Depression Valley

Note to readers: This is a re-post from my other blog, Candid Nikki. It is being re-posted here because the subject matter may appeal to some Shatterproof Ministries blog readers.

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Originally published: June 11, 2013
You’ll get a much longer post today. Monday I teased you with a logo and a photograph only (sorry about that).

credit: examiner.com

credit: examiner.com

To begin, I should finally admit that I’ve been depressed for several weeks. I’ve been through depression before, mostly as a teenager. At that time I was not a Christian, and the depression wall all-consuming and nearly took my life. (Were it not for my dedicated father pushing me to complete high school via correspondence I would not have my high school diploma) When I became a Christian at age 19 I believe I was healed of that depression, and even my skeptical atheist father would concede that in this regard I was truly transformed by my conversion experience (even if he would argue the God stuff). I’ve only felt a couple relapses of mild depression since my conversion, and thankfully they were very mild and brief. Because of my background I always trust God to bring me through the fog to the majestic clearing.

Because of my background I always trust God to bring me through the fog to the majestic clearing.

I haven’t posted here much while I’ve been depressed, or if I did I stuck to positive updates and at times it probably seemed a little superficial to you. It probably was. I wasn’t sure it was wise to write about what I was going through, here. So I kept it light. I hated that I wasn’t posting as much, because this is what I wanted to do when I moved on from my full-time job. But I was stuck. I wasn’t sure what to do. I prayed, read and sought God for answers. Mostly what I got back from Him was radio silence. But: I trust Him. So mostly what I did these last several weeks was pause. Pause life, pause discipline, pause action. Pause til the clearing.

An old crazy idea I had previously dismissed was coming to mind every so often, right about this time. As I was wrapping things up at my old job I had thought a lot about starting a WordPress consulting and design business. But I had dismissed that idea. For reasons. Like I decided I wasn’t nearly smart enough, experienced enough or resourceful enough to be a success. I have a close friend that is a computer genius, he was encouraging me to start the business as well. I knew I could never be as good as him. So, I concluded I would not be successful.

I carried on with my blog, speaking and writing instead and I tried to think what else I’d do, now that I was retired form office management. I told people I was self-employed (because that’s what Jacqueline said I was now, and she’s one of my role models). I beat myself up (a lot) about telling people I was self-employed when in fact calling yourself “employed” implies an exchange of work for some money, and I wasn’t making any.

May I just pause for a second and acknowledge my supportive husband, Michael? Not because I want to be that irritatingly smug blogger that rubs my perfect husband in her readers’ faces, but because he never once lost it on me. When I was depressed he never once yelled at me when I didn’t accomplish a single thing while he went to work. He never once made me feel guilty for leaving my job to lie on the couch and watch Grey’s Anatomy (professionally). He didn’t throw a fit when I didn’t make dinner, or go grocery shopping, or do anything at all. He kept lovingly pushing me to be better, think bigger and reach for something. He told me I could do the web business. He pushed me to go to a conference. It was this past weekend.

I knew the conference would probably be beneficial for me, it covered the software I use for my websites. But I just didn’t want to go. I was resigned to hang out in Depression Valley for a little while longer. And I figured if I wasn’t going to follow through with the business idea, why bother going to the conference? But Michael insisted, and a few hours before the conference began I caved. I registered to go. Then I got a couple hours sleep and actually went to the conference (I wasn’t really sure I would follow through and go, even as I grabbed my keys before walking out the door).

I didn’t really talk to anyone. I don’t know how familiar you are with conferences, but you’re supposed to network and meet people. It’s good for you, not just from a business marketing standpoint but, in simple terms, you relate to others in the same boat and see if they can help you. Instead I sat next to a really nice young man, waiting for the conference to begin, and told him “I know I’m supposed to network, but I’m drinking my coffee in an attempt to be human. I can’t talk yet.” He was really polite about it, he smiled back and said “No worries”. And inside I’m thinking “why am I such a weirdo?”

I went to the first few sessions and tried to be present, tried to like it. I struggled with the feeling that I was not qualified to be there. But I couldn’t get away with that for long, because everything about the community that this conference comes from embraces new people and welcomes the inexperienced. I had a few insensitive comments in my head, like “I didn’t expect to see other women here… without mustaches”… I was being a brat. I was resisting what would eventually help me the most. I was missing my ticket out of Depression Valley.

I had a few insensitive comments in my head, like “I didn’t expect to see other women here… without mustaches”… I was being a brat.

I took meticulous notes and then at the lunch break I sat in the only open seat I could find. It happened to be with two really friendly Christian women, local web professionals. I was humbled. “God, out of all the intimidating techies I could have landed next to… You put me next to two really nice, down to earth, Christian chicks?” … His response: radio silence. The ladies and I continued to get to know each other and I was more and more humbled as started to see my misjudgments exposed. These women were real people, not WordPress superstars. They were a great example to me. I was inspired to at least reevaluate the business idea and be kinder to myself and my abilities. And I resolved to stop being a brat.

When lunch was over and the sessions resumed, I stopped taking meticulous notes, and instead I just listened (I know I could access the presenters’ notes later, so my OCD wasn’t irritated by this). Things really took a turn when I just listened and thought through what I was learning. Ideas began to spark in my head, it was enough of a boost that I started talking to other attendees and engaging in session discussions. I started to think maybe I could really push forward with my crazy web business idea, but I still wasn’t sure how or in what capacity. And, to be honest, I still thought I might not be cut out for it. But I allowed myself to continue to spark ideas anyway.

The last session I sat in on was Kimanzi Constable‘s session. As I had been doing throughout the conference, I settled in and then checked out his Twitter profile in the minutes before the session started. I don’t usually pay attention to the pictures in someone’s feed, but something inside me was pushing me… There was a soft whisper inside me saying “Look. Nicole, look.” I don’t think I was aware at the time that God was up to anything, I just looked at the pictures. I saw this:

 

I was FLOORED. Giddy, even. I was excited to listen to a session called “How to Start & Market a Profitable Online Business Through WordPress”, especially when the presenter’s life has been changed by Dave Ramsey, like mine has. That’s a big deal to me, I’m a major Dave Ramsey fan. I listen to his radio show, I’ve taken Financial Peace University (and led others through it as well) and I’m a borderline evangelist for Dave Ramsey. His methods are, in my opinion, genius. So I could not WAIT for the session to begin. Instantly, Kimanzi’s session became more accessible to me.

As Kimanzi introduced himself and shared how many of these WordPress conferences he had spoken at, I was impressed. He’s been all over the globe speaking to tons of people on this topic. I trusted him. Clearly he wouldn’t be asked to travel the world and share this session if he was no good at it. As his lesson got moving I was fixated. He wrote a book called “Are You Living or Existing?” and naturally, I was hooked.

“Too many people walk away from their passion with the negative belief that pursuing it would be unrealistic. Kimanzi has identified how moving toward our passion is not only possible but is the only option for having a life of purpose and meaning. A great example for all people who think they’re stuck in the life they have now.” Dan Miller, Author and Life Coach 48Days.com (endorsement for Kimanzi’s book from Amazon)

Kimanzi told his story, and I was tracking him so clearly, at times I was the only one getting his references. Case in point: during his story he shared that the first guest blog post he ever wrote was for Michael Hyatt. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but my jaw DROPPED. He knew who Michael Hyatt was?! And Kimanzi noticed my reaction, he was stoked! I couldn’t help (I swear, I couldn’t) but shout out “SHUT UP. Your first guest post was for Michael Hyatt?!?” To which Kimanzi said “Yes!!” and laughed, tossing me some candy (presumably to keep my mouth busy so I couldn’t interrupt him again) before moving on. It was at this point that I suspected Kimanzi was a Christian. But I decided to research that later and pay strict attention to every word he said.

It was magic.

As Kimanzi’s session progressed I saw the plan for my web business in my mind’s eye clearly. Clearly, as in: NOT THROUGH A FOG ANYMORE!! I could have cried, but I kept it together. I made a beeline for Kimanzi when his session was finished and grabbed one of the two copies of his book I saw lying around. When it was my turn to talk to him I was about to cry, so I pulled it together (tip: squeeze your glutes if you’re in a similar situation) and I told (ordered?) him:

I want 4 things.
1. Your business card
2. This book
3. An autograph
4. A picture with you

He obliged.

Life = changed.

Life = changed.

I tried to not seem like a crazed lunatic, but I’m not sure I was successful. I just knew that he had changed my life and I couldn’t wait to get started on the next chapter. I wasn’t really able to articulate anything to him specifically about why I was so affected by his session, I just thanked him profusely. He seemed moved and gave me a hug before I left. That’s when I started to cry. So I walked away quickly and left the conference.

I had reached the majestic clearing. It was time to go.

So this is why my Monday, and my life, is suddenly so spectacular. Thank you, Kimanzi.
And thank you, God.

P.S. I checked, and Kimanzi is, in fact, a Christian :-)

 

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Speaking Event: Awaken

awaken-large

Next weekend I’ll be speaking at the Awaken Weekend Retreat, and I’m really getting excited! I’ve been praying and preparing for it for several months now. The purpose of an Awaken retreat is to come away from our everyday lives for a few days in order to intently seek God for direction, breakthrough, freedom, growth, etc. It’s an amazing ministry and I’m so honored to be a part of it this year.

Have you struggled to overcome something in your life? Do you desire to be free from a past experience that affects you today? Or do you just hunger for a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? If any or all these describe you – then you can benefit from Awaken. Jesus said that He came to “heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives”, and to “set at liberty them that are bruised” LK 4:18 KJV). He is still doing so today! The Bible states, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (Awaken facebook page)

The leadership team has been praying for everyone attending the retreat for months, and especially in the 40 days leading up to this retreat. We’ve been praying for you even before you knew you were coming! There are still a few spots available for the retreat, which is open to men and women. If you’re interested in this retreat, if you would like to make time to spend the weekend with the Lord, I encourage you to make the call today to be a part of it.

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