I’m sick and tired, literally. Somehow I got a cold in the middle of August. I haven’t even been around people, yet somehow here I am with my throat throbbing and my nose so stuffed i can’t breathe. Good times.
I’ve tried to write three times, but just don’t have the concentration to even get coherent thoughts out. So instead, in honor of the theme, I’m posting a few of my favorite spoken word poems. I love poetry in all forms, but I love, love spoken word. Poetry comes alive when said, performed aloud.
Love her so much.
Sarah Kay is another favorite. I could’ve posted all of hers, but this one was just beautiful.
Instead of trying to come up with mangled words in my sick brain this week, I watched these two poets speak for me.
Do yourself a favor and go listen to their other poems too. Sometimes we need others to speak for us when we can’t.
My first thought with this word was some good ol’ classic TSwift:
I don’t know what I want, so don’t ask me
‘Cause I’m still trying to figure it out…
Because lordy mercy are those words relevant in my life right now.
I’ve been trying to figure my life out for about 2 years now, after quitting student teaching and trying to come up with a plan B for the only career I’d ever planned.
Some people re-make their lives and change careers at 40. I decided to re-make my life at 23, because I’m an overachiever. 😉
I’ve been trying to figure out my place– where I’m supposed to go, what I’m supposed to do, who the heck I’m supposed to be. I’ve been consistently stuck, applying for jobs I thought I might like (and never hearing back or getting rejected), or dreading the thought of applying for a job I have experience in (aka education/with children) because I know I could get hired.
To say I’ve been caught between a rock and hard place is an understatement.
Over time, I’ve finally begun to realize there was one place I could go for a job that I was afraid to admit:
I’d always considered it a hobby, something I do to fill the time and express myself. It was something I’d always enjoyed, something I knew I was good at– I was published for the first time at 16, so I knew it was something I was capable of doing pretty well. I was mightily successful writing papers in college and helping teach others about writing in the school writing studio. It was just something that came naturally to me from a young age, and something I honed in on in school. But I figured teaching would be my job, writing would be my outlet and side hobby.
I never thought of writing as a career. There are a lot of fears going into it– stability, not a lot of money, finding writing work (and places that will pay you for your work!), disciplining myself to write often and on deadline. I figured if I could write in some way as a side hustle, but never as a career. I knew I wasn’t a fiction writer or a book writer, so what the heck would I write?
But a year ago, that started to change. About a year ago, I wrote this blog about reclaiming me– trying to figure out who I really am, not who everyone else wanted me to be. I wanted to find my place in the world, what I wanted to do. This is where I started to think more about what kind of job I really wanted. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the only thing I wanted to be was a writer. It is exactly who I am. Writing is my place. It’s what makes me the happiest, whether I’m writing blog posts or lengthy instagram captions (#microblogging for the win), or devotionals or articles. Writing is something I enjoy, it’s something I’m good at, and something I can use to glorify God all the while as a career. At a meeting last week, the guy I was speaking to said my eyes lit up when I mentioned my love of writing– that’s exactly what it is. Teaching never did that for me, it was just a job.
So I’ve begun taking the leap of working as a freelance writer (and hopefully, curriculum creator). Last week I met with some people at the United Methodist Communications office (I’m a member of the UMC, and a good friend of mine is the chief communications officer there!) and spoke about potential freelance work. I also talked to the editor of the Children’s church curriculum at the United Methodist Publishing House and am applying to write curriculum on a freelance basis for them.
And today, I got my first contract for a writing project.
It’s the first time I’ll be paid on contract to write for a living (fingers crossed they like my piece!), and I’m freaking excited. Once I’m successful with them, I’ll begin to branch out more to other writing jobs, but for now, I have a few things from them to get me started.
While telling my dad all of this, he exclaimed, “You’re getting paid to write! Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?”
It really is. It just took me awhile to figure out. Writing is the only place I want to be.
I think I’ve finally found my place in this world, as TSwift sings… even if it took some convincing for me to admit it.
(this was longer than 5– I wrote a freaking soliloquy, oops. And was having issues with wordpress messing up my words, so I had to stop my timer to figure it out!).
like I wasn’t going to include this earworm after quoting it… it’s forever stuck in my head (and now, yours!).
If you follow along with She Reads Truth’s studies, you know that the newest study is on 1 and 2 Samuel, centering on the life of King David. This is the first time I’ve studied David himself, so I’m excited to learn of his history and the background to his kingdom.
Before we get to David though, we have to get through Saul. And before him, Samuel. And before him, his mom, Hannah.
I’ve read and heard these stories in sermons or devotionals, but this is the first time I’m actually studying them intensely (even broke out my good study Bible!).
The first part of 1 Samuel 1 is all about Hannah’s desire yet inability to have a baby. Her husband, Elkanah and his other wife have babies, yet she hasn’t had any, and it’s breaking her heart. It doesn’t help that Peninnah, the other wife, keeps throwing her kid-less-ness (is that a word? it is now!) in her face, rubbing salt in an already-bleeding wound for poor Hannah. Frankly, I think Peninnah is the root of this whole “mommy-wars” culture where we bully other moms/parents for not parenting the “right” way– I fully expect Peninnah to eventually start bashing Hannah for weaning Samuel early or not baby-wearing.
OK probably not, but you get the picture.
Back to Hannah. So she’s with her husband and his other wife and kids in Shiloh, to worship and sacrifice and all that jazz. At one point after a meal, she decided to get up and pray.
My words don’t do the story justice:
Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle.10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”
12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her.13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking.14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”
15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord.16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.” (1 Sam 1:9-16, NLT).
So Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary. The priest Eli was on duty at the entrance to God’s Temple in the customary seat. Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably. Then she made a vow:
Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain, If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me By giving me a son, I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you. I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.
12-14 It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was watching her closely. Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. He approached her and said, “You’re drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!”
15-16 Hannah said, “Oh no, sir—please! I’m a woman hard used. I haven’t been drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I’ve been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out to God. Don’t for a minute think I’m a bad woman. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I’ve stayed here so long.” (Message version)
It was quite obvious that she was having a come-to-Jesus moment (if that was such a thing in the OT). She was distraught, at her wit’s end, and just over the whole situation.
Have you ever been that way? Lord knows I have. More than once… or ten times. But who’s counting?
She tried so hard. She longed so greatly. Despite the hurtful words slung at her, the pangs of jealousy, and her complete and total sadness, she carried on.
She could’ve taken matters into her own hands (a la Sarah and Abe). She could’ve gotten angry. She could have given up and resorted to a childless life (which was culturally frowned up at the time).
But she didn’t.
She took all her anguish, her sadness, her hurt, her anger– all the emotions stirring inside her– and she released them back to God. Despite her discouragement, she still looked towards God. She trusted that he was still in control and that he would listen to her pleas and cries.
With anguish and sorrow, she told God exactly how she was feeling.
She didn’t sugar coat it, but instead let herself feel the weight of her pain, and gave it up to God.
She poured out the contents of her heart, she left it all there at the altar for God to hear and do something with. She left her problems and her tears with him.
Reading Hannah’s story, I realized I don’t see a whole lot of me in her.
I see a lot of who I want to be.
I am an emotional person. I have been my whole life, sometimes to my detriment.
And yet, it’s hard for me to be personal or emotional when it comes to how I interact with God. Praying most often feels like a honey-do list or a one-sided conversation. (It’s hard for me to understand the concept of prayer as talking to God when I’m the only one in the room… but that’s another story for another day). I can write emotional things about what I’ve learned or what He’s doing, but I don’t typically feel the emotion or direct my feelings back to God.
It’s like the episode of Friends where Chandler couldn’t cry. No matter if it was a sad movie or uplifting book, or his dismal family situation, Chandler just couldn’t cry. He felt sad or upset but just didn’t know how to express it, nor did he want to. Unless you count the sarcasm and funny jabs he used to cover up his feelings as expressions of emotion.
Yes, I did just compare my faith life to a character on Friends. That’s just how I roll, people.
I just want to feel something, anything, when I’m talking to God. I want to connect to what I’m doing or what He’s doing or how I’m feeling about this or that, instead of feeling like I just use prayer and connection with God as a list of concerns or prayers for everyone but me.
With all the crazy going on in my life, I want to be able to just let it go and actually open up about it. I want to actually feel like I could admit how I really feel to God, but I don’t know how.
Even when I’ve felt emotional or upset about something, I don’t know how to talk to God about it. I just don’t get how to let myself feel these things when I come before him. I usually just list off needs and concerns and maybe about something I learned in scripture, but it’s honestly rare for me to try to actually use prayer as a place to be open and honest and real about myself.
When I feel these things– sad, anger, frustration, all the not fun emotions— I normally don’t run straight towards God. I avoid. I close myself off, I isolate myself from Him (and others, intentionally or not). I usually run to something to numb me instead– food, Netflix, mindless internet searches or social media scrolls. That’s where I find my comfort and peace in times of trial instead.
When I’m happy and things are going well, I’m good to go to God with thanks and joy. I can tell about my day and how I’m doing when I’m happy and feeling good. But when I feel anything but, it’s almost like I’m afraid to say so. I don’t know what He’s going to think or say if I’m anything but joyful.
And frankly, life hasn’t been all that joyful lately.
I think a lot of my struggles with having a relationship with God where I’m not afraid to cry out to God and give him everything is fear.
I’m afraid of what God will think of me when I’m upset about this or that (when He has it all planned out, I just don’t know about it yet).
I’m afraid I won’t be heard. Prayer confuses me sometimes (a lot of the time) because as much as I love being an introvert and not talking to people some days, I get frustrated not being able to see or hear or feel God with me. I’m afraid I’m just talking to the wall a lot of the time.
I’m afraid God’ll get tired of hearing me. I usually worry and fret about the same. things. (aka control) all the time, you’d think I’d have figured it out by now but I haven’t.
But I think my biggest fear is that God will see my mess and my life and just not accept me. He’ll run.
Plenty of others have. Why wouldn’t he?
I’m afraid to be honest with God. I’m afraid to let myself get real and cry out when I’m in the depths because I don’t want to be left there alone. I already feel alone enough these days. So I keep my life and my prayer focused on the happy positives and focus on praying for other people, in the hopes that I won’t lose him too.
I spent so much of my life thinking I had to come to God perfectly and shiny with my baggage hidden. I think there are times I still slip back into this notion, and my prayer life highlights that. I struggle to admit when I’m struggling; it’s easier to say I’m fine and just let all my feelings fester inside me. Instead of letting God into my mess, I run and avoid him until I think the mess is hidden enough that He’d want to spend time with me, or would want to listen to me. But that’s not a way to live, especially when scripture clearly shows us how much Jesus calls us to him just as we are, mess and baggage and all.
I think sometimes I slip back into the notion that God is another person I have to please, another person I have to earn love or praise from. I can’t bring him my bad stuff because it’s a mark against me. I can’t cry out to him when life is hard because that means I’m not grateful; or I can’t bring him my mess and my baggage because that means I’ve messed up, I’m not good enough for him.
I have to do it all, be it all, and go through it all with a smile, because otherwise, I’m not pleasing God. This is where I’ve spent so much of my life– faking fine and trying to do it all in the hopes that the real, broken me won’t be seen.
I can’t let myself be anything but the image I put out there.
So I instead feel completely disconnected–unattached to God and others, putting on a happy face and doing all the things to help people, instead of addressing my own needs and hurts and fears to God.
I call God my Father, but I treat him mostly like a wish granting factory, or someone I’m conducting a transaction with. I don’t get intimacy and connection; I get work and to-do lists and longing to fix all the broken things around me, but not the broken things in me.
But I want more. I want God to be more than someone I’m trying to please with all my to-do’s and helping people.
I want a friendship for my lonely, isolated heart. A confidante I can be honest with in the serious and the silly, someone that will empathize and help me (even if it hurts).
I want a nurturer. Someone to take care of me. I take care of a lot of people, but never let people take care of me.
I want someone to listen. To remember. I have a knack for remembering even the minute details about a person. I know not everyone has this ability to love in this way, but I’d love to just be thought of sometimes (or be reminded that I’m being thought of).
I want to be noticed. I want to be known, to feel like I’m not just here floating along without purpose.
I’d love for God to be all these things for me. But I don’t know how.
I long to be connected to God in a way that I can feel like I’m known. Seen. Remembered. Acknowledged.
I long to be connected more than just to talk about the needs and prayer concerns or to-do list of things I’m listing off to you before I go to bed, like a business agenda.
I want more of a friendship with my Father instead of a contractual relationship, where I do this and that to be counted as “in.”
I don’t want to hide parts of me from Him for fear of being outcast or ignored. But I’m still afraid.
In the Message version of 1 Samuel 1, the title is “Hannah Pours Out Her Heart to God.” I want to do that. I want to feel comfortable enough that I can not just rattle off a list of concerns or tell God all the good things I did for Him today.
I want to feel like God is the mighty counselor and loving Father he says he is. I want to believe that he is the one I can vent to, pour my heart out to when I need it, be a confidante and holder of my hardest hurts.
I want to not live in fear of his judgment, but live in light of his friendship and love for me.
My friend Osheta Moore quoted a blog post of hers in her beautiful new book, Shalom Sistas:
“Being a Christian feels less like a to-do list of righteousness and more of a to-be posture of relationship. I want to be open to his feeding and present for his gathering. I want to be accepting of his gentle leading and willing to be carried.”
I want that. I don’t want to live like I can’t come to God for everything. I don’t want to live striving to check off my to-do list before I can come before him. I want to sit in the to-be posture and let Him be who he says he is to me, mess and sadness and all. I need to let him carry me, instead of insisting I can carry myself.
God tells us to come to Him if we’re weary, and he will give us rest.
Not come to him all shiny and perfect, and he will make us work. That’s not what he says at all, but it’s what I’ve believed.
We can come to Him for friendship and support, not for our chore list. I want to believe that.
I just need to learn how to connect to Him in this way, because pouring my heart out to God isn’t something I quite know how to do.
and in a funny twist of fate only God could provide, I read this blog post this morning by Bonnie Gray, and it seriously took my breath.
from the post:
“God longed to be my soul’s confidante. Deep where I felt lonely — where I struggled to receive and make space for me — God wanted me to rest as His beloved.”
Jesus. If that didn’t fit in the middle of my lonely mess, I don’t know what will.
God has a wicked sense of humor sometimes, and He really does know exactly how to meet us where we are. I’m starting to get it.
I want to know you, Lord, like I know a friend… that is my prayer.
From the head to the heart, you take me on a journey…
Since moving home, my mental health has taken a huge hit.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Leaving my job/my kids so suddenly, transitioning home (which isn’t exactly the healthiest place for me to be in the first place), not having access to counseling, being separated from my community, figuring out job things-– these are all factors at play.
And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of it, truthfully.
I’m just sad. And anxious. And then sad some more.
Add bored, lonely, and jobless on top of that, and you’ve got quite the spectacle. While my depression hasn’t taken as much of a hit (though being isolated and rejected a bit hasn’t done me any good in this area, and it’s been slowly getting worse), it’s my anxiety that has struggled with all this change the most.
My anxiety tends to manifest in a few different ways, primarily in physical symptoms. My stomach aches, my chest hurts (think how your chest hurts when you’ve been coughing a lot… that’s the feeling), my head throbs, I get random aches and pains, heartburn, so on and so forth. A lot of my anxiety is tied to my health, so when I get anxious because of one or more of these physical symptoms, my anxiety gets worse… it’s a cruel, unfair cycle.
Another way my anxiety manifests is in my insomnia, my inability to get to sleep. My inner night owl comes out to play, and not just ’cause I enjoy the night life.
So since I’ve been home, it’s been getting harder for me to sleep at night. I’ve been awake since 2, 3am most nights. Melatonin helps me get to sleep, but it’s willing myself to take them amidst the voices in my head wanting me to stay awake that’s hard. Because I’m scared of sleep, I stay up until I physically collapse, usually overthinking myself to sleep instead of counting sheep.
This is unsustainable in the long run, especially when I DO start working again. I cannot survive going to bed at 3 am and waking up at 7 or earlier to get to work, unless I’d like to become a zombie on The Walking Dead (I don’t).
I’ve nearly become nocturnal, sleeping during the day and staying up all night, filling out applications and dawdling on the internet. It doesn’t help that in the midst of all this, I was diagnosed with anemia, thus another reason I’ve been so fatigued/exhausted/drained, on top of the lack of sleep. (Now that I’m getting that under control, my fatigue is getting much better during the day! But getting to sleep at night is still a struggle).
I was out with my mom on my birthday a few weeks ago, picking up my birthday cake at Publix. I went to get some iron supplements (for the above anemia diagnosis) when a new sleep supplement caught my eye. It’s a gummy by the company Olly, called “restful sleep.” It has melatonin in it (which I have survived on since my mental hell started nearly 3 years ago). It also had an ingredient I didn’t know, L-Theanine. On the bottle it’s described as “an amino acid that encourages calmness so you can hush those voices in your head and drift off.”
Man, I need an IV of that stuff 24/7. Anything to shut the damn voice recorder in my head.
I ended up buying some, and it’s been great. I’ve been sleeping a lot better than I did with just melatonin, and I think part of that is because I’m not (mostly) sitting in bed overthinking everything before I go to bed.
Another thing I had to do when I started taking this stuff: Despite the anxiety telling me to stay awake, I’ve been forcing myself to go to sleep earlier.
I’ve begun using bits and pieces of the bedtime routine I started in therapy after my panic attacks started: Write my to-do list if needed, turn my phone on do not disturb and turn the laptop off, make my bed (yes at night, i know I’m weird) read my bible study/devotional, say my prayers before my head hits the pillow. This signals my body that it’s not time to burn the midnight oil, but time to gear up for rest.
I hate it. Every fiber of my body hates it, because I lie down to sleep every night so scared, even with supplements and routines. I’m scared of dying in my sleep. I’m scared of the future and not knowing what’s next. I’m scared of financial struggles and paying bills and getting out of my mother’s house. I’m scared of everything and anything. It all manifests itself at night, when my stomach starts aching and my heart starts racing and I begin my tossing and turning dance routine (that my back and shoulders pay for every dang morning) as I lie down to sleep.
I will never understand why this is part of my life. I hate it.
Every night I pray the same prayer: just wake me up tomorrow, God. Let me sleep through the night and wake up the next morning. Please don’t let me die in my sleep. This hasn’t changed since my initial anxiety disorder diagnosis a few years ago.
There was one particular night a few weeks ago where I was just freaking out as I got into bed– unable to get comfortable, feeling sickly and sweaty and just inconsolable. As I was praying this particular night, I was exasperated. Defeated. Tired, but trying desperately to fight sleep. It was in this time of trying to get this desperate prayer out that I heard a voice. A thought that was undoubtedly not mine, because it was the complete opposite of where my mind was:
“Let go of your grip.”
That was it. “Let go of your grip.” When I heard it, I stopped and just thought for a moment.
I was lying in my bed on my stomach, my head in my pillow, arms over my mattress. My fists were clenched tightly, for no reason. But as I heard this voice I relaxed and let them go slack.
Let go of your grip.
There’s a lot of unknown in my world right now.
As my friend Kaitlyn so eloquently put it, “I have literally nothing together about my life.” Nothing. Absolutely nothing!
And to think, I used to believe I had it all figured out. Then life actually happened.
Control of everything in my life has slowly slipped from my grasp the past few months: my career, my home, my community, even my health… it’s all unraveled in some way recently, ever so slowly.
I’d love to say I’m okay with it, this losing control, thing. But I’m not. At all.
I hate losing control. I like knowing my steps before I move. I like having everything about my life in my grasp, right in front of me so I can determine where to go and what to do.
Letting go of my grip on my life and all that’s in it is extremely difficult. It means letting go of control. I don’t like relinquishing control– and as my fellow control-freak Monica Gellar-Bing says, relinquish is just a fancy word for lose. Losing control is something I loathe.
I’m afraid that if I let go of control, things won’t happen like they’re supposed to (aka like I want them to).
Letting go means surrendering all I am and not knowing what’s next with it all. I don’t like surrendering.
But then I remember who I am surrendering it to.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7
I love the Message version of the same verse:
Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
Here’s another one:
God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Psalm 23 (Message)
“That’s right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.”
Isaiah 41:13 (Message)
And my favorites:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20 (Message)
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7
I can let go of my grip, even when I’m fearful and frustrated with the whole control thing, because I know who has a grip on me.
It doesn’t make it easier to let go of my grip. It doesn’t make relinquishing control a happy thought. But I’m realizing that letting go doesn’t mean everything is out of control. It means that it’s now in control of the one who goes before me, the one who knows me and my life and my plans better than I can.
I can let go of my grip on my fears, my future, my plans, my everything when I know that they’re being caught by the same God who catches me.
My prayers before bed are a little different now.
My stomach still hurts, and my heart still beats out of my chest. But I take a deep breath and try to relax into sleep anyway. I still pray for God to wake me up everyday, because I still live with the fear that I wont. But I pray something else too now.
Alright God, I’m letting go of my grip. Please take all of this from me so I can sleep.
Take my fear of the future. My struggle with my career path. My worry about money and finances. My loneliness and frustration. Take my worries, my annoyances, my sadness. My overthinking and trying to plan it all on my own. Take all of what’s forcing me to grip my hands so tightly that I can’t let them go to find rest.
Letting go of my grip, I let His grip catch it all.
Maybe someday I’ll believe that letting go of my grip will be something good for me. Hopefully someday I’ll see the fruits of giving it all up to God and going to sleep. But until that day, I’ll say this prayer on top of everything else I pray, and hope to God someday this all makes sense.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 (Message)
Pastures- Housefires (listened mostly to this album while writing)
this one too. Sound of Surviving-Nichole Nordeman (her whole new album is great)
I blame my mother for this habit– our house has always come close to being hoarder-esque, filled with random knicknacks and antiques and things of the like.
I’ve collected different things over the years: beanie babies, Disney Mania CDs (am I a 90s kid or what?!). pug-related things, books. The list could go on.
But my favorite collection is in my keepsake box.
It’s not a typical collection of pretty things or seemingly important items. It’s a box I’ve had for many years (actually I had to replace the box itself in college, because it got so full it wore out!).
Rather, I use my keepsake box to collect my memories and things that remind me how loved I am.
In it you’ll find every birthday/holiday card I’ve gotten since childhood, notes from church friends or college friends and mentors. Ticket stubs and programs from various events, church bulletins from important days, pictures, small key chains or other random mementos others would probably throw away. I’m too sentimental to let these things go, because they each take me back to a moment in time or a person in my life who means something to me. And that’s important.
As the cliche question goes,what would I take if there was a fire? Besides my dogs, it would be the most important item I grab.
When I’ve been in the depths with my mental health, battling depression and anxiety, the only thing that gave me a glimmer of hope– a small reminder that I was loved and cared for and thought of– was the containments of that box. It gave me peace and reassurance when my brain couldn’t. When I’m low and sad and frustrated at the world, it’s where I go for comfort and hope that maybe I’m still meant to be here.
I know we aren’t supposed to store up our treasures on earth, and I get that. But the items I collect in that box are more than things– they are a lifeline.
I was going to write on something COMPLETELY different (or I was trying to, at least), but I kept coming back to this. It’s hard. I didn’t want to write this post. But I’ve been sitting on my laurels with this for quite some time, and God is finally pushing it out of me, one blog post at a time. (I’m actually working procrastinating on an in-depth post on this topic. Ugh. Why, Jesus?!?). Anyway, here ya go. *deep breaths*
I am a comfort-seeker. I like safe, I like secure, I like control. When I can’t be a fixer or a helper, I become a numb-er: numbing myself from whatever I can’t fix until it’s not a problem anymore.
My biggest source of comfort isn’t scripture or worship music or anything Jesus-y.
I’ve been a food addict (my personal opinion, I’ve never been officially diagnosed) since childhood. I’m also an emotional (cry-baby according to my family) person, and when my emotions overwhelm me? I eat.
I would sneak food from the kitchen when I was upset with my grandmother, or eat leftovers from dinner off the stove.
At 25, I tiptoe into the kitchen still for late-night snacks, for fear of waking my mom up.
I celebrate victories with cake or ice cream or my favorite meal.
I calm my anxious nerves through baking.
I relieve stress by cooking.
I eat snacks when I’m bored.
I numb myself with candy and sweets.
I’m an emotional eater, bored eater, anxious eater.
Food is my greatest comforter. When I’m eating something I love, I feel safe and peaceful.
This is not how food is supposed to work, I’ve learned.
I comfort myself with food, and have done so for at least 20 of my 25 years.
Real talk: currently eating butter bread, because it sounded good and I have felt crappy all day.
I don’t run to Jesus for comfort. I run to food.
And I don’t know how to run elsewhere for it. Because Jesus doesn’t make me feel full and secure quite like cake.
–curls up in corner because vulnerability is hard–
This week’s FMF post is a little late, but better late than never right? Finally got my laptop charger (praise the lord) so I’m back in action! Yesterday was my birthday so it was a bit too crazy to write.
This week’s word:
I’m kinda glad I waited– I got a different idea for this word after thinking on it for a few days.
I have always loved to play games. As a kid, I loved board games and card games, or games on the computer (I’ve played on neopets since I was in elementary school– and i have no shame about still playing as a 25 year old, it’s my stress reliever!!)
As I’ve gotten older, it’s been less board and card games and more games that make me think critically or games where I have to use my brain creatively.
I’ve never been a get-to-know you game person or team bonding games fan– if you’re going to get to know me, I’d rather be through an intimate conversation than 3 truths and a lie. Youth group games or sports-like competition games are not my style– I am competitive, but it’s more of the trivia/brain game type.
My favorite game to play in the whole wide world? Bananagrams!
If you don’t know it, please go here now. I was introduced to it my sophomore year of college at a campus ministry retreat– I played for nearly 4 hours of free time that weekend, and then promptly came home and purchased the game for myself!
The game is a word game, similar to a speed scrabble competition. It’s so fun and incredibly fast paced(depending on how many people are playing), and it can get wickedly tricky depending on how many letters you have at a given time. But it is so. much. fun. Especially if you’re a think-on-your-feet, word nerd, dictionary of a person like myself.
It is played at nearly every game night me and my friends have had. I’ve played for countless hours in my college dorm lobby with so many friends (and met new people who would ask to come play with us when I played with friends in the lobby!). I now own two different versions of the game (the regular and party versions).
Because of the critical thinking skills required to play, bananagrams has surprisingly become a tool in my mental health journey–when I am overwhelmed with anxiety or in the midst of a panic attack, i grab my bananagrams and play by myself, focusing on the words I can make with the letters I grab from the bag or just building words. It gives me something to focus on instead of the looming anxiety battle in my brain. It gives my brain another place to divert my thoughts, and it gives me some control back. Bananagrams has traveled with me almost everywhere in years’ past (as far as Mexico!) as an easy way to combat panic, and has become more than a game I merely play for fun– it is an invaluable tool and gift to my life, as silly as that sounds.
Last night was my birthday party at a friends house. 4 of my friends had canceled on me before I even made it there, and I was overall in a blah mood, not really wanting to celebrate. The transition from my internship to home has been pretty brutal mentally, so I wasn’t really feeling much like myself. When I walked into my friend Jared’s house, I saw the little yellow banana of bananagrams fame on his kitchen table and laughed, visibly happy at the sight.
“I thought we could maybe play some bananagrams tonight!” Jared said excitedly.
My heart leaped with joy, i was plain giddy. It was the perfect way to end my birthday party– even if I lost twice. (dangit). It really turned my mindset around.
I’m super grateful for friends that know me and my game-loving self well– and that are always willing to stop being adults for awhile and play.
I believe God has everything figured out for my life. He knows my plans, my desires, my steps before I do.
I really think Paul means what he says in Romans 8:28, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.” He will work out my life and my calling if I follow him, which I try to do everyday.
I also have no idea what the next season of my life looks like, and I really want to know now (or last month, but whatever.) I hate second guessing myself, my abilities and strengths- the rejections and unanswered job applications cut like a knife to my heart. I hate not knowing what’s next. I hate sitting idle in this in-between. I hate being stuck.
My internship has ended, so now I’m back to where I was last year: figuring out what the heck I want to do or what I even can do for a job. Because for love of Jesus I do NOT want to teach or do anything in education right now (honestly I need a break from kids), but I don’t have the experience to do anything but working with kids. I don’t have enough experience or don’t meet the requirements for any non-kid job I apply for, even ones I have the skills and degree to do. I’ve pigeon holed myself times infinity. It sucks. I was clueless about my job prospects before I took the internship; now I’m not as clueless, but more frustrated that I’m closer to knowing what I want to do, but can’t get a dang job doing it.
I turn 25 on Friday with no career or focus or goal or job prospects, or even and idea of what my future looks like, and this frustrates me to my very core. (And please don’t say “you’re young, you have time to figure it out!”or something of the sort-you may not think it matters, but it matters to ME.)
I don’t want this post to feel like a pity party, but I’m just so stuck and frustrated and exhausted.
I’ve been officially done with my internship for a week. With the exception of one application (for a perfect job for me, that I still haven’t heard anything from), I took a break from the job hunt. I needed to rest and recuperate from an exhausting (albeit wonderful) season of working. I needed some space to breathe. But it wasn’t far from my mind- it rarely is these days.
Now that week is over. I’ve got to get back into gear looking for things I’m qualified for. But I don’t know where to effing start. I just don’t know exactly what I want–or how to find a job that I want that won’t automatically say no for lack of experience. I know what I don’t want, but that’s not really helping me right now.
I just want some sense of direction, something that won’t slam a door in my face.
I was listening to the always-wonderful Annie Downs interview worship leader and musician Chris McClarney on her podcast (it was a great and hilarious interview). They got to talking about his career and how he does multiple jobs at once (worship leading, commercial performing/touring, and songwriting), and their conversation turned into talking about God and plans and things of the like.
When Annie asked him about his different jobs, and figuring out what to do next, he replied, “I’ve always walked through open doors, and waited for the Lord to tell me to stop.”
He then talked about how people tend to wait around for a moment where God tells them what to do or where to go next instead of just walking trough the open door God has provided. Annie went on to add, “theydon’t want to see three open doors, they want God to tell them the right open door.”
She hit the nail on the head, at least for me.
I want one door. Just one. Preferably already open, ready for me to walk through without risk or uncertainty. Please, Jesus.
I tend to do a lot of second guessing about a lot of things in my life, and the future is probably the one that I overthink the most.
Is this door really open? Is this the right one? What about the others? Are we really sure I should go through this door? What if it’s not the right one? What if I mess it up?
I don’t just walk through like Chris does, without (over)thinking my choice, trying to figure out if this is *really* what God wants from me.I struggle with outright trusting that I’m making the right decisions– in reality, I’m struggling more with trusting that God really knows what he’s doing, and that I couldn’t do it better myself. (Total pride/control thing, I know this about myself. Still working on it). Instead of just trusting that God has opened this door for me to walk through, I hem and haw and question at every turn, hoping God will put a big neon sign on the right door so I know for sure this is where I’m supposed to go.
That’s not my current struggle, though. Right now, I’m struggling more with finding any door willing to open. I would take having to choose between three doors if it meant I had doors to walk through.
What do you do when you have no doors to choose from? When every door that is possibly cracked open gets slammed shut? What do you do when you just don’t know where any open door is?
I wish I knew. Because it feels like I’m stuck in a room with no doors or windows, no way through to what’s next.
I can’t help but think I should have this all figured out by now. Or at least I should have an idea of how to figure this all out. But I feel so clueless.
No doors in sight. I don’t even know what one would look like if it was in front of me. Or what would be behind it.
The last thing Annie said in this job/doors discussion really got my attention.
You know you are not going to miss Him, right? If you are saying, “God I want your best for my life,” you are not going to miss him.
I’m not going to miss him no matter what I end up doing. This is both comforting and annoying to me. Comforting knowing that God is with me no matter what, wherever I go he will support me. Is annoying because I want a definitive answer, dang it! I want to know what path I’m supposed to go down, which door I’m supposed to walk through without fear or regret. I love knowing I’m not going to miss him, no matter where I go, but I would love to have at least an idea of where to go.
Chris talked about when he was in a season of transition, and he heard God say to him, “what do you want to do?” He’d never thought of that, he said, but it made him think about how God had given him desires and the like, so he decided that those were what he was going to focus on instead of finding the “right” job or the perfect way. He trusted that God had put these talents, passions, and desires in him for a reason; God gave him the freedom to pursue those things, and opened the doors that allowed him to do so.
I want that ability to trust God like that, to trust that he has put in me the desires of my heart, and that He’s given me the skills to accomplish those desires He’s put in me. I want the freedom to pursue the passions and I have, with the talents He has given me.
But how do I know what skills and talents I have for this purpose? What if this talent or that skill isn’t meant to be a part of my purpose, but is just supposed to be a hobby?
How do I know my desires are the ones given from God, not my own desires? How do I determine what is my passion and what is a fleeting thought or in-the-moment desire?
Where do my passions and desires turn into marketable skills I can use to make a career, or where can I turn those skills and passions into a job opportunity that I won’t be rejected from?
I want to believe that God has given me these talents and skills to do something I’m passionate about, something he has placed a desire and dream in me to do. I want to do something meaningful for a living, something I’m passionate about, and something I’m good at– somewhere my skills and dreams collide.
But is this an actual possibility? From all the applications rejected, unanswered inquiries, interviews declined, jobs unoffered, dream jobs dashed,and tears shed I’m starting to doubt so.
I wish I could end this post with a tidy bow or sweet anecdote, a glimmer of hope the midst of the hard or encouraging charge per my usual. But I can’t right now.
Maybe when all these doors stop slamming in my face.
hmm. this is an odd word for this week. but here goes it…
blessings are not always easy.
They aren’t always welcome.
They don’t automatically look like a good thing when you first see them.
blessing is defined as, “God’s favor and protection;” i think for me I always see blessing as synonymous with happy, cheerful things, when in all honesty it could be something hard and tragic and not fun– but the blessing part is how God uses these things to show us how He loves and cares for us.
2 weeks ago I had to make a decision I didn’t want to make– a decision to end my internship early (for a lot of reasons, but self-care was the primary one). The next two after I made my choice, I sobbed both at home, at work, and in my therapist’s office because I regretted it. But once the initial emotions blew over, I realized that this choice was going to be a blessing for me. It might not look like it in the moment of hurt and sadness, but it WILL be a blessing.
Two weeks later, I’m not 100% there yet–the transition hasn’t been the easiest– but I know I’ll get there.
A blessing isn’t always pretty wrapped in a neat little box of goodness, but it’s never bad– it is always for my good, and for my care. And from a God who loves his kids enough to take care of them, no matter what it looks like.
This is after the time went off, but wanted to add a line from Lisa Harper’s recent she reads truth devotional: “How—despite our proclivity to make huge messes—He is so completely for us.”
that might be the biggest blessing of this whole Jesus thing, y’all. He’s for us, messes and all.