Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Mindful Monday: You Raise Me Up–The Economy and Faith

kat and eric.jpg

Sometimes when you list sanity tips all day you forget you need them yourself. And often the people who blab on and on about trusting God are the very folks who need to follow that piece of advice. My foster dad and mentor, Mike Leach, always tells me (when I hear about what a jerk a spiritual author is in real life) that you can get the words right without having the life right. Fortunately for me, I have good friends who can read my voice like a psychic shrink.

For a few months I’ve become increasingly more anxious about the economic toll in our household, now that no one needs an architect because no homes are being built. Eric’s job has always been our stable source of income, because my numbers jump around more than that bungee jump on Ocean City’s boardwalk. Blogging and freelance writing are not associated with dependable and lucrative salaries. So his bi-weekly check relieved me of the pressure to meet a certain quota every month.


Until the last month or two, when that cushion went bye-bye.

I’ve been chasing after new work at a pace reminiscent of my manic days last May. But not because I want to this time. Not because introducing myself to a dozen new editors a week sounds like a fun pastime. Because I have to, in order for us to keep the house and pay the kids’ school bills. I’ve been trying to channel all of my stress into productivity, not allowing myself to feel scared or anxious … just moving ahead with the next query to a speaking bureau or magazine.

“How are you doing?” my friend Michelle asked me the other day on the phone.

“I’m okay,” I said, “let’s concentrate on you.” After all, she suddenly lost her husband of ten years just a month ago. She has a legitimate gripe.


“No, you’re not. I can hear it in your voice,” she responded. How she is able to move her pain over for a second to worry about me tells you a little about her generous and compassionate soul.

“Okay,” I leveled with her. “I guess I’m scared. I’m stressed. I’ve never had a family depending on my pay check before. I mean, I don’t even feel like I can depend on me. I write my blog posts three weeks in advance, for God’s sake, because I never know when I’m going to have a breakdown. What if I wake up one morning and can’t write because I’m so depressed? I can’t depend on my brain.”

Then I began to cry. “I can’t depend on this brain, Michelle. It’s undependable.”


It occurred to me then that I feel like I have two broken legs that I have to just overlook until the housing market picks up again.

“Your brain is dependable,” she said. “Look at what you have built.”

“But how do I know another breakdown isn’t around the corner?” I asked her.

“You’re just going to have to trust me on this one. You’re going to be okay.”

Her words reminded me of the meditation from Thomas Merton that I have been reading every morning:

You are probably striving to build yourself an identity in your work and your witness. … That is not the right use of your work. All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. Think of this more and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be more open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it.


For the umpteenth time, I forgot about God’s place in all of this. I was so fixated on my broken brain, and the pressure to get optimal performance out of that broken brain, that I forgot he is the one who created it. Therefore, he could probably help me fix it down the line (if I assist him by grabbing the right tools), if I encountered a power failure in my prefrontal cortex.

It also called to mind what Michelle said to me the same week her husband died: “Faith wouldn’t be faith if we had a back-up plan.”

That seems to be the message God wants me to hear this very hour because today’s gospel reading was about the miracle of the loaves and fish–the anxiety of the disciples upon seeing just two fish and five loaves and a massive crowd in front on them that needed to be fed. But they listed to Jesus and trusted him, and in the end, there were twelve wicker baskets full of leftovers.


Ironically, I read the miracle story while listening to Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” and teared up at these lyrics:

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas. 
I am strong when I am on your shoulders.
You raise me up to more than I can be.

Here’s hoping he can do that with me.

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  • Meghan

    This one hit home for me, Therese. It’s so easy to just keep pushing those feelings aside…what a kind, compassionate friend you have!
    Thanks for making me pause and think today :)

  • Frank

    My Dear Therese:
    So many elements of truth in this post. From the one where the words people use don’t apply to their personal lives all the way to the end where God will raise you up.
    I offer you one other kernel of truth to consider. I though this as Michele said it. Look what you have built already and look at the path you have walked putting this together. You have already spent the darkest of nights in your life as you put this all together. You have done a wonderful job of holding so many together even when you, yourself were being torn apart. Like Michelle says, you don’t have to worry about your brain. Trust her on that. You don’t have to worry about your brain.
    As I have watched and listened to you the one thing I always take away from you as it applies here is that the places where you think your brain is failing, you have a heart that steps in. Where intellect fails and you think you can’t go on, your heart knows the intangible trust in a God who will lift you up.
    When you lift your hands in prayer and fear, there are always hands out who wrap around your outstretched arms and lift you to the heights of eagles and wraps you in a comfortable promise. A whisper in your ear through your friend Michelle assures you that God will protect you and love you and carry you through the dark mind into the bright heart
    Fear not, Dear Therese, your heart knows what your brain forgets…

  • Sandra

    Hi Therese,
    This is the first time I’ve read your blog, but I know I needed it because it struck a chord. I, too, am an author & freelance writer, so I understand looking for work in this business. At 58, I often feel my brain is taking a vacation. Stress robs me of much-needed creativity and even though I understand it logically, it’s often difficult to get past it mentally & spiritually to put myself on the path I need to walk. I try to live by the philosophy I first read years ago in The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin. It’s simple, yet correct: Don’t look at all you have yet to do, rather look at how far you’ve come. Use that, in part, as a source of encouragement and strength. So, wife, mother, writer Therese…hang in there. And I–wife, mother, writer too, will do the same. And together, we’ll be okay.

  • Summer Foovay

    Consider this. Everything happens for a reason. God (whatever you chose to call him) gave us this body, this mind for a reason. I have mental issues as well, some of them severe. But I don’t believe my brain is “broken”. I just have these things that I need to learn to work with, or around, in this life. There’s a reason for it, even if I don’t see it right now. If you did not have problems with depression, would you have started this blog to share your help with so many others who do?
    Your brain isn’t broken. It is a little different, and because of that you have to take care of yourself in ways others do not. If you had diabetes, would you run around saying your pancreas was broken? Probably not – you’d just go forward into life, adjusting to the fact that you need to watch your diet, blood sugar levels, and possibly take insulin. And maybe that experience would inspire you to study medicine or nutrition and help others with similar problems.

  • Devon

    Hi! I just discovered your blog, and I’m planning on making it a daily stop. It’s as though you are writing it just for me. I had suffered a brief bout of depression during my college years, then after my children were born, I found myself plagued with anxiety and depression. I didn’t even recognize it as such until I started with the frightening thoughts (ruminations).
    I’ve been doing much better, but the talk of dire economic times definitely triggers my anxiety. I’ve been scurrying around, polishing up my resume, determined to get myself a better paying job, although our situation is not dire in any way. But I have to do something to keep that fear at bay, because if we did get into financial trouble I’d somehow make it my fault.
    PS-Your name sounded familiar, and I realized I have I Like Being Catholic on my nightstand, though I haven’t read it yet. I’ve been desperately trying to figure out if I can be a “Good Catholic”, and my previous forays into the Catholic blogosphere were scary. Thanks for providing a different POV.

  • Renata

    First, I just LOVE the picture of Katherine and Eric… that is absolutely beautiful!!
    My dear Therese, you are a beacon light to all of us and God will take care of all your needs. Your world is expanding — with more blogs and a book soon-to-be-released. Everything will work out for you, I know it. Your brain is much, much brighter and stronger than you think it is.
    What you have done and I have failed to do — which is so important I cannot stress it enough — you have always tried to learn lessons from your illness. You don’t pretend it doesn’t exist, like I do and it always comes back to haunt and hurt me.
    You try to do everything you can do be healthy and wise, and you love deeply from the heart. I need to follow in your footsteps.

  • Marilyn

    Therese I know its scarey takeing on what seems like more than you can handle.But i dont think you realize how much you already carry..i couldn never imagine going through the things you have and writeing books and keeping this sight running plus being a fulltime wife and mother.I think just focusinging on it makes it scarey but you willdo fine.God has brought you this far and he will continue to carry you.Be strong my freind and know that God is with you.

  • Karen

    Dear Therese,
    My dear husband lost his longtime job 12 years ago, and suddenly I was the breadwinner. Me, with my depression, anxiety, and denial all in full force. And you know what? We have done okay. We were even able to buy our first home. We have gotten through cancer, surgeries, a teenage daughter(!) and lots of other irritants that seem too small to matter as I look back.
    You are fortunate to have your strong faith. Remember the Bible verses about God taking care of the sparrows, and “consider the lilies of the field.” You have so many people who love you, and you will emerge stronger.
    Remember, too, that you are a light that shines in the darkness. God won’t let you down.
    Hoping that I wasn’t too sappy,

  • Franco

    I’m so glad to read this post. I’ve spent the past six months or so coaching and mentoring a dozen new members of the project in which I’m involved. I’ve fed them and taught and nurtured them – like a bunch of baby birds. Several of the fledglings have flown the nest to promotion – which makes me happy but the toll on my team is heavy. I want to cheer their promotions and then shout, “What about me!” And then when one of them was snippy and short with me all day yesterday I really needed an attitude adjustment. God was there for me to lift me up, when I allowed myself a moment to slow down and let God guide. It’s a fact that I’m not nearly as ‘in charge’as I would believe myself to be. I’m humbled to know that God and dear friends can be there to lift me up in my down times. Reaching out is the hard part.

  • Amy

    Thanks for the great post and the beautiful, calming Merton quote–What book is it from? I would love to know where to find it and read what comes before and after.

  • Your Name

    I have been in bed. Stuck in the house and in a horrible pit of depression. I have had to start taking anxiety medication again just to keep from being so overwhelmed at LIFE. I had to make the difficult decision to let my older sister come get our Mother who I have lived with and cared for over 20 yrs now. I am NOT able to care for her anymore. Not only is her condition, Dementia declining RAPIDLY but I am not doing a very good job of caring for myself.
    Being on SSI every mth and now having to be SELF supporting without Mom’s contribution towards the bills etc. is scary as HELL. I don’t know what I am going to do but the posts and comments I just read let me know that like you I am NOT alone!
    U will well, know that u remain in my thoughts and prayers. You are the wind beneath my winds and have supported me when I did not know where else to turn. Love & light, Mary Anne

  • Frank

    My Brother Franco and all…
    How true it is what you say when you say the most difficult thing is reaching out. I find it hard to let go of the self control because I am afraid if I let go, no one, not even God will be there to grab onto me and lift me up.
    Time and again, though when I slip past my self control, more by accident than on purpose, God has been there through the smile or a kind word or a heartfelt “I care about you” given by a friend, new or old.
    As you follow Therese here, you will see that in her writings and the writings of others. That truth is brought out time and again for me who, too often, forgets.
    The people around us are the hands of God. The voice of one who truly cares is the strength of God sent down to lift up a broken heart as well as one crushed with fear.
    I like what you say when you notice that you (and I) are not as in charge as we think. That’s a fact
    God bless you my brother

  • Therese Borchard

    Hi all. Thanks for your sweet comments! The quote from Merton, to answer your question is from “Modern Spiritual Masters” edited by my friend Robert Ellsberg. He has many books in the series. Thanks, T

  • Your Name

    What a wonderful post. T hang in there I understand, I am kinda there myself just not quite stuck in bed more like stuck in house. Financial concerns threaten to drown me. I struggle with rage, rage toward people who seem to not be able to see past their own noses. I have “friend” who is obsessed with finding a well to do man. She constantly calls lammenting her grief and lonliness. she has had dates always finds something wrong with them. It breaks my heart to hear what she says about them. This one nice guy would have been ‘ok” had he not had such ‘bad” teeth, this ‘friend” went on 5 minutes in minute detail about his teeth and dumbfounded why he doesn’t fix them as he has the money to do so plus he doesn’t tie his shoes. I don’t think I can take her calls anymore, I am going to explode, she makes very good money but does NOTHING for anyone unless there is it something in it for her and more often than not she just expects demands and gives nothing back. i am losing my Christ love, it scares me. Hubby and i have been out of work over a year two college age kids she never asks about any of us or anyone else for that matter. she is well off no kids to worry about but all she does is lament her problems, I really think I am close to telling her off and i don’t think Christ wants me too or does he? i believe jesus turned some tables over once in a temple. thanks for letting me vent. I still would love an economic/no job support group. God bless all. lisa

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