if-we-dont-deal-with-our-trauma-our-trauma-begins-to-deal-with-us-if-we-dont-allow-ourselves-to-feel-our-feelings-they-have-a-habit-of-peeking-around-the-corners-of-our-lives-bre

admitting my brokenness.

“Wow. You’ve been through a lot.”

My therapist said this to me at my most recent appointment. She said it a few times, actually, while reiterating how far I’ve come from what I’ve been through (which is a topic for another post).

It’s nice having someone else validate that your life is/has been batshit crazy. Because it has. Even when I’ve pretended otherwise.

I very rarely admit to myself how much I’ve been through. How much has happened in my 24 years.

I tend to shove it all under a rug. Pretend it’s “normal” when it’s anything but. I just shrugged my shoulders at my junk, barely mentioning its existence until asked. And even when asked, I tend to leave out the more unsavory parts– the parts I’m either ashamed to admit or fear people will judge me for.

I struggle to face the reality of what I’ve been dealt. Instead of actually dealing with it (and the emotions attached), I’ve hidden it under the rug, letting it collect dust until someone lifts the rug to sweep the underneath.

There are some things I let people see. I let people in to my world when it comes to my battles with mental illness, because I learned that not only did it help me to be open about it, but it made others too. Sometimes I’m open about other stuff. But it’s rare.

Truthfully, sometimes I just leave things out of my story because they seem too crazy or ridiculous to be believed. Or because there’s so much that I forget details. For real, I asked my mom a question a few days ago and she reminded me of a pretty important story/detail I completely forgot to clue my therapist into. oops.

I’m not talking about honesty online, for the most part; there are just some things that are kept off the interwebs because I don’t think I should leave them out there for the whole world to see.  I’m talking about real-life, face-to-face vulnerability with friends and people that know me. Writing is the best way for me to unpack and sort what I’m experiencing and thinking, but sometimes things are better left unsaid (or unwritten).

I don’t need or want the whole internet/blogosphere to know my life. I just want the people in my life to know it. At least I do sometimes. 

Some days I don’t think most anyone knows all of me. Except maybe my therapist. (and I haven’t had enough sessions yet to even scrape the surface with my newest one).

I don’t think this is a bad thing, necessarily. But I wonder sometimes what it would be like if i was completely vulnerable and honest with people. If i was fully trusting with my story.

I’ve hidden parts of my life for fear’s sake for so long. I’ve hidden under Elsa’s “Let It Go” philosophy: conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.

It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve realized just how important specific hidden parts of my story are to who I am. Through therapy and actually sharing parts of my life that I’ve kept hidden for so long, I’ve made some huge strides in connecting the dots in my life… oh, I’m like this because this happened. Or I do things one because of this thing or that experience… Insert more vague examples here.

Sarah Bessey last year (on this day, actually) posted this about sanitized stories we tell each other… how we are only vulnerable with parts of the story, how we only let ourselves feel the feelings we’re comfortable with.

How we compartmentalize our life stories to fit into what we want them to be instead of being raw and 100% real with each other.

She said this in said post:

“I do not feel like I am allowed to be traumatized: it turned out fine. Look!”

There are so many times I feel guilty for talking about the things I struggle with. I see other peoples’ lives and what they’re dealing with and I think, how do I even have a right to complain? Look at what they’re going through! My problems are so minuscule compared to theirs. I should just not share what I’m dealing with. 

And then I also think about the whole look how far I’ve come angle. I’ve overcome so much! I’ve got a college degree from a great school that i love, I’m working at a place I love doing what I’m passionate about. I have great friends and a God that loves me. I have hobbies and passions and things that bring me such joy. I have no right to complain. I have no right to talk about where I’ve been because of where i am now… right?

How can I be traumatized by my trauma when others have it so much worse?

Because my trauma is my trauma. And it needs to be heard.

My feelings are my feelings. And they need to be felt. 

My struggles are my struggles. And I don’t need to put myself through the Grief and Suffering Olympics just because someone else’s right-now is worse than mine.

My suffering is worse because it is mine, unique to me, and how I feel and deal with it differently makes it worse to me. And it doesn’t need to be kept under a rug because of fear of being less-than. 

My right-now might be OK, but that doesn’t mean my trauma from the past is less-than.

And it’s OK-more than OK, actually- to share your brokenness openly with people.

“If we don’t deal with our trauma, our trauma begins to deal with us. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel our feelings, they have a habit of peeking around the corners of our lives, breaking in at the most inopportune moments.”

if-we-dont-deal-with-our-trauma-our-trauma-begins-to-deal-with-us-if-we-dont-allow-ourselves-to-feel-our-feelings-they-have-a-habit-of-peeking-around-the-corners-of-our-lives-breI’ve spent a long time avoiding my trauma– all of it. All. of. it.

I’ve said it’s too much or I’ve said it’s not enough.

I’ve thought it wasn’t important enough to share.

I’ve feared people would see me differently or feel sorry for me.

I wanted to be the friend everyone could lean on, instead of having to lean on others.

I’ve worried people would leave when they see the whole me– the whole mess, the baggage I’d rather leave at baggage claim for someone else to deal with.

I’ve figured no one would care. That I’d be better off showing the shiny, good parts of my story than the whole shebang.

As Mike Foster said in his book Wonderlife:

“For so long, I thought I had to be so strong. I believed the lie that said that I could only show healed scars but not open wounds (THIS THIS THIS). I practiced bogus authenticity. I mastered carefully orchestrated, controlled vulnerability. I held back my heart because I was scared. Scared of rejection. Scared of losing love. Scared of people thinking I was week. (Italicized words my own)

show-meI could have written that exact paragraph word-for-word. It’s why I’m carefully veiled about my vulnerability: I only share the things that won’t scare people off, the things that people won’t be shocked by. I don’t share all of me because that is a lot of me and I don’t think people want to know all that. People don’t care that much to know my whole story. Right?

Now I know this: it doesn’t matter. I’m not sharing my life story because I care about what everyone else thinks. 

Instead, I’m choosing to deal with my trauma. I’m deciding to be vulnerable because I need to be honest with myself about where I am instead of being fake vulnerable because I think it’s what people want to hear. I’m choosing to work through my feelings instead of shoving them under a rug.

Because I’ve let my emotions fester underneath the surface for so long. 

By not dealing with my past and my baggage, I’ve inflicted my own deeper wounds that have been hard to recover from. I’m still recovering, and probably always will be. The anxiety and depression I’ve struggled with stem from stuffing all my emotions away– from letting the hurts from my past go unnoticed and uncared for.

As Sarah puts it, I let it manifest into this mental hell. This mind-numbing battle between me and my brain. A battle that damages every damn thing I do and think and say. I hate it.

And I hate that I’m just now figuring out the things that have made me think and feel this way. If I’d worked through this stuff as a kid (or even as a teen!), I may not have struggled this much. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, y’know?

If I was just honest with myself, that I was hurting, man would life be different. If I’d been honest that I was in need of help, in need of something to fix the brokenness I didn’t realize was there… a lot of things would be different.

We’re a lot different when we admit we have baggage to deal with. I’m a lot different when I admit I have baggage I need to deal with. 

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Source: Anthem of Hope

In the latest She Reads Truth study (on Hosea), Amanda Williams shared that she and her husband spend time “admitting our brokenness” with one another. I love that. I love the idea of admitting our brokenness– admitting where we falter, where we’re struggling, what baggage or struggles or pain we come with from our past or our present. But I don’t admit my brokenness– or my full brokenness– like I should with the people I trust to hold it. 

I want to be willing to admit my brokenness. My not okay-ness. I want to be honest with my answers to how I’m doing and what I’m struggling with. I want to hold my story up to the light with people that I love and that love me back, and say: “this happened. here’s how it hurt me. here’s how I’ve overcome.” Because with people beside me and a God for me, I have been able to walk through a lot and make it to the other side. Now i just need to work through the muck I left in the rearview mirror.

I want to be willing to admit that I am one broken, screwed up individual. That I have a past that isn’t pretty or fun, and that a lot of what I struggle with today stems from pain I still am dealing with from it. That I am far from perfect and am desperately in need of grace. And I want to be willing to admit that, no matter who is listening.

I don’t want veiled vulnerability and bogus authenticity. I want to be real and honest with everyone I meet.

I want to learn how admit my brokenness, one life story at a time.

healing

inching towards healing.

Sometimes we inch towards our healings.- Sarah Bessey

When it comes to healing, I always want instantaneous results.

I want to feel better now.

I want to be better now.

I want healing to happen overnight, with little to no work involved.

That’s not how healing works, though. 

healing in itself is defined as a process. not an overnight miracle.

it’s the process of making something whole. meaning it has to fix the broken pieces and make them whole again, not just put a bandaid on them and pretend everything’s going to be better in the morning.


I have a lot (a lot) of crap to work through. A lot of healing to do from hurts in the past and brokenness that is too much to write here. I’ve suffered a lot emotionally, mentally, psychologically, at the hands of both myself and other people.

It’s a lot to heal from. A lot to deal with on my own. Especially when I want it all to just go away in the blink of an eye.

I like doing things the easy way (ask my Mom how she feels about this). I’m a shortcut, easy way kind of girl:  if it can be done faster and easier then I’ll do it that way, even if it costs me somewhere else.

I like comfort. I like my comfort zone over doing new things that scare me- hence why my homebody status today had me in pajamas binge watching Friends for the 3rd time in 3 months.

I choose silly and goofy over serious. It’s a lot easier to hide how I really am behind sarcasm and goofy dance moves.

I hate conflict– I want everything to be good and happy and peaceful. Conflict, both internal or external, cause me to flee and hide.

I like things quick and painless, shortcuts and easy DIY fixes. Transformations that happen overnight.

I think that’s why DIY shows both invigorate and frustrate me so much: because while the appearance is that change and transformation happens nearly overnight (like I want), the shows don’t give us the behind-the-scenes. They don’t show the whole transformation, from beginning to end– they only give us the highlight reel. They make it appear to take as little time as possible, without showing us all the extra stuff required to get those transformations done. It doesn’t take into the account the before and after processes that the transformation has to go through.

They only scratch the surface of the transformation– like I’ve only scratched the surface of the healing process. 

Healing requires work. Hard work. Unavoidable work. Work that I’d rather say no thanks to. But work that is needed to get to and through the muck to find the other side.

Healing requires me to face my mess. It requires conflict and awkwardness and vulnerability– all things I hate. And yet, the healing process promises that those things will be worth it in the end.

Healing requires time. Too much time. But if it took me years to suffer from what needs healing, it should take at least that amount of time to find healing, right?

But yet, I want it fast. I want it easy, pain-free, comfortable.

But healing isn’t any of that.

Healing is awkward. It requires me to delve deep into past wounds and hurts that I’d rather keep buried underneath where people (myself included) can’t find them. Sharing scares me because I don’t want people to see all of me and decide that I’m not worth all the mess I bring with me.

Healing is scary. Therapy is one of the best and hardest things I’ve ever done, because it requires me to be honest and upfront with my whole life– all of it.

Healing is hard. It takes so much out of me– dedication, energy, going back to a place of hurt and pain. I hate uncovering that stuff. It hurts. It’s uncomfortable. It’s exhausting.

Healing is slow. It’s not a sprint in a marathon. I can’t expect to be healed of every little thing that I’ve been hurt by after one therapy session or one talk with a friend. Healing is inching your way through the process of becoming whole– taking the broken pieces and the mess, and holding them up to the light, in hopes to work through them to find wholeness again. It’s messy and uncomfortable and God is it painful– but when I hold these things up to the light, the pieces of my brokenness start finding their place in this process, and help me to become whole. One. piece. at. a. time.

Healing is not easy. It’s frustrating at times, having to re-live the hurt and the pain. It’s never-ending. But it’s necessary. Healing is the only way I can be who I’m made to be. Healing is the only way I’ll find wholeness in spite of the baggage and mess I carry with me. Healing provides me a way to work through the mess and learn how to handle it, instead of let it continue to break and hurt me.


This past week I’ve been studying Philippians. The whole book amazes me– Paul is so joyful and encouraging despite his circumstances (he wrote it while in prison). His faith in Jesus changes his whole perspective.

There’s one verse in particular that has stood out to me this whole week, Philippians 1:6.

 “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

I love the Voice version:

I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world. 

Anything He starts in us, He will bring to completion.

No matter how many times I stop or try to avoid it, He WILL bring my healing to completion.

It won’t be today or tomorrow. But He started this process in me, and somehow, someway, He will figure out a way to help me complete it. Even when I don’t want to.

Healing is a process to becoming whole; Jesus won’t leave me where He found me in my brokenness. Through healing, I will find wholeness again– and He will lead it to completion. He won’t forget. He won’t give up (even when I do). He won’t stop when it gets hard (like I have too many times). He will keep inching me towards healing, until the day I finally find wholeness again. It’s going to take time and work, but He promises there will be an end to it all– and He won’t let it go until we get there.

Healing isn’t going to fix me and my baggage instantly. No matter how hard I want it to, therapy and medicine and all the things I do to help find healing are not easy overnight fixes. They require dedication and time and energy I’d rather spend sleeping.

But I do it. Because I’ve seen the opposite of healing, and I don’t want to be in that space again. I want to be whole. I want to be me, baggage and all. 

I want to find healing. And I’ll inch my way there, instead of sprinting for a quick fix that does nothing but hurt me more.

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god-inspired dreams (and learning how to dream them).

There’s a part of me that’s never been much of a dreamer. I’m a daydreamer, for sure– I’m in my own head a lot of the day, picturing what I want my life to look like. It’s an escape tactic, a “I wish this is how things worked out” picture reel, my ideal wannabe life playing in my head like a movie.

Except I’ve never really believed any of it could come true. Because daydreams are just dreams. 

Daydreams are one thing, fueled mostly by boredom and the what-ifs of life. But actually dreaming about my life? Something I’ve never done.

I’m a planner by nature, not a dreamer. A logical, dedicated, helpful worker bee. I need schedules, goals, and a plan. I have a get-it-done mindset. It’s the reason I love helping people: I want to be useful, to be needed to help get things done (even when I can’t get anything done in my own life). I’m the capable, reliable, what-would-we-do-without-you? friend that spends more time focusing on what she can fix and do in front of her rather than what she could dream up for the future. A lot of this stems from my perfectionist, earning/proving my worth mindset, but it’s ingrained in me to plan, work, and do, and not to dream about unrealistic ideas or thoughts.

 I like to do, put my words into action and actually accomplish something– something I never thought dreams could do. 

Dreams have always seemed lofty to me. Dreams were too much pie-in-the-sky, head in the clouds wishful thinking and less working and doing and earning that I was accustomed to.

I’ve never been a dreamer, imagining beyond the scope of what I can work towards or plan. If it’s not something I can map out and figure out and work hard towards, then what’s the point?

If there’s not an end goal, a point B, a light at the end of the tunnel, then I want out. I don’t just wanna sit around and dream about things that can happen possibly; I want to make things happen that I know will happen. 

Except I don’t. I don’t know that they will happen. I used to think I did. I had it all planned out, remember? Then God said no. And I had to say goodbye to a chapter that I thought was going to be forever. (and for the record: I’m so glad I did, because it’s changed my life for the better).

I had no clue what to do next. I didn’t have any plans, let alone dreams, to cling to.

It’s been a year almost to the day that my plans began to unravel. I’m happy to say that I’m truthfully in a great place— I’m in a job that i love, i feel at home with the people I live with, co-workers already feel like family, I’m enjoying my roles and responsibilities and actually feel supported and capable of the task at hand. Such. a. difference. I’m at such peace about where I’m at right now. Hallelujah amen.

But I’ve still not given thought to what my dreams of the future look like.

A few months ago at camp, my dear mentor Papa Steve told us at counselor training to “don’t just dream big. just DREAM.” Dream big, dream small, dream no matter the size. Just dream. The thought of dreams has been on my mind since then, but it faded quickly into the background due to in-front-of-me things like work and life changes. I didn’t have time for the abstract, lofty thinking that dreaming required.

Dreams are a big deal at the nonprofit I’m interning at. (Preston Taylor Ministries— they are awesome and you should totally check them out, especially if you’re local!). They have dream coaches that help kids discover and live out their God-inspired dreams, Fun Friday activities that provide enrichment activities for kids to work towards their dream and grow in the activities and dreams they’re passionate about, and summer camp opportunities to help kids at a more in-depth look at what their dreams could do.

All for helping kids dream about something more than they’re living in right now.

One of the major tenets of the mission statement at PTM is to help kids “discover  and live their God-inspired dreams.”

I’d literally never even thought of that phrase before PTM.

God-inspired dreams?! I’ve heard of God’s plans. I’ve heard of God’s will.  But dreams?! God inspires dreams?! This is all new to this type-A logical human, people.

On our get to know you posters, we were asked to write our own God-inspired dreams. I drew a complete blank, before scribbling something about writing on there that I have no clue what it means.

A few days ago one of my roommates/co-interns asked what I thought my God-inspired dream was, and I said I don’t know because I literally had no answer. 

Because the path I’d been going down? It was all in a plan. It was never based off a dream. I’ve never based my life off of a dream.

I’ve never dreamed like that, if that makes sense. I’ve never really thought so much about dreams as being something to really put thought into like I would a plan or a goal. They’re just… well, dreams. Ideas. Lofty wishes that don’t add up to much.

I’ve merely planned, and hoped to God that it would work out. But as I’ve clearly learned over the past year, that’s not always the best route.

So as I’m encouraging my kids to discover their God-inspired dreams… I’m learning how to discover my own God-inspired dreams, too.

Because I want to dream instead of just plan.

I want to wonder instead of work towards something that isn’t guaranteed.

I want to learn how to dream without the fear of the unknown crashing down around me.

I want to believe what Ephesians 3:20 says–that God can do immeasurably more than I think. Or imagine. Or dream. He can do so much more than I can– so why not dream up something? 

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I used to be able to come up with a million reasons as to why not– it’s not logical. there’s no plan. i’m not capable or ready or able to do the things that people dream about. i’d rather plan something small, something I can do that’s tangible and realistic.

But that’s not our God, I’m learning (sometimes the hard way, ugh). Our God didn’t call us to be planners that only do what they think they’re capable of. He calls us to let Him do the work in us, and that could take us anywhere and doing anything. Even something we don’t understand or don’t think we’re capable of.


Here I am. Send me. Those words are usually a casting call for those that want God to use them to do extraordinary things only He can accomplish, right?  They’re not meant to be said and then a path be planned and mapped out with pristine perfection– they’re meant to be lived. Boldly. Bravely.

That’s what dreams are, I’m realizing: they aren’t lofty wishful thinking. They’re bold, brave, loud declarations that God has given me these gifts and talents and passions to do something bigger than myself.  They aren’t perfect paths or well mapped out courses where I work from point A to point B. Dreams are where our skills, talents, and gifts intersect with the passions and desires of the heart God has given us. They’re where we discover that God has given us our personalities and talents for a reason– and dreams are what we create when we figure out these things about ourselves. 

At least that’s how I want to think–I’m in the process of changing my mindset on plans and dreams. It’s a work in progress.  I’m still in my planner, worker-bee mindset, proving my worth by what I do and how I plan my path. But I’m learning how to give my plans over and let God plant a dream in me instead. It’s a total life change, but I believe God can take my mess and make it into something I can dream of using, right?!


So. How do I learn to be a dreamer? I have no clue. Truly.

I don’t know what dreams look like, let alone God-inspired dreams. But my prayer currently is for God to show me my dreams– and show me how to dream. How to discover the dreams– the skills, the passions, the desires of my heart that He’s given me to pursue Him and his people better.

I want to dream God-inspired dreams and not plans of my own volition. I want to be willing to dream instead of work towards something that may not come to pass on my own.

I’m going to start discovering less plans for my life and more dreams.  I want to believe that God can do immeasurably more than I think… so I might as well take a risk and dream up something only God can do.

 

source: http://unfetteredpotential.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Aslan-Not-Safe-But-Good.jpg

it’s not safe, but it’s good.

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, CS Lewis)

This quote has been swirling in my head a lot recently, as I begin to think about what this next year looks like.

I spent some much-needed time with a dear friend today– after being surrounded by awesome co-workers and roommates (who are ALSO awesome co-workers), I was so thankful for some time away with a friend who already knows and loves me well. We talked about the upcoming year and all it entails in detail for the both of us; we were on the way back to my house when she asked me, “do you feel at peace about it?” As in, do I feel at peace about this new crazy life change: new job, new roommates/co-workers, new slightly-different career path (at least for the year).

Yes. Yes, I really do.

Truly, I haven’t felt so at peace about something in a lonnnnng time.

Because I know that this is exactly where I am meant to be.

Am I worried about next week when we meet kids for the 1st time? Definitely.

Am I anxious about doing a good job, living up to the standards of my workplace? (plus my own ridiculously high standards) Absolutely.

Am I overwhelmed with information and unsure how to unpack it all before Monday? You betcha! 

Am I totally scared of the future year and what is going to unfold? Pretty much! 

(I was then reminded that of course these feelings are 100% normal before this kind of life-change! duh!)

But am I at peace about this year and what all it’s going to hold? 110%. Without a shadow of a doubt. 

Despite all the worries and fears about what this year is going to hold, I am at nothing but peace. Why? Because I know that this is where God has placed me right now. I know this is what I’m meant to be doing. And that gives me peace beyond all understanding, beyond all fear.


God isn’t meant to be safe. And neither are his plans for me.

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This year is going to be hard– we’ve heard it from multiple different people, in multiple different ways. Hard. Not easy. Difficult. Fun, yes, life-changing, yes, but easy? Nope. 

It requires a lot of me. It makes it impossible not to bow at the throne of grace and ask for it openly and often, because Lordy am I going to need it when I inevitably screw up.

It’s forcing me to accept the fact that I cannot do this year (or this day, or this hour)  on my own– it’s only through His strength am I equipped for what He’s going to do this year. 

It’s making me have to think about my boundaries, my helper, got-to-fix-everyone tendencies,  and my people-pleasing, everything-has-to-be-perfect standards. I’m going to have to learn how to let my standards go, help those that want to be helped and give the rest up to the Lord because I am not superwoman or everyone’s keeper (even when I want to be), give myself grace when things go awry or when I need a break, and lean on other people for help and criticism and guidance down this road, cause I cannot do it on my own (i’m really bad at this part).

It requires me to love myself and people I work with and for very well, even when I don’t feel like it.

It’s going to leave me exhausted in every sense of the word some days. Some days I’ll be filled up, some days I’ll be running on fumes, barely scraping by. I know that.

And this is all from the first two weeks, y’all. I haven’t even met my kids yet! And it’s already causing me to think through the way I do and am going to do things this year. That gives me hope that this really is going to be life-changing, no matter how hard.

There is nothing safe about this year. Nothing safe about taking a leap of faith into this year of pouring into these kids we get to serve and teach, into each other as co-workers and roommates, into our supervisors and other co-workers– there is nothing safe about diving in head first into the unknown.

There’s nothing safe about God and the road he’s called me on with this internship. But it’s good.

It’s so, so good.

It isn’t safe. It isn’t easy. It’s a little bit scary and already slightly exhausting.

He isn’t safe. His plans aren’t easy. His ways are somewhat terrifying and overwhelmingly exhausting, especially when I want my way.

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source: my friend Amy (it fit perfectly with this post!)

But it’s good. But He’s good.

Is he safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.

God and his plans sure aren’t safe. But they’re full of Him, and that means that they are immeasurably good. And that gives me more peace than I could have ever imagined. 

I couldn’t find a clip of the scene on youtube, so here’s my favorite song from the Narnia franchise! (brought to you by my beloved Switchfoot)

he's there in my

the choice. {an anxiety-induced honesty hour}

I’m sitting outside, on our wonderful, brand-new deck. It feels perfectly cool outside, and I can see a few stars above me (I could probs see more if I turned the deck light out, but writing a blog post in the dark doesn’t sound all that funsies). Stars bring me comfort instantly, so I keep looking up towards them for some sliver of hope and peace that tomorrow’s going to be better than what today has felt like. That peace is barely there, but barely is better than nothing so I’ll take it.

Honesty hour: My anxiety has slowly been increasing over the course of the day, mostly this afternoon/evening as I start to prepare for the week ahead. Trying to figure out transportation stuff, plans for tomorrow and the upcoming week, realizing that I had something to do that I didn’t realize I had to do (oops). It all adds up and sends me spiraling. My nerves are pretty shot, I’ve been a bit shaky all day leading up to the first official week of work. We don’t have kids until next week; this week is mostly preparation for kids, training, office hours and such, so our “real” jobs haven’t even begun yet.

And yet, I have a pit in my stomach that hasn’t gone away all day.

Mostly the thoughts and worries are unwarranted and silly. Some of them need to be dropped for now and brought back when I can actually process them.

But alas, they’re still here. Pounding inside my brain, refusing me one moment of peace before I start this new chapter tomorrow.

Transitions are always hard for me, but I’d thought I had already conquered this one, gosh dangit. (Or I thought I’d get a break this time, since it was relatively easy. Guess not?).

But I realized all the worries, concerns, bad thoughts all share the same voice:

You are a failure. 

You’ve failed before you’ve already started. 

You’re going to fail this. 

You’re not ready for this. 

You’re not up for the challenge. 

You’re a screw up. 

You can’t do this. 

You’re not wanted.

All the minute worries and fears all spiral together into this one colossal  anxious train of thought: i am not good enough for this.
I’m going in to a brand-new place, living with 4 virtual strangers that are slowly becoming friends (I hope), doing a job I’ve never done, given more responsibility than I’ve ever had. How am I supposed to be good enough for something so much bigger than me?

yesterday i wrote about how I was freakin’ chosen for this role, for this time in my life. And yet today, my brain decides that all of that was a lie.

I don’t want to believe that, y’all. I really don’t.

So in the midst of my shakiness and my pacing-the-floor anxiousness, I’m reminding myself that I have a choice. 

I can choose to live into what anxiety says. Or I can choose to throw myself into who God is, and what he’s doing. 

He’s in the middle of my mess, front and center in the chaos.

He’s not watching it unfold from afar. He’s smack dab in the heart of it with me, trying to show me what He’s doing and why He’s working this way. I’m just too caught up in all these feelings and fears to see Him in the midst of it. 

A passage from my current read I Don’t Wait Anymore has stuck in my head the last few days:

he's there in my“So you see it comes down to one thing. Every day I have a choice. I can focus on how life doesn’t look like I wanted it to, how it’s moving at a crawl… I can worry if something much worse is going to happen if I walk on into what’s ahead of me. 

Or I can choose a song. I can choose to sip my coffee slowly and keep my eyes on the goodness tumbling down from the sky, choose to keep my heart in a place of total, unwavering praise. Because He’s there in my snowstorm.”

He’s in the storm with me. He’s in the fears and worries and concerns. He’s in the unsureness and stress and unanswered questions.

I want to choose to believe him when he says, in Grace’s words, Come. I’m here. And it will be okay, instead of choosing to think that everything is not okay before it’s even started.

He’s not waiting on us to beckon him into the storm to help us; he’s waiting on us to see Him already there, ready to fight with us. He’s already there. I’m wavering between that being comforting or upsetting. Comforting because of who He is, and his love for me to be in the storm with me; upsetting because of how I’m feeling and how could he be here in this with me and not help me?!? UGH. 

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credit: dallas clayton

Anxiety happens. The questions, fears, overthinking and internal fights with myself are going to happen- they just are a part of my life. Especially when I’m at a more stressful/transitional point in my life as I am now. But I have a choice. I can give in to fear and believe what it says about me. Or I can trust that God is in this with me, even when I’m not feeling or seeing Him just yet. 

 

I can believe in what my brain and emotions tell me I am, or what He tells me He is.

I want to choose Him. But the fears are so loud, the questions and uncertainties playing like a constant record in my head. It’s a battle that is nowhere near over tonight or tomorrow, but I am working towards choosing Him. Choosing to trust and believe that He is in the storm with me, that He will calm the storm and bring peace and hope, even if it’s in small places.

Choice is a powerful, slightly scary thing. I long to make the choice that leads me to less of fear, and more of Him. I hope I can figure out how.

one year later {god’s timing is real, y’all}.

Today was odd.

(Today meaning August 5th- technically I’m writing this at 1am 3am on the 6th, but roll with me here).

Not the day itself– I spent most of today at a work retreat, preparing for my new internship to begin (I’ve mentioned it here a bit, I’ll go in-depth about it sooner or later). The day was fine. Busy, information-filled, slightly loud and people-filled and spirit-heavy, which was wonderful.

But something about me and this day just felt off. I don’t really know how to describe it.

It took me until now to realize it: the date.

I had messed up my daily calendar, thinking today was August 4th. When I flipped it to the 5th earlier this evening, something caught my attention. What does August 5th mean? What does this date have to do with anything for me?

After a few minutes of thinking and some social media investigating, I remembered.

August 5th, 2015. The day I started student teaching.

My whole body went cold. And then tears came.

At first it was tears of grief. Really, it was a year ago? This whole hellish chapter started this day last year. I cannot believe it’s been a full year since that day. This day (well really, the next 2 days) began a living nightmare that I still have a hard time grappling with.

The year that’s been since then has been pretty hellish thanks to student teaching. A lot of wondering and questioning and grieving what was and what was supposed to be, and fear of what was unknown and what was to come in consequence. A lot of wondering why–after teaching was the only thing I ever wanted to do, why was it suddenly not? Why? Why dangit, why?!?! It was all I ever wanted. Ever.

Never in a million years would I have ever thought this day last year I’d be where I am today.

This day last year I was so excited and optimistic and prepared for a life of teaching (at least I thought I was).

I had my whole freakin’ life planned out, y’all. It was mapped out. I had no Plan B for if teaching didn’t work out, because it wasn’t supposed to. It’s all I ever wanted!

And then I didn’t want it anymore. And my whole life fell out from under me.

After I thought about the sad part of this season for a bit (I’ve already done my grieving of this chapter, y’all; there was no need or desire for me to go backwards to it), I then realized something else:

God’s timing isn’t foolish. Nor is he.

God’s timing is literally perfect. I used to not get that, because I wanted things on my terms and done my way and that’s how my life got flipped turned upside down.

I wanted things on my timetable, in my control–but then God is all: look at me now! Do you see what I’m doing here! 

Don’t you see? I hear him whisper.

Then I put two and two together.

August 5th, 2015 was the day I started student teaching.

August 5th, 2016 was the end of my first full week at my new, completely unplanned internship.

The internship that would have never happened if student teaching had worked out. The same internship where I’ll be using my degree and the things I was trained and taught to do as a teacher, but in a different setting with a different set of kids. The internship that fell into my lap and was offered to me a week before graduation– after months of agonizing over the “what’s next?” questions everyone was throwing at me.

For such a long time, I did not get why after wanting to be a teacher MY WHOLE LIFE was I supposed to not be one. I didn’t get it, and it grieved me so much. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around why my plan didn’t work out when it was the only thing I ever wanted.

Now I get it. Literally a year later. To the DAY.

God ain’t no fool, but he sure likes fooling me into learning crap the hard way.

His timing is seamless.

This week last year, I was beginning what I thought was the beginning of the end of my college/ figuring out my life’s work chapter.

This week this year opened a whole new chapter. A new chapter that wouldn’t have come to pass if student teaching had panned out as I’d planned, if teaching had been the right path.

God does things when we surrender our plans. It’s not instantaneous or laid out as I may want it to be, but it’s perfectly planned out. On his time.

For such a time as this, I was meant to be here. It was perfectly planned and orchestrated, down to the literal DATE, y’all.

God is funny like that.

So my tears of grief (and regret, let’s be real), soon turned into tears of awe. Tears of relief that he really does hold my world in his hands, that he really does plan it all for my good, even when I can’t see it.

He knows. He sees. And He times things greater than I ever could. 

Hallelujah for that.

Bonus story: i turned my Bob Goff/Love Does calendar over to the 6th, and this is what I read:

FullSizeRender.jpg

A year later, I can finally look back and say that it’s never been more awesome for my plans to fail.

five minute friday {hidden}

it’s five minute friday time! woohoo!

today’s word:

todayi-am-600x600

Today I was reading the book I Don’t Wait Anymore by Grace Thornton while in the doctor’s office. Grace’s blog was the 1st blog I really ever followed, so I was excited for her book– and it hasn’t disappointed.

She was writing a bit about visiting Corrie Ten Boom’s house (if you don’t know her, google her, she’s awesome).  She told a story about a piece of embroidery hidden in her house, below the hiding place she used to shield people from the Nazis.Here’s the quote from the book (i posted the quote after time because it’s long):

“The tour guide reached past Dana and me, pulled the frame from the wall,and turned it over. The back was a straight-up mess. If you’ve ever done any stitching, you know what the underside of something like that looks like– an ugly tangle of threads with no visible picture at all.

That’s the side we see, Corrie would say. In our pride, when He weaves the dark threads in with the bright ones, we forget that He can see the upper side– the real picture, the intricate design– while all we see is the mess. “Every thread is important,” Corrie said.”

God sees the whole picture even when it’s hidden from us, and all we see is the messy behind-the-scenes moments.

When all we have is crazy, or broken, or frustrating, He knows that it’s all going to be a part of the greater story he’s telling. Even when the end results are hidden from us, we know that He’s going to make the mess and tangled threads we try to weave together and make something beautiful from them.

As Grace says earlier in the book, “In that deep place, God was weaving wonders from the mess.” 

Even when the big picture is hidden from us, God is weaving every thread-no matter how long or short or pretty or ugly– into something  for our good and for his glory. He’s weaving wonders from the mess of threads we’re making, even when we don’t understand what the picture’s going to look like. 

Let us not worry about the parts of our story hidden from us right now– for they will all be woven together by the Master Creator into something far better than we could ever piece together ourselves.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

doesn’t really go with the topic of the post, but it was stuck in my head the entire time writing so here ya go…❤

 

five minute friday {create}

taking a break from my Friends bingeing to join five minute friday this week! it’s been awhile.

the word for this week:

 

create-600x600

I like this one!

Everything I make or create is in worship and to the glory of the one who created me.

Art and crafting is one of my primary ways to worship. I’ve always been a hands-on learner– I like doing something with my hands to help me understand or learn new things. And that quickly translated into my faith life too: I love writing out verses in a pretty (for me) script, or drawing some sort of art to represent a Bible story. When I have quiet time, somehow someway usually my crafting supplies comes out, and I make something out of it: scrapbook pages etched with scripture, canvases painted and drawn on. It’s an outward expression of worship: something tangible to remind me of the words, the story, the God I love.

Bible journaling is a “trend” so to speak right now: people are starting to use journaling Bibles and arts/crafts supplies to draw, write, create pieces of art as worship to our creator. I quickly got on board, buying a journaling Bible and some supplies with Christmas money. It’s basically what I was doing before, but IN my Bible, which I loved. I could turn to a specific verse and write/draw/create something that went with that verse, contained in the Bible. I love it.

Something I noticed soon after starting Bible journaling was how much of my perfectionism is wrapped up in my creation: if it wasn’t perfect, or didn’t look like that super talented artist person’s illustration, then it wasn’t good enough. I would try to fix things that didn’t need fixing, until I would mess them up completely. My handwriting or painting skills or drawings didn’t look how I wanted them to look (perfect). I’m very crafty, y’all, but artsy I am not. And I struggle with that: a longing to create, but not the talent I want to do it to my standards.

I lost sight of why I was journaling in the first place: to worship. to honor. to glorify. to learn. to express my thoughts and feelings on what God was/is teaching me.

I create to worship my Creator, not to worship my art. 

That’s what creating is about for me: creating art, in my Bible and out, that reflects the love and heart of my Creator and all He is doing in me.

And all I create is pleasing to Him, if my heart’s in the right place.

a few examples of my creations, ones I love and ones I don’t (but all pleasing to God):

 

 

plansteps

the [year] where it happens {cheers to 24}.

my inaugural post of my wordpress site last year was a post the night before my 23rd birthday. It’s funny going back and reading that post night, 365(or 366?) days later.

23 didn’t go exactly as I had planned. That might be the understatement of the century, in my book.

I didn’t become a teacher. I didn’t graduate in December (an extra semester never hurt anyone, right?). I didn’t find a teaching job and begin my lucrative adulthood job and life. The year was full of new, scary things, just like I’d written there would be. But they weren’t the things I’d thought were going to happen.

Actually, none of the things I had planned to happen worked out.

But you know what? I’m glad they didn’t.

This year was hard. Harder than I’d imagined it was going to be, for different reasons than I thought it’d be.

But I loved it. After I dealt with the aftermath of quitting student teaching, I loved a lot of this year.

I wouldn’t have had an extra semester at Lipscomb– or a semester on-campus again. I needed that (both to be around Lipscomb and to have a break from living at home), so it was one of the biggest blessings to have that bonus semester.  I wouldn’t have had the chance to get to know the people I did or take the classes I took (well, I wouldn’t be mad about that one, sorry Lipscomb EML department!).

I learned a lot about myself this year. I learned how much I can handle, how to give myself grace and a break when I need it. I learned what I’m capable of and what I need to say no to. I learned a lot more about myself via therapy (thank you Jesus for counseling) that helped me connect a lot of dots between my life and my mental illness. I learned what it takes to grow up in different ways and different areas in my life (and not in others–I will forever be emotionally a toddler and that’s just who I am, whoops).

That said, I struggled a lot. With doubt and frustration and second thoughts, with uncertainty and the future and dealing with the “what’s next?” question without pulling my hair out. I was in autopilot the last 4 weeks of classes, just trying to get by. Then I struggled with leaving Lipscomb after the fact. Struggle was a big part of this year, at just about every turn and corner. Anxiety and depression still overwhelmed me at times, and I struggled to get out of the depths.

Some things might have been better if I had stayed the course (more predictability and stability, perhaps, and less future stress).  I wouldn’t have struggled as much, wouldn’t have as much pressure to figure out what I want to do with my life– I already had it figured out, I thought. But I didn’t. And it took a lot of strength to admit that to myself. (I’m glad I did, but it sure made my life hell).

 I wouldn’t be the same me if life had turned out how I had it planned last year.

I had to learn even more to trust Jesus, and to press into who He is and what He promises me. Even when I don’t feel it or understand it, He’s always come through. He hasn’t disappointed yet, but it’s still so daggone hard for me to let go and let someone else plan my way. But when I do? His plans always turn up infinitely sweeter than my own.

He got me through this year. He taught me how to lean–on Him, and other people. Community has been a big theme for me this year– my need for it, and my finding it through online channels (my online communities have been a lifeline while I’ve lived at home, away from most of my friends). He helped me understand who I am, and how who I am and who I’ve been all make me who I’m supposed to be. He reminded me how much he knows me and what I need, and loves me exactly how I need to be loved. He helped me understand joy as something I am, not something I get. He helped me find peace greater than myself.

He taught me what it truly means to be a beloved mess, even when I didn’t think those two things went together. 

I look back and see all the good things that came from the hard things— from trips and random adventures, to getting a college diploma (late is better than never) and finding an internship that fits me perfectly a week before graduation. I met new people and made new friends and got to know the ones I have better (and let them get to know me). I chose the brave things. I did the brave things, the bold things. I chose the things I wouldn’t typically choose for myself.

I learned to cook (still learning) and became a dog mom to a puppy that was as close to a newborn as I want to be for a lonnnng time. I discovered new hobbies and passions and new ways to worship and love the Lord a little better.  I discovered netflix and learned when to watch and when to go socialize (praise the Lord I didn’t know about netflix when I started college). I laughed a lot. I cried, sobbed a lot– both at my own plight and the crazy world we’re living in. I learned how to lean on people and tell them when I’m actually okay or not, and when to ask- and accept- help. I took risks when I needed and stood back when I needed to do that, too.

I listened to Hamilton nonstop like every other Broadway nerd, read good books that changed my life, and saw one of my favorite singers perform live less than 24 hours after buying a ticket. I saw friends get engaged and married and have babies and love me and each other so well. I had to grow up and deal with my problems head-on instead of cowering behind being a kid. I had to learn how to fight my own battles– because this year was my battle, all on my own.

So yeah, it was hard. But God worked through the hard and brought me out a lot happier, a lot more grateful, and a lot more excited about the future instead of fearing it.

I wasn’t quite ready to grow up and be an adult last year. 22 was so unbelievably hard, and in a lot of ways, 23 was a year to recover (and deal with its own drama). I wasn’t quite ready to face adulthood when I was still mentally in a hole that I  couldn’t see out of.

But now, here’s 24. And while I still don’t always feel quite ready to be an adult (i laughed at camp when i was called an authority figure), I’m ready to face adulthood now. I’m ready for the next new thing, the new chapter.

plansteps
source: jmunsta.com

While I logistically know what’s in store (I’ll be interning at a local non-profit for the next year), I know now how God can change things and mess up my plans in an instant. And if he does change the plans or creates new ones– I trust Him with them more than I trust myself with my own plans. That’s the difference going in to this year for me– last year I was so certain my plans were laid out and perfect, only to have to wave the white flag and surrender myself to Him after I had it all figured out. This year, I’m waving the white flag first-– knowing that I cannot plan this thing on my own, and that He will direct the path and the plans in front of me infinitely better than me doing it on my own.

I know whatever happens, 24 is going to be a good year– because it’s going to be full of Him, community, new experiences–and full of growing up.

So, this is the year where it happens. The year I finally start doing the adult things and stop being a student (that is so weird oh my gosh). This is the year I take a bigger step towards the future and what God has in store. This is the year I’ll take into my hands, hand them over to His hands, and step back and watch Him do what He wants with me.

I’m a lot better me when I’m in it with Him.

23, you taught me a lot. You were not the easiest year, but that may make you one of the better ones I’ve had. Cheers to 24, growing up, and surrendering this year to whatever God has in store. It’s going to be great because it’s going to be full of Him. 

Jesus, I surrender it all. All of my 24th year is yours to do what you want– I can’t wait to see where You lead me.

**if you’ve been under a rock and don’t know where my title came from… listen and educate yourself, please:

Thanks Natalie for forcing me to listen to Hamilton. And thanks to all the people that walked with me through this crazy year.

if love were enough.

I’m loved and adored– of this I’m sure. By my family, my friends, mentors, teachers– they remind me of this fact daily. I’m beloved by God, and am dearly loved even when I don’t feel like I am.

But knowing I’m loved is not enough to make my depression go away. 

love is not enough to make me not anxious about the future, the past, or the present. 

as much as I would like for love to be enough to cure me of all my ails, mental, physical, and emotional– it’s just not.

Love was not enough when panic attacks kept me up every night for 3 months.

Love was not enough when I cried nightly in fear that I wouldn’t wake up the next day. When I refused to sleep in fear I’d die in my sleep.

Love was not enough when I considered walking across the street into traffic. Or when I googled pill combinations to kill myself in my sleep.

Love wasn’t enough all of the times I’ve thought that the world would be better off without me.

Love wasn’t enough when depression grabbed hold of me after quitting student teaching, or in middle school when I was drowning in fear and apathy(or in elementary school when i said I just didn’t feel like living anymore. it’s been a long journey, people).

Love wasn’t enough when I felt alone in a crowded room.

Love wasn’t enough when I was diagnosed with GAD and encountered my mental hell– the hardest thing I’ve been through to-date.

Love wasn’t enough to save me from myself. 

There are so many times I’ve wanted love to be enough. No need for counseling or medicine or vulnerability required when friends ask how I’m really doing. If the love of my friends and family was enough, I’d never struggle with this crap. But it’s not.

Love isn’t enough for cancer or dementia or a stroke. We can’t love diabetes or traumatic brain injuries away. We can’t love mental illness away either–it’s not called illness for nothing.

If love were enough, I wouldn’t be anxious about my next chapter, no matter how excited I am for it.

If love were enough, I would not spend my nights terrified of having more panic attacks. I wouldn’t pray for God to wake me up the next morning because I’m unsure if I will or not, and it scares the living daylights out of me.

If love were enough, I’d never have to worry about the feelings of hopelessness or loneliness or darkness that surface when I’m struggling. They’d never appear, because love triumphs those things– but not when your brain works against you.

If love were enough, I’d never have to take medicine to fix the chemicals in my brain that try to convince me to self-destruct. Every. single. day.

If love were enough, the voices in my head that tell me I’m not enough or forgotten or unworthy would never interfere with the voice of God’s, calling me beloved and welcomed and wanted. 

But love isn’t enough for me to overcome this hell on my own. I can’t be loved into my broken brain being healed.

Love helps. Love heals parts of me. But it doesn’t fix. It doesn’t cure. 

Love– and being loved– is an incredible thing, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not enough to save my life. I love that people love me– without it, i wouldn’t be me. But it’s not what makes me better. I have other things (like medicine and therapy and sharing my story) to fight for with me. I have strategies and plans for when my anxiety goes haywire and I don’t know where to turn. I have friends I can call or text when things get muddled by the darkness and I begin to feel lost. I have God to lean on and cry out to, even when that involves me screaming and crying about why this is what’s been given to me to suffer through.

~

I’m thankful I’m not in one of those places right now— for the most part, I’m doing OK currently; but the reason I’m writing this now? It’s because I know I’ll be there again. I know that my anxiety will have me sobbing, scared out of my mind. I know depression will encircle me, creating a darkness and loneliness that robs me of life. It’s a cycle that ebbs and flows, and I know that it’s something I will battle all my life, probably. It will hit me like a punch in the gut, like a shakiness I cannot overcome on my own.

And the last thing I need someone telling me is that “oh but you’re so loved, how can you be depressed? you have so much going for you, how can you be anxious?”

I am so loved. I do have a lot going for me right now.

But that doesn’t mean anything to my mental illness. I could be in the happiest time of my life and it steal me of my joy (and it has). It doesn’t care about what’s going on or who I am or how loved I am.

It’s a thief that steals and kills and destroys. It’s a liar that makes you believe what it says about you, no matter what other voices say.

And it doesn’t care one bit about how loved you are, because it will do everything in its power to make you feel as unloved and useless as possible.

Love is not enough. It will never be enough for me to save myself. 

But I sure do wish it was. 

 

This song kept coming to mind when writing this– Against the Voices, Switchfoot

 

This one too… Rain Clouds, The Arcadian Wild (I have talented friends).