Iced Tea Chat - Eclipse

Hello dears.  Come in and have a glass of tea with me, won't you?  I'd offer to sit outdoors but, sugar, it is like a steam sauna.  I'm not a fan of sauna and cannot imagine ever willingly entering one.  I think it's quite enough to experience the Georgia summers!

So much on my mind and heart these days.  I'd meant to take time out to sort out my head and then was thrown a complete horseshoe curve with Jason's death.  That opened another whole set of thoughts.   My head feels crammed full of unopened mail, all just stuffed in and crumpled and too tight to fit another thing.

This morning, I gave myself a rare treat after I'd completed my Swagbucks for the morning.
I went over to YouTube and plugged into bluegrass artist, Sierra Hull.   I'm fairly new to bluegrass music and I find some of it...okay MOST of it...irritatingly repetitive, but I'd heard "Black River" on a program John and I were watching the other night and was won over by the plaintive quality of the song.  It has an underlying quietness.  It didn't jar upon my nerves, which admittedly, seem to be stretched taut.  I watched a full hour of videos this morning during the last of the 'free' data hours for the night.  I was even more won over than before and went to Amazon to put her latest album in my cart.  Music soothes the soul...

This is one of the things I'd begun to sort out last week.  I need more music in my life, my sort of music which admittedly is a very wide range of genres.   This morning, "Black River" was what I needed to hear and so I began there and then just scrolled through the list to find other songs by this young woman and let the music wash through me.  It was an hour well spent.

John is at work today.  That's why the house is so quiet. I love my husband dearly and he is learning to appreciate quiet about him a little more often but mostly he is driven to make noise.  I confess that this week his desire for noise to drown out his thoughts made my mind an eddy that wouldn't stop spinning even at late night.   TV, videos on computer, white noise, fans...I really did seriously consider leaving a few times just to find quiet space.  Fortunately he went out to mow and I shut down every single thing I could and despite the mower roaring outside the walls of the house, it was quiet.  Quiet as a home seemingly can ever be, what with motors running on appliances and with fans going and such.  A compromised quiet that was very necessary to my own screeching head.

I'd been looking online at various things, Pinterest and blogs.  I am not 21 or 31.  I am no longer even 51.  I know myself well enough and who I am.  I'm not lost and seeking identity.  I am, however, wandering, unable to find my path.  So I looked at a lot of motivational stuff, yes, even at those posts geared to identity and it helped me to begin.  I was able to tug and pull a few things from that head of mind.  I need to read every day and I need music of my own sort and  I need quiet for a small space of every day at the very least.   I need to have a hard stop/start point to my day and a point after which there is no computer.  Otherwise I will work from sunrise until bedtime without ceasing.  Constantly writing posts, pulling pins that I think will promote some area or other of my life, answering emails.   I need to write everyday, at the very least to make a journal post.  I need to make out a morning page of thoughts to do a brain dump  so that I can FOCUS more on what is important and needed and less upon the butterfly passing thoughts I'm wont to chase about when I don't.   I need to stop wasting so much time on the computer.  I've become more and more stuck with it.  So that I don't just do my work but I check facebook multiples of times a day, check emails multiples of times, or waste my time looking at things that have absolutely no meaning or impact upon my life.  I need to laugh daily.  I can be mighty damned somber and solemn and almost  stern of face.  Especially if I'm dwelling on things.  I need to devote a little time to a bedtime routine and I need to disconnect for a good two hours before I go to bed, from the phone, from the computer, sometimes, from people.

So I sorted out all that.  I'm on my way to something here, but still not sure where the path is leading.

And then I got overwhelmed by things.  You know.  THINGS.  Not the things that populate my home and take up visual space but the things of other people that were set about my heart and mind.

A young pastor I feel connected to  has gone through some awful something.  How do I know it's awful?  Because earlier this year, as I sat sewing, I felt such a sense of danger surrounding him spiritually and so impressed to contact him to warn him of danger that I did so.  I felt very strongly that I was to pray harder than ever for him and I had.  Things had seemingly gone as per usual with him.  He was preaching and taking breaks with his family and then there were no posts, but I figured it was Facebook's vagaries of determining whose posts I'd see and whose I shouldn't.  Then this week I saw a post...

I don't know what happened but he's had a complete life change of some sort.  He's no longer preaching in his own church.  He's moved and taken a job outside of church.  He's wounded.  I don't know what happened.   Human though I am and as driven by nosiness disguised as curiosity as most folks can be, God equally impressed me that what he's going through is NOT my business.  My business is to keep praying for him.  I contacted him and let him know that he continued upon my prayer list and would remain there.  He thanked me.   John and I listened to a streaming video of a sermon he preached at the church he now attends.  It was powerful and moving. 

John contacted him during the week to ask what his plans are for the future, if he'll be starting another church, or a study group.  We saw in another post that he'd taken a sales job with a company a friend of his owns.  And his reply to John, left us stunned.  He says he's done, finished, through, with pastoring.

I expect that he's mighty hurt and mighty tired.  He has pushed hard these few years we've known him, pulling failing churches up by their bootstraps and setting them on the path to renewal.  Not an easy task, especially when you have people within said failing church who will gladly watch it sink and even heartily knock away helping hands to pull it back to sinking position if only, oh if only!, you'd just not change a thing from how it used to be.  I've never understood why we're happy to live with corpses rather than bury them and move on into the next stage of our lives.  But we are and it seems most prevalent in churches.  I am sure he needs a sabbatical from that sort of burden.  No man can bear up forever under the same strains day in and day out.  He  does comes to a breaking point, especially when he's the sort who is Type A driven.

And I suspect he's discovered he's weak in some place that he hadn't thought he was...Or life tossed one of those hard balls that hit him smack in the face.  I've been in places in my life where I was shocked to discover my own failings and weaknesses in places where I'd NEVER have doubted myself.  Those sorts of fault findings within are harder to bear than the places where we KNOW we're cracked and must keep watch.  I've been smacked with a hard ball I hadn't seen coming nor suspected, too and I  know the damage it can do.  It takes time to make that lump on a bone go away, to heal the bruising that reminds you daily of the hurt, to not start at every fly that gently buzzes past the ear.

I ruminated and worried and thought and preached to this young man in my head all week long and then Saturday evening  it came to me all over again that I was called to do nothing but PRAY.   I'm not called to fix, nor to teach, nor to preach to, nor guide.  I'll warrant you that those people are surrounding him by the score.  And yes, those who are all too willing to stand next to him and tell him what a failure he is and what he can't be ever again. 

I'm called to pray for him.  God doesn't need me to do anything more but he does need me to do what He's asked me to do. That's my purpose and my calling.  So I lay down the burden of what I thought I ought to say and do and returned to prayer.

On Friday about lunchtime, we had news of Jason's suicide. Yes, he took his own life.  Why?  We never know in instances like his.  We can know the things going on in a life, and perhaps something of the heart, but we can't know the mind.  I know this because I've dealt with suicide four times and a family member's suicide attempt once, in the last 20 years.  It's always shocking. 

Of the four suicide deaths only one was the work of a mind that wished to manipulate others in a selfish sort of way. That had been the whole life of this person, to manipulate others.   The other three deaths were black despair that simply couldn't see beyond the moment, couldn't find hope anywhere.  I know this, too, because I know the sorts of people they all four were.    I know depression and the gravity of it's lies first hand.  I know the moments I've faced in my own life when I truly didn't see how the next moment could possibly be a bit different and I've known the next moment that wasn't any different, wasn't any less hard or less painful.  There are moments now, when those old thoughts threaten to creep back inside my head, when the fight or flight syndrome has kicked into hyper-overdrive and everything within my mind screamed "Die!  Just die!" 

Yes, I'm serious.  I've learned to be strong.  I've learned to grab hard at any little root or rock and hang on for dear life.  Dear, dear life.  Satan used this lie against me for years and years and he still will try to use it for his purpose at odd moments when I'm tired and emotionally wrung out and have been left empty save the pain.  That's when the blues creep in, not the navy blues but the cloudy sky blues.  Over seemingly silly things.  In a life that is 97% happy, satan will still use his lies.  How much more so in a life where hurt and despair has eclipsed the good, blotting out the sun of hope?  Ad who knows how long the despair had been in the head, never spoken of, never acknowledged out loud to another? 

I was depressed for 25 long years.  I never spoke of it.  Occasionally I knew I needed help and sought it but it didn't abate with medication and it didn't leave me.  And then one day it was gone.  I say it came when I fell on my knees, my painful aching knees, and opened my heart to Christ.  But that doesn't explain the millions of depressed Christians who have Christ does it?  We can say a thousand times over that you can't be saved and be depressed, but you can, yes, you can and we're wrong to a woman and man of us to claim that to the ones who are depressed because we're doing nothing but impressing those poor tortured souls further with what they see as a personal failing.

In my case, for me, the opening of my heart to Christ created an avalanche of things flowing OUT of me that had been packed in and hoarded.  I began to heal in a thousand ways as the pressure of infections was released.  It was a process that took years, is still taking time.

I don't think every Christian understands.  I think it's not knowing HOW to release things that keeps them hurt.  Not knowing how important forgiving is to your own personal health is in it, too. There's this mistaken notion that if we forgive someone we're absolving them from the hideous damage they've caused, but it's not true.  It's saying, "I care enough about me to release this burden and you can rot for all I care but I'm going to move on.  I refuse to sit here with the cancer that is you eating me alive.  I'm cutting you out.  I will forget this and let it go because it's doing me nothing but harm."   That's what forgiveness is.  And it does open us up because it leaves an empty place behind that allows things buried underneath to come up and out and eventually it's a healthy, healed heart.  That's what happened to me.

Had anyone at all said to me, "You know depression runs in this family..."  Well someone might just have thought to run a test or three and figure out the chemical or hormonal imbalance that seems to be in the family lines, but no one ever did.  No, I heard instead, "Just think how much better off you are than others..."  "But what will people think if you are on anti-depressants?"  "If your employer knows you're seeking counseling they might determine you're unreliable and let you go."  "Psychologists are just into psychology because they have so much wrong with themselves."  "You need to just lighten up..."

It's no good saying those things to a depressed person.   If it's all you've got to say then shut up.  Just SHUT UP.   I could see my situation was better than another's.  I could see that some of the counselors who dealt with me were broken and needed mending as badly as I did.  Heck I ran away from at least two who were painfully broken and found others who weren't so damaged they required co-dependency with me to function.   I could SEE all of that,  but I couldn't lift that damned heaviness off my heart and mind, I couldn't shove back that darkness, not even with a prescribed pill.  Or self prescribed alcohol. Or with affairs.  Or food... Or the many myriad other ways I tried to cope that were harmful and physically hurtful and risky.  Because NOTHING matched the agony that was within me enough to mask my pain or confuse it.  That's what I know from the inside of living depressed.

But having come out of my depression, having come to this side of living instead of wishing to die daily, I can tell you sincerely that the thought  still comes at the odd moment of despair, when the pain I feel emotionally is too much to breathe through and I'll hear that random old tape playing softly in the background, "So just die..."  I choose to survive.  To go on.  Stubbornly.

The first reaction following shock and grief after a suicide is anger.  The "WHY?!"  that is cried out by those who survive isn't a result of being hurt, it's anger, pure anger.  Why didn't you seek help?  Why didn't you think I was worth staying about for?  Why couldn't you just work it out?  Why did you leave me behind?   Why didn't you talk to someone, any one, even me? Why couldn't you see how many many people loved you?

Compassion will  eventually get you  to the point of forgiveness,  but forgiveness doesn't answer the why.  Compassion will acknowledge that there were hard things going on. Compassion is fine and well, but empathy is knowing and understanding and it makes forgiveness a little easier for those who don't make it through.     Empathy knows it's not about wanting to create a hardship for others, nor is it pushing blame onto anyone else.  It's all about wanting to shut off that deep seated never ending pain.  It's the fear of the blackness that never ends.    But not everyone has empathy.  Not everyone has been there in that darkness.

As I get older, I hurt more for people, especially young people. I hurt to see young folks who married going through divorce.  I hurt for parents who must watch a child suffer through cancer or accidents that are unimaginable.  I hurt for the millions of broken dreams that are glass under our feet every single day of living.  I hurt because the young can't see that nearly all trouble is but for a season.  Sometimes the season is long but eventually every season changes.   I hurt because people are broken and can't find a way to heal.  I hurt because hard choices have to made.  I hurt because sometimes there is no good choice.   I hurt because life is hard, even when it's sweet, it's hard.  HARD.  Harsh and uncompromising and demanding.  It just is.  I hurt because I know this.  I want to share with them that I know this things, but I also know that there are things ahead worth seeing, beauty worth being around to experience, things to wonder at  that will leave them in awe.   I've learned that in the very midst of darkness a single light pierces sharp and bright for a moment and it's worth remembering, worth hoping it will come again.  Because it DOES.  Sometimes it's after months and years of dark days and long, long nights that never end but it does come again.  At some point the light comes and stays.  It breaks through and it doesn't leave.

I hurt to the point of barely knowing how I can stand more, through the point of hearing "Die!" to coming out the other side once more.  And it's worth it!  It's worth it...It's worth it.  That's what I want to share.  And I do at times, but if you're in the midst of that very dark black spot you don't believe it.  That's the frustrating thing.

Well.  Enough.  Let us sit in the light here in the kitchen windows and look out over the lovely, lush green lawn.  Let us see the blue skies and watch the rabbits creep along nibbling on the grass.  We might even step outside into that deep thick heat and listen for a moment to the song of bird and cicada and crickets and note the way the leaves are starting to change on the trees.  See that read on the turkey foot oak?  See the yellow in the persimmon?  The starting tinge of yellow on the Gingko?  Not lack of rain this year, not drought but a changing season ahead.   The season is about to change...Oh what sweet words those are!  Seasons of the year and seasons of the spirit and seasons of life, they do keep right on being regular and changing.

Isn't that the most wonderful truth of all?


joinoz (jomorro) said...

Dear Terri,
Thank-you for sharing your story so honestly and bravely and with so much wisdom and compassion. There is light after darkness and the seasons do change. We all must remember this. Thank-you for reminding us in such a caring and supportive way. Jo

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Sending a big ole hug and prayers..

Carolyn @ Our Gilded Abode said...

Hugs to you Terri! Wishing you comfort and peace and days of blessed joy. 🙏

Anonymous said...

So raw and honest. Depression is a soul-sucking, thirsty monster. As I read your story, the thought came to me that you'd also experienced a dark night of the soul. Coming out of a dark night of the soul is that point in which we truly let God in and the light does shine.
Peace, Chris

Anonymous said...

The comments have been so well thought out and written about this post. Better than I could have ever said it. You go so deep and yet so real when you write Terri. I thank you too. I too can understand the feelings and hurts. When I was at my lowest a friend many knew committed suicide and all those we know who knew him were so mad. They thought him totally selfish...had no thought or sympathy of how depression had gotten hold of him and wouldn't let him go. The he wanted it to end. Saw no other way. Had asked for help but no one took him serious. It kind of made me mad that they were acting so hateful about him. I can understand now why but since I felt so low myself at that very time I saw it as surprising. They took it so differently than I would have thought. No sadness at all. I saw the whole thing from the other side. It is hard to put into words now. Little by little as time went on I came out of my deep cloud and back into life. I fight it still at times but work to not let it take root. I will leave it at that. I read and reread this post and got much out of it.
I do pray your pastor friend finds peace and good people in his life. And God at his side always. Naturally we all know God is the one who knows what he needs better than any of us. Sarah

Lana said...

Oh how my heart hurts for your niece. I pray for her to be able to put one foot in front of the other and hold those little girls when they ask for their Daddy. What a horrible thing to do to his family. My uncle did the same and he was such a selfish person that there is no doubt that it was driven by that. Suicide haunts the living and it never loses it's grip. Hugs and prayers for you all.

I think you would enjoy Mountain Faith's same soft sort of bluegrass. We got four months of Music Unlimited from Amazon for 99 cents a while back and it is going to be hard to part with at the end of the 4 months. All we have to do is tell our Echo what we want to hear and it plays. It does take data though.

We are expecting 2 million plus visitors to SC for the eclipse. Tomorrow we are running away to the lake house where we will be closer to the path of totality and away from the gridlock of traffic. A few weeks ago my husband had a complete crash with his brain healing and we are still coming back from that. He has gone to the neurologist this AM and will ask his opinion of what happened although he has not really had any answers for us. Getting away from the chaos of all the people coming in will be better for him although I expect the population will really explode over there in the vacation houses.

We know many who have left the ministry and as a Mom of a pastor's wife I can tell you that the road is really hard. They just know too much about everyone in the congregation and it keeps them awake at night and on call 24 hours a day with no break. It often seems that those most gifted are the ones who burn out as they care too much perhaps. I have heard enough from the inside through our daughter to say that it is a job that is not for the faint of heart. Mostly what that knowledge has done for me is to drive me to pray for our pastor. Lately I have been irked with him on many occasions and even asked my husband if it is time to look for another church and in asking God the same He has answered, 'PRAY'. And we have seen our God at work through that.

Anonymous said...


Your words struck me so profoundly that I got down on my knees and prayed for Jason's soul and for healing to envelop his wife and children. You are so wise to point out that we can never know God's plan but must accept the outcome. Your blog is a candle piercing the darkness and helping to guide us down the path we have to complete.

Best wishes from Best Bun.

Mari Seda said...

thank you Terri for sharing your words. As a fellow sufferer of depression, and yes, like you, it went away once I gave everything, and I mean everything to Christ!

Thank you again for been the vessel that you are...


Karla Neese said...

Oh my dear warrior-sister-in-Christ, I am so humbled and honored to read this post. I love and appreciate your honesty so much. It's perhaps one of the things I've been drawn to you by. Like you, I believe in living an open-book life (within reason) if it just might help someone else who needs to know they aren't alone and that someone else actually made it through to the other side of whatever nightmare we have/had in common.

Praying in earnest with you for your family and your pastor friend. I am all too familiar with his burnout and his wounding. Been there, done that more than one time - whether as a child with my pastor parents, my in-laws who were pastors, our own family who has felt called to help be church plant growers more than once.

And the lies of the enemy - we are fools to believe they aren't powerful or that we are immune. And like you said some Christians simply don't understand. Until you've cried every single Sunday for months during worship for no apparent reason other than your very soul needs to weep and empty itself of the sadness, or you've stayed home from work because the anxiety was just too much - and yes, you know Jesus, and yes, you SEE the ways you have it better - until you've walked in those very shoes, you haven't a clue. And yet, the judgments fly and the idiocy speaks.

And we, we who are stepping out of that dark place, we are called to pray, and to share and to just love.

Loving what Jesus has done in you and through you and John. I am blessed to call you Kingdom family.

Angela said...

Thank you so much for your courage in sharing this dear Terri. I know the feeling so well of being in so much emotional pain that you just wish you could die. I knew where to hang myself in our previous home. Because I know you have suffered abuse and are a praying woman I ask humbly for your and any readers prayers right now. My mother has abused me for 35 years- the last attack was 2 weeks ago. I just can't pretend it didn't happen yet again. I have a letter in my mailbox today telling her it will never happen again which means another attack is eminent. This is the first time I have spoken up to her in my 57 years. I have no illusions that she will suddenly care about me or my feelings so I am sure this will lead to severing the relationship. I know God can give me courage to "guard my heart."

Terri Cheney said...

Angela, One of the scariest thing we can do with a parent is set personal boundaries, especially when the relationship is abusive. I did it...You can, too. But be prepared to be tested over and over again. Walk away, refuse to be drawn into arguments, and keep your distance. Honoring and respecting her does not mean accepting just any behavior from her. I know this first hand. I will put you on my prayer list...

Terri Cheney said...

Thank you to all of you who wrote in on this. I so appreciate your prayers and thoughts.

Julie Baker said...

As usual your honest beautifully shared story has been a blessing to me. Thank you for being a voice that brings for me such personal reflection and pondering. Depression and anxiety touch us all at one time or another and it is good to hear of struggles that you have experienced and lived through and giving us perspective in the our help being grounded in the Lord.

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