To the Little Girl With the Red Cup. #MissAmerica

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

Miss New York Kira Kazantsev was crowned Miss America on Sunday night in Atlantic City.  - The Today Show 

I don’t claim to know much about pageants.

I grew up in Kansas where as young girls, most of us spent our time on the soccer field, not strutting down runways.

What I do know?

That the Miss America pageant exemplifies a lot of things that are wrong with our culture. Last night, I found it to be refreshingly different. Why? Because the woman who won stepped out of the box. She didn’t do the usual baton-twirling-opera-singing-snooze-fest-talent. (I did really like the ventriloquist though.) She sat down on that stage and sang a song while banging a little red cup. Was it spectacular? No. Was it courageous? Yes!

Watch Here.

I may not know much about #MissAmerica, but I do know that she stepped out of the lines of convention and expectation. She did what she wanted to do. I commend her for that.

1D274906781044-today-miss-america-140915-05.blocks_desktop_large

What disturbed me was the tweets that began to lambast her for her choice.

Here are just some of the tweets that instantly flooded our news feeds: ‏

Best talent on #missamerica was opera singer! This red cup chick who won is a joke & is indicative of how our country praises the talentless.”@djbrandigarcia  7h

Gah!!!”@ciera_nitkowski: All these parents spending all this $$$ on dance lessons when all they needed was a solo cup #missamerica ‏@MelissaSChapman 9h

Why do we as women do that?

We criticize and judge, we come at her because she did something different, something unique, and she stayed true to herself. We judge their every move and every word. I get it they are standing on stage asking to be judged, but why not celebrate them for their courage! Do you know how hard it is to stand on that stage and do what they did?

And yet, a young woman who has followed her passion, her dream, while also staying true to herself wins and we cut her down. She didn’t win simply because of that red cup.

She won because she spent hours upon hours focused in on a dream.

images

Why criticize and judge? Women, we need to instead choose to celebrate and cheer.

Then we need to tell our daughters to sing their songs to their own melody to grab the red cup, to dance to their own music, and be who they want to be! And us grown women? Let us cheer our sisters on for following their passions and dreams.

You Go Girl! You stay TRUE to who you are!

images

xo

Lee

Here is a  fantastic book that exemplifies exactly what I am talking about, And She Sparkled  by Joan Steffend.

*Images from Google Images

I Am Just Like Janay Rice, and Maybe You are Too? #whyIstayedwithed

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

“The haunting images from the controversial Ray Rice video of the Baltimore Ravens football star knocking out his then fiancée and now wife, Janay Rice, inside an Atlantic City casino elevator has triggered a national wake-up call.” – Good Morning America 

The video is shocking and the media is vigourously covering all sides of the horrific scene. It is almost impossible to not turn on the TV or scroll through a news feed and not see the video of Ray Rice beating Janay. *photo from Google Images.

images

I watch and am shocked by the report that she stays. Why would anyone allow themselves to be abused to such degree and then stay with the man who clearly broke through any safe boundary within that relationship? The experts, the therapists, and the social workers all weigh in on why she stays.

We can judge and say what we would do. We can sit with our mouths gaping open, wondering how on earth she would stay. And we can say we would never do what she was doing.

But, we aren’t being honest are we?

Maybe there are few of you that don’t have any connection to what I am about to say. Good for you. But the rest of us? We have been there.

I haven’t been physically abused, but I have stayed in abuse.

Abuse that came from my eating disorder. Abuse that came from people who said nasty horrible things to me, that then turned into the voice of my abuser, Ed (eating disorder). Add in depression on top of the constant berating of these voices and you have a mind that is so difficult to exist in you only want to die, harm yourself, or numb out.

And people on the outside want to fix with phrases like; think positive, just stop, just eat, and just stop drinking! 

Or for Janay, just leave. 

It isn’t that simple. I wanted to leave the thoughts and the distorted voices in my head. But I couldn’t. Then many told me to pray it away. And it wouldn’t leave. And then a weird twist of thoughts told me I deserved it. I deserved to be shamed, cut, and starved. I deserved the abuse. And so I stayed and almost died from it.

Until I broke free. Until I left. (You can read about my path to recovery in my memoir, Table in the Darkness.) Finally, I walked away from what I thought in a haunting way was keeping me safe, keeping me in control, and keeping me where I belonged.

Yet, the abuse was stealing everything from my life.

Leaving was the hardest thing I have ever done. Leaving was being able to finally believe what God had been whispering to me all along, that I was loved.

That I deserved a full life, not because of anything I had done or not done but because the price had been paid for me on the cross.

And my life, was meant to be lived, not berated, mentally tormented and abused.

Your life too.

You deserve to eat, to be loved, to be cherished. You have a creator who adores you.

Why then, do you allow whatever it is abusing you to do that? I could be just the simple phrase, “I am not good enough” or maybe it is, “I will be better when…” or how about, “I can’t deal with my emotions, so I have to numb out.”

That is abuse. That is allowing yourself to be punched in the face.

No more. Break up. Run away. Get help.

Why? Because God is whispering to you and kissing you on the top of your head saying, “Oh dear child. I love you just as you are.”

You. Are. Adored! 

imgres

Insted of judging Janay, look inside your own life. Maybe you aren’t being physically abused, but mentally? Maybe it is just the shame thoughts that keep you stuck? Or maybe it is an addiction or an eating disorder? You can break free. It is possible. Tell someone, ask for help, and speak your shame. It will be worth it because life is meant to be lived fully! 

Xo

Lee

Urban Outfitters and Pro-Anorexic Clothing

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

I see you. I see you running on the sidewalk and I know what is going on. You running so fast your face scrunched in anxiety, your size 0 running skirt barely hanging on your bony hips. I want to stop on my way to work, get out of the car, and hug you. Tell you that life is so much more than running yourself to the ground, than molding and shaping yourself to be just that right size.

imgres

It is hard, I get it. I have been there. And to be honest, I am grateful I had an eating disorder before the internet bombarded us.

All I had was People magazine with an article about Tracy Gold and her eating disorder. But, you…you have images, and ideas, and pressures coming at you from every angle.

I have written about some of these obnoxious messages coming at you before. There was Lululemon with their yoga pants, there was JCrew with its baby sizes, and now we have Urban Outfitters promoting this:

imgres

I mean really. You have to be kidding me. How do I even respond to this? With the statistics and the numbers of eating disorders rising, this article even reports

“The number of episodes in which pre-teen children have been treated by hospitals for eating disorders has tripled in four years, according to NHS figures.

The statistics emerged amid warnings that units are turning dangerously-ill cases away because they are “not thin enough”.

Experts said increasing numbers of children were struggling to cope with a celebrity culture which sexualizes childhood, glorifies size zero figures, and bombards them with images of unrealistically slim models.” - Read More Here 

You mean to tell me there really was some idiot sitting in a board room or a design room thinking, “Hey we should make a t-shirt that says ‘eat less’ because that sure would be funny.” Do you have a daughter or a son? Is this the message you want to tell them? Starve yourself honey. Because we don’t want you to get too big, because too big doesn’t fit in this culture.

The marketers are tapping into our fears. They know what they are doing, and it is dirty.

“54 perecent of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat.” 

“If mannequins were women they would be too thin to bear children.”  -  WATCH THIS VIDEO 

I was first appalled by the Eat Less t-shirt on the young girl whose legs have CLEARLY been photo shopped to have a thigh gap too. And then I saw this:

url

 

Have you not read the statistics?

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
  • In elementary school fewer than 25% of girls diet regularly. Yet those who do know what dieting involves and can talk about calorie restriction and food choices for weight loss fairly effectively.
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.National Eating Disorders Association 

I was very grateful to see that Sophia Bush was leading a revolt against this shaming and obnoxious retail fail. Thank you Sophia!

I am a woman. I will not shrink.

I will not deny my body of its cues. I will not demand, torment, and mold it to be the way society tells it to be.

I will not shrink and I for damn well sure won’t be shopping at Urban Outfitters.

Sweet girl with your frail body running down the street, I see you, you can get help. You can get better. You don’t have to run away. These stupid people telling you these things.

They are wrong.

Life is meant to be lived, full and without hiding who you really are! 

Go forward and LIVE while also filling your body with the food it needs and running far away from Urban Outfitters!

Xo

Lee

Do You Feel Alone?

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

For his fourteenth birthday my son wanted the Duck Dynasty Devotional. Only months earlier I had scoffed at the excessive marketing of Duck Dynasty. The Bibles, the key chains, and even the Duck Dynasty Chia Pet.

I went to Barnes and Noble to purchase the devotional.

In a hurry, I rushed to the Christian section tucked back in the farthest corner of the store.

images

I immediately spotted the devotional, grabbed it mindlessly and turned around. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a cover I recognized.

My own book.

jpeg

On the shelves staring at me.

My baby.

I thought back to the day (really hundreds of days) I couldn’t wait to see it on these shelves. The days I would browse Barnes and Noble and imagine my book there.

As I stood for a moment, the feeling wasn’t a joyful one, but more one of fear. Six copies of the book sat on the shelves.

Six!

I wanted to grab them, walk around the store and solicit them to the nearest reader browsing the bestseller table. “Buy this one! Please!” I wanted to yell. “Because if you don’t they will return them, and then I will receive a statement in the mail that tells me not only how many books I didn’t sell but how many were returned!” Then I imagined myself jumping up and down announcing, “Don’t you know how long this thing took. The sacrifice involved in sharing my story! Eight years people!”

I didn’t do any of this. I just stared at my book staring back at me and walked away.

And then, an image came to me that soothed and calmed my extremely anxious heart.

The image of God the potter, his hands dirty with clay, his arms straining to hold me center, and the pads of his fingers pressing into me. Holding me still.

Pottery Lesson

A few weeks ago we ended our summer at Young Life family camp with some of our most beloved friends. I was looking forward to the time where the speaker talks, inspires and encourages us parents as we close the summer and transition back to school. When the speaker came out night after night with a pottery wheel, I was super annoyed. In the world of Christian sermons my eyes usually roll when I hear yet another one about God pruning me like a garden or God as the potter.

Blah blah blah. I know this. I have heard this. I am being pruned. I am like clay. Yeah yeah. Come on, give me something more people. Don’t you know I am a stressed-out-working-mom-of-three-very-active-boys-and-married-to-one-super-adventerous-husband! Throw me a bone.

Night after night the speaker came out with his pottery wheel and simply made pots. Oh God in all His goodness knew exactly the message I needed.

The message that came to me suddenly while standing alone in Barnes and Noble.

God holding me, the clay, holding me tight.

potter and clay two

His hands filled with dirt, grime and crusty clay. Holding me and keeping me centered. I wiggle and spin and try to spill out over his hands and he keeps steady. Holding me safe.

He does the same for you.

Take this image and whatever you are going through, whatever is hurting your heart, it is TRUE and REAL.

God is holding you steady.

He has you in his grip. He has got this.

TRUST

“And I am certain that God who began the good work within you will continue his work utnil it is finally finished on the day when Jesus Christ returns.” – Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

Xo

Lee

Do You Have an Unfulfilled Dream or Passion?

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

The ride up the elevator felt like a ride from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory. Surreal, as if I was being rocketed into a different world. I slowly stepped off the elevator breathing in the expansive space before me. The walls a dark grey and the Minneapolis night skyline picture perfect outside the expansive windows. The air felt different here with a sweet and fresh smell of hope.

th-3

My sweaty hands held my bio and headshot, knowing most people here had stacks of headshots and acting resumes to choose from at home. Resumes with star studded roles bolded and highlighted. I hadn’t pulled an acting resume together in forever and the headshot was a silly photo taken on an I-phone. I imagined the judges sitting at the table oohing and ahhing at the amazing actors before them. Pondering how would they choose from this sea of professional and unique talent, until they saw mine, with its silly local commercials and roles as an extra. And where was the stage experience? Absent. Unless you count college, which was, um well…over 20 years ago.

I hesitated as I scanned the fresh young talent around me. Pairs of tall legs, hip outfits with just the right amount of skin, and cool SoHo style heels. I was sporting the black turtleneck and what I thought were cool jeans. I looked like a mom fresh out of the PTO.

I was finally auditioning for the Guthrie Theatre. This was an enormous irony really, and a step in my journey that really needed to be done. Because many years ago as I looked like these young theatre hopefuls with stars in their eyes and big roles on their resumes, I drove to Minnesota for one prize.

970457_10153023322680024_969644144_n

The Guthrie. To act at the Guthrie. To perform on one of the most respected stages in the Midwest. A starry eyed Kansas girl in her white Toyota drove straight to downtown Minneapolis following the signs to the old Guthrie theater. I sat in my car with my new raw gift, hoping for a home at which to practice my craft.

Over nineteen years passed and I never stepped foot on that stage until this audition last summer.

I had a big dream. I was even in the town to pursue that dream. I loved acting. I loved the camaraderie of a show and the challenge of creating just the right character. Yet, I ended up living a five-minute drive away from the Guthrie, and I never made it there.

So what happened? When people have asked me I told them, “Life happened. I got married, had kids, and the lifestyle of a stage actress isn’t conducive to a family. I also struggled through depression and an eating disorder.”

That isn’t the truth. Not all of it.

The truth? Fear happened.

It wasn’t as if I didn’t work in the field. I did. I worked first at a casting agency and then as a model and talent agent. My job was to discover new talent. I frequented the theatre scene as an audience member. I kept saying I would try out, I would memorize a new monologue, and I would practice my craft.

But I didn’t.

I found myself stuck in the place of wanting something so desperately and being so afraid to pursue it.

I became comfortable in my discomfort. I didn’t put the time or the effort in. I left the dream in the clouds. As a twenty-two year old I had all the time in the world right? I would do it later. Later never really came.

So last summer when auditions came up for one of my favorite plays at the Guthrie, Pride and Prejudice, my husband encouraged me. “Do it! We support you 100%.”

So I took my 41-year-old body into that room and gave it a shot.

Until they made an announcement as we were sitting in the lobby, “This is a dance audition!” I almost ran out the door. (Since when did Pride and Prejudice have dancing in it?) Not to mention the guy teaching the dance sequence was some big wig from New York. I was in trouble. I am not a dancer. I learned that in my kitchen as a 13 year old when my sister kept trying to teach me the worm. My body does not know how to dance like a dancer. I can fake it with my jazz hands and stage smile, but that is as good as it gets.

That is exactly what I did. I stood in the line up (yes, exactly like they do in Chorus Line) and waved my hands frantically and smiled as wide as I could. I fumbled and faked it until the twenty-six count was over. Oh, and did I mention, everyone who was auditioning was also in the room watching. It was one step away from a disaster. Had I fallen, that would have been a disaster.

My name wasn’t called and I rode back down in that elevator with all of those who were cut. I started laughing, as I wasn’t sure what to do with all of us rejected actors packed into this fancy elevator. Some girls were crying and others just stared at me as I awkwardly giggled in the corner. I don’t know how to explain this moment of extreme awkwardness, except it was weird.

The issue for me wasn’t that I didn’t make it. I hadn’t paid my dues; I hadn’t worked hard taking any and every role I could get. I hadn’t done the work and I knew it. I knew I had talent, but that talent was honed and refined many years ago. Could it re-emerge? Sure…but it would take work, yes.

The issue was why did it take me so long?

Fear takes over. Fear steals dreams.

And if you don’t take a step out to pursue those dreams you will just sit on the sidelines and stare. You will say, I will try it later.

Later won’t come. Trust me in this.

My regret in all this isn’t gigantic, as I know I chose to pursue a different dream, to write a book, and that choice took me away from the stage. Little by little I chose not to do the work to pursue that dream. My choice to not clock the hours and instead leave the dream in my head. It is easier to sit by the sidelines and talk about your dream instead of taking action.

Take that next right step. My end goal was the Guthrie. I wanted to start at the Guthrie. Life doesn’t work that way. If your end goal is a book, you don’t start there. You start with a few words on a page. And you get up every day and you sit in that chair and write more. Take that dream and tackle it every day. Don’t wait nineteen years and just expect it to happen. It won’t.

images-1

I walked in the door at my house, and the boys ran to me. “Mom! Mom! Did you make it? Did you get a role?” I felt a pit in my stomach. I didn’t want to tell them I didn’t make it.

“No.” I said.

And then my youngest came over and gave me a huge hug, “That’s ok Mom. It still is pretty cool that you went and tried!”

Don’t wait. The time is now.

Take that next right step and do that thing you are dreaming about! 

xo

Lee

A Daughter and Her Dad

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

My dad is a respectable man of his word. A kind and caring man who is still so handsome in his collared shirts, crisp khaki shorts and smell of Old Spice.

But, there was great difficulty between us when I was growing up. A tension that felt like an invisible barricade neither of us could break through. As a young girl, I couldn’t define it; I just knew it was there. I knew I wanted so much more from him and I knew I wasn’t receiving it.

I wrote about our journey in my book Table In The Darkness.

As a teenager this barrier made me angry and bitter towards him. I retaliated by using him for money and placing little value on our relationship. Most of my issues with him were because he didn’t talk much and I held on to mean things he said to me as a child, late into my twenties. Used them as reason I wasn’t going to pursue a relationship and reasons why I was going to hold a grudge. That wall became thicker and thicker. I found myself jealous at how he would relate so effortlessly to my brother and sister, but not to me.

More bricks. More resentment.

I couldn’t comprehend he was actually human.

That wall didn’t help either of us.

My dad is quiet and introverted and had a child (me) with an exorbitant amount of energy and incessant need to talk. All. The. Time. We were opposites in every way. I wanted him to be like me, to talk and to ask questions and to dive deep into theological conversation. I don’t know what he wanted from me, except probably for me to be a little less quiet and hyper.

When my parents divorced and my Dad had his own condo, he started a ritual that began to fracture our wall. I am not sure why, but it did. Driving away from his place, he would stand in front of the garage. Alone. And wave. He wouldn’t go inside until I was out of view. And every time I would cry. Back then; it frustrated me that tears would come.

It was his silent way of telling me; he loved me and hated to see me go.

Now as a grown woman when I drive away from his home in Kansas, with my three boys and husband in the car, he does the same thing. His hair is grayer, his body aged, but those eyes. Those blue eyes and the wave still look at me and tell me, I love you. I am so proud of you. I sob every time. He, in his own way gives me exactly what I needed.

IMG_1655

He loved me and still loves me deeply. He didn’t show it with words, which is what I longed for, but showed it in his eyes. In his quiet presence. He showed it in the way that he always and still keeps his word. And now, as time and life trials have worn us both down we connect in our own way. I don’t wish for him to be someone other than he is anymore. I don’t hold memories of past mistakes and hurtful words, because as parent I am now making some of the same mistakes. What I know, deep in my heart is that he loves me, has always loved me, even if then I couldn’t quite see it.

IMG_5249

I know better now. I have greater insight now, and oh how I wish I would have had it then. My Dad did the absolute best he could.

I am writing this because today is a very big day for a dear friend of mine, Michelle Watson. A respected therapist, and a dear sweet friend. Today is the launch of her book, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You – A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart.

517lmWOQ-XL._AA160_

It took me years to even understand what I needed from my Dad, and maybe years for him to be able to do the same. I don’t know for sure, but I know the learning curve would have been shorter for both of us, had a book like this been available.

There are so many helpful tips and quotes in this book.

“Every girl Needs to See Her Dad’s Eyes Light Up When He Sees Her.” -page 133

My Dad does this, every time I come home and I love it so much. I encourage you; buy this book for your husband. Your Dad. Your co-worker. The book launches today, a perfect day to go and buy it!

Xo

Lee

Does Your Passion Make People Uncomfortable?

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

Passion is what makes artists and advocates.

It helps motivate change in large groups. It fuels the artists, performers and entrepreneurs. It wakes you up in the middle of the night and it propels you to sacrifice and toil until the goal is reached.

Not everyone likes passionate.

I am speaking from experience. I am passionate and it can rub the line-keeping box-living people the wrong way. They want us to stay clone like in our lanes between the lines with predictability.

Because somehow maybe this keeps their world safe if we stay the same and consistent.

Recently I bumped up against this as I have many times in my life.

Someone said to me, “Nothing is ever good enough for you.”

I curled my shoulders in and felt the shame cut deep into my tender soul. Yes, I want too much, I ask for too much and I should just be content as is.

th-1

I shrunk back into the place in this world that everyone expects me to be.

The thoughts about my choices began to roll in like turbulent clouds. I mean really, look at my career track! Why didn’t I follow a straight line like everyone else? Why didn’t I major in one thing, get a degree and work in that career. Look at my resume; casting agent, model and talent agent, conference planner, marketing project manager, preschool teacher, and now health educator at an eating disorder facility. Oh and a degree is in Theater. What a mess of a line.

Oh and then there is that other piece of being an author and a speaker. How does any of this make sense?

Over and over again I get stuck in this tape where people say things and I listen. One time someone said, “You can’t just become a speaker!” Many many times actually, people would ask, “What writing experience do you have to write a book?”

Until…the fire of passion comes back and I reminded myself, Oh Lee. You know this drill you know how this spins. Don’t get stuck here.

Yes. I have been here before. To some it may seem like it isn’t “good enough” but from my view, when I am not fastened in shame, it is colorful and exciting and different.

I watch for ways things can change, be better, and be different.

I strive for more because it is fun and exciting. I look for the colors beneath the black and white status quo. I try new things and often fall flat on my face.

I can’t not be passionate and sometimes that makes people uncomfortable. 

th-2

Had I listened to them, had I stayed in my four-cornered box, I would have never have followed the leading inside of me. The leading that I felt was coming from the God who created me.

Passion is a beautiful thing.

Don’t let the world steal that from you. Don’t let the naysayer tell you to stay as is.

Take the risks, speak your truth, and follow your dreams.

Life is too short not to!

Lee 

th

Robin Williams, the Question of “Choice” – and a rebuttal to Matt Walsh

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for LifeLee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

The internet offered beautiful sentiments of love and compassion for the loss of Robin Williams.

But it also displayed commentary I found eerily synonymous to Job’s friends in the Bible. Well intended comments that are actually quite harmful. Everything that is good can also be used for harm and the internet quickly became this type of menagerie.

images

Matt Walsh wrote (in my opinion) a very insensitive article on Robin William’s suicide. Three million people viewed it and he had to write another post stating his case. Ironically, he never admits to calling suicide a choice, which he clearly does.

Matt’s first post

Matt’s rebuttal

What is shocking to me is not only Matt’s post, but some of the appalling and disgraceful attacks on him! Then news came that Robin William’s daughter removed her social media accounts because of similar viscous comments.

I am reminded of Job and his well-meaning, but hurtful friends. 

“Possibly the oldest book in the Bible, Job reads like the most modern. Its extreme portrayal – one man confronting the abyss in a universe that makes no sense – foreshadows the predicament of modern humanity.” – Disappointment with God, by Philip Yancey

I would like to focus in on not the zoo that is the internet, but more on this use of the word “choice”.

People quickly threw out words “selfish” and “choice”. And my heart split. While in the world of rational mind and rational thought, yes suicide appears to be a final choice that one makes. And those left behind are just that… left behind, in deep grief because of what appears to be a decision.

While Job never died from suicide, his friends were quick to rationalize his pain.

His friends and his wife were quite harsh with their words:

“Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you. Listen to his instructions and store them in your heart. If you return to the Almighty. You will be restored-so clean up your life.” – Job 22:21-23

“Job scraped his sin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, ‘Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.’” – Job 2:8

We are all so quick to heap opinions and banality on others pain. 

“Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. The churning inside me never stops.” – Job 30:26-27

Yancey explains the mypoic views Job’s friends take:

“Job’s friends offered their own versions of words of wisdom and each contains an element of truth. But the Book of Job plainly shows that such “helpful advice” does nothing to answer the questions of the person in pain. It was the wrong medicine, dispensed at the wrong time.” – Disappointment with God, by Philip Yancey

What people can’t understand, similar to Job’s friends in the Bible, is how harmful and hurtful it is to say such things. Because the reality is, those of us who have been where Robin William’s was, in pain and torment and deep mental confusion to the point of harming oneself with a knife and then taking ones one life, know it is NOT RATIONAL.

There is no rational thought happening.

There are no typical synopsis in the brain firing like normal. There is only noise. Screaming twisting and decibel breaking noise. And you want it to stop. For that one moment, anything to make it stop.

To help you understand, think of this: Have you ever heard news stories of people with hypothermia who are out in the freezing temperatures and they take their clothes off? How does that make any sense? When you are freezing to death, you take your clothes off to freeze more? Take off the one thing that is actually keeping you warm, keeping you potentially alive!

“A strange thing happens to people when they get hypothermia. Many of them strip off their clothes as one of their last acts before they die. This is common phenomena among fatal hypothermia cases and is known as “paradoxical undressing.”  Why in the world would someone who is literally freezing to death take off their clothes?” –  blisstree.com

The same thing happens when your mind is twisted and full of pain. The choices are not rational and do not make sense.

“Postmortem studies of the brains of people who have died by suicide have shown a number of visible differences in the brains of people who died by suicide, compare to those who died from other causes, suicide is a result of a disease of the brain”- (Mann & Currier, 2012).

I have written about my own experience with depression and suicide in my book,  Table In the Darkness and a few blog entries.  Writing about my “choice” to end my life was terrifying, as I knew the response would be something like we saw in the past few days. That I was selfish and how could I do such a thing!

But hear me when I say this, my brain was not working right. There were no rational thoughts. I was crying out to God. I was a Christian who believed that God saved me and  loved me. And yet, I still, in that state of mind couldn’t do anything else but try to make the noise stop. Just like someone who rips off their clothes while freezing.

It is so easy isn’t it for all of us to judge what he did, what many do. Because dear God, we would never be so selfish! Stop. Please don’t be like Job’s friends.

Until you have been there, until you have experienced what it is like to have your brain misfiring and sending you the wrong signals, you cannot say you get it. Just as Job’s friends tried to comfort and console using the rational thoughts that worked for them, we only cause more harm in doing so.

rw82

Instead, let us respond with deep compassion and grace for mental illness. I have worked with hundreds of suicidal people and as I said above, experienced this myself. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone to feel that dark abyss of pain.

By shaming and judging like many are doing, we are only perpetuating the need for people to stay silent.

To hide in shame when they have these thoughts or experiences. To put on that mask so no one will know. We need education for the public and for the church. I long for people to understand, please try.

search

More Grace. Less Judgement.

Xo

Lee

I was happy to read the following beautiful responses to this tragic story:

What the Church & Christians Need to Know About Suicide And Mental Health

Robin Williams, Matt Walsh, Joy & Silence

Thoughts on Depression, Suicide and Being A Christian

What We Want to Say To Robin Williams #RobinWilliams

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

The headlines everywhere report this horrible news: Robin Williams Dead in Apparent Suicide.

“Robin Williams seemed to have it all: fame, wealth, an Oscar, an adoring and passionate fan following — but he also had a history of battling demons.” - NBC News

imgres

Google Images

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between.  But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien — but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.  He made us laugh.  He made us cry.  He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.” - CNN says

Even the President is talking about you.

We all want to tell you this:

Can’t you see your beautiful life and the world that loves you? Your fame and your talent that has brought us Mork and Hook. Your “Nanu Nanu” and your profound deep richness in “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting“? Can you not see your deep and unique talent in what you have offered the world? I want to tell you that the way you smile with a bit of a smirk is exactly how my Dad smiles. That I feel as if I know you.

But we don’t know you do we?

We want to put all of this in front of you to show you, to show you it isn’t as bad as it feels.

But, we don’t know the dark tormenting thoughts that filled your mind.

We don’t know your depression.

That depression snuck in and stole you. A beautiful talented soul.

I don’t think you wanted to die, you just wanted to stop living.

I know my depression, and it came at me like a roaring lion one night just like you. It told me the only option to lessen the pain and the incessent abusive thoughts was to end it all. People could have come and told me how great my life was, how loved I was, or how beautiful the sun shone in the morning.

But when the darkness begins to slither in and choke you, all you can see is a sunless tomb where it feels like you will be trapped forever. A dark tunnel where the cement lays heavy on you and the only way out is death.

I get it. I was there. I once made a similar choice as yours.

It is a devious little disease, this depression.

You can think it gone until its cunning whispers prick your ear again, little stabs of its darkness and voices of you don’t measure up. Depression plays screeching sounds of these old tapes, turns up the volume and torments and twists words and situations and even the looks in people’s eyes. It tells you you don’t matter, you are nothing, and you are better off gone. Like an incessant barking dog you begin to answer to cease its taunting.

To just quiet the noise.

Although I celebrate my eighteenth anniversary at a second chance at life this October, I can’t say that the whispers forever went away. Mostly at night, in the dark they sometimes come back at me. Sometimes they come alone, other times in super bowl-like crowds, ready to take over.

I fight it hard.

Depression is a nasty liar. It steals beautiful lives God meant for good.

And it won with you. It has won with so many others.

It is such a loud liar.

Today and forever, we grieve the loss of you. Not only the undescribable loss of an incredibly talented man, but of a husband and a father.

With the loss of you, I also grieve the loss of all the millions depression and addiction has stolen from this world. And I want to cry out to you and say what all of us want to say using our rational minds, but why? Fame, money and success. You had it all. Right?

imagesGoogle Images

But we can’t use rational thought towards something so irrational such as depression and addiction. 

If we dig deeper, those of us who have been tormented by depression and/or addiction know better. It is much more intricitly complicated than what you see on the surface.

So what do we do? Do we allow this to continue, sit back and surrender to it?

No, we fight harder. I know I will fight harder. Fight the stigma of mental illness. It doesn’t wear a face. I am not sure what would have changed it for you, but I do know it must have been painfully difficult in your world to tell people your demons were slithering  back into your mind.  I am so so sorry for the torment you and millions of others are in.

We can not deny the reality here that depression and addiction steals lives.

“Substance abuse is a risk factor for suicide. The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression. Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year. Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.
There are twice as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS. Between 1952 and 1995, suicide in young adults nearly tripled. Over half of all suicides occur in adult men, ages 25-65.” - Suicide Awareness Voices of Education 

It does not discriminate and mental illness is a real and powerful thing and not something that can be pushed away. We are watching over and over again how it destroys.

It doesn’t have to.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out and do not delay. Tell someone. Get help. You may not feel like your life is important or that anyone cares, but I promise you…someone does and you matter. Every one of us matters. You are not alone. 

“Hopelessness often prevents people from seeking help, because they believe that help would be pointless. That is never the case.”- Roderick Shaner, medical director for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

We are heartbroken it stole you from this world.

Let’s not let it take any more.

May you rest in peace sweet one.

images

Google Images

Xo

Lee

 

 

 

 

Depression Test

 

When You Feel Overwhelmed

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for LifeLee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

And there it is.

The piles of laundry, the lists of school supply shopping needing to be done, the dishes overflowing in the sink due to a broken dishwasher, the mail unopened, and the goals and dreams being pushed further and further back into the recesses of my mind.

It overwhelms and chokes the life right of me.

Because really, how can anything get done when nothing gets done?

Welcome to my world.

Is this yours too?

Maybe it is more than just the never-ending-to-do list, but it is confronting a friend, applying for a job, or asking for help for your addiction. Maybe it is simply admitting you need to take that first step.

Any of these things can become mountains in our minds, mountains that seem impossible to even begin to tackle.

So you don’t. You sit and stare at its enormity and wait for the motivation to take action. I am speaking from experience here. Motivation or the right time, might not ever come. The time is now. The only way to climb that proverbial mountain is to take that first step.

To do one thing.

That’s all.

One thing.

images

Make one phone call, fold one piece of laundry, wash one dish…tell someone you are struggling. Whatever it is, the only way to get there is…ONE STEP AT A TIME.

One little movement in the right direction will help you make your next right step.

Another great way to look at it is:

“All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage.” From the movie, We Bought A Zoo.

We overwhelm ourselves when we look at the mountain, instead of looking at the next right thing and doing that.

One step. Today. I am going to, won’t you join me? 

images

Happy Monday!

Xo

Lee