Jenna overcomes depression
|“Good people enjoy the positive results of their words…” Proverbs 13:2, NLT
“Kinds words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24, NLT
“Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time.” Proverbs 15:23, NLT
Jenna felt really out of place Sunday morning. She wanted to be at church-yearned for it so badly-she was so tempted to defiantly not show up at work. She kept imagining the joy she would feel in going to church every Sunday morning. She felt awkward not being there. She wanted to see Angie and show her the fruits of her encouraging words by singing with the praise band.
She tried really hard to not feel down about not going to church. The desire was there, and she thought that if she maintained that, God would give her what she wanted. What she had never prayed about before was a job in which she would be off on Sundays. She knew that having the kind of job she wanted was going to take time. Because she wanted this so badly, she knew she needed to pray about it.
She knew that she would be able to go to rehearsal on Tuesday. In the next few days, Jenna would just have to, she felt, grin and bear the times she had to be at work.
When she arrived at work Jenna was greeted with Tracy’s big beaming smile. “Jenna, I have great news for you,”
“The days you requested to have off have been approved.”
“Great. Thank you.” It took Jenna a while for that to register in her mind. She could have some time off to do the things she wanted to. She was really happy and excited the rest of the day.
“Make the most of them, Jenna. Have as much fun as you can. You have certainly come around over the past few weeks.”
“Tracy, I wish I could be at church today.”
“You started going to church? No wonder you have felt so happy lately.” Jenna did know a little bit of Tracy and her family going to church. Tracy did not talk about it much. Jenna assumed she is the type who does not tell anyone that she goes to church and would rather just show her light just by her actions.
“I started going to church about a month ago for the first time in a rather long time.”
“That’s good, Jenna. I knew someday you would come around and do something other than work.”
“You and my best friend were both really onto something all that time.”
“That’s because we like and care about you,” Tracy said, putting her arm around Jenna’s shoulders for a few moments.
“Thank you, Tracy,” Jenna replied.
“If you’re not doing anything after work today, would you like to come over to our house for dinner?”
“I’m not doing anything tonight, so, yes, I’d love to come. What should I bring?”
“I guess I’ll come by after we close here.”
“Sure.” Tracy wrote down the directions to her house on a piece of scrap paper and gave it to Jenna.
This just might be the time that Jenna would find out what it was that kept Tracy and Darren together. She was determined to ask Tracy when she arrived at her house. She was even more anxious to get through the day. Tracy must have felt the same way, too, certainly for a different reason. They were both doing what they could to encourage all of the sales associates to do everything they needed to do before closing and not waste time talking.
They were able to close the store shortly after six. Tracy and Jenna ushered all of the associates out of the store and made their beelines for their cars.
Jenna went home to change. The day was rather warm. Early September is known to be that way, and Jenna liked autumn the best and was ready for it to come. She changed into some khaki shorts and a red short-sleeved shirt. It felt good to get out of the pants she wore to work today.
She arrived at Tracy’s house fifteen minutes later. It did not take long for her to notice that Tracy did not really dress down at all: she was wearing a bright yellow shirt and white capris pants that had studs at the hem, and had big bangles that matched her shirt.
Jenna had never been to Tracy’s house and looked around curiously. It seemed like she and Darren were doing some minor renovations to some parts of the house. Aside from that, her house seemed bathed in love and warmth. Just about every available space on the wall had pictures of the family. Jenna was so intrigued by all of them.
“Tracy, you really do have a beautiful family,” Jenna eventually said.
Tracy and Jenna made their way into the living room. Darren came into there shortly afterwards and sat down close to Tracy on the couch and put his arm around her. They all talked for a few minutes and Darren went downstairs again and Jenna and Tracy into the kitchen to prepare the food.
They were alone in the kitchen for a long time. Tracy was talking about the recent renovations they had made to their home and the major accomplishments each of her three children had done.
Jenna felt that this was the time to ask her. “Tell me, Tracy, how do you and Darren stay together like you have for over twenty years?”
Tracy thought for a moment. For her, this was not a question she was always asked. She thought about her response, then said something that surprised Jenna. “It was not always like this.” Her voice was rather subdued.
“It was worse?” That was the only way it had to be. They were so in love that they were joined at the hip.
“Yes, it was,” she replied, looked down at the counter for a moment, then met her eyes with Jenna’s. “In the first two years of our marriage, all we ever did was bicker at each other. There would be things that he did that I did not like; there were things that I did that he did not like. Instead of calmly talking about it, we got mad at each other.”
Jenna was listening intently and trying not to have her mouth wide open at Tracy’s response.
Tracy continued. “The arguing got so bad, I was so close to filing for divorce. By this time, we were sleeping in separate beds and not eating together. Then one day, when it could not get any worse, we both sat down and talked for a long time. We decided to accept each other for the way we were and to make this marriage work. Things got better soon after that. And now, because we did not give up, we are more in love now than we ever have been.”
Jenna found herself speechless, and it was obvious to Tracy why.
“Jenna, I know that you’re still wondering why you’re still single. And I’m not saying that marriage is a bad thing. There are just a lot of challenges that go along with being married. You have to be able to handle them without doing something that you’re going to regret.”
Jenna was silent for a long moment. She needed to absorb all of the things that Tracy had just told her. She decided that from here on out she was going to be content being single.
Having two Tuesdays evenings in a row to go practice, she wondered if this was a sign of great things to come, one of which is to finally leave TJ Maxx. Other than the times with Alyson, this was the only other thing she looked forward to doing. After a hard, long day at work, she was ready to sing and be around these new friends of hers.
She wondered if Dylan would be there. If he was going to be there, would he walk her to her car again? If not that, then what would he do just to try to pursue her, if that was his intent? She needed an opportunity to try to figure him out. She found him to be very peculiar. He had a serious facial expression on his face, but when he spoke, he seemed very witty and spontaneous. That's what puzzled Jenna.
She did not see Sandra when she walked in, but she did come shortly afterwards. She liked how she and Jenna had a warm conversation before that first rehearsal. Some of the other band members were there, though.
Once again, Martin began the practice in that very energetic manner. “A few Sundays from now, we are going to be singing some older contemporary songs. I’m sure you all are going to have a great time with that. We’ll spend a little bit of time each week getting the dust off these songs. Allow me to take a moment to say how awesome you all are. You are a great bunch of people. I can’t think of anything that you all have not done well with.” He spent the next few minutes going over some of the songs. Jenna did have some recollection of them. She sang them at the church she had gone to before coming here.
Martin continued with details of the lineup of songs. “We are also going to throw in some Amy Grant here. Catherine really likes her music.” Catherine was Pastor Dean’s wife. Then, Martin called out to Jenna. "Jenna, I like your voice so much. I'd love for you to sing 'I Have Decided' as our offertory song. You would be a great one to do it."
Jenna's mind went blank. Surely he was addressing another Jenna. She was surprised and her face certainly showed it. And it was not a question he asked her, it was a statement. Jenna loved that song and had it somewhere in her music collection. She and Alyson played it quite a bit during their years in college. Every time they played it, Jenna got into the song to where she was oblivious to everything else around her.
Jenna considered this rather ironic because she liked that song, but only behind closed doors. She knew she had it on tape somewhere but had not played it in quite a while. Unlike “Something to Talk About”, she never dreamed of singing that song to a crowd to people.
But she felt like she was not ready to really sing it. She started to protest. "But Martin, I am still new here. I don't know if I'd be the one to do it. I think you should..."
Martin interrupted her. "Jenna, if you're going to be a part of this and grow personally from it, you're going to have to get out of your comfort zone. I know you can do this. I see great potential in you doing really well in singing this song." Martin was very serious and looked Jenna straight in the eye.
Jenna took a long, deep breath and said, "Okay, Martin. I'll do it." Perhaps what Martin wanted Jenna to do with this song was the same way she needed to feel about herself: she was not meant to hide behind closed doors anymore.
"Amen! Jenna, I'm so proud of you." Jenna was shocked at Martin’s compliment. He did not know much about her, and he said that he was proud of her. One thing was for sure, Martin did not pull any punches when it came to his telling someone to do something. "You are going to be great. I just know it." Was he always like this? So full of life and complimentary about small things?
Martin then asked her to sing it. Her mouth felt dry, and her voice was a little bit weak and shaky for the first few lines and she messed up on some of the words. Martin was very patient with her as Jenna continued with the song. After a few lines, her voice sounded the way it should, and she was moving in time to the music, the motions showing the passion she felt for this song. The other singers were catching on to her energy.
The words were what she needed to sing. Without God, she was weak and stuck in a rut. She really can make it through life and not be depressed, she just had to trust in God to help her. And most of all, she can be the person she was meant to be-bold, ambitious, and full of life. Singing this song seemed to bring out just a little bit more of this. When she was done singing it, she took a few sighs of relief. She could not believe that she sang that.
“Jenna, that was so awesome!” Martin shouted.
“Thank you, Martin,” Jenna said, trying to catch her breath and to allow what she just sang sink in.
“Everything about this song is so powerful-the music, the beat, and most of all the message in the song. I think to make it even more so is for you to encourage the congregation to put their hands together towards the end of the song and follow that with a very strong ending by singing and really exaggerate it. Outside of that, you did a great job with that. Let’s try that again.”
Jenna’s voice maintained its strength and she made sure to incorporate what Martin had just told her to do. She did not know what she did to make it the way he wanted, but he and some of the other singers were clapping their hands and seemed really into the music.
“Jenna, that was truly amazing.” Martin’s voice was soft this time. “You are very easy to teach, too.”
Given what she just did, she was a little too wound up to carry on a conversation with Dylan, let alone notice that he was there. He did compliment her on singing. She thanked him and all of the other people from the band who did the same thing. She did talk briefly with some of them and left soon afterwards.
She felt like a better, stronger person than when she walked into the church earlier that evening. She had been told that she can come here as she is, but she was not going to leave the way she was when she walked in. She did not know how true that was until tonight.
While very little progress was made tonight in her friendship with Dylan, all she could think of now was Martin and his putting her on the spot like that last night and what he had told her to do. She thought about it on her way home and getting ready for bed. She could not stop thinking about it even while lying in her bed staring up at the ceiling.
Martin hit a nerve. He was right. She really did have to come out of her comfort zone.
This might apply to the other areas of her life. Many people who have known her over the years considered her very brave in many of the things she did. She had not done anything like that in quite a while. Rejection by and ridicule from so many people and so many times caused her to want to hide and be someone totally different, a person that she was never meant to me. No matter how hard she tried, she would never be that way. And she was done trying as it only made her life worse. She had felt worthless and insignificant, to the point of feeling like an alien to everyone around her. Who she really is, was about to be restored, and better than before. Being in this band just might foster that.
She was scared now. She almost wanted to think that she had done something wrong in joining the praise band. She had no idea she would soon be challenged like this. She wasn’t so sure if she was ready. Though she was a good singer, and she was confident of that, she never thought she really felt comfortable in taking the lead. If that was the case, she thought to herself, she would not have sung the way she did at karaoke that night a few weeks ago. There was something there, and Jenna knew it-she could feel it. That was not a fluke nor an isolated event. Alyson and everyone else there that night were blown away by her performance. She almost called Alyson to do karaoke again. Then she thought that while that one night of singing was appropriate, there was no need to do that again to see if she had made the right decision. In doing that, she might also second-guess Martin’s executive decision in choosing her to sing.
She was now on another level. She was going to sing at a church, one where she was still new and no one knew her. She felt ineffective and inadequate. She felt like she needed to tell Martin that she was not ready for this, because of all that has happened to her recently.
Perhaps Martin could sense that she is an overcomer and very determined to rise above her circumstances, and that he may see more in her than what she realizes. The song did exude quite a bit of energy, its lyrics powerful. That might have been the reason why he chose her to sing it. But she felt so unworthy of singing it, especially in front of many people who did not know her.
Jenna did not know how, but he knew that this song would be the one for her to sing. And the sooner she knew it the better. And when she would, it would be at the right time. She need not delay in this, lest there be any interruption in her progress toward hope.
There was something about Jenna singing that others wish they had. She never experienced stagefright. She never complained of being so nervous about performing on stage that she felt sick. Instead, she felt a sense of peace when she performed, like she felt right at home.
Fear and doubt soon gave way. She needed people like Martin in her life. In his own special way, he could give her the encouragement she needed in staying on the road she was on to find hope and a fresh zest for life. She felt like all this time she was a jigsaw puzzle, and just one more piece was put in the right place.
Hope was certainly in sight for her. For her, this was further progress on the road to find hope. This time, it was because of her recognizing her comfort zone and being willing to get out of it. It seemed closer than it had ever been.
“Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:33, NLT
“He ransoms me from death and surrounds me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things; my youth is renewed like the eagles.” Psalm 103:4-5, NLT
Jenna was thankful to have the next two days off and an opportunity to sleep in, relax, and not given any thought to work. She had been through quite a bit during the past few weeks, mostly great things, and felt like her body needed some rest from it. She was determined to make the most of these days off. Although she had more energy and felt more motivated to get out of bed, she still did not feel that way towards cleaning. She had to be patient with herself. She knew that she would get to that point someday. And she had come quite far in the past few weeks.
Being in this band seemed to be the biggest thing in Jenna’s life. This caused her to forget that she had not had any job interviews or any dates. She needed to take this time to refocus on what she wanted in a job and what she was reasonably qualified for, and to take more careful thought into what she needed in a mate. During that time she had job interviews and collected nothing but rejections, she was doing that out of desperation. She did not want that job to define her. Furthermore, she wanted a job that she wanted and enjoyed going to. Even though she felt she was completely over Larry, there were still some emotional scars still fresh from the breakup and all of the lack of feelings of love they had felt towards each other just before that.
There were a lot of things that Jenna felt she missed out on in the past several months. She will not hesitate to admit that she had high expectations of herself and did not like to fail nor settle for less. Her drive to succeed was either what others envied or repelled others away from her. She wanted to hide, to be a different person from what she was because she felt like it did not get her anywhere. Who she was trying to be was not working, which led her to feel very depressed.
She had taken her life down a road that was not meant for her. Perhaps it was not depression that she had overcome. Just thinking about this made her somewhat mad at herself. Now that she had nothing more to hide or be ashamed of, she felt young again. Being depressed seemed to have aged her. Just being able to smile again made her feel young again.
Now that she knew what direction to go in her life, she felt like it was time she open her Bible and read it. She knew a few verses but never the meaning of them, let alone anything else in it. She did read some of it at times when she was overcoming depression. But she would read only one verse and throw the book down on the floor and break down and cry. She felt like she was beyond hope and any prospect of getting what her heart desired. It seemed like everyone else got what they had prayed for. There were certain things she knew she wanted and was willing to be patient for it to come. But when it took longer than she had anticipated, she got really discouraged. She had to admit that she had erred in depending on her own strength to do it.
She had been told many times that whenever she faced any trouble or just needed some guidance in a situation, to read the Bible. While she did that occasionally during this hard time, she was never able to apply it to her life. She got discouraged and stopped reading it; they were only words on a page. She considered this as a last resort, when it should have been the first and only place to go in her time of trial.
Now was the time to not only open it and read the words on the page, but to study it. Since she was determined to never go through depression ever again, she made a commitment at that very moment to do this every day. She walked back to her bedroom and to the end table by her bed where her Bible was. She sat on the edge of the bed and thumbed through a few pages.
Her eyes happened upon Psalm 119. She recalls reading some of it before but when she did, it seemed overwhelming, its content unattainable. She started reading a verse at a time. She was so drawn to it that before too long, she read the entire chapter. She felt so small and tainted. As she continued to read while sitting at the edge of her bed, many things were reeling through her head. For all intents and purposes, she could have been the one who wrote that psalm. To her, it seemed like the writer of it knew personally how much of a mess his life was without God. And when she turned to Him, he was all the hungrier for His principles.
She knew she would seek proper guidance and wisdom in the Bible, but she never could make any sense of being that hungry and desperate for God. Maybe she had to go through what she did just to really feel that way. This just might be why some people are so happy and content with their lives no matter what. After all she had been through, Jenna was ready to get on that bandwagon and leave depression behind until she disappeared out of sight from it and all of the awful things about it. She felt like she had to make up for all of the time she lost in being that way.
There was a lot of work to do because of time wasted on what does not really matter to her.
She felt like her seat was on fire! After reading and meditating on Psalm 119 for what seemed like a long time, she sprang up from her bed and starting looking for the Amy Grant tape that had “I Have Decided” on it. She put it in her stereo, cued it to where the song was, and played it. It seemed like life was instantly added to the apartment and it was brighter than before the music played. Jenna turned the volume up and had this awesome feeling that she could see herself singing this song at church and it making an impact on the people there.
After hearing the song once, she felt as if she were like water that was boiling in a pot. She did not know how to satisfy her excitement. Staying in bed or at home doing nothing was going to do nothing for Jenna. The only thing left to do was to clean the apartment. There were quite a bit of things to do, and she had some great music to lighten her up. She spent most of the rest of the day doing this and felt so much better afterwards.
The light that others had tried to put out with rejection and heartbreak might have been dim for a time, but it was now on fire. There was hope for her, and she was sure of it, and she was ready for the rest of this journey.