I arrived back in Italy Sept. 5th after 3 months away in America. I must admit when I left in the Spring I was in a pretty rough place personally, spiritually and with my job. Not to say that I didn't still love Italians and being in Italy but several factors drove me to some pretty significant depression and doubts about my faith in God. The time away over the summer to just be away in a place that was extremely familiar (Yazoo City, Ms) and very predictable along with some great family proved to be a huge blessing to me during my time of struggle. I was talking with a teammate recently about just the heaviness of the environment in Italy and she told me that we all felt it but she'd come to realize what it really is is a low grade constant stress. Like we're always waiting for the other shoe to drop whether it be an insane gas bill, a washing machine flooding your house, a rejection at the immigration office, a discouraging conversation with a student or some other craziness. This stress keeps us from every really fully relaxing. I can say I have felt that for sure and then on top of it there just seems to be something that feels heavy spiritually here. Those things together along with the Lord working in your life in some significant ways, refining you, revealing sin, and more can make for some tough times here.
Since last fall actually longer I think I've been in a low grade yet steady period of mild depression. Looking back on it all and thinking about how I felt I can see it very clearly now. This past January it seemed to all fall apart and I broke down into a time of severe depression. For me there is no shame in depression, admitting it or even working through it. I don't believe it makes me any less of a Christian or that it's a sin issue. I do believe there are many factors and one of which is the enemy at work in our lives trying to destroy us spiritually using every tactic possible. But thankfully the Lord allowed me to come to the realization that I was in this tough place and to ask for help. Some pretty incredible people have stepped into my life over the last few months and I can honestly say I am doing significantly better, that's not to say there aren't still tough moments for me. But in the depths of who I am I know the Lord has to be here at work in my life and I am every thankful for that.
Moving on like I said as I came back on Sept. 5th I was unsure of how I would really be doing emotionally and spiritually as I stepped back into this environment, culture and uncertainty that can sometimes be my job. The first week or so back felt really different and alone in some ways. There are no longer any stinters(1-2 yr. staff) in my city and one of my good friends/teammates has left and gotten married. So in my neighborhood there are really only 3 of us now in terms of American single crusade staff. Others are in the city but with families or they live further away. I had thoughts of what hte heck am I doing back here, can I do this, am I happy, etc. but I also knew I could not trust those feelings and emotions immediately. I needed time for people to come back from the summer and then for ministry to start up. So I pushed through making decisons to trek across town to hang out with other staff and teammates or just go play at the grocery to keep myself doing well with the depression and emotions. It seemed to really help.
The last couple days I've really felt a turn around in how I am feeling. Really back to myself, enjoying Italy, excited about ministry and all the changes this year, but also a little more ready to jump into working on the rough realtionship I seem to have with the Lord right now. Don't worry I haven't stopped being a Christian but I do believe I am in a significant and crucial place with the Lord right now. It's going to take some work on my part and well I know He's already at work from His side. I'm praying for a desire to pursue Him and the ability to fully know and experience Him. If you think about it please feel free to pray about my realtionship with the Lord specifically. I'm also strving to be honest about how I am doing but also not ashamed of the place the Lord has me. Thanks for being on the journey with me.