a prickly blanket of emotions

Preface: Even though I don’t feel that constant, life-consuming depression these days, there are still moments where it feels like the world could fall apart at any moment.  There are things that I absolutely despise about the very nature of depression, and I just had to share that today…

  1. It is inherently selfish.  I get caught up in how I feel and how I wish things were.  I feel like people don’t “get it;” they don’t understand.  And consequently that makes it harder for me to “get” other people.  I hate this because I love being the empathetic, understanding person I’ve been since childhood. (And I think people may disagree with me here if they don’t understand what I’m saying.  To be clear, I think selfishness is a side-effect, if not a main component, of depression; it deserves treatment, not judgement.  I don’t believe we consciously choose to be selfish individuals, but we suffer with a disease that attacks our reasoning and our concern for others.  We don’t chose that anymore than someone with the flu chooses to sneeze and cough. That being said, we have many tools at our disposal which we can use to fight against this.)
  2. It has no regard for perspective. Depression says, “Oh, other people have it worse?  Well, what I’m going through is the worst thing I am experiencing.”  It goes back to that selfishness, and I hate it.  I really do, because I honestly feel like I am a person sensitive to the plights of others.    I feel like depression steals that from me some days, and it makes me just wanna smack it in the face.
  3. It’s a long-term battle.  Depression isn’t a cold that you take medicine and get over.  It’s a battle and it involves a lifetime of keeping on your toes and guarding your heart.  It strikes at any moment for any reason and it sucks. The second you drop your guard or lean a little less on Christ, depression sneaks in and steals joy.  Is it hopeless?  No, there’s definitely healing, and I praise God for that.  But it’s something to be vigilant against.  There will never be a day that I tell my friends, “Hey, I beat depression forever; you don’t have to pray about that anymore.”  I’ll take all the prayers I can get, even on my best days.
  4. It thrives in the past.  So it’s been a week, a month, heck, a year since you royally screwed up.  You’ve cut out toxic people from your life and vowed never to let them back in.  But what does depression do?  You’re having one tiny bad day–everyone has them–and suddenly you’re in the past thinking of all the things you could of done differently.  Who has time for that?  Not me.  You know what I have time for?  Grace.  Forgiveness. Leaving my burdens at the cross and refusing, no, REFUSING to pick them back up again.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the “good person” part, but I specifically like the last 2 sentences.

I hate that I have to go through it, but more than that I hate that others feel this way and do it alone.

Then, I wonder why we go through life trying to make things more difficult for everyone, ourselves included, when we could be making thingseasier.  I honestly think we try to make life difficult for people.  Why?  We could be encouraging one another.  We could be sharing each other’s burdens.  We could be encouraging others to give their burdens to Christ.  Gosh, please stop picking up that same burden to bear when He’s already taken it upon himself to carry for you.


Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever thought that someone in your life right now might be feeling that way?  What are we doing each day to make life a little easier for the next person?  Shoot, I get it.  Life isn’t easy.  It’s not necessarily supposed to be easy.  But is there some cosmic rule that because life is cruel that we’re just allowed to contribute to that?  I absolutely don’t get it.

Most days I’m terrible about this myself, but I want to grow; I want to be better.  So I’m gonna do my best to cut the drama.  I’m not gonna sit around and talk about you behind your back. If I have a concern, I’m going straight to the source.  I’m not going to hold a grudge; I’ll have forgiveness and grace and compassion.  I’m not going to hold on to things of the past; they’re ancient history.  I’m moving forward in Christ, and I’m going to lean on him, especially when it gets hard.
I’m going to mess up, and on those days, I will receive God’s grace.  On those days, I’ll invite you to show me grace and compassion.  Maybe life isn’t perfect, but we could do more to make it better.  Let’s do that, shall we?

tears of joy

Tears are funny things, aren’t they?  We all cry for a variety of reasons, but never in my life have I cried so many tears of joy in one week.  Over the past year I have cried…a LOT.  I was struggling to get over past relationships, battling depression, and oftentimes just trying to make it through to the next day.  So I’m very familiar with tears of sadness.  However, it has been a while since I cried from pure joy.  As a matter of fact, I believe it has been quite a while since I actually experienced pure joy.  I’m sure that was a contributing factor to the tears that accompanied the joy that I experienced this week.

I’d like to go into some detail about each event that triggered a waterfall of joyful tears this week, but I’ll start by listing the three occurrences:

  1. Becca’s wedding on Saturday
  2. A new relationship that God has blessed me with
  3. Good news about graduate school

  1. BeccaOn Saturday my friend, Becca, got married to an amazing Christian guy, and I cried from the moment I saw her start to walk down the aisle and pretty much throughout the wedding ceremony.  Becca and I have been in an S-group together since my sophomore year in college.  S-groups were implemented at Mercer RUF shortly after I started attending, and they are intended to be “sanctification groups” or accountability groups.  S-group was a place where the five of us sophomore girls could share our lives together and be led by an older RUF student.  We read scripture, prayed together, and shared the happenings of our lives with each other.  I don’t think I realized how much my S-group really impacted my life at college until I left, and I certainly did not realize how closely I had bonded with these women until I practically cried through all of Becca’s wedding.  I had experienced the ups and downs of her life through her recollections during each of our weekly meetings, and I have always been encouraged by her unwavering faith in Christ even through the toughest and most unimaginable moments in life.  It was no surprise to me that God blessed her with a man rooted in the Word and ready and willing to love Becca as Christ loves the Church.  Becca & Phil’s wedding exemplified all that a Christian wedding should stand for; it was a beautiful public profession of their commitment to one another in Christ…and it made me cry tears of joy.  Even reflecting on this beautiful union or trying to communicate it to others brought tears to my eyes.  So that was my first joyful cry of the week.
  2. CasonThen on Thursday I had a date with
    Cason, my now-boyfriend.  We have been dating for about a month now, but it seems like I have known him forever.  We met back in high school through a program called Teen Advisors (TAs).  He was homeschooled, but he came to my high school for TA sessions.  We knew each other, and we had plenty of mutual friends, but we weren’t close at the time. I started going to a young adult ministry called The Door when I was at home from college on Christmas and summer breaks, and we reconnected through that.  Over a week ago we went on a picnic in the park, and he asked me to be his girlfriend.  I was more than ready and willing to enter into an exclusive relationship, but I was hesitant about one thing: Facebook.  Cason had already met my parents when he picked me up for our first date, and I thought it only right and respectful to grant his parents the same courtesy before publicly broadcasting our relationship to the world.  (We’re getting closer to the point, don’t worry!)

    So, Thursday evening I went on a date with Cason to meet his parents, and I was very encouraged by the experience.  It allowed me to learn more about how Cason and his family relate, and it was evident that he comes from a family that cares deeply about God and one another.  I was so thankful for the opportunity to meet such Godly parents who lovingly raised such a respectful, “faithful,” Christ-centered young man.  While sitting on the couch with Cason on Thursday night talking over the evening, I was overwhelmed by all of these thoughts….and it made me cry tears of joy.  How embarrassing to sit on a couch in front of your boyfriend of a month and overflow with joyful tears, but he completely understood, which made me feel that much more thankful and blessed to have him in my life.  Two months ago if you asked me  where I thought I would be, I never would have said, “In a relationship,” but it has been my experience that God always has better plans than I could imagine.  For that I am eternally thankful.GodIsDoingANewThing

  3. Finally, on Friday I received an unofficial email from Baylor expressing their “SIGNIFICANT interest” in me attending their School Psychology grad program.  WHAT?!?! WAIT, ME!?!?  I re-read the email at least five times…and it made me cry tears of joy.  Throughout this whole graduate school application process I have continually reminded myself not to get my hopes up, obviously for no good reason.  I think I built such a wall that I did not allow myself to believe that my dreams and risks would actually see positive results.  Even when I received the email, I found myself thinking, “This is too good to be true,” and I had to quickly remind myself that I love and serve a God who is ever faithful.  I’m constantly reminded that he brought me to the specific profession of school psychology for a reason, and it is even more clear to me now that school psychology is where I am supposed to be, as God continues to remove barriers on my path to becoming a school psychologist.  He has put my mind at ease so many times over the course of this application process and constantly reminded me that my future is not really mine at all, but His.  I am so eager to continue on this path to becoming a school psychologist via this new avenue of grad school.

I am truly overwhelmed with all of the blessings that God has placed in my life, especially now that I have enough perspective to look back and realize that He’s had his hand over all of these events in my life even before I could have imagined they were possibilities for me.  Even during this last year when I had practically given up on so many things in my life and at times wondered what God was doing, He was working in my life to bring fulfillment and thus bring even more glory to His name.  I am beyond blessed and overwhelmed with joy and forever thankful to eternally serve a God who is always faithful.


why am i running


For those of you who don’t know, I’m preparing to go to Beijing, China in February and stay through July.  It’s becoming more real to me, as I had a ton of paperwork to gather and email today.  It’s kinda funny how reality sets in only once the stress rears its ugly head.  Yes, paperwork is kinda stressful for me, especially when I don’t have the forms to fill out in the first place.

Anyway, what I really wanted to address about China is that, on more than one occasion people have asked me what I’m running from or why I’m running away.  Usually it’s people who know what my struggle with depression has been like.  I’ve heard things like, “You can run, but you can’t run from yourself,” or “Don’t you think the depression will follow you to China?”  And yes, I have heard statements like this from adults, professionals, doctors.  Maybe you’re reading this now and you totally agree with them.  You’re thinking, “Yeah Jess, why are you running?”  Thanks for your concern, and here’s why…

Here’s the truth: I’m not running.  Yes, I am leaving school, my family, and  my friends.  I am taking a small hiatus from my life here.  But why does that mean that I’m running?  Just because I’ve been suffering with depression doesn’t mean that I make all of my life choices based on that.  While depression may affect aspects of my life, it doesn’t control my life, and it’s not who I am; it does not define  me as a person.  I know that people care, and I really do appreciate that; please don’t think that I’m just complaining.

But the truth of the matter is that I’m going to China because I believe it will help with the depression.  I believe that it will provide me with the opportunity to be the person that I really want to be.  For the past three and a half years that I’ve spent at Mercer, I have made some wonderful memories and I have enjoyed learning new things.  However, my  heart wasn’t always in it.  I had to constantly remind myself to be present and minister where I was in this time of my life.  Yet, I’ve always looked forward to things like travel, service, having a family, etc.  I MADE IT!  I’m here on the precipice of something big, and NO I’m not running away.  I’m finally running towards something that I will hopefully be doing for the rest of my life: travel & service.  I’m not running away from myself, rather I am embarking on a journey to find myself.  Yes, I get nervous at times, and I do realize that I will still have to manage the depression, but for the most part I am excited and eager.  Those are feelings that I haven’t felt this intensely in a while.  I mean this is CHINA.

So, why am I running?  I’m running to explore China, to discover new things about myself, to meet new people, to serve others, and to go on the journey of a lifetime!  How can you not be on board with something like that?  It’s all about the journey and running down a new path, and I can’t wait.  Stay tuned, because I think it’s going to be tremendous!


the path i’m on

It doesn’t seem like it has been four years since this photo was taken.  I honestly remember it like it was yesterday.  I had just completed what I still believe to be the best year of my educational experiences–junior year.  While taking my senior photos I remember thinking about how fast time flies; I couldn’t believe I only had one year of high school left.  Now I am at the point where I have two months left of college, and some days I honestly do not know how I got here.  The path has been mostly rocky these past few years.  It has been overgrown with weeds and thorns that I have cleared.  Countless obstacles to surmount have popped up along the way.  I have come to many a crossroad.  At times I took the fork to the left and kept on walking, and at other times I would turn around to go back and take the path to the right instead.

Out of all of this, I have learned two key things about the paths I have taken in the first quarter of my life.  First, the path has never run out; I have not reached the end yet.  Sure, sometimes it was hard to see the path in front of me, but God has always had a clear direction for my life.  Perhaps that direction has not always been clear to me, but it could not be more perfectly mapped out by my Father.  Second, there is one major obstacle that has always been present on my path.  We all have our own struggles and burdens to bear.  (Thankfully, we have someone who has taken those burdens upon himself.  See Matthew 11:28-30.)  Mine started out small, like when you have a rock in your shoe that you can’t seem to shake out.  Then the obstacle grew larger and larger as I continued down this path of mine.  There have been times where it seemed like a mountain stood before me, and I couldn’t figure out how to go around or up and over it.

Early in life I thought this obstacle sprung from my own personality.  I’m the perfectionist type who likes to get things done as efficiently as possible.  I’m pretty no nonsense about most things, and I say what I need to say, often bluntly.  I would stress and obsess over practically everything that I did, and for the longest time I thought that was normal.  It was normal for me, anyway.  The older I got, however, the harder it was to do everything right and please everyone and still be happy with the path I was walking down.  This obstacle grew out of all of this–self doubt, inadequacy, sadness, anxiety.  The list goes on and on.  We are all very familiar with the label that has become associated with these things: depression.  I hated the idea of ‘being depressed’ because that is not WHO I am; it is just what I am, which in my mind is a very important distinction.  Saying that someone is depressed always sounded so all-encompassing and permanent to me, as if that was all they were and all they would ever be.  I didn’t want that to be me.

The truth of the matter, though, is that I could not run away from it.  I couldn’t just decide to be happy or simply change my attitude.  That’s when I decided at the beginning of this year that I finally had to face it, head on.  The path I’m on now is no longer one where I hide or run from the things I fear.  This new path is one in which I have determined to face these fears and examine myself closely in light of them.  I have decided, on this path, that even though depression doesn’t have to define me, it does have to be dealt with.  Thankfully, I have crossed paths with many people who understand and have helped me through what I believe was the worst of it.  I have had people walk beside me, hold my hand, guide me, and even carry me through this obstacle of depression.  One of the most important things I learned out of all of this is that whatever path we are on, we are never on it alone.

Looking back on the last four years and seeing how far I have come gives me hope for the next four years and beyond that.  I know that no matter where this path of life takes me, I can rest assured that God has prepared the way and made my path straight.

The purpose behind writing this blog is to document the things that happen on the path I’m on now and to see where this path takes me in the future.  I took my blogs name from a Chinese proverb, which seemed appropriate since I will be spending five months in China next year.  It says, “I dreamed a thousand new paths.  I woke and walked my old one.”  That simple proverb seems to sum up the path I have been on lately.  It certainly describes a path overshadowed by depression.  However, from this point forward, I am determined to make my life about exploring ‘a thousand new paths’ instead of walking down this same road I have been on.  I want to live out a life of purpose, which God has called me to.  A few months ago, I was reading a book called Just Do Something, and the author said that we are free to take great risks because God doesn’t.  He knows everything and is in complete control.  With that in mind, I pray that the future presents many opportunities to take risks and explore the paths of my dreams.