Tsh Oxenreider
About the Author

Tsh Oxenreider is the author of Notes From a Blue Bike and the founder of The Art of Simple. She's host of The Simple Show, and her passion is to inspire people that 'living simply' means making room for more of the stuff that really matters, and that the right,...

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Reader Interactions


  1. I did not know this part of your story. Thank you for writing and sharing it in this space. Reluctantly I admit, I see bloggers with success such as yours as “larger than life” at times. To read your story and how you began to find healing reminds me, we are all journeying together, towards the same goal, the same place, for His glory.

    “If I wait for perfection…” Yes, I wonder how many things I have held out on for this reason. I am going to think about this…

    Blessings to you,


  2. When I read your journey I remembered how long I waited for the perfect people to come and rescue me. God has his own ways and plans. At the end of such depressed times we are all surprised at the perfect circle he creates out of our little imperfect lives and partial efforts. As a Turk and Muslim I wanted to tell you that I too can relate to your story because I guess it’s about being a woman or being human. Thank you for sharing courageously! I love incourage community and the way you make the warmth of a family here.

  3. Too often I’ve looked for the ideal instead of what is before me. I’ve neglected to consider His purposes in even what might appear as temporary. When friendships seem to just get going and then one of the two of us moves, it seems to put a wrench in my vision and I start to wonder if it’s worth it–should I bail? But just recently I’ve seen how He has made beauty out of a move my family and I made a few years ago; a move that we’re still financially paying for, but that He continues to show me His grace through. I befriended a coach’s wife and she and I have maintained connection through the year–through two more of her own subsequent moves. And one of the biggest takeaways I have from my own move was meeting her and the numerous conversations we had together, walking a battlefield (literally), and praying through the ones we were facing in our lives. What you wrote is truth, Tsh. It might have been a painful time you were going through, but this beauty of you sharing this truth with us now and you seeing the goodness in it–it’s remarkable. Truly.

  4. Thank you for being so candid about this area of your life. Before my daughter was born, I was a perfectionist’s perfectionist. When I realized that I would not get everything perfect (you know the way I read in the parenting books), it was definitely a letdown. Now that she’s almost two, I find that my “partial solutions” mean cooking healthy meals for her that she may refuse but eventually love; and reading to her even though she seems uninterested because she might love books one day. Waiting on perfection is like waiting for the mail to arrive, except the mail usually shows up.

    • Nicole, I just wanted to encourage you. I was a librarian before I had children and was particularly interested in children’s books and all of the parenting books I read said that children love to hear you read to them. I was so disappointed when my son was not interested in books for quite a long time. I kept trying though, and at some point he showed more interest and it has grown from there. He is now 10 and loves reading. I would encourage you to keep trying.

  5. Thank you for sharing this part of your life and story. What a testimony you have!

    You said ” But to say “no” because things aren’t exactly how I want them is prideful and unrealistic…” – LOVE THIS. So very true.

    It’s so easy to fall into the trap of perfectionism. We think “Oh, whenever I get x, y or z THEN I will be ready to _______.” But there will always be one more thing to obtain, one more thing to do, one more area to perfect, and if we continue to wait, and wait ,and wait, community will simply pass us by.

  6. Wow – thank you for this post! I’m so guilty of only wanting perfection, especially in relationships. You opened my eyes this morning. I’ve already begun accepting one partial exception. i need to take the initiative to seek out some more. I’ve been lonely for too long, waiting for perfection. Thanks again!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story. It resonates deeply with me because I have recently found myself back in the community in which I grew up. For some, this may sound like perfection in terms of (re)building community, but none of my dearest school friends live here anymore. I’ve spent a lot of my time in my house, moaning about having few connections and no social life to speak of; hating the decision we made as a family to come here.

    Your story has reminded me that my life will never be like it was in high school (and thank God for that). The friends I can make now won’t be the dear friends I made as a child, but there is no reason that reaching out to new people in the community can’t be a solution to my self-imposed isolation.

  8. Thank you for these words of wisdom, your story, and a bit of your heart. I too am working toward community. It’s hard most certainly, especially with small children. I am a judge, but putting this aside, and telling myself, “come what may. Maybe it will surprise you” is what is getting me by.

    Yes, exercise, vit D are wonderful. Also Magnesium really helps me too.

  9. Thank you so much. I know it must have been hard to write this. I, too, have been going through similar struggles, and this has helped so much.

  10. Thank you so much for this. It is such an encouragement to see depression talked about in a Christian community, along with excellent, excellent reminders that it has a spiritual dimension to it as well. We were created to live in community with God and others and when we cut ourselves off it only makes things worse…I know from experience. I will definitely remember this idea of “partial solutions” the next time I find myself struggling with a bout of depression.

  11. I long for community, but it is so hard for me, because I have some social anxiety and sometimes the community I have access to throws me so far over the edge the only thing I can thing about is getting back to my room and closing the world out. I’ve been trying to sit and study in the same room as someone for a while when I can handle it, and it is starting to turn into a friendship. Community growing this way is slow, but it is better than nothing.

  12. Wow, your therapist was wise (and apparently has been lurking in my brain). I often tell my husband that I *need* friends, but that I don’t *want* them, because then I’d have to *do things* with them. It is a terrible predicament to find myself in (especially since it is a flaw in my own personality), because I know how important those relationships are, but it is so much work to cultivate them.

  13. My husband invited some friends over for dinner tonight. I hate Friday night entertaining – I prefer to come home after work & relax with my family. Plus I now have to clean the kitchen and bathroom before I leave for work.

    So I was just going to call him & tell him to cancel for tonight. But then I read this article. We should live in the moment I guess. And it won’t matter if there’s dust or mess. I’ll do a quick scrub & then we’ll play it by ear. We’re all imperfect aren’t we?

  14. Lovely post, and I’ll be connecting several of my M Care Team friends to it – to encourage THEIR Global Workers to take this time seriously! One friend can make all the difference in the world!
    Thanks for sharing openly, honestly, from your heart and painful memories!

  15. Loved this! I have moved every single year of my life, you’d think I’d have it down by now. We have just moved to a totally new city, far from friends and family, and I have been dreading the awkwardness and effort of building a new community.
    But, I know we have to. I have to.
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  16. Even though I am a missionary kid, I totally experienced MUCH of what you described when I lived in South Africa for 3 years.

    Thank you for sharing this. It makes me feel a little less crazy. 😉

  17. Lately I’ve noticed myself falling back into my old depressed routine of going straight home after work, eating something not-so-healthy for dinner, and laying on the couch mindlessly watching tv until it’s time to shower and go to bed. The only thing different about this time around is the addition of my boyfriend who works 11 hours a day and doesn’t have the energy to do much anyway.

    But thanks to a friend emailing me to remind me that Bible study had started back up and I missed the first one, and my mother pushing me to take an adult tap class my old dance teacher was starting, I feel like I’m coming back out of hiding. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s exhausting. But it’s so much better to be exhausted because you actually did something exhausting rather than being exhausted from hiding in my little hole avoiding in the world.

    Thanks, as always, for a very (personally) relevant post. 🙂

    • “But it’s so much better to be exhausted because you actually did something exhausting rather than being exhausted from hiding in my little hole avoiding in the world.”

      Ooh, a good word there…

  18. What a timely reminder as we have just moved to the Middle East and I have to force myself to go outside of my comfort zone too.

  19. I struggle daily with PTSD and extreme anxiety from an attack in which I was nearly killed in my own home. I have moved since, but I don’t want to leave the house. I do long for companionship… my husband and sons do not get it. They were not the victim. I don’t know anyone well and there is no one I can go and have coffee with and I have not found a church yet. I am hoping that will change soon as I have signed up for a couple of women’s Bible studies and a mentoring group to kind of ease into the church thing… being extremely afraid of groups larger than 8. I also think that because my children are older and one has left the “nest” that I am feeling sad about that also. Thank you so much for sharing with us. That in and of itself makes the rest of us feel less alone.

  20. I’ve never lived in the middle east or anywhere out of the United States so I can’t really relate to that part of your story. But it is still so easy to get wrapped up in “life” where I don’t find time to do these things for myself…like meet a friend for lunch or whatever. But guess what I’m going that very thing today and I’m really looking foward to it. She is a new mom and I know we’ll enjoy the time together. Sometimes it takes just one decision forward to get the ball moving. Thanks for this.

  21. I so get the literal amount of time invested in just getting to the place of investing in a friend. I live in Istanbul and during my first 7 or 8 years here, the travel was so daunting. I ‘get’ it more now but struggle with the ‘liquid’ view of time held here. My husband, who is Turkish, and I can spend 8, 9, yes, even 10 hours on a picnic, at a dinner, at a wedding. That stretches me, especially if those visits run into the wee hours in the morning, which they have and which haunt this early bird for days:) Thanks for the reminder challenging our perspective on friendship. I’m usually on the receiving end of the inconvenience but it’s good for me to be encouraged to press on with cross-cultural relationships here. Hiding is easy for this introvert.

    • Hi Deb,

      My husband and I also live in Istanbul. We’ve just moved back after spending two years in Budapest getting his PHD in Ottoman history started.
      I’m beginning to work on a blog that will help expat Moms while living here in Istanbul. I got the idea from a network that was extremely helpful in Istanbul. If you have an ideas for me, especially since you’ve been here so long and are married to a Turk, I’d love them! The website is http://www.istanbulmoms.com/.

      • What? I live in Istanbul as well with my husband and 5 kids. I’m rushing over to check out the istanbulmoms website. Look, Tsh, a little community you created already! Now you just have to come over and visit us.

  22. Thank you so much for this post Tsh! My husband and I moved from NY to Colorado for his job 6 weeks ago and while it’s everything we planned and hoped for, I miss my family and the support system I had back home very much. With no family or friends in the area, I found out I am pregnant with our second child 10 days after we moved and was hit with severe nausea & fatigue days later. It’s been quite a journey so far! As hard as it’s been and as much as I don’t want to, I’ve forced myself to join a mom’s group in the area and a support group for mothers of preschoolers (MOPS), as well as trying to make dinner plans with potential new friends if/when I’m physically up for it. I know new relationships take time, but sometimes it seems so much easier to lock yourself indoors and stick with the only comfort you know. I’m really looking forward to feeling better in my 2nd trimester and hoping to make some imperfect long lasting friendships : )

  23. I am living this story right now. One year ago, less 10 days, I married and moved from my long-time home in Florida to my husband’s home in Canada. French speaking Canada. I have gone from being a member of a 300 attendance church where I knew almost everyone to a 50 attendance church where I don’t quite fit in, a job that I held for over 20 years where I was surrounded by people who knew me well to working alone from my kitchen table, a small city where I knew my way around to a metropolis where I have to negotiate freeways and public transportation, all while feeling intimidated when I go out in public because I’m constantly having to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French yet” I am about to print this post so I can re-read it and be reminded … reaching out is hard, but it is vital! Thank you so much for writing it!

  24. I loved the message in this post, yet I want to comment on just a part of it. Getting therapy and help when you need it. I had just 6 short sessions with a wise therapist who helped me overcome a major source of depression 10 years ago. I feel like I actually started living life for the first time after those encounters.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Now I just need to be okay with the imperfect and invite more people into my home! 🙂

    • Yes! Totally a good thing to get help. Honestly, sometimes I just want to fly to southeast Asia again just to have a few sessions with the guy, even though I no longer have depression. 🙂

  25. Your words touch me deeply for many reasons and on many levels. I will spare you the gory details (you’ve lived them) and say how glad I am that you openly discuss your depression in a world that continues to stigmatize it so. Medication is not a crutch or a “happy pill” , but a clinical tool. When you can’t get out of bed or function normally in your daily life, you are ill and need medical intervention. Research has shown again and again that talk therapy in conjunction with medication is the most effective way to treat moderate to severe depression.
    I don’t work for the pharmaceutical industry, I just finally listened to what God was trying to tell me and shut out all of the rest. He knows me and He loves me. He has blessed me with a newfound strength to reach out to others (its still not easy) and to see everything with which He has blessed me. I’m so happy to hear of your recovery and I agree with Michele-Lyn 100% when she says it seems bloggers have perfect lives. Thank you for sharing your story.–Sarah

    • Absolutely! I’m actually very happy to talk openly about this, because so many more people have depression than people realize (including Christians), it’s often misunderstood as just something “in your head” instead of an actual neurological misfire, and that seeking out help is one of the best things you can do when you suspect you (or a loved one) may have it. Totally no shame about it. 🙂

  26. “It’s scary to make that phone call and ask a new friend for coffee, and it’s uncomfortable to have a new family over for dinner…”

    I don’t live in a country distant from my homeland (although sometimes the East Coast, U.S. feels like another country compared to the MidWest U.S….), but for me it is still scary to reach out and call someone. I know we are called to community, but sometimes community is scary. Sometimes the prospect of rejection weighs heavier than the seemingly slight possibility of friendship and connection.

    Thank you for sharing your fears, but also your courage to take the steps in faith of “partial solutions’ . Your example is an ecouragement to us all!

  27. Thank you…I seem to “need” full solutions…I never even considered ‘partial’ soultions! What a freeing concept to my own inadequacies…I don’t have to have perfection before I have people over…I can step outside of my (ouch) pride and set myself free! Thank you again!!

  28. I’m watching my (HS) youngest daughter battle this right now. She’s always had her sister/best friend at school while she was there (she graduated). Now that she is a senior and without her sister, she feels all alone. The friends that she does have are not the kind to pal around with (they are good girls….just all on diff schedules)..
    I see how much this loneliness affects her and it crushes me.

    I’ve experienced this myself…but as a mom & wife, I ultimately have people counting on me to keep me going. So, I manage it.

    We all need friends! We all need to feel accepted & loved by others. We all need to BE a friend. We all need to ACCEPT & LOVE others!

    There’s no room for exclusivity. Ever.

  29. Next week I’m going to a women’s gathering. I won’t know but two other people, it’s in the middle of the day so I’ll be hauling both children with me (at least there’s childcare once I get there! Yay!), I have no idea how I’m going to even take a shower before going, but hey, it’s an opportunity to do what I’ve been whining about not doing for a long time.

    God’s been working on me in the area of taking responsibility. I realized that I’ve been blaming others for my hiding, because in my mind that was easier than facing the real issue. And I’m way too quick to give up on people. I make assumptions that they don’t like me enough. And that’s MY FAULT. Realizing that has actually been very freeing for me. So I’m asking God daily right now to help me see people through His eyes, instead of through my old filters of past hurts.

  30. For the first year in this ‘new’ town I accepted that making new friends takes time. We’ve moved before so this wasn’t new. For the next two years I cried out to Him and wanted to know why. In his wisdom he led me to an online community of Christian women. I said I was grateful for these ladies but truly my frustration and despair at a lack of ‘in the flesh’ friends did not reflect this. And then I read a post by somebody here at the incourage community. God used that to help me lessen my super tight grip on what I wanted.
    Since then I have taken steps to reach out and create community online. A partial solution for now. Most of the women I have met this way live on the other side of the world. I don’t expect to meet them this side of heaven. One of them though lives about 6hours from me. Not terribly likely that we’d meet up either. But just yesterday she said she’d love to meet me for real. We don’t know where or when or how. I am trusting God to make this possible.
    Thank you for your post. I am coming to see more and more that I am not alone in this. By being willing to reach out online I may just be the answer to someone else’s prayer too. Bless you heaps 🙂

  31. I sit here in tears… knowing the depths of depression, as I’m trying hard to not return to the bed today, while my dog would gladly join me there to curl up, I’m sure he’d rather me enjoy the sunshine (even with my burnt face-mostly nose, from being out yesterday with my MIL) while taking him for a walk. So thankful God puts these reminders all around me, helping me, pulling me & giving me the strength to get out of this pit. I can’t give in to the headache, heartache, and just moved syndrome… though rest sounds wonderful – ahhhh. Help, please pray I can lean on him, I’m really tired of sitting here crying. I could share SO much, but I can’t stop crying – the past is the past, let it go. Much easier said, typed, then done – I know & sometimes I can’t even type – hitting the backspace often to correct my mispellings. Is that a word?
    Hugs, Great thanks for your honesty in sharing, allowing God to use you to touch & inspire others.

    • Heather, is it possible for you to take a walk around the block today? Your dog would probably enjoy that, too. I always found that putting something like that on my schedule, even though it sounded miserable to get outside, always made depression a wee bit lighter.

      And also—and you may have already done this—could you call your church (or just a church) and ask if they could recommend a psychologist? Perhaps in talking with someone, you could come up with a plan to help you move out of your depression. It takes time, of course, and you may already be in the middle of doing this. But many, many times, a combination of medication (just for a short while) and talk therapy is the best way to find freedom.

      Praying for you. 🙂

  32. Thank you for sharing your story, Tsh. I, too, have struggled with depression and the isolation that comes with it. One way that I’ve sought out community (which is still a struggle for me) is to host a small growth group. A life coach that I met with encouraged me to do this. It was one of the hardest things I did – contact a few women I already had relationships with to invite them to participate in a group where we would be letting our guards down – and one of the best things I’ve ever done. Community, connection, relationship, or whatever you want to call it is so vital even if it’s with just one other person. God bless!

      • What has made this such a blessing is that I started the group because it was something that I needed. As it turns out, the other four women really needed it, too. We’ve all watched each other grow over the last two years and are now starting our third year by reading Holley Gerth’s You’re Already Amazing. The first book we read was Henry Cloud’s Changes That Heal which helped each of us open up about our hurts and struggles including experiences with depression. Best wishes as you consider your next steps!

  33. So thankful for your sharing this today. I am struggling with “it’s not worth the time” and your post was so helpful. I signed us up to host couples from our church and the dinner is tonight. I have put off getting ready and have been dreading it all week. Thank you for the encouragement to embrace imperfect people, especially myself. Now off to prepare.

  34. When I was young and fresh out of college, I didn’t think I was a “people-person” and kept to just a couple of friends and not much outside activity. And then I began to struggle with depression. Having a husband (constant human contact), a dog and now my daughter certainly help – but I’ve come to realize that it’s when I keep my focus internalized that depression sets in. If I’m with others, focusing on the community around me, that I no longer feel alone.

  35. Wow, you have had quite an adventure in your life. I am going to have to remember ‘imperfect solution’. Often, I feel like i dont reach out to others enough, like Im too tired or busy. Its so true that its worth it to do so though. Will take inspiration from your story.

  36. wow. Thank you for sharing! I have really been struggling with something similar lately. Because of my current work situation, I spend a lot of time commuting. My job is in a city 1.5 hours from our church, which means the only time I see the folks there or are involved in anything is on Sunday morning. On top of that I am a very shy introvert – not a good recipe for making community! I know community is important, I read about it at places like incourage, I hear about it in sermons, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how to make it happen. Just the other day my husband was telling me that I may have to give up my preconceived ideas about what community looks like or how I get there and try something new – very scary!!! His suggestions sounded similar to the ones your doctor suggested, and my excuses sounded very similar to yours. 🙂 You have given me a great deal to think about. I know that, on my own, I do not have the courage to step out there and initiate friendships. But God thinks community is important, so I will have to trust that He will help me figure out how to do this! Thanks for your honesty!

  37. Thank you for this. “It’s worth it to meet a girlfriend over coffee, even if it’s hard. And it’s worth it to have people over for dinner, even if I don’t feel like it.”
    I’ve been here too many times. It is worth it… and “God’s gifts are surprising.” So true.

  38. Without getting specific, we have friends who have left for Southeast Asia as therapists to westerners, largely missionaries. I’m thinking they’re in the community you mention here.

    I was also diagnosed with depression while pregnant. For years, doctors had hinted that I needed to address this, but I wouldn’t hear it. I didn’t feel they knew enough about me to draw such a conclusion. It wasn’t until I experienced a move, a pregnancy, my husband’s first pastorate, and a new teaching position that I reached the end of myself. I remember crying in my husband’s office, telling him I couldn’t understand how I’d have the energy or ability to fill up the car. I got honest with myself and sought assistance. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

    • YES. A lightbulb moment came for me when I literally couldn’t get out of the chair in the living room. It’s like my body physically couldn’t move, and the thought of getting up and then walking to the kitchen sounded horrible. And then I realized…. wow, that’s weird. 😉

      There are definitely a lot of therapists to westerners in southeast Asia!

  39. “if you wait for perfection, you’ll never jump into community” could be, “if you wait for perfection, you’ll never jump into ANYTHING.”

    There are too many good things in life that are never going to be set up for us, work out for us, be executed, etc. perfectly. However, it is a mistake to let this imperfect world and our own imperfections stop us from doing what is right and good.

  40. I just have to tell you, I’m sitting here in tears. I really needed to hear this today. My case is not so extreme, but since quitting work to become a stay at home mom I have become more and more isolated. And it’s of my own doing….I haven’t been involving myself, because I am waiting for “perfection”. Thank you so much. This really spoke to my soul.

  41. Yoir candor and strength are an inspiration, thank you.
    Many times I have wished I could get a loved one out the door for some of that vitamin D and sunshine and a walk away from a dark place with nothing but the fuel of caffeine, cigarettes and meds! It is a positive undertaking to step out from fears and negativity into positive thoughts and words and especially you willingness to each out to other people. We all need each other and I am sure your kindness were even more appreciated by you friends than theirs was to you. We all give one another permission to live, laugh and love and that is what makes us strong.

  42. Thank you! I was diagnosed with clinical depression @ 16 and am struggling with it again as a stay-at-home mom of 2 (soon to be 3). Thanks for the reminder to stay connected. I one read that “happiness is 100% relational” and I think there is a lot of truth to that. Exercise is good too! 🙂

  43. Ok. Just wanted to write to say thank you. The words made me feel less alone in my feeling stuck in my efforts to connect with our neighbourhood while that was specifically why we moved here 5 years ago, and made me look to Him rather than ponder my frustrations. Thanx!

  44. I’ve been bemoaning this very thing lately. I have this idea of perfect friendship in my head – where I have one (or two or three) close girlfriends who have kids roughly the same age as mine and husbands that my husband likes to hang out with. And in this friendship fantasy getting together is as easy as picking up the phone or stopping at each others homes (announced or not) and there’s no big production to coordinate schedules. Perhaps I have this desire because I’ve seen/heard of others who have it. It must be friendship envy.

    And it causes me to be dissatisfied with the relationships I have in my life now. So I need to mentally shake myself and thank God for the friends I do have and ask for grace and make the effort to call and invite even if getting together doesn’t work out.

    Which makes the idea of partial solutions and embracing them exactly what I needed to hear today. 🙂

      • I, too, have this ideal vision of friendship that I thought would become reality once we finished grad school and settled into my husband’s tenure track job. We were so conditioned to NOT put down roots, we didn’t know how to build a community. My partial solution has come with trying to meet the parents, whose oldest child is in Kindergarten with my son, rather than envying a tight-knit group of women at church. Right there with you.

  45. Last year I really struggled with SAD, and it was overwhelming. I knew that exercising, eating better, spending time on hobbies, going outside and getting out with other people would go a long way to making things better. But I felt like if I couldn’t do all of them there was no point in doing any – nothing would really get better. That attitude made things worse. “Partial solutions” would have at minimum shortened the duration of the worst of it, and probably would have made life much more bearable for my whole family. Truthfully, I’ve been a bit scared of the approaching winter. I’m going to shift that anxiety to looking for the “partial solutions” in my life. Thanks.

    • Totally understand – it’s easy to take an all-or-nothing approach about the things we know are good for us, depression or not. And I’m with you on the winter, too… Sometimes it’s good just to make a literal checklist of the things we know are good for us, sorta like when we make checklists for our kids. Get out of bed, check. Make coffee, check. Go running, check. 🙂

  46. I was diagnosed with depression over 2 years ago (really it is bi-polar II, a less severs type of bi-polar) and it took me a year and a half of a counselor saying something before I went to check into it. Because I am a Christian, I thought the highs were what I was supposed to be like and the lows were because I wasn’t praying or reading my Bible or….enough. So I really appreciate you sharing.
    It is very hard for me to get out, but I finally started to do it and now I feel like I have friends, even more, I feel like people actually like me, which I didn’t think possible before.
    Just yesterday, I was thinking about some mistakes I have made recently because I have been taking on so much more responsibility since I am feeling hopeful again and I thought to myself, “I think I would rather try all these wonderful things and make mistakes, than to not be trying to do anything at all. At least I am learning and growing.” Even though it is really hard for me when I mess up!
    So, your blog entry here was God’s timing for me and just confirms what I was thinking. I will keep going even though it is hard.
    Thanks, Tsh. :0)

    • Gina, you may have just opened my eyes to a fallacy I make and need to see. Your comment about feeling like you’re supposed to be “high” because you’re a Christian really resonates with me. When I feel blah, I worry that I’m not thankful enough, I’m not content enough, not joyful enough. Maybe it’s just a little condition called being human. 🙂

  47. I invited friends over for dinner next Monday. I don’t often do this because my kids seem to go from being angels before company arrives to being terrors when our company is here and I feel embarrassed. But I decided that these people know that my kids are well-behaved most of the time and it won’t ruin their opinion of us if they aren’t perfect at dinner. 🙂

  48. Thanks, Tsh. I’m a month into a new city, and struggling with some long-term health issues… and an introvert. We are lucky to have a few people around us that may become friends, but I have been struggling to discern what is tiredness, what is not feeling well, and what is mild depression from leaving everyone I know. Just yesterday I realized that I need to get out of the house more, despite having limited income since we’re new here and therefore little money to waste on gas, coffee, small shopping trips for basics. But I can still get out and walk! It is tempting to stay in my new “nest” here day after day but it will be better for my heart to get out, even if there aren’t many people to meet up with or money to spend! 🙂

    Also struggling b/c the people we have met so far mostly socialize by spending money… on drinks, dinner, and events that cost admission, etc. We have been in such a different lifestyle of paying down debt, and being very intentional about limiting our entertainment budget and I’m afraid we may have to expand a bit in that area just to be able to go out with people. I commented to my hubby the other day that we may have to go on free dates now and save all our spending for going out with new friends. We will invite people over here, but we may need to make some lifestyle adjustments to accommodate the lifestyle here. Partial solutions, indeed! 🙂 Hoping for balance…

  49. I really needed this today! I am currently sorting through our home that we have lived in for 13 years (a home I have lived in more than the home in my childhood) as we prepare to move abroad for 3 years while my husband gets his PhD. I am feeling the loss of my community that we have created here and especially as a mom to a toddler (my child is two like yours when you moved). I am wondering if we will meet people in a foreign country and how we will adapt as a family. I love the raw truth in this. Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing such a personal issue. I always believe that we can find the lessons in all our experiences (especially the low parts of our life) and help others. Your message was so timely and appropriate for my current situation. I needed to hear this before we leave as a reminder not to stay isolated when we move. I went ahead and reached out to some mommy blogs in the country I intend to move just to get familiar with family resources, playgroups, etc. So, thank you for this message.

  50. Thank you for sharing your story. As someone who’s experienced clinical depression, I really appreciate your openness–even though I’m healthy now, it still makes a difference to hear that I’m not alone in what I’ve experienced (and I can only imagine how helpful it would have been to have encountered this kind of encouragement when I was in the throes of depression). Being the only introvert in my little family of 3, I have a word for other introverts who feel overwhelmed by the idea of trying to build community. Don’t feel like you have to make a LOT of friends–it’s OK if you just want to focus on building up one or two or three relationships. For an introvert, that’s often enough. Same goes for frequency: while an extrovert may want to meet new people or go to/host gatherings almost every day, an introvert can be legitimately satisfied with being around people just one or two days a week. And if you’re almost always with other people (even if just your kids), make sure you get some truly alone time, too. You can’t refill your tank without it.

    • Very true! As an extroverted introvert, I’ve definitely experienced the healing power of alone time. And yes, LOTS of friends isn’t the goal… friendship is, whatever that looks like for you.

  51. Thank you for sharing this story! I recently picked up blogging again, and am new to the concept of blogging communities. I followed one of my friend’s links to your posting on here. I hope this question does not seem silly, but do you mind if I use an exerpt from your posting on my page of favorite quotes?

    “Don’t wait for perfection. If you do, you’ll never take a chance on community”

    It inspires me, because I struggle with anxiety, perfectionism and depression as well. Again, thank you for sharing!

  52. Tsh! Thank you! For many years I lacked friends because I would always find something “wrong” with them. Lately, my husband has helped me see that to be a true friend to others, I have to overlook their imperfections, and they will do the same for me. Also, I have struggled lately with having people over, and this post was a reminder that even if I don’t feel like it, it is good for everyone involved. Thanks again!

  53. “It’s worth it to meet a girlfriend over coffee, even if it’s hard. And it’s worth it to have people over for dinner, even if I don’t feel like it.”
    That phrase really resonated with me. I’m one of those persons who have gotten very comfortable being alone, even expecting it. Now, trying to socialize in a face-to-face scale seems like an imposition on my time when it comes up – despite the fact that I know I need to do this. Being a single person and a ‘loner’ by all practical definitions has made it even easier to slip away from opportunities for community to be with myself.

  54. We have moved a lot in our almost 13 years of marriage and each time I fight depression HARD! It takes time, energy, and emotion to get out there and meet people, but like you – it has been my “cure.” When my children were younger I’d try to schedule play-dates at the park or have moms and children come over. I would also do things just for me, like invite some ladies to go out for lunch (no kids). I am thankful to have all these friends in various places. There’s a saying that goes something like “It’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.” That’s how I feel about all my faraway friends. I’m thankful I loved them there and I still love them from afar.

  55. We just moved to a new area and this post could not have come at a better time. Thank you so much for sharing!

  56. Thank you so much for this. I’m helping to mentor someone that deals with depression and this will really help. It also helps to remind me to do things even when they’re not perfect! Love!

  57. I have a habit of trying to back out of social situations at the last minute but when I go, I always have fun. My anxiety always tries to get the best of me. Due to external factors, I had 2 yrs of no meaningful community interactions. Now that we’ve been blessed with more opportunities to get out more, I’ve joined a moms night out meetup group as well as a playgroup for my daughter. It’s been a big help!!

  58. Wow so many gems in this post, THANK YOU! I found true encouragement and timely wisdom in your words and your experience. Living overseas certainly does have its share of inconveniences, which I feel are magnified when kids come along. It’s so great to have the mindset of “partial solutions”, helps me be positive during my culturally-stressful days and to remember that the people are WHY we are here in the first place!

    • (oops submitted before really finishing posting) One of things I really struggle with lately is the nature of living in a place where people come and go a lot, people coming for 1-3 years, then going back home to the US. In my 6.5 years here I’ve gone through several “batches” of friends, sometimes I just don’t want to “start over” and dread meeting newcomers….even though I know in my heart that it will bless them to reach out and I need to maintain community even when it’s not like it was or how I was used to. Part of the imperfection I need to embrace is, change brings new opportunities even though it can hurt in the beginning!!

      • At Emily, I just wanted to say I completely resonate with this! It seems like I am constantly getting to know people, friendship dating, and then they leave! But, I see them as friends I’ll see later in heaven. (well, when I’m in a good mood 🙂

  59. I definitely admired your openness and willing to share your struggles. What amazed me as I read was your photo of the shoppers in your city. I have almost the identical photo and stood exactly where you stood. At first I thought it was mine and then realized that the faces in the crowd were different. I was so able to relate to your story as I live in the city for three weeks stints at a time and can definitely relate to what it takes to create community. I went through life changes that completely altered my community and standing still isn’t an option. Thanks for the honesty. Deb

  60. My family moves every 2-3 years, and at each new place we arrive, I psych myself up for new churches, new playgroups and new Bible studies. I am always excited to jump in and energized by a fellow friendly face. But it can be deflating at place after place to try to meet people who are so set in their habits that they don’t even see the new person, much less give any thought at all to reaching out. Ive said to my husband before in desperation, “we’re worth knowing, but nobody wants to!” Making a place for us to belong is like chipping away with a tiny chisel, and I’m the one who needs to persevere for months on end to carve the formless chunk of marble into relationship. Fill a need, find a way to help, people start to remember your face…Then it’s 2 years later, and I’m “ugly” crying because it’s time to say goodbye again, and I don’t want to leave these people and these hard- built relationships.

  61. I relate to this so well. Being a SAHM is like entering a foreign country to me. At work it was ok if I didn’t have friends b/c well, I had to work. And because I wasn’t always so desperate for friendships, I seemed to find them easily. But being home? ROUGH terrain. Lots of hurt. But then I wonder if these are friends I really want to have? No, I don’t need a gazillion friends, but a few local faithful ones would be nice. I love the point about it not being your best friend from college b/c sometimes I want the deepness of the friendships that I have with my high school & college friends, but obviously those relationships took time and lots of it. Anyways, thanks for the encouragement and helping me to see things from a new perspective.

  62. As a believer I have suffered from both anxiety and depression. I praise God that each hurdle He guide me though. I may never fully overcome the temptation of succumbing to anxiety and depression but each time I become less subjective to allow it to take over my mind. I have learned for me personally anxiety is a sign our focus is on man and not God – God is always working for our good. Praise Him when anxiety arises, peace is sure to come. Hebrews 10:35-36 ~ So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

  63. Tsh,
    Thank you for this timely post. My husband and baby and I just moved to Istanbul (we have a history here, so it’s not exactly new but very different with a baby). I was invited to a gathering next week and was debating whether or not to go. It will be at least a 6 hour day! Is it worth it I asked myself? Well, your post was an encouragement for me to be proactive now so my tendencies towards depression don’t catch up with me later! And, the weather is great right now. Why not?!

    Thanks again. Size bereketler olsun!

  64. Partial solutions for me:
    1) Do something that makes me happy every day.
    2) Enjoy a cup of coffee and good alone time in the mornings.
    3) Take part in things I love about this culture regularly!
    4) When strangers stop me on the street to chat, I make time for them.

  65. Wow, just wow. Needed this.

    I have so many partial solutions but a big one right now is doing most of the work to create community. We have some lovely families in our lives but they hardly ever have company so we are pretty much always the ones who coordinate or host. Would be great if I wasn’t always the one preparing the food, cleaning before, cleaning after. But…I need people. Really, really need people. So I keep doing it and hope that one day my willingness to open up my less than perfect home, serve less than gourmet food, and just enjoy each other will encourage them to give it a try.

  66. This post is a gift today. We moved about a month ago for my husband to begin his dream job, that we’d been working toward for 10 years. I left my wonderful career behind and began SAHM life w/our 3 littles in an actual house. We’re closer to family, too. Should be livin’ the dream, right? Not so much. It has been heartbreaking. I feel upended in every way, and guilty about my feelings. I’ve been forcing myself to make friends, but sick kids have thwarted a couple weeks of socializing. And, I broke my toe a week after we got here, so exercise is not an option for another month.

    The partial solution language is really helpful, since things clearly are not easy right now! Thanks Tsh, and to all the others who have shared their stories.

  67. This, this will preach! Every August I spend a month with people who are transitioning to life in China and I say variations of this. Thank you! And I know that Rodger and that clinic and that place. Such a place of redemption.

  68. By nature I’m shy, quiet, reserved, prefer staying in, along, reading; a behind the scenes type at work; don’t like the limelight… you all get the picture. But being a Mom changed that… I have to set up meetings with teachers, specialists, doctors, attend birthday parties. How does one go from introvert to extrovert? Well you don’t really. Inside you are and always will be who you are, but the one word forgotten here is ‘strong’. I am a strong person. I can step out-of-my-box and be who I need to be. This year I’ve had to go even further. I’ve made the choice to homeschool. That means I need to find even more social functions to get me out of the house for my child. So now I’m attending picnics, joining co-ops, attending homeschool conventions. This isn’t easy, but it’s not hard either. I know myself well. I’m strong, I can do this, I can put myself into situations and show confidence. As long as – and this is the key – I can recharge! Have time to myself, read a book, curl up on my sofa, be quiet. It’s important to refuel – and then I’m back out there again. Even put myself out there for a game of Bunco this week! A group of 12 women, I knew only one other! Talk about energy. The conversations were bottomless! I had a wonderful time and I’m so proud to have said yes – I was quite nervous about this. And tonight I’m enjoying quiet time with my family, watching a movie and now going to curl up in bed with my husband and my book – recharging!

  69. I love this post! I have dealt with depression for years and struggle with it often. Im glad to see your awesome outcome and recovery!!! It truely is an inspiration.

  70. I really know how you felt. I spent a few months in the ME with my husband who is from there. I found it extremely isolating at the same time that it was extremely interesting. Everything was different. I couldn’t buy fresh cream where we were, but only cream in a long life pack. I looked for anything to make me feel at home while I was in our apartment for hours each day alone whie my husband tended to his dying father in hospital – I found crumbed beef at a high end supermarket and ate it every day with fried tomatoes, just to feel like I had something from home. If I went to the hospital I couldn’t understand anything. I would kiss my father in law, tear up tha he was so frail, and he would smile and speak his good English to me, but then quickly get my husband to take me away. He didn’t want to have me see him so sick. Such politeness was difficult though as I never felt I was of any use. I would walk home with my one yr old daughter and tidy for hours and look out the windows at the dusty city and wonder who was behind all the other windows across the hillside. I remember one day I went out alone with the baby. I was worried to go alone but I went anyway. I’ll never forget the smile from the old man in the corner shop and when he said Ciao to me, lol. It made my day. I hadn’t worn my scarf that day either and felt like myself for the first time in weeks.
    Now at home in Sydney sometimes I neglect to do what seems hard though. Sometimes I keep the kids at home for too many days. Then an appointment drags me out of the house, I meet people, I smile at strangers, and my heart lifts like nothing in alone time can compare to. We need people. We need simple understandings, even just for a little while. Just a moment, to feel ok again. To feel noticed 🙂 its all the small moments that make a difference to your mental health.

  71. Reading your post, and many of the comments, has been a blessing! Thank you! Partial for me right now is I have to work full time, BUT it is as a school teacher so I have off the same days as my 2 kiddos. My devotional yesterday was about praising God for where I am right now, because it is right where he wants me and has plans for this time, even I don’t think it’s ideal.

  72. Love this post, Tsh.

    That’s what I’m writing about this month (30 Days Autumn Inspiration) over at RE.

    Community is so important. I don’t think people realize what it can do for them, and for others. And … teaching their kids!

    Thank you for writing this! 🙂

  73. Thanks so much to all of you! You are an inspiration to me. I suffer from chronic migraines and antidepressants help some of the symptoms. I use the headaches as an excuse though to not leave my house & have dinner or coffee with friends. Our church is almost an hour from my house and the thought of driving there to meet with friends is almost intolerable. I would live on my couch if I could. Now I am inspired to get with the women praying for me and have some fellowship. Thanks so much.

  74. My answer lay in what you said — do it anyway, even if you don’t feel like it! Have a plan ahead of time– know what to limit (situations or draining people, lack of sleep, stresses that you can avoid); know what to add (bright lights, happy music or movies, exercise); get a husband or friend to help you be on the lookout for the signs of slipping into the pit so you can start on the plan immediately, before it gets too bad!
    Thanks or sharing your life, Tsh!

  75. my mops group is really digging in to this topic this year too. so helpful to have girlfriends that are on the same page as you, heading in the same direction as you.

  76. This totally resonates with me. The first year I stayed home with my daughter, I didn’t have a car, and none of the people in my social circle stayed home with their kids, so I began to feel very alone. It’s so easy to begin to feel sorry for yourself and think that no one likes you. What a good reminder to always branch out and try to make friends. You never know who might become a friend if you branch out. It’s easy to get self-centered and think that no one else feels the way you do, when they probably are feeling exactly the same! Once I started branching out, I felt much better. Like you said, they may not be your best friend from college, but they remind you that you’re not alone and that someone else can love you and need you around.

  77. What a story! It is true that God created us for Community! He wants His people to be friends & share life together–the good & the bad!

    It can be hard to reach out to people–risking rejection, but the rewards are enourmous! Think of all the good times you can have with these people!

  78. I can’t tell you what a blessing this post was to me at this point in my life. I am going on my third year in a new town for me and my family (husband and two small children) and can say that I have no solid friendships to account for after all that time. People with whom I *thought* I was working to forge a relationship with showed me that I was very wrong and that I could not call them friends in any sense of the word. This was really hard to take as I had felt like we had a “community” with one another (we all share a common ground in our husbands’ work which keeps them away from home). I had realized that I needed to move on from this group and go back to my church roots and find friendships there. I am hopeful that God will put people in my life that I can form a bond with but I needed this post as a reminder that I can’t expect perfection. I need to be happy with people that aren’t the “perfect” friends and be happy with situations that aren’t “perfect” and just enjoy them for what they are. Thank you for letting the Holy Spirit use you to bring us this testimony of your own struggles. I know they weren’t easy for you Tsh but know that God is using those struggles to help others all over the world!

  79. my partial-solution is currently my housekeeping – I have a 6 year old we homeschool and a 4 month old, and watch my 5 month old niece 4 days a week. I am a ‘super cleaner’ *really enjoying cleaning my space – too much sometimes) and really enjoy organizing &every thing in it’d place. God is teaching/reminding me those things, while good things, are not priority at this time in my life…so if the dishes sit in the sink overnight (arg!) or if the bathroom mirror has spots on it (aahhhhh!) or if the floor hasn’t been vacuumed in (gulp) 3 DAYS (I know, I know, but I like to clean….) 😉 it’s ok. Let it go. God reminds me soon enough there’s be more than enough time to get it all done, now is the time to be mom in the best way I can.

  80. This should be printed out and handed to new military spouses everywhere, especially overseas! What a wonderful testimony of pushing through, even in those dark moments, and the Lord knows I know those all too well. Thank you so much for sharing your story. With a new station every few years it’s difficult to push yourself to make friends even though you know you’re going to have to say goodbye in a short amount of time. Add on deployments and the fact that you’re typically so far away from your loved ones back ‘home’ and it’s no wonder you meet so many spouses that are depressed. I was one of those until in prayer God just said “enough is enough!” My partial solution has been getting involved in the awesome resources we have available to us, it has helped pushed me into opportunities of community I would have never seen otherwise. Between Bible studies, opportunities with Chapel Services, and family groups within my husband’s unit, it’s hard not to meet people I enjoy spending time with. It was very difficult at first with our newest duty station having arrived 35 weeks pregnant with our first in Japan, but stepping out in faith has brought forth blessings I couldn’t even imagine.

  81. I very much appreciate this perspective about partial solutions and accepting the imperfection. Since I’ve had children, I’ve become much better at seeking out “the essential need” and letting other things go. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  82. What a great reminder of “if we wait for perfection, we will never step out into community” I am taking a chance stepping out in community, even though it is online! I am leading 15 women in a Bible Study. Now, to take that next step of community at my church….

  83. Wow Tsh. Thanks for making yourself vulnerable. That’s not always easy. And the reminder is awesome. I have struggled with some of those same things. Making the effort to extend myself in friendship. Thinking everything has to be just perfect.

    I had a test in this just yesterday. We are in a temporary housing situation, and it is well, let’s just say…a scary little house. And, a friend wanted to come over. I almost freaked, but then it was like God was humbling me and teaching me and comforting me all at the same time. Isn’t He cool like that.

    She came, bug traps and all. No hot water and all. Scary crazy wooden ramp with nails that reach up and grab you on the way in and all. But you know, we had an awesome time talking and “doing hair.” And, yet again, I got “over” myself a little bit more. That’s what it’s all about right, getting over me so we can make much of Him by loving others and lifting them up….

  84. You eloquently described what many military spouses have to go through. As a military spouse I find myself in this new situation frequently. Every time we move, we have to start all over again. As an introvert, I find myself craving a lot of time by myself. It is easier not to have to make that time for coffee or a walk with a new acquaintance. But I find that putting myself out there and trying to establish new friendships makes me a happier person. The new people I meet are definitely not perfect–we have differing opinions and they don’t always share the same passions–but they definitely make me feel part of a community.

  85. I try to do something with my friends once a month. Sometimes we do things together as a group or separately. I find myself always the one to set everything up which can be sort of depressing, because if I did not set things up we would never see each other. Oh well, I guess seeing them is what is important.

  86. Please don’t think I’m strange. I’m sure many of us women feel the same way. But I just love you. You’re so real. I wish I was able to express things the way you are able to. We all may read what you’re saying and nod our heads because we totally understand it, but to be able to express it with words and do it well is amazing. A gift. For people who can really write well, if they journal, I think they can have a higher level of self-awareness and an appreciation for their life’s experiences. Just think of all the things we forget, but if we are able to write about them and review them later, it allows us to learn from them and maybe be grateful as well.

    I have a wonderful family, I am a Mom of young people, I work outside the home, I am busy just like the rest of us. One thing I miss is having close girlfriend relationships. I am a friendly, sociable person, but learned long ago that I am on the introverted side. So with everything going on, I cherish my alone time. Still, there is that longing for the girlfriend connection. I have friends, don’t get me wrong lol, but with the birth of blogs, we are all able to find those seemingly kindred spirits online. I sometimes wonder if we could all make up a little circle of friends with our favorite bloggers, who would we all choose. I know you’d be one of them. Right now, I think I could talk for hours (or just listen) with you, Melissa from The Inspired Room, Lisa Byrne at Well Grounded Life and Traci at Beneath Your Heart. Tell me I’m not too crazy (and maybe I’ll believe you). 🙂

  87. Wow, there is so much here that I needed to hear! We just moved…not quite as much culture shock as the middle east, but for a sun soaked Arizona girl rainy Washington has been quite a challenge. Throw in wondering “did God really lead us here when nothing is working out as planned”, and not knowing anyone and ya, this Mama need something to change. I have been convicted lately to have people over weekly for dinner, but have been facing the same challenges you mentioned (the house isn’t right yet, things aren’t set up how we’d like them to be, I don’t have time for x-y-z). I needed to hear that it is worth the effort. I will try. Thanks 🙂

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