Don’t try so hard

Last week my niece won two tickets from a radio station to a private listening party with Amy Grant for her newly released cd How Mercy Looks From Here and she invited me to go with her!

It’s no secret that I am a huge Amy Grant fan. I love her music, I love her soothing voice but more than both of those God given talents, I love her spirit. She has a beautiful, very real faith that intersects with very human experiences and raw emotions but remains strong and full of grace.

Grace, something we all need so very much.

During the listening party she chose a few songs and told the stories behind them. I loved them all but one of them caused that huge lump in my throat that develops when I am trying to hold back tears.

It was called ~ Don’t Try So Hard.

It hit home for me because I had recently gone through a period of time where I was trying so hard that I had worn myself out completely. I am not even sure how it happened or when it began because it snuck up on me. Gradually over time somehow I had developed this imaginary standard that I needed to measure up to.

The standard was perfection and although no one else expected it of me ~ I did. As the words washed over me I felt a few hot tears escape from my eyes. Not tears of painful emotion but of relief that the striving is over. It’s over in a sense but it is a battle that we all face every day as new pressures to measure up or fit in present themselves.  It is one of the greatest weapons of the enemy of our soul. Comparison.

I am glad that I was able to recognize the harmful practice of comparing myself to some made up standards that I could never achieve and just breathe and relax instead of fighting.

Here are the words to the chorus…

Don’t try so hard
God gives you grace and you can’t earn it
Don’t think that you’re not worth it
Because you are
He gave you His love and He’s not leaving
He gave you His Son so you’d believe it
You’re lovely even with your scars
Don’t try so hard

My favorite line is…”You’re lovely even with your scars…”

Do you believe that today? You are lovely even with your scars…don’t try so hard!

Here…take some deep breaths as you listen.

Fighting the Shame of Depression

After my first real battle with depression I was talking to the women’s pastor at my church about it.  She asked me if I would share about it at an upcoming women’s conference. I knew it would be hard but I wasn’t prepared for just how hard it would be to move from the safety of a few close friends and family members knowing about my struggles to a wider group of people that I did not know very well.

ashamed woman

The feeling of vulnerability was overwhelming.  I remember when the women’s pastor announced the conference in church saying, “…and Tracey Metzger is going to share about her recent bout with depression…” I felt all the blood drain from my face. I felt dizzy and found myself wanting to run out the back door.

Now I know what that emotion was.  It was shame.

Shame is similar to being embarrassed but worse.  It does weird things to your body.  Embarrassing – is tripping up the stairs or having toilet paper stuck on your shoe as you come out of the restroom.  But shame is different.

Shame is not momentary; it takes up residence inside your heart.  And you don’t want to hide for a moment – you want the earth to open up and swallow you.

My shame came from the misguided belief that if I was as strong in my faith as I professed to be that I would not suffer from depression.  Somewhere I had bought into the misconception that if I just prayed enough or in the right way with enough conviction that I would be able to conquer it. Depression makes you feel like you are doing something wrong.  I’ve actually heard people in Christian circles say things like, “Depression is pride turned inward” which only contributes to the fallacy that the person suffering has control over it.

Depression, when it is a result of a chemical imbalance or mental illness is debilitating and not something that someone can just snap out of.  I believe that prayer helps but sometimes it helps in the form of God leading you to the right medication or doctor.  There are testimonies of people that have been delivered from depression miraculously just like there are people that have had tumors disappear.  But there are also people who need medication and still have rough days just like all the treatments in the world cannot treat some major illnesses.

We live in a fallen world where illness – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abound.  What we don’t need are stigmas and judgments that lead to shame.

But where sin abounds (I believe that the all of the ugliness in the world is a result of the fall of man), GRACE abounds much more. Let us pray for more and more grace so that people who are suffering will not feel ashamed and can get the help they need.

This blog was inspired by the various editorials, posts and blogs I have read in response to the passing of Rick and Kay Warren’s son. The only good that can possibly come from this is more conversation and openness about mental illnesses. Praying for abundant grace, peace and comfort for the Warrens and all who are close to them.