ALL IS CALM, ALL IS BRIGHT

By Lisa Huddleston

12375960_10208124649220690_5675405771665034409_nChristmas Day was special for me this year. In fact, the whole holiday season has been. Truly, nothing extraordinary happened–unless you want to count that in spite of hosting Thanksgiving for 28, having our younger son’s wedding and Christmas less than a week apart, and having lots of company in our home, I have kept a calm spirit and a happy heart throughout. Oh, how extraordinary that is!

I’m a little hesitant to write about depression again when we are only one day from Christmas, but as my past experiences have taught, many of you are likely to be coming undone just about now. You may regret arguments you had with family or feel as though your dreams of a perfect holiday were not realized or just be completely exhausted by smiling through the stress. And because I remember many years just like that, I want to encourage you to keep seeking the help you need. There is another way to live–you don’t have to keep beating yourself up!

1617126_10208140611339733_6942468301860626981_oThis year, I let a lot of “musts” go. I did not decorate Christmas cookies. I did not buy many presents. I did not set out all the Santas and past photos with said Jolly Elf. I didn’t even cook Christmas dinner.

I did fill stockings with lots of hand-picked little items. I did take a yummy ham to brunch at my in-law’s. I did enjoy conversations with nieces and nephews and my children and their spouses and brothers and sisters and all varieties of extended and ever-growing family. And I didn’t have to be perfect. And that is shocking.

10298043_10208141109232180_4662432374080879601_oOf course, I wonder which reality is really real–this peace I feel or the past stress and anxiety? But then I have to ask if that even matters? I definitely prefer peace–even though I still struggle some with the fact that it probably has to be attributed to my medications and the mental health help I have received. Why does that bother me? Because I am a prideful old thang. But I am learning that help is good, that reality is what I am present for, and that peace really is possible.

And that is my message for you today. What you believe is the most important thing. You are not alone. It’s okay to need help and even to ask for it. And you do not have to be perfect–in fact, that’s the most unrealistic expectation you could ever have.

So I sit here a thankful, hopefully more realistic woman. I am thankful for the blessings of the past few weeks, months, and year. I am grateful for the help I have received, I am thankful for the hope I have, and my friends, family and Savior, and I’d love to pass it all on to you. Just don’t give up!

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me … 

YOU DO YOU

By Lisa Huddleston

Suicide is not the solution. Seek help!

Suicide is not the solution. Seek help!

On Monday evening I received a text message from a good friend telling me that my dentist had killed himself. His body had been found in his car parked behind a large car dealership near a line of woods. Curiously, my mother (who lives with us), Chuck, and I had been talking about this man during our dinner that very night. I had received a postcard reminder of my upcoming appointment for a cleaning, and we were extolling his virtues as a kind and caring man. And then this news.

It was shocking to us and also to the rest of our small town! Rumors began to fly almost immediately blaming such things as finances, affairs, business troubles, and so on. I still have no idea why he took his life, but I can say I have spent the week pondering the terrible affect suicide has upon those it leaves behind, and everyone I have spoken with in my hometown has brought it up everyday since. What will his employees do? Will the business close? Will his family still receive insurance money? Where will we go if we have a dental emergency? Is suicide an unforgivable sin? These are just a few of the many questions I have heard asked. Many of the gossipy questions being asked were none of our business, others were just practical (and selfish?) on our part, and still others showed genuine concern. In my defense, it took me years to find this particular dentist, and I trusted him—no small feat. I hate the idea of going anywhere else. I confess that was my second thought after I heard the news—after the shock and gasp of sorrow. Selfish, yes. I’m only human.

But I wonder what happened? How could this smiling, congenial, and very kind man we knew end up taking his own life? Mom had seen him two weeks earlier. Chuck had chatted about our children and his less than a week before. All seemed fine and ordinary and mundane. But it’s clear that was not the truth.

I have to confess I’ve thought a lot about suicide—what else would you expect from a depressive person?—so I can understand the urge. But to actually do it? It makes my soul ache. If he could have seen what a hole he would leave, you know, have a “Wonderful Life” moment, would he still have done it? If we who only knew him professionally feel so affected by his death how much more so are those who loved him as a friend or family member? It hurts my heart to imagine their pain.

But I hope we all will imagine that pain. Suicide is increasing. I know of three people who have attempted it this year alone, and I really don’t get out much. So think! You fill a hole in the world that only you fit. Only you can sing off-key in just that odd and quirky way. Only you water the porch plants or teach that ESL class or sleep on the left side of that special person or have the same blue eyes as your daughter. Only you are you. And if you don’t care about you then, please, care about those students or friends or loved ones who will never be the same without you in their lives.

It may sound odd, but I will miss my dentist, and I will never forget how he left us. I pray I will also never forget the value of every life including my own. You do you, and I’ll do me. And let’s all keep on doing or being us for as long as life allows. And, please, SEEK HELP IF YOU NEED IT! People really do care.

 

P.S. I do not believe this kind, Christian man will be eternally condemned for his lapse of judgment. Jesus died for all our sins. Thank you, Lord!