Friday, October 3, 2014

Adventures in Anxiety

I’ve battled anxiety problems since an early age. In 5th grade, I would freak out and hyperventilate over “mad minutes” (one-minute timed math tables). I don’t know if it was because I had convinced myself I wasn’t good at math or if the time limit really freaked me out. I think it’s safe to say it was both. My mom will tell me she remembers these times. She would set the timer on the microwave and leave the room (if anyone was in the room, I would freak out more), and as she waited in the other room, she would hear me freaking out and saying, “I can’t do this!” and also probably wondering if I was going to die or something.

I mean, it probably wasn’t extreme to the point of questioning death, but hopefully you understand what I’m trying to say. Fast forward to 2014: my senior year of college and the beginning of post-graduate life. Battling anxiety has been very interesting for me because the anxiety I’ve faced has manifested itself in many different ways.

Throughout my entire life, I’ve worried about potential health problems. During the summer between sophomore and junior year, when I was in Colorado, I was really afraid of the world ending and also dying young. At the beginning of my junior year, I was really anxious around the guy I had a crush on before we started dating. In the spring of my junior year, I started having stomachaches and chest pains, so I went to the doctor. That turned into a prescription for Zoloft.

Today, my anxiety is triggered by job searching (which sucks by the way). For a while now, that anxiety has manifested itself in me having trouble falling asleep. And after I fall asleep, I have trouble getting any good sleep because my dreams are full of anxiety. Then, I will always wake up with a locked and tight jaw (TMJ, for those of you who don’t know), and sometimes with a headache if I clench my teeth enough. Here’s an example of how that process goes:

* lays down *

* checks facebook, and probably snapchat and instagram to avoid trying to go to sleep. Note: these things make it harder to go to sleep *

This interview tomorrow is freaking me out. I love animals and I want to show these people that I’m passionate about animals, but what if they don’t like my presentation? What if they’re super professional and judgmental? I still have to do that trifold tomorrow, but should I do it? Would it be too much, or would they like it? And I have to print off pictures for it too. That means I have to go to the library. I really don’t want to go to the library. What if the color printing is super frustrating? What if I see people I know? Then they’ll ask questions about what I’m doing because they’ll know I graduated. I don’t want to answer questions! I just want to print things! Or maybe I can just act like I’m still in school. Or I’ll just look like that naturally. But I’m not in school. I don’t want to inadvertently lie to people. I wonder how far away Johnson City, Tennessee is from Cincinnati. We could stay there with Martha when we go down to Pompano Beach. I mean hopefully we’ll go so we can all see Marco. And I wonder how far Jacksonville is too. Maybe I could convince my mom to stop there so I could see Tim and Elissa! Maybe I could sneak Millie into the car and into the hotel so Marco could see her. He misses her so much! But mom would totally know. And she wouldn’t agree to it. And Millie would be such a pain in the ass. Millie! I love her so much! I want to see her soon! And I love our cats. They are so great.

* turns over *

Except why is Steve giving himself a bath on my bed right now? That’s really annoying. I really hope my interview doesn’t go so long so I can be on time to work. Maybe I should text my boss just in case. But an interview shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes, right? I don’t know. I just really need another job. Maybe I should sleep with this pillow between my legs so my back isn’t all messed up in the morning. But I don’t really want to. Stupid pillow pet.

This is just an example of what I could be thinking about before I go to sleep on any given night. Usually, I will have super anxious dreams when I sleep. The night interview worries were going through my head, I had a dream that I went to the wrong place for the interview, didn’t end up doing my trifold, and was around a bunch of other people who looked super qualified. I woke up terrified and with little sleep.

I can’t tell you how difficult it is to get my mind to shut up before I go to sleep. I don’t know if it’s ever been this bad before. I remember even during this past school year not having a difficult time falling asleep. Then, my anxiety manifested itself in terms of doing homework. But, this is what I’m dealing with right now. And it freaking sucks. Because I toss and turn so much in my sleep, much of my body is sore right now, along with my jaw pain and a slight headache.

I wanted to share this with people who might read this blog post to communicate a few very important points. One, there are so many people out there that struggle with anxiety. Maybe you’re one of them. If so, half of the point of this post is to let you know you’re not alone, so I’m extremely glad you read this. Two, people struggle with anxiety in a myriad of different ways. For me, it’s changed over the span of my life. For you, it may be different. I know people who have fear and anxiety around animals and people who have multiple anxiety attacks within a week depending on what they’re going through. No matter how your anxiety manifests itself, I want you to walk away from reading this today having learned one thing:

Just because someone’s problems are more severe than yours doesn’t mean that yours are less significant.

The point is, there are issues that are difficult for you to deal with. It’s like the “don’t throw away that food, there’s a child in Africa who is hungry” argument. Although that may be true, that food will not get to that child unless you intentionally send it to him in a box. Everyone’s problems are going to be different, not more or less important.

This will always remain true: God will still love you the same. You will still be just as important to Him as the next person, and He will still meet you where you’re at, regardless of where that is.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”- 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Just For Today

For those of you who don’t know, my brother is a recovering Heroin addict. Back in February, right before my brother was supposed to go into long-term treatment for the first time, I came home to visit and went to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting with him. The one thing I distinctly remember from that meeting was the phrase “just for today.” It was used at the end of the daily meditation and said at the end of the group meeting in unison.

The first time I heard this phrase, I was kind of upset because I didn’t want my brother to just be clean for that day, I wanted him to be clean for life. When my mom and I went down to Florida to visit him in long-term treatment, I was able to gain a better understanding of what exactly the phrase meant. When we were there, we were able to actually experience large parts of the program that my brother had gone through. We went to a group meeting, a gender group meeting, and my brother’s primary group, where we specifically did family work. We were also able to meet with just my brother and his counselor, in which some things were explained in more detail to us.

Something very important to know about the life of an addict is that it is so difficult to stay clean. There are specific drugs that are much harder to break out of an addiction to because of how powerful they are, and there is also something different about the brain of an addict; certain people are actually more prone to becoming addicts because their brain is wired differently. Because of this, addiction can be classified as a mental illness.

And I believe this is why it’s so important to take it one step at a time, to declare that you will be clean “just for today.” Imagine that you were in a car accident and had to have half of your right leg amputated above the knee because of the injuries endured. During your recovery, you would have to take it day by day to relearn how to walk with that leg. In this situation, you would literally have to take your progress step by step. Think about how you would feel if you thought about your recovery process as a whole.

Would you feel overwhelmed? Defeated? Hopeless?

I think I would feel some of those things if I were in that person’s shoes. I have to relearn how to use my right leg? But I did that so long ago! What if I’m not able to ever use it again? How long did it take for me to first learn how to walk? I don’t think I could ever do that again.

I am imagining something similar happens in the mind of an addict. Although I am not an addict, I do have addictive tendencies, and have learned that I am addicted to self-hate. It is really difficult for me to break out of this habit because I have mentally lived in such a way for so long. I will often convince myself that I can’t do it, or that I’m no good. Because of experiences I have had in the past, I tend to lack confidence and a belief in myself. For me, the first step to recovery is taking things day by day and making goals for myself. Here is an example of an excerpt from a Narcotics Anonymous daily meditation:

“Just for Today: The guidance I need to become a new person is ready at hand. Today, I will draw further away from my old and closer to my Higher Power.”

For me, this phrase would look different because my situation is different. Something I might say to myself would be, “just for today, I am going to meditate on this bible verse about how worthy I am and believe it to be true about myself.” I even need to do this with daily tasks I have trouble maintaining the discipline to complete.

My brother has relapsed three times since he began his recovery process. He has failed, and it has been really difficult for our family. Of course we don’t want him to be clean “just for today,” but that is how his recovery process works. He is going to fail, which is scary given the power that heroin can have over people, but this is part of his process. The only thing we can do now is pray that the Lord has got him through everything, and pray really hard at that.

My question for you is, what is your addiction? None of us are immune to this. It takes a humble person to accept this reality, of which I am not exempt from. Try taking things step by step, “just for today.”

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."- 1 Peter 5:6

For the full version of today's Narcotics Anonymous meditation, follow this link here
To learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous, follow this link, and to learn more about Narcotics Anonymous, follow this link

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Because I'm At Home Sick

Since I had to call off work today because I’m sick, I now have time to write about whatever I want, so that’s what I’m going to do.

First, let me say that staying hydrated while you’re sick is the worst thing ever. Sure, it makes me feel better, but I have to pee every 30 minutes. It’s a bit frustrating since all I want to do is lay down and not move because I kind of feel like death. The struggle is real.

Second, I’m faced with the predicament of sitting down and doing nothing when I definitely have things to do. Since I’m doing nothing, you’d think I could get everything in the world I want to done, but my head hurts too much to think and I’m too drowsy to be completely awake to focus on anything. So that’s great.

And you’re probably thinking, what’s so terrible about laying down, watching television, and drinking large polar pops full of Gatorade all day? Well, you kind of feel stuck. I feel stuck here because I can’t do much of anything. I don’t want to watch any more television because I watched the entire first disc of the second season of Spongebob Squarepants last night, and I can’t play candy crush saga because I have no lives left.

What an annoying way to spend my day. This is really frustrating to me. However, I am convicted at the same time because I just started reading this book called The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer. In the first chapter of the book, Shirer talks about resolving to be content in whatever situation we are in. This was initially convicting to me because I have recently spent a lot of time wishing I was in a different place. Right now, the Lord has clearly called me to step back from leadership positions in the church and focus on healing from things that have hurt me in the past. Right now, I’m working on not hating myself, which is pretty difficult.

So far, this book has challenged me to be content in all situations, but I have never thought about being content in sickness. Now that I am sick and weaker than normal, I am challenged to be content in a place where I am limited in my daily activities, where I sometimes have to sit and be content in my boredom.

I think the scariest part about this for me is being alone with my thoughts, and also being alone with God. I’m afraid of my thoughts because I know they will lead me to thinking that I have no purpose in this time of weakness, and I’m afraid of being alone with God because I’m afraid of him. I believe he will yell at me if I let him in. However hard I try to believe the opposite, I still believe this lie.

I suppose I’m in a place where I have to face these lies and be honest with myself in what I believe. I really don’t have any conclusions, but I guess what I’m saying is that it’s really hard to be content in any situation, especially in one where you are really bored.

One last thought. In the state I’m in, I often begin to think that I don’t have a purpose since I can’t do anything, but nowhere in the bible does it say that we have no purpose. I challenge you to think about that. Wherever you are, and whatever stage of life you are in, God has a purpose for you. You will always have some type of purpose, whether it be speaking to a large crowd about your research or cleaning up your dog’s vomit.

That’s all I got.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wishing For Perfection in a Broken World

I currently stand in the face of having only 3 ½ weeks left of my entire college career. Even though I have absolutely loved my time at Bowling Green and am going to miss being a student here, something I won’t miss is all of the homework I have to do. I am SO READY to be done researching for papers, writing papers, and taking exams and quizzes. So much so that I am experience an intense anxiety and restlessness build up inside of me. I just want to be done with school! If my mind were a 3 year old, she would be jumping up and down with excitement on Christmas morning, waiting for mom and dad to let her go downstairs to open presents.

I’m really not kidding. Anticipating my college graduation is just that. Try to imagine how you felt on Christmas morning when you were a child. Up at 5 in the morning, waking up your siblings, trying to get your parents up to go downstairs. Being so excited that you can’t even handle it! Some of you who have already graduated know this feeling, and some of you anticipating graduation are experiencing this exact feeling right now.

But this isn’t really the best place to be in. It has created a ridiculous amount of anxiety and ADD for me. Since I don’t want to do anything, I just check facebook, and when I’m done with that, I try to do homework but fail because I can’t concentrate. Do you know why I can’t concentrate? Because I’m thinking about graduation! All I can think about is how much better life will be after I graduate. Hopefully, I will be working a summer job in Bowling Green, applying for real-people jobs, and all without the demands of school! I am also so excited to be done with work. I’ve been working as a desk clerk for three years, and I am so ready for a change. No more late night shifts; I will have a normal sleeping schedule!

In my mind, I am expecting everything to be so much better after graduation. I’m expecting everything to finally be okay and imagining that not having schoolwork to do will fix it. But is this really true?

I find myself doing this near the end of almost every season in my life, especially the seasons before summer break starts. I expect that a new period in my life will bring perfection and make me happy. I am expecting that a change in my circumstances will finally make everything perfect. But the truth is, this has never happened. At the end of Colorado Leadership Training in 2012, I was so ready to come back to BG and start RA training. Along with this, I would finally get to see the person I had a major crush on; maybe something was going to happen with this, which was so exciting! But coming back didn’t fix everything. It just presented a new set of challenges. At the time, these were readjusting to school, the altitude change, balancing my schoolwork with being an RA, all while making a poor attempt to grieve LT.

And when this boy and I began dating at the beginning of November that year, my change in circumstances didn’t make everything better either. It was an exciting time, but it posed new challenges as well; entering a new role as a girlfriend and trying to balance this new relationship with school, work, and other extracurricular commitments. This is just one example of where a change in circumstances has failed to satisfy me. Have you ever experienced this before? I am sure that many of you have.

After thinking about all the times in which this has failed me (which has been every time), I realized that I clearly needed to stop trusting in my circumstances to satisfy me. Maybe it’s not my circumstances I needed to be trusting in, which will change like the waves of the ocean, but my God, who will stay constant in every situation. It always surprises me. No matter how many times I trust in the changing of my circumstances to have them fail again, I continue to repeat the same process; I trust in the changes of this World, and then come out disappointed.

But I am finally realizing who I need to trust in. God is truly one who will never fail me. He is an island in an ocean of ever-changing waves- He never changes or moves, and he is consistently the same. No matter how many times I am reminded of this, it never seems to stick. I know many of the verses that communicate this truth, yet they have departed my mind like a bird flying south for the winter. I sit here, disappointed in myself again because I have exhibited one of the truest statements of history- that it repeats itself. You’d think with me being a history major I would be able to realize this flaw, but my field of study will never change my human condition.

In one of my favorite songs, “Your Love Never Fails,” there is a line that exhibits this true character of God: “You stay the same through the ages/ Your love never changes.” This is exactly who God is. I am going to challenge myself to start trusting that the Lord’s perfect love will sustain me and satisfy me instead of trusting that a change in my circumstances will bring perfection. I challenge you to do the same.

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” –Lamentations 3:22-24

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What a Dog Can Teach You

So, after a crazy and difficult semester that probably almost killed me, I finally have time to think clearly and post on my blog again!

This is simple, but rather interesting I suppose. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my dog, Millie. Many of you have met her, and I’m sure all of you have heard me talk about her before. That’s because she’s the most hilarious dog on the planet. Every time I come home from college, she is always able to brighten my mood if I’m having a terrible day.

My mother would probably disagree though- she would call Millie the dog from hell, or even possibly a reincarnate of Satan. And honestly, I would agree with her. Millie has a pretty bold personality, and she gets very angry and defensive about many things. The two most specific things she gets angry about are being put in her cage, and food.

Whenever you put Millie to bed, never say the word cage, because if you do and then try to pick her up with two hands, you might end up missing a finger. And never, ever leave food unattended around her, especially chocolate and meat. Just the other night, my sister Katie was putting together goodie bags in light of the holiday season for her friends at school. She had candy canes and miniature Reese’s cups with her, and Millie was in the room. I was actually surprised because although it was clear that Millie wanted the candy, she sat patiently on the floor and watched my sister put the goodie bags together.

However, near the end of that time, her patience ran out, and Millie decided that she was going to get some candy herself if she was going to have to wait this long (we weren’t even going to give her any in the first place). So, by willpower and her sharp teeth, she was able to grab some chocolate. Katie and I tried to get the chocolate out of her mouth, but it was literally impossible because she was growling, biting, and being dangerously defensive. The debacle ended with Millie laying on her back and growling at us while she downed the entire miniature Reese’s cup, aluminum foil and all.

That was actually the most defensive I’d ever seen her. Never in my life have I been lunged at and charged at in that capacity. She packs a large and terrifying punch for such a small dog. However, sometimes I wonder if that kind of behavior isn’t her fault. I’m pretty sure some of it comes from her nature, because wiener dogs are just like that, but I’ve been thinking recently that some of her behavior has stemmed from how we’ve treated her and trained her since she was little.

When we first got Millie, I was a Sophomore in high school. All three of us (plus my dad) were really excited, but my mom had told us that we had to take care of and train the dog ourselves. And we agreed, because we wanted that dog so badly. She was so adorable! The only problem was that, although the four of us had agreed to that, we definitely did not hold up our end of the deal.

Millie as a puppy!

My mom had agreed to purchase the dog because she thought it might motivate my dad to get up in the mornings, as our other wiener dog, Villie, had done. We all knew he wasn’t feeling good, so this was my mom’s way of maybe trying to get him out of that. However, that didn’t end up working out so well. And my brother, sister and I? We were all teenagers, really too selfish and consumed in our own lives to take that much effort to care for her.

We never took her on enough walks, or trained her fully to go to the bathroom outside. By now, she knows that she’s supposed to do that, but the habit of going to the bathroom inside still has not been broken. I definitely know that now, she never goes on a walk and is only let outside in the backyard. The only problem is that she’s still a puppy; she’s only four years old, and she still needs that.

With everyone gone most of the time, she is usually alone, and I just realized, after being at home with her for this past week, that she just wants someone to spend time with. She just wants the attention and love that we should have been giving her the whole time she’s been with us. And that vicious behavior she sometimes exhibits? I can’t help but think that some of that stems from how we’ve treated her over the years- with neglect and selfishness.

I remember when she was little and we would play with her. She would bite at us, and we thought it was funny, so we encouraged it. Now, playing with her can be dangerous because her bite is much stronger. She doesn’t know that such behavior is not acceptable.

Millie being evil

And even though she is disobedient and vicious at times, she still needs to be loved. Taken on walks, played with, given more attention. For Christmas, I decided to make her a blanket because all of the towels she’s given are chewed up. My sister asked me why in the world I was going to make her a blanket if she was going to eventually destroy it.

And I’ve finally learned that even if she’s going to do that, I still need to make her the blanket and show her that I care about her. My brother and sister and I have conditioned her to behave that way, so we’re pretty much paying the price for it.

And this, in a strange but completely understandable way, reminded me of how Jesus loves us. Every day, He loves us, no matter what we do which is extremely difficult to understand for a lot of people, including me. So much is said about His steadfast love in the Psalms. Psalm 36:5 says, “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

I can’t explain his love, and so much is written about it that your attention would veer if I put every verse I knew about the love of Christ in this post.  I don’t even understand it. And sometimes I can’t even see it or feel it, but I know it’s still there. His love works in ways that we can’t understand.

Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

No matter what we do, he will always forgive us and love us unconditionally. And such was taught to me through my dog. In the middle of my dog peeing on the carpet or chewing up the blanket I just made her, I need to say, I still love you. For all the damage that’s been done to her emotionally in her short doggie life because of how she’s been treated and trained, I need to understand that her actions reflect that.

And I’m not saying that God has damaged us like that. I’m saying that over time, we’ve damaged each other like that. In our childhoods, through tragic events in our lives, in our relationships, we’ve all been damaged emotionally. And God will work with us and love us every day for the mess that is our lives to grow towards an understanding of who he really is in the midst of all the damage.

Isaiah 55:1-3- “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's Been Awhile

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve last posted on here.  I really don’t have a point in this, just talking about what’s happened in the past month or so. As I write, I guess we’ll see if any themes come up.

Since I last posted on July 21st, a crap ton of things have happened. First, Leadership Training ended, which was sort of an emotional train wreck (AKA involved lots of crying). On August 4th, 4 other friends and I made the 24-hour drive back to Ohio, which was definitely a test of perseverance. Upon arriving back in Ohio, I was able to go home for less than 24 hours like I mentioned before, which was still a blessing despite how short it was.

On August 6th, I moved into my room on campus and started RA training the day after, which lasted 2 weeks. Then we had our fall move-in, classes began, and the campus church I attend, h2o church, kicked off the fall semester with a lot of different events.

To say the least, it was a whirlwind of insanity, and the only reason I’m able to sit down and write this blog post is because it’s finally calmed down (after 3 weeks!). The quick transition into RA training was very difficult, partly because I was grieving the end of LT and the end of last year, which I hadn’t had time to grieve fully when it happened back in May, and partly because of the drastic environment change. The lifestyle I was living changed completely in a matter of days. I went from working 40 hours a week and doing ministry all the time to sitting in a classroom all day and learning about how to do RA things, which I had already learned the previous year.

As my residents moved in, classes began, and the kickoff of my church happened, things got a little more overwhelming. But by this point, I had become more accustomed to the environment change. What really began to overwhelm me was the mass of people I would be encountering and building relationships with this semester.

I kid you not, I sat down and listed all the groups of people and individuals I would be relating with this semester. I have my life group, which is a bible study of 15-25 people through my church. I also have my residents (about 22 people) and my RA staff (33 people). Then I have my many friends from h2o, people in classes, my 1:12 partner through the well (a mentor-mentee relationship), and a few other certain relationships that I feel will be very important to pour into this semester.

This was so incredibly overwhelming to me. Since the first few weeks of school have passed, I have been able to finally be alright with all of this, but at the beginning of the semester, it was particularly insane because I was having to learn new names everywhere I went, and it was hard to retain all the names (plus, I’m a visual learner, so that doesn’t make it any easier).

Near the end of LT, one of my good friends, Kim Shearer, told me that she felt that this upcoming semester was going to be relationally challenging, that we would all be challenged to build relationships that would stretch us in may ways, and she was absolutely right. Much of the stretch comes from the magnitude of relationships I’ve had to build, but much of it has also come from God speaking to me through these relationships.

If I haven’t mentioned this before, I believe that God majorly communicates to me through people, and he’s definitely been teaching me a great deal about myself through the relationships I’ve been building. He’s also greatly encouraged and convicted me through these people in my life.

In general, I’ve been feeling majorly convicted lately. For instance, a few weeks ago, I was talking to my friend on a Saturday afternoon, and he mentioned that he was doing homework. Not only was he doing homework, but he was actually finishing assignments. After that had been mentioned, I felt greatly convicted about not getting my homework done that day, so instead of hanging out with friends that night, I decided to go back to my room and finish my homework.

Ever since then, I have had much more motivation to actually get my homework done on Saturday, partly so I won’t have homework to do on Sunday (I’m trying to make Sunday a Sabbath day). This has also helped me to not procrastinate on assignments and to start them early instead.

There are many other specific examples I remember, but in general, I’ve been feeling so convicted. In times where I try to be perfect, God has been showing me how far from perfect I really am. My eyes are continuously being opened to how imperfect I am, how much control I try to have but don’t have, and how selfish I really am.

Another thing that God has been teaching me is that people are important. They are important because they are His children (Genesis 1:27), and he loves them so infinitely. If I want to show the love of Christ in my daily actions, I need to love everyone in the most sacrificial way I can. I will be honest, the way I sometimes treat people in my mind is completely evil and disgusting. How can I be so cruel?

Because of this, I have recently been struck by this verse, which I came across a few days ago while I was reading.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in
your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”- Psalm 19:14

Right now, that is truly my prayer. I want nothing more than for this to be true in my life, especially in my heart. So, I guess you could say that’s where I’m at right now. I’ve been stricken by my own conviction, but I have hope that the Lord is somehow going to redeem my life, and some hope that he will use my life to encourage people and lead people to Him. 

Let my life be a light for others, so that they may know the Love of the Lord.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Letting Go

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog. Since the beginning of July, things have gotten crazy around here. I feel like it’s partly God working intensely in my life, and me trying to do everything I want to do here before I leave.

And now, it’s almost the end of my time in Colorado. It’s crazy to think about how quickly time has gone by. Two weeks from tomorrow, I’ll be headed back to Ohio to move in for the beginning of RA training- and it looks like I’ll be able to have one night at home between returning from Colorado and going back to school, which is such a blessing!

Because it’s nearing the end of the summer, people have been asking me about what I’ve learned and how I’ve changed. A few days, I was asked what the title of this chapter of my life would be, and today at work, a friend asked me if I thought I had changed this summer.

Both of these questions caught me without an answer and sort of pushed me into a time of reflection, and I’m assuming these questions were brought up because God wants me to start thinking about these things. What would the title of this chapter of my life be? And have I really changed that drastically?

I sure do hope so. That’s how I want it to be- I want to return to school and have the people in my life notice the life change. I’ve thought about this question, and I would say yes, I have changed.

Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out how, but I would say that I entered the summer as a perfectionist and a control freak. I already knew about my problem with perfectionism. I remember being upset for not being perfect when I was little, and my mom telling me that nobody can ever be perfect. That was the first time I’d ever heard that (thanks mom!).

But me, a control freak? I thought I wasn’t, but God quickly showed me that I was. I came into this summer having a set plan of what I wanted to learn- I wanted to learn how to fight against the spiritual forces of darkness, I wanted to learn how to love better, and after it was all over, I wanted the fall semester to be perfect. I soon realized that I wanted everything to be perfect.

Soon after I realized I was trying to control everything, I had a mental breakdown. And then a couple weeks later, I had a more intense mental breakdown, to the point where I would have rather not been in Colorado or even alive for that matter. At that point in the beginning of July, I had become so crippled with fear of not being able to control things, like the end of the world, future relationships, and future ministry.

During the time I was going through that, I was given some great advice that really helped me through- we need to focus on God’s truths now, and not worry about the future or the outcome of anything. So, what do we know now?

That God loves us (John 3:16) and works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), We can trust Him (Proverbs 3:5-6), and He will fight for us (Psalm 20:11-13). There are so many other truths I could list here. One of the truths that really brings me peace is that the Lord knows more about us than we know about ourselves, and that he knows what’s going to happen before we do.

It talks about this in Proverbs 16, verse 9, which says, “The heart of man plans his way but the LORD establishes his steps.” So, I am reminded that no matter what I try to plan and control, I still don’t know what will happen, and many of my plans will probably be uprooted.

But the best part about it is that despite how many of our plans God crashes to the ground, his plan is always going to be better, because he knows us best and knows what’s best for us.

So, even if the world ends tomorrow, it is the best plan. Even if I never get married, it is the best plan. And so, as I near the end of the summer, I would say the title of this chapter would be “Letting Go.”

It’s not a very exciting title, but it does justice to what the general theme of this summer has been. God has been teaching me to let go of control, and to let him handle everything. All I have to do is put my roots in his truths right now, and be faithful to him in the present. How things will end up is not a thing to be concerned about, because God has it all under control.

So, I’m really hoping I can keep this mindset when I go back to school. Honestly, I hope I can keep growing in everything I’ve learned. Also, one of the things I really hope for is that people notice a change in me from when they last saw me- I feel like many times in life, the people that know us notice things about ourselves that we would never be able to notice. Even if I can’t see the change in my life fully, I can trust that God will bring people into my life to help me realize how much I’ve changed.

That’s all I have for now. I’m talking about the summer being over and I still have two more weeks out here. I want to do all I can while I’m out here- next week, I will be hiking Long’s Peak with a group of friends on Thursday (as long as the weather cooperates), so please be praying for that.

I also hope to get a few more hikes in, including another sunrise hike. On Tuesday, a group of friends and I went on a sunrise hike to Estes Cone- it was beautiful! I’ll have to post those pictures soon. And I forgot to mention that I hiked that while having strep throat. In my defense, I didn’t know I had it yet.

So, my summer has been phenomenal so far, despite some valleys in my life, but that’s ok because God uses those valleys to refine us and shape us. I have two weeks left, and I’m about to go make the best of it.

Psalm 20:7-8- “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.”