This week I met up with a true friend, Julie Gurley. When I asked her about sharing her story for the blog this week she comes armed with a solid answer and texted me this quote:
So she obliged and we talked over a chunky loaf of bread and some exceptional cheese. Ummmm yes please.
Julie. She keeps it real. No pretenses, no facades. She’s more concerned with how her honesty may help someone else than being intimidated by her own vulnerability.
She’s brave, gutsy, genuine, and so.very.tender.hearted – I mean like the only insurance adjustor ever to receive a thank you card from a client that was denied a claim! And to top it off she has a way about her that puts my 3 month old baby blissfully to sleep – so I’m in love.
Julie shared her struggles and triumphs. Her biggest struggles are related to mental health – mainly depression and anxiety. We ended the conversation with one word; Jesus embodies it, we all need it, need to give it, and it is our lifeline – grace.
On her background - I grew up in small town North Carolina and went to a southern Baptist church because that’s just what you do. Church was church, it was about doing, rather than a relationship. I never saw people just reading their bible in the morning.
When I was seven, my cousin was getting baptized, and since we did just about everything together it was only natural that I did too.
After high school and college I got married, but then that ended with the heartbreak of divorce.
On divorce – Divorce does not feel good. And it makes you feel like not going to church...partly because you know people think it’s wrong. My first time going back to church after the divorce, the pastor talked about how divorce is wrong. So there can be a lot of shame around that. It’s been a long trip getting back to being here, being involved in a church community.
On struggles with mental health – My depression or anxiety will get better and then it comes back. I’ve had postpartum depression also. As a mom, if motherhood doesn’t feel like you think it’s supposed to, you think something’s wrong with you. Having depression feels like you’re being ungrateful. But it’s not necessarily that, or that simple.
On unexpected gifts – There’s all these ways that I’m reminded that God and I are in this together. It’s like he’ll tap me on the shoulder and say “hey I’m still here with you”. Like when my son is having a hard day at school and he comes home and plays and in and around our butterfly bush and is all up in laughter with these butterflies dancing around him… what’s more beautiful than that? Or when I’m panicking and I get a call at just the right time from a friend who gives me a boost of encouragement. He’s unexpected and I just love that. The things that don’t ‘feel’ like gifts are gifts too.
What has helped you with your struggles? Friendships that I never expected. I got to be a part of a group where women encourage each other and I was encouraged to have a relationship with God. Being in the bible regularly is key, something will pop up, it’ll help me, and then I’ll see it again and again. Praying! I’ve learned to pray through a panic attack. You’re given what you need to get through it all but it doesn’t mean it’s easy, you are given the tools though.
Talking down the walls - I just wished we talked more about feeling not-quite-right so you don’t feel like the only person on earth going through it. Otherwise it feels shameful and alone. If we just said it, admitted we need some help here and there - it doesn’t feel quite so bad. We need to pray about it, and talk about it with someone you’re comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be embarrassing. Because shame -that will mess you up worse then the struggles themselves.
Nuggets from Julie:
We all just.really.need.grace.
God provides what we need. He reminds me to do it His way instead of following my own plans. Beauty comes as we learn to obey the little nudges God gives us.
Thank you Julie for spending some time with us this week and being so open!
I see a lot of perseverance in Julie. Her vulnerability is disarming. She reminded me how God is with us through it all and inspires me to pray more. I love her heart to help others with their journeys.
As I write out Julie’s story this passage comes to mind:
Never again will you be called "The Forsaken City" or "The Desolate Land." Your new name will be "The City of God's Delight" and "The Bride of God," for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride. Isaiah 62:4
Friends, God is delighted in us, and we are not alone, we are chosen, He sees us as beautiful, we are His.
Can anyone else out there relate to Julie’s struggles? Doesn’t her openness and vulnerability inspire you to find someone you can trust to share your burdens with?