Great Plains Daily Devotional for 3/25/2021

Today please be in prayer for

Brownville UMC
Nemaha UMC
Missouri River District
Elkhorn Hills UMC
Missouri River District
Falls City First UMC
Rulo Trinity UMC
Missouri River District
Brock UMC
Johnson, NE UMC
Missouri River District

Today's Lectionary Text

Ephesians 3:17-19

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Today's Devotional

Most mornings I wake up and read for 30 minutes to an hour.  I read the Bible, a devotion, a poem and at the moment, I am reading a prayer book for Lent.   I have been doing this for a while, maybe a couple of years.  It is a way to refill my cup; a cup that is taken from on a daily basis.  I have done a daily gratitude journal where you write five things that you are grateful for each day.  I have read the book Untamed.  At the moment, I am reading Caste and a collection of Mary Oliver poems.  I read from a Lectio Divina Bible, so it has prescribed readings for the day; right now I am in Amos.  I just finished Genesis.  My Lenten journey was to read Sara Bessey’s new book on prayer.  It is quite beautiful.  There are prayers from a collection of authors that are mostly known in the religious realm.  There is a great intentionality to the collection of prayers.  It is speaking to my soul.

Since about January (I think January, I am not sure because the winter days just seem to all run together, the dark gloominess of the days just seem to swallow me), I find myself in what the doctor called a “mild depression.”  Now, I knew what depression was.  I have seen others struggle with it.  I have read about it, studied it; I even have a certification from Iliff School of Theology in Pastoral Care, but I could not put my finger on what was wrong.  Not much brought me joy.  I love to embroider and during this time, I just lost interest.  I love to eat, especially tacos but during that time, I just lost interest.  I worked every day, I have a really cool job, but nothing was bringing me joy.  I slept a lot.  I got really frustrated with the silliest stuff.  People cutting me off on the highway made me have to come home and take a nap.  I had gone to my favorite coffee shop and they were out of my drink; I just bawled.  That poor barista.  I kept my feelings inside and went about my days as if life was just great but inside, I felt incredibly sad.  I didn't even feel this way when my dad died; it was a sadness I had never experienced.  I tried to exercise.  I tried breathing.  I tried calling a behavioral hotline.  I tried talking to the people who loved me the most.  The sadness just lingered around like a bad smell.  Finally, at a routine doctor’s appointment, my doctor asked how I was doing, and I started crying.  She began to ask me questions.  Then she said those words, you are experiencing a “mild depression.”

The ones who help everyone sometimes have the hardest time helping themselves.  I found that to be the case with me.  Depression is a mental illness or what I like to call a brain illness.  Why brain illness?  Because your brain is affected, and it is your brain that is sick.  Depression affects every part of your brain and your body.  I am familiar with being sick; I have asthma.  I know what to do when I have bronchitis or pneumonia.  Rest, medicine, fluids and selfcare make up the recipe for recovery from a lung illness so I thought I would do the same for my brain illness.  Over the course of about four weeks, one day I just woke up and didn't feel the incredible sadness anymore.  It was and is the strangest thing.  I still have unsurmountable amounts of anxiety, but the overwhelming sadness has dissipated. 

Brain illness is real.  It does not mean that you lack faith.  It does not mean that you are weak.  It does not mean that you have sinned.  It does not mean that God does not love you.  Brain illness is just that, an illness.  Brain illness can happen to anyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, education, marital status, or money in the bank.  None of those things matter a hill of beans for brain illness to strike.  Here’s the thing: you are loved beyond measure by God.  The very God that created you is with you just as much in the valley as when you are on the mountaintop.  God will not forsake you during your illness.  God loves you.

Now back to my beautiful Lenten devotion.  On Monday I was reading my Sarah Bessey prayer book and it was a prayer from her.  The way she writes, for me, is just this beautiful waltz of words that just plant themselves into the very depths of my soul.  The prayer for the day was called “A Reminder.”  Hear some of her words;

“you don't have to be productive and you don’t have to change the world.  You’re already so loved.  You can doubt or feel great certainty (even if that certainty is in your doubt). . .You can carry chronic pain or dance through life. . .You don’t have to love yourself or even like yourself, you are loved.  Whether your life looks well put together from the outside while hiding a hot mess inside or vice versa, sometimes on the same day, you are loved.  You have nothing to prove. . .You are so loved.  You are so loved. You are so loved.”

                                                            -excerpt from A Rhythm of Prayer by Sarah Bessey

-Rev. Marcee Binder
Missouri River Mission Outreach and Social Justice Coordinator

Prayer for Reflection

On days that your illness is more than you can take and if all that you do is remember to brush your teeth, you are loved.  On days that you have to lay on the couch and sleep for five hours because your body just hurts, you are loved.  Be kind to yourselves and know that you are loved.  My prayer for you is that through the clouds, you will be able to see the rainbow.  God’s promise is always there.  Amen


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