Before I begin this one, I should clarify something about my Mother. She's a wonderful woman! I love her. She cares, is honest, and works hard to make sure her children have every opportunity to follow Jesus. But she is not gushy. Since I have been married, I have heard more sympathy from her during struggles than in all my growing up years and I'm not complaining about anything, just stating it as fact. She doesn't commiserate often and certainly doesn't ever spend time coming up with reasons why it's ok to complain about things. For these things, I love her. Sometimes it's not the easiest thing in the world to hear the truth. Running 4 miles and then being told you need to run another isn't always fun, but it gets me to the finish line faster than if someone told me to take a break because it's hard. (not that I've run 5 consecutive miles anytime in my life) So, there are probably some people out there that if their mother told them what mine tells me it would be very difficult to handle. It's good for me though and so I'll keep her.
Ok, so, "Bake Cookies". This isn't what she says, but it's what I hear. This is the start to the pep talk I get when I am groaning about myself. Sometimes, I get in a rut where I start thinking about all the things that are hard it life, mostly to do with me. For example: during my pregnancy I was groaning about how I have this allergy to formaldehyde that makes my skin break out in little liquid filled bubbles and itch like crazy. If I come in contact with any of the stuff, I have a reaction for about 2 weeks trying to recover from it. In case you don't think this is a big deal, I have discovered through this problem the millions of things that have formaldehyde in them: shampoo (all of it), liquid soap, baby wipes, some lotions and creams, moist towelettes, makeup, some clothes when brand new, and many other things. This allergy has changed my lifestyle in many ways. Anyway, that's an issue. Then there was the blood sugar problem. I got gestational diabetes and rather than deal with insulin, I maintained it with diet- which pretty much involved eating almost NO carbohydrates. For the health conscious out there- I could get away with about 15 grams of carbs at one meal. Look on your cereal box and see how much cereal you can eat for that amount. Not much. So it was pretty much eggs for breakfast, cheese and peanut butter for snacks, meat and cheese rolls with a salad for lunch, and some sort of meat and veggies for dinner. If I ate more carbs I had to walk- which I did, but for the longest time I hated. Then I had kidney stones. Ugh! I won't even revisit that unpleasant subject. (I'm not trying to complain here, but I want to set an accurate background for what I have heard from my Mother) So, I couldn't change the children's diapers without wearing gloves, I couldn't wash the dishes without gloves, if I grabbed the dish rag to wipe the table- I need gloves, I couldn't eat what everyone else eats at the meal, so many times I had to cook TWO things, and after kidney stones, there was the struggle of drinking tons of water. It might be easy for you to see why I could become discouraged at this point.
SO, discouragement day comes. I'm not sure what the breaking straw is- maybe less sleep, or a new skin break out, or maybe it was just the 24th day in a row that I had eggs for breakfast and I would have rather thrown up. Whatever it was, the day came and I found myself calling my mother as I have before to say, "I can't do this! Why is life so hard! I have all these problems! Etc."
Then in her wisdom, she listens and comments and though it usually isn't at the very beginning, she always gets around to the "Bake Cookies" talk. Basically, it's the idea that I am spending too much time thinking about myself and I need to do something for someone else.
That's never the first thing that pops in my mind when I am struggling to survive. "I can barely get up in the morning, so what can I do to bless someone else?" It doesn't really seem to make sense on the surface, and yet it works. Being concerned only with myself only causes me to focus more on me and my problems. Doing something for someone else, like baking cookies for a friend, takes my mind off of me and my problems and focuses my attention elsewhere. As a result the problems go away forever! No, just kidding. But they do tend to fade into the background a little. It also tends to give me a more accurate picture of "my problems". I may have some issues, but there are so many people out there with bigger issues that could use some encouragement, too.
So, my thought is that the quickest way to dig myself out of depression and discouragement is to get up and do something for someone else. Thinking "poor me" only causes me to spiral downward and only makes me think I am less and less capable of anything. But doing something makes me successful in a small way, makes me a blessing to others, and gives me hope that since I conquered one problem I can tackle another. No one ever climbed a mountain by sitting on the ground looking at it and saying, "I don't think I can do that."
Some would say that I don't know about depression because "I've never really had it." I'm not here to argue the point and in someways, I don't really care about the clinical diagnosis and the fact that it's a disease. I have been in a depressed state at times and know that with or without an official name on it, the way out is to choose to do something rather than sit there. It may be harder for the one who has a regular chemical imbalance in someway, but the choices are the same.
Baking cookies happens to be my way of remembering to bless others, though when I get to it, cookies is rarely the actual blessing.
Here's to thinking about someone else besides me! God, help me to do it more often!