Life has been a struggle for me lately. I know I don’t often share the dark moments of my days (that’s simply because I like this place to be a space where I am energized & reminded of the joyful times in life because there is so much darkness in our world). But today is different. Today I feel the need to be a bit more real with you guys because I know that we all struggle through doubt, sadness, lack of motivation & sometimes depression. Today, the sun is shining & I feel all warm & cozy in my tiny house, but I haven’t been feeling this way for quite awhile. Instead, I’ve been feeling severely unmotivated to blog, cook, workout, socialize, & basically do anything any normal human being would do & I want to share why.
Being “happy & healthy” to me is being real with how you’re feeling in the moment. I really struggle with putting a smile on my face when things are bleak. I’ve grown up in a culture that doesn’t respect being fake & doesn’t welcome saying “I’m fine” when you’re not. I know most people have not had this opportunity, so a lot of time when I respond with “things really suck right now” people are taken aback. But saying those words to a friend over a cup of coffee & writing them in a post are two entirely different beasts. Here, these words will be forever, & that’s intimidating, but I find it worth it to share my struggles, because as many of you know, there are many days full of grief & sadness, not just pretty pies & perfectly sliced bread.
First of all, winter has been long. It is normally cruel & cold in Wisconsin every winter, but this winter has been different. It has really brought out a person in me that I didn’t think existed (hello, I grew up in northern MN & take pride in surviving in -degree days!) I’ve become someone who won’t go out because of the cold (especially after dinner), someone who would rather go to bed early or watch another movie, instead of socialize. I’ve been tempted to just sleep away these cold, dark months, although from my current experience, that isn’t really working.
Sure it’s been cold & there’s been this depressingly low light of winter on the horizon, but it’s been jabbing me to the core. I’m realizing, more & more, how getting outdoors every day has improved my life greatly & how when I do not get that, I feel yucky inside- like I’m missing out on something. Those are my moments to be quiet, to reflect, to pray, & to dream. And sometimes, I do make the effort to get outside in the winter, but even when it’s just barely above 0, it takes 30 minutes to get my daughter & myself ready & then 10 minutes into the walk, we’re both freezing & miserable- not exactly refreshing.
I’ve been trying to focus my energy on walking wherever I can instead (i.e. doing an extra loop around Woodmans, parking farther away in the parking lot, even mall walking at times), but it’s just not the same. I crave the warm sunshine on my face & the crisp breeze of a hopeful spring. I know it’s coming, but for now, I am forced to be still & wait.
The weather isn’t the only thing that’s been getting me down lately. As many of you know, I am a follow of Jesus. I can honestly say that I love him with all of my heart, but lately, it feels that even that relationship hasn’t been satisfying. It’s easy to blame God in moments like these (“where ARE you?”) but to blame him isn’t what refreshes me or makes me feel even a bit better. Surrendering what I want is & does- every time, even when I don’t realize it.
When things aren’t going so well for me- it doesn’t matter if it’s a week of depression or a moment of it- I look to several things to bring me back up (in no particular order they are: cleaning/organizing, chocolate, talking to my husband, chocolate, goofing off with my kid, chocolate, shopping, & chocolate). Everybody does this– your list might be different than mine, but you do go to something. It’s how we deal. It’s how we cope with life. If we didn’t go to something, we would just explode & die.
And those things that I go to aren’t necessarily bad things. I mean, some people go to booze to feel better, surely pretending to be “purple minions” with Ruby is better than that. The thing is, though, when we go to anything other than Jesus, it just comes up short. We were created to need him every single moment of our lives- not only when things are rough or we need an answer about something really important. So when we live like we don’t need him to satisfy us, we are left empty, hungry, & searching for the next best thing.
I have had this life-giving relationship with Jesus in the past. Sure, it was incredibly tough to invest so much, but the return was so great. Joy, peace, & hope, among many others. The desire to be around people, change lives, & grow among a few more. I don’t currently have those things (sure, I have moments, but not that lasting satisfaction that I long for). I also haven’t been sleeping well because I’ve been up all hours of the night worrying about a, b, or c, or on worse nights, literally thinking that there was someone in my house (I have major fear issues, people- we can talk about that in another post). I haven’t been giving those worries or fears over to Jesus & the results are no bueno.
In my darkest moments, like right now, I need to remember how to get true, lasting satisfaction, joy, peace, & hope in my life. & that’s simply by saying, “Jesus I need more of you today.” It comes by being more real & honest than I have ever been. It comes by waiting to hear what he has to say about me in my day. And it happens by connecting more to community instead of singling myself out. I know it’s tempting to snuggle deeper into your blankets & watch 3 more episodes of Parenthood, but let’s be honest: that just makes it much worse. Sharing you feelings with someone else, allowing them to pray for you & really allowing yourself to connect to God are, I believe, among some of the only ways we can get past feelings like these.
So what’s the story with this pie then? I definitely made this pie as a distraction- as a way to pick myself up & feel better about my current situation. Did it work? Absolutely not. Don’t get me wrong: it’s simply delicious & you will be shocked at the main ingredient. But once that final bite of pie slid down my throat, I was still empty. I wasn’t able to celebrate the greatness of this pie when I was expecting it to make me feel better, much like I can’t really get excited about a new purse purchase or an outing with my daughter, or an immaculate house, when I’m looking to those things to get my needs met.
Today, I simply challenge you to this: look into your life & start to recognize what you go to when you need to feel better. Do you eat? workout? smoke? go for a drive? Just be aware of those things in your life. It’s amazing how much just acknowledging those buckets of emptiness brings awareness & a desire to change.
- 1 homemade or store bought pie crust
- 12.3 oz silken or firm tofu
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons milk of choice
- scant 1/8 tsp salt
- 10 oz chocolate chips (a little over 1 & 1/3 cups)
- 2-3 tablespoons agave (when I make this just for me, I omit)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp agave
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler on the stove (or in the microwave) & then put everything into a food processor & blend until super-smooth. Pour into a pie crust & let it set in the refrigerator for several hours. To make the whipped cream, use the whisk attachment on your stand mixer on high for several minutes until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla & agave & whisk for 1-2 additional minutes. Before serving, top with the whipped cream.
Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Kate
Also, check out these bloggers who are sharing something “happy & healthy” today!
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