what I couldn't do... which brings me to my second reason for writing this.
When I say that I have caught myself being judgmental, let me clarify that the person I have judged far more than anyone else is ME. That probably sounds ridiculous. I mean, I know how I'm feeling, I know what I am capable of, right? But no. There are so many voices inside of me, stemming from an abusive past, that cause me to question everything about myself. I can be extremely sick and I will still look at myself in the mirror and say, "You're just lazy. There is nothing wrong with you and no one is going to believe you- not even Jehovah." Horrible, WRONG thinking, but it's my reality! I have had to learn to counter those voices over the years, and I have largely succeeded, but it will be a struggle to some degree for the rest of the system of things.
So having said that... as I have ignored my own needs and pushed through when it really wasn't reasonable to do so, it has been difficult to watch others who SEEM to be taking it easier... and that is where those judgmental thoughts have come in. That's not easy to admit, because I know those feelings are wrong. But they do come up, and I continue to try to reject them, because frankly, just because I haven't always taken care of my own needs properly doesn't mean that someone else shouldn't take care of theirs- if that makes sense? We all have a responsibility to determine exactly what we can do, and it is absolutely no one else's place to try to tell us we should do more or less. It needs to be about the individual and Jehovah.
So, the reason I wanted to write this is that I suspect this incorrect view of ourself or others, or both, is something that most of us struggle with. It's human nature, but I think we all need to take a step back and accept that we are all doing the best we can. Yes, you may find improvements in yourself that you can make with Jehovah's help, and by all means, do so! But if you are doing your reasonable best, regardless of how it measures up with what others are doing or what you planned or think you should be doing- it is enough. And we should always believe our brothers and sisters are doing the very best they can. If anything, the sense that we are being viewed in a patient and loving way by our brothers and sisters may inspire more positive effort, but that's not the point... we need to love and respect one another enough to accept that we are all doing our best.
This post has nothing to do with jewelry ;-) but that's okay. I have a hard time motivating myself to write in the blog and I really want to do more as it's a wonderful outlet for me, and I want to connect with you all, not simply as customers or online friends, but as your sister. So I've thrown myself out there, and feel free to reciprocate! When I think about it though, really- all this does have something to do with the items I created, because the positive affirmations from scriptures, Kingdom songs, etc. have always meant so much to me. I used to put things on sticky notes all over my apartment, but putting an uplifting thought on a pretty pendant is a nicer reminder. :) I want everyone to be able to look in the mirror and remember that they are precious to Jehovah and that their brothers and sisters love them.
If you're still reading this, thank you for sticking with me! Please feel free to comment, I would love to hear your take on these thoughts.