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John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the LORD. Live as children of light.
Food For Thought I am supposed to be the light in this dark and dreary land. I don’t feel like the light, though. I feel more like part of the sinking darkness of an endless abyss. How do I bridge this gap between where I am in my real life, feeling like I’m in a dark pit of despair, and cross over to the promised land of peace and light?
My mind knows all the things I should do, all the things I should be, all the things I should say, study, and pray. But if I’m honest, I just feel broken and torn. My heart aches and my soul is weary. My head hurts, my brain hurts, and my spirit hurts.
Are you familiar with the saying, “Fake it ’til you make it.” This phrase is often used in the business world, with the idea that, by portraying an image of success and confidence, you will eventually reach real success and confidence. It’s not entirely bad advice. Sometimes this advice is carried over into our personal lives, like “wash your face girl.” This translates to: Yes, I know you’re going through a hard time, but don’t let anyone see how hard it is. Yes, I know you feel like crawling back under the covers and shutting out the world, but you have work to do. Girl, fix your face. Brush your hair. Erase all of the tears and sadness and plaster a smile to your face. Nobody likes a whiner, a complainer, a pessimist, or a Debbie Downer. Act happy. Pretend. Fake it, ’til you make it.
I am forty years old. I’ve spent half my life trying to “fake it” until I made it, as far as happiness, joy, peace, and contentment go. I tried to paint on the happy face to convince myself and others that I was “fine.” I’ve spent years living behind the mask of “togetherness” and perfectionism. And I just don’t think I can do it anymore. I’m just too tired. It’s exhausting to spend all your energy trying to be what you’re not, even if it’s in everyone else’s best interest.
It’s true, nobody wants to be around someone that’s negative all the time. Our church minister keeps sharing lessons that highlight this thought and I know I need to hear them and apply the wisdom to my own life. I’m working on it. I try to limit who I share my real emotions with and I try not to post all of my negative thoughts on social media, or even here on the blog. But I can’t just hide or ignore all the feelings anymore, either. This is what real life looks like for me, and 300 million other people all over the world that have some form of diagnosed depression (source: World Health Organization).
I haven’t given up on being happy and content. I grasp little bits of the positive wherever and whenever I can. I look for joy in the small moments. I express gratitude every day. I even have some days when I can be the light for others. Other days, I need someone or something else to be my light. I’m lucky to be a spiritual person, relying on my faith, hope, and belief that it can always get better and it could also be worse. But I don’t want to wear a mask anymore. It makes me too tired, too exhausted to try and help myself up out of the darkness. It makes me too tired to be the light for someone else. I have so many other better places to spend my energies, without spending them on pretending.
Today’s Recipe Over the past twenty years I have worked a lot with “nutrition therapy.” I won’t go into all the specifics here, but nutritional deficiencies have been linked to some mood disorders. I’ve scoured dozens and dozens of resources about the best vitamins, minerals, and foods for assisting in treatment of depression, anxiety, and general low mood. I compiled this list after cross-checking many of those resources, naming the top thirty that kept coming up, over and over again. Please remember, I am not a nutritionist, psychologist, physician or therapist. If you are dealing with any mental or physical health concerns, please consult your doctor for the best treatment options for YOU.
For today’s recipe, we’re going to pull three of our good mood foods from the list: oats, pumpkin, and dark chocolate. These three foods are going to come together in a Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal recipe. I love baked oatmeal for portable breakfasts and snacks. The flavors of pumpkin and chocolate just make it even better. Of course, you can have a nice glass of milk with your baked oatmeal and get a fourth food from our list. It’s a win!
Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal (makes 12 servings)
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups milk (I used skim)
- 1 cup packed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 3 TBS maple syrup or honey
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups oats
- 1 cup dark chocolate morsels or chopped dark chocolate bar
Set oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, pumpkin, syrup, vanilla, spice, baking powder, and salt.
Add oats and chocolate and stir to combine.
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before cutting into squares.
Today’s Kitchen Products Available from Amazon (These are products I actually use in my own kitchen.)