Jenna overcomes depression
Jenna woke up the next morning in an afterglow. She couldn't help it. She just felt so good. As she got herself ready for and made her way to work, she sang last night’s karaoke song. Jenna wished she could relive everything that happened yesterday.
Having to go to work today was a letdown. Jenna cried while on her way to work. She was not ready yet to go back to the stresses of her job. Staying interested in the job was going to be hard for Jenna, maybe harder than before. How could she care about keeping the store’s sales goals up or try to please ever-unsatisfied customers, when she wanted to take today off just to let all of yesterday’s events absorb in her mind? She felt like she had found the key to getting her out of the pit of depression, and she wanted to do something about it.
She felt she could smile now and make eye contact with everyone..She was often distracted and preoccupied, and at other times, she appeared to be normal and focused on the tasks at hand.
She counted down the hours left of her workday. She could not wait to get back to her apartment after work, so that she could finally be alone and be able to bask in yesterday's events. Even after a hard day at work, she could not stop thinking about yesterday. Maybe this is what her life would be like if she pursued the things in life that mattered to her and did not make any excuses.
She was in for a surprise when she walked up to the door of her apartment. A bouquet of daisies awaited her. She opened the card that went with it. They were from Alyson, and the card read, “You’re one in a million to me.” Jenna smelled the flowers and clutched the card close to her heart for a moment. She wanted to kick herself then. She wondered why she kept being so dissatisfied and disgusted with herself, when there were many people who loved her and wanted the best for her.
When she inside and peeked inside her refrigerator, she saw that she did not have anything for dinner. She drove to Harris Teeter and bought some frozen dinners. The desire to cook a meal for herself was not there yet, but she knew she wanted to do that again eventually.
She resisted going to Boston Market for dinner. In fact, she no longer wanted to go there. She put a frozen pizza in the microwave when she got home. She found that just eating regularly again made her feel better. She was also no longer depressed that she could not even lift her finger to eat, nor to go out for a brisk walk. She took a walk after eating dinner.
After she walked into her apartment, she strode to the part in her bedroom that had her collection of tapes. She did not have any problem finding anything by Heart; it was right there. She put the tape in her stereo and listened to it the same way she did when she first heard those songs as a young teenager. Listening to them was like taking a music appreciation class. She loved how the style of the songs was never the same: from the soft notes coming from either a flute or a mandolin, to the lead guitar expressing the decade that the music was played. Though some of the lyrics to the songs may be questionable, in another sense, it sounded so pure, with the music that goes with it. Jenna wondered if she was the only one who not only listened to this music, but took note of every note of the piano, every chord on the various stringed instruments, and the broad vocal inflection. If she was the only one, she did not care.
Also like before, Jenna spent quite a few hours listening to this music and studying every note of every song, and trying to feel what the singer was feeling by singing it herself. At first, she thought it foolish that she was having this much spontaneous fun and that she was singing that song once again. She kept reminding herself that she was better than where she was before.
Another Sunday morning came that she was able to go to church. She was eager to get out of bed, eat breakfast, get dressed in the best way she possibly could, and go back to Harvest Time Church. She could not wait to get there. She knew that something great was going to happen to her today when she got there.
She arrived at church earlier this time to possibly learn something more about what this church is like She was hoping she would see Angie again. She saw her in one of the Sunday school rooms talking to a few people around a table, perhaps in a meeting. Jenna waited in the hallway for her until she was done.
Several minutes later, Angie walked out into the hallway and saw Jenna. With a beaming smile, she opened her arms wide to hug Jenna. “Jenna, you're back! I was hoping I didn’t scare you off because of what I told you about you joining the band.”
“No, absolutely not! In fact, that is the reason why I came here this morning.” Jenna said, with confidence in her voice. "I am interested in joining the praise band." Her mind was made up.
“Yes! I had been praying about this since I met you a few weeks ago. After the service, I’ll introduce you to the music director, Martin Garner. He is a very dynamic man who has done great things since he came on board about four years ago. I am very well-acquainted with him and know that you'll get along very well with him.”
“I look forward to meeting him and of course, being in this band. It's all I have been able to think about in the past several days.”
“Church will start soon. Let’s go into the sanctuary. You're welcome to sit with me again, if you'd like.”
"I'd love to,Angie. Thank you." Jenna had never known of any other church that had women like Angie. She found Angie to be very welcoming with her open arms. Up until now, she did not think anything like this happened at churches, especially ones with this large of a congregation.
Jenna had many reasons why she came to church this morning. One of them was about to materalize after the service, another being that she wanted to be a part of the energy that this congregation had. When the praise band played, she could see herself singing with them.
Dean Meigs, the pastor the church, stood up to give the message. Jenna liked last week's message so much she poised herself in her seat ready to hear more. Jenna tried really hard to focus on the church service.
When the service ended, she was ready to follow Angie to be introduced to Martin. Although a very independent woman, Jenna felt like she needed Angie there for support. Angie seemed like she wanted to help her, so she allowed her to do so.
Martin was talking to a few people around him when they approached him. After a few minutes of talking to some other people, he turned his attention to Angie and Jenna. Angie started the conversation. "Martin, I'd like to introduce you to Jenna. She starting coming here a few weeks ago."
“it’s very nice to meet you, Jenna. ” he said very enthusiastically and without any reservation. He extended his hand to hers and she shook it. He was a middle-aged man of average height and had dark brown hair that was slightly gray at the temples.
Jenna took the initiative. “Martin, I’d like to sing in your praise band.”
"That sounds great, Jenna.” Martin almost shouted, his voice maintaining the enthusiasm.
“When do you have practice?”
“Every Tuesday night. Can you come this week?”
“I’m pretty sure I can. If I am not busy, I'll certainly be here.” Jenna wanted this so badly-she could feel it, almost taste it-she momentarily forgot about her work schedule.
“Great. Be here at seven o’clock.”
“I will.” Jenna had never been so sure of herself. Tuesday could not seem to come fast enough.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:16-17, NKJV
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, ‘Where is your God?’.” Psalm 42:1-3, NKJV
Once she arrived at work the next morning, she knew what she had to do. And today was the day to do it, and the time to do this was now. She asked for a few days off from work. She knew full well that she would not get paid for them. She didn’t care. She can earn those few days’ worth of pay sometime later. She needed time for the things that matter to her. After all of the time she was depressed, she lost sight of this in doing nothing but working, eating, and sleeping, and thinking she did not have time or the energy for anything else. She filled out the forms she needed to request the time off and prayed they would be approved. After she submitted the request, she went out to the sales floor and met up with Tracy.
Jenna felt like it was time she initiated conversation this time with her fellow manager. “Hey there, Tracy. How’s it going with you today?”
“Excellent, Jenna!" This was the exact response Jenna expected Tracy to give her. This time, however, it did not bother Jenna anymore.
“Tracy, I also submitted a request for a few days off. It is on the desk in the back.”
“I know how badly you need it, Jenna. I will pull whatever strings I have to so that you can get some days off.” Not too many managers were like Tracy, especially in being patient with Jenna.
Jenna was glad that she had Tuesday evening free to go practice with the praise band. That day at the store seemed to be harder than usual. Perhaps it was the great anticipation of what was to come afterwards. She knew that singing would release all of the tension.
When she walked into the church, a young woman was singing a very beautiful slow song and playing on the keyboard. Jenna caught on to the lyrics. “And I-I-I’m desperate for You…I’m lost without You.” Those very words pierced her heart. She had not been to church nor had any desire to read her Bible in quite a while, and all that time she wondered why she felt so unhappy and lifeless, and that her life seemed to have no direction!
When she had finished singing, she looked up and saw Jenna standing near her. “Hi. You must be new. Are you here for rehearsal? ”
“I am,” Jenna said, stepping closer to her. "I hope I'm not late. You were already playing something there."
“No, I just come here early sometimes. It helps me get focused. My name is Sandra.” she said. She had blue-black hair that hung down freely and appeared to be in her late twenties.
“My name is Jenna.” Jenna continued. “I started coming here a few weeks ago. Just coming one time made me want to join this praise band.”
“Excellent! It’s great that you came tonight. We always have a great time together. I’m sure you’ll like us.”
While they were talking, a few other band members made their way into the room and getting set up and tuning up their instruments.
Just before seven, Calvin enthusiastically burst through the door and collectively greeted everyone. “Good evening, everyone!” Jenna hardly knew Martin, but she already knew one thing already. His energy was contagious, and everyone seemed to catch on to it. “We have a new member of our team. Please help me welcome Jenna Rollins.” Martin gestured toward her. Jenna waved and everyone greeted her warmly and enthusiastically. The drummer beat on his drums. Martin continued the introductions. "Jenna, we have Shane on bass, Caleb on the drums, Dylan and Billy on guitar, another keyboardist Sandra and some more vocalists MaryAnne, Tom, Anne, Dustin, and Gwen." Jenna recognized Dustin from church a few days ago. He was the one who led the service. Now she had a name and a face to him.
Martin got the rehearsal started immediately afterwards. “Folks, let’s start with ‘Breathe’, and later on ‘Better Is One Day’ and ‘We Bow Down.’ I know that I had decided to not have the drums in the introduction ‘Better is One Day’. I have rethought that. Billy and Dylan, your guitar parts are still the same. Let’s see what that sounds like.” Caleb, Billy, and Dylan did their respective parts. Dustin led the song in the first verse. Jenna wondered if he was the only one who did that. She did not know faces and names yet, but every time she noticed someone in the band singing at church, it was almost always Dustin. The combination of his heartfelt tenor voice and his heartfelt intonation in his voice were enough things to cause the song to move Jenna. The soft introduction was followed by a very powerful chorus. Jenna found herself getting into the music and the driving beat of it. She hoped that she did not get so carried away with this that she would not catch the meaning of these songs.
Martin stopped them after a while. “Billy, make sure that you play a very hard rock-type around the bridge of the song. Don’t be afraid of playing it like that.” As the rehearsal unfolded, she noticed how Martin made sure that every note had its own beauty to it. He was also technical with everything about the music. Jenna absorbed the occasional brief voice lessons he interjected. That’s what she liked about music. Angie was right. This was fitting for her. She could not wait to tell her when she saw her at church the next time she was able to go.
After a few more moments of everyone practicing their parts for “Better is One Day”, Martin suggested they practice “Breathe.” Jenna did not know this song, but when they started singing the words, she noticed that it was the song that Sandra was playing and singing-and now she was singing it! Sandra’s keyboard had very interesting sounds coming from it, which she played for the introduction to the song.
Notwithstanding the song sung rather slowly and meaningfully, its lyrics expressed a deeper intimacy with God that Jenna had not even come close to having any desire to have. When she first sang the words, she sounded like she was lost and confused, like she did not even know how to sing after all. She was hoping that Martin and everyone else would not notice. At the chorus, which she had heard Sandra play when she walked into the sanctuary, Jenna felt like she was praying those words and singing them directly to God and coming to terms in her relationship with God.
Jenna felt like a prodigal child. She had strayed away from church and blown off and minimized the purpose of music, thinking that neither were important to her anymore. It took her going to rock-bottom levels of depression for her to realize how important both were to her. The band seemed to welcome her with the open arms that Angie had given her. Everybody here was new to her, as well as this church-maybe even church itself-but given what she had gone through prior to coming here, it seemed like she was being welcomed back with open arms.
In spite of not singing in quite a number of years, it seemed to come naturally to her. She could not help dancing around some while singing. To her, a celebration involved having family and friends around, and music. When she heard upbeat music, and if the situation was appropriate, she would dance. Given the circumstances, she could not stop celebrating. She felt excitement well up inside her.
Jenna was having such a great time she was surprised when Martin called it an evening. She had looked forward to a day like this for a week now and was glad it was as she had hoped. Better yet, this was more than she had expected.
She stayed around for a few minutes afterwards and talked with some of the band members. She was talking in a way she had not done in many years. She liked having it back and knew that it was solely because of music.
MaryAnne came up to her and talked with her. “Jenna, it is so wonderful that you decided to join this band. I would just like to know how much of a commitment you would be able to make.”
Jenna was glad to be able to tell someone about that. “MaryAnne, I might not be able to make it every Sunday, because of my awful work schedule.”
“That’s okay. Please try to let me know as soon as you can if you can’t make a certain Sunday or not.” By now, Jenna was wondering why she had to tell MaryAnne this and not Martin. She did look like she knew what she was doing, given her folders full of sheet music and clipboard that held many other documents. Her warm features made her easy to talk to.
“I, unfortunately, am not going to be able to do it this coming Sunday will be able the following Sunday. I did not know or when to tell Martin.”
“You can tell me when you’re able to make it on Sunday. And I’d like to personally welcome you.”
After she and MaryAnne finished talking, one of the guitarists approached her and started a conversation with her as if he had known Jenna for some time. He introduced himself. “Hi, Jenna. My name is Dylan Patterson.” Dylan introduced himself. He was a young man who stood just a little taller than Jenna and had a goatee.
“Hi.” It had been a while since any man approached her and initiated casual conversation with her. She did not realize that her words sounded guarded until she had said them.
"So, I hoped you enjoyed yourself and that we did not scare you away so badly that you would not dare come back." Dylan said, grinning from ear to ear and snickering. "But I must say that you were really getting into the music there earlier. I almost thought you were going to start dancing."
"I don’t think you’re going to scare me. I was having such a good time it was over with before I knew it. I like to sing."
"Cool. When it comes to working with Martin, he is really serious, but he does his best to make us laugh."
"I'm sure you're getting ready to leave. I’d like to walk you to your car, if that’s okay.”
“Sure.” She felt slightly awkward. But since she considered him a gentleman for offering this to a newbie like her, she was glad to accept.
“Did you have a good time tonight?”
“Yeah. I had not sung like that in quite a while. It’s nice to get back into it.”
“I’ll bet it does.”
“How long have you been coming here?”
“About ten years now. I love this church and am glad I am a faithful member.”
“How about you? How long have you been coming here?”
“Just two times. My second time here, I wanted to join the praise band. Somebody here encouraged me to do so, and that’s how I was introduced to Martin.”
By this time, they had approached her car. Dylan commented on her clunker of a 1983 Mustang. What he said made her feel good about what she drove. “I guess I’ll see you around here sometime,” Dylan said as he and Jenna said goodbye and Jenna got into her car.
On the way home, she thought about the rehearsal and how well it went. The music they had practiced was ringing in her head the whole way home. She loved how everyone there seemed so enthusiastic about what they were there to do, that it was effortless. They seemed so content with life. She wanted to feel the same way too, so that this depression would go away for good.
When Jenna got home and changed clothes, her eyes fell on the music box that was on her dresser. She remembered her father giving that to her when she was small. When she left for college, she made sure to take that with her. It seemed to bring her comfort whenever she opened it and wound up the box, and that is what she did when she saw it. She could not forget that the tune was “Music Box Dancer”. Her father had a copy of that, which he played many times when she was about five years old.
Just playing this was more than enough confirmation that she had found what she needed to do in life. She had had a rather exciting day and needed to unwind from it. Sometimes, she got wound up from playing music and needed some time to calm down. She could not seem to because she was so excited.
“So if you are out there waiting
I hope you show up soon
You know I need relating,
Not solitude.” Nicolette Larson, “Lotta Love”.
Singing last night did something good to Jenna. She woke up with a song on her lips. She sang on her way to work. Every song on the radio seemed to be the one she wanted to sing. She tried very hard to keep from singing when she got to work. The music that came from the speaker at the store did not seem to help.
The words from the songs were still in her head. There was something to them: “Better is one day in Your courts…than thousands elsewhere.” If the mere act of going to church was going to be that awesome, how much more Jenna would feel when she started going more! “I’m desperate for You…I’m lost without You.” The more Jenna thought of these lyrics, the more they seemed interrelated. She could not figure out why or how, but they must apply to her, because this was all she could think about this morning as she got ready for work.
Now that the dark days of her depression were behind her, and she had, in a matter of speaking, come back to life, she was ready to get all of the pieces of her life back in order, possibly in a way she had never known.
She had a feeling that the end was near in her having to work at TJ Maxx, a job that was not meant for her. She had a feeling that something great was going to come her way just by being a part of this band, whether directly or indirectly.
She was more able to focus on her work and found it easy to smile at everyone. Whatever she faced that day at the store, she seemed to do well at confronting it. Everyone at work was happy to see that she was feeling and looking better. Some of the employees had been afraid to approach her. While she was going through those dark days, they felt like they had to walk around eggshells. But what mattered most to Jenna was that Tracy was really patient with her through all of this.
She really hoped that she could go to rehearsals every week. If it had this kind of effect on her, she wished she could have rehearsal every night. What she did tonight was going to seem boring.
Not being at church with the band this coming Sunday was going to be hard for Jenna. It just made her long more for this band and everything about it that she had experienced so far.
She wondered that if she discovered Harvest Time Church and its band earlier, she would not have gone through that dark pit of depression. Working at TJ Maxx would not have been as stressful, she would have been more patient in finding a job, and she would not be so difficult to be around and very inconsolable. She would have a positive outlook on her future.
Up until recently, she felt that she did not have the time for this. But she had plenty of time, she thought, to be depressed. So much so that that it would affect her health and her personal interactions. The simple pleasures in life, such as having a healthy meal, did not interest her. She wondered if getting this depressed was worth it after all. Her relationship with Larry was not going to work whether she broke it off or not.
Larry was now only a distant memory. She could not believe she put up with a man-child like him. There was still a part of her that wished she had been the one to break up with him. Perhaps it was not meant to be that way. Instead, her test was refusing to take him back when he asked her. And she passed it by saying no and not changing her mind! She had never felt such an ecstatic feeling as she did on that day. Jenna was feeling too good now to think about Larry.
She felt like she was ready to start dating again. But she wondered if there were any available men out there now that she was on the back end of her twenties. What she ultimately hoped would never happen again is for just another guy to come along, only to have him play games with her. She was done with that. After what she has recently been through, Jenna needed someone who could admire her for who she is after what she has overcome. She needed that in him for everything else about her.
She thought about Dylan and his walking her to her car last night. That must have meant something to her because she seemed to be flattered that someone who barely knows her did such a small but meaningful thing for her. He wanted to do that because they were in the band together; that is what Jenna was making herself think.
Jenna was so stirred up she could not wait any longer to share all of this with Alyson. They needed to get together, the sooner the better. If she held this in any longer, she was probably going to burst. She called her soon after returning home from work.
“Alyson!” Her friend knew full well that Jenna was no longer in that deep funk. She knew who it was on the other line.
“Hey, chica. What’s up?”
“Oh…everything. I have so much to tell you that it is not fair to you that I withhold it any longer.” Jenna was almost squealing when she was talking.
“Do you want to meet for dinner?”
“Yeah. And where else but Panera?”
“I’m so there. I can’t wait to see what great things my best friend in the whole world is up to these days.” Alyson knew that it centered about her joining the band, and Jenna was going to give her all of the details.
Alyson saw Jenna’s face glowing when they met at Panera. Jenna felt daring. She felt like ordering something different from what she had ordered from there before. Though she had not yet eaten dinner, she wanted to have dessert first. She approached the counter and ordered a piece of chocolate pie and iced green tea.
(More details of Panera.)
Alyson took her hand and guided her to a booth after they ordered their food. “So…did you…?”
“Yes, I did. I went last night to a rehearsal.” Jenna knew what Alyson was asking about and did not need to explain any further.
Using her fork to cut a piece off a bite of the piece of pie, she said. “Alyson, I have rekindled a passion that I thought was gone.” Waving her fork and chewing on the piece that was in her mouth allowed her to say it in a very stylish way.
“I knew that someday you would come to a point in your life where you realized you needed to do this. I had been praying forever that you would.”
“Awwww, Alyson. Thanks.”
“Well, Jenna, I want the best for you. When you hurt, I do, too. And now that you’re happier, I am, too.” Alyson wagged her fork at her. “You’re too valuable to me for you to be so depressed. And you have to do what you love.”
“You’re not going to believe what also happened that night as I was leaving.”
“One of the guitarists walked me to my car.”
“Oh, no. Pretty soon, you’re gonna fall in love.” Alyson drew out each syllable.
Jenna was trying to be realistic. “All he did was walk me to my car. That’s all it was.”
“Jenna, I have heard you say that so many times. Name one time that it was not more than just that.”
Jenna had to laugh in spite of being downright embarrassed.
“But seriously, Jen. Great things seem to be happening to you so well after all that you’ve been through. I’m so proud of you.”