Weeds Into Flowers: God Created Us To Be More Than Small

9/2/16

(Pic Credit: Mapleridge Ranch)

In the past seven months, I’ve been praying a prayer to be smaller.

I think the need to be smaller comes from a society that tries to shut us up inside a box of labels they deem appropriate for us. The smaller you are, the less labels they can fit onto your packaging tape.

Seven months ago my box would have read Christian, depressed, anxious, anorexic, hypocrite. Part of living inside that box meant that I identified with those labels. I identified myself as a mess of a human that was struggling to keep her head above the darkness that surrounded her.

I know that I write a lot about the darkness. But I have this firm belief that if we don’t even acknowledge something then it has the power to grow stronger roots and take hold of our life. I never want to let the darkness take hold of my life again so I’m going to focus on the ways out, on the light that shines unto my path like a mid-day sun.

This past summer I was working with a woman who spoke love like it boils over in her bones. She could tell when I was not okay and she always knew the words to say, and when words weren’t necessary. Making others feel like they mattered was a second nature to this girl and helping me see that truth was something she took on as a challenge for the summer.

It took me most of the first 4 weeks of this 6-week camp to really realize I was not okay. To realize that there was a fear deep-rooted in my heart and I was riding shotgun to it.

All these lies that tell us that we are not worthy or capable or adequate all comes down to the fact that we are riding shotgun to fear. And riding shotgun is something that I seem to do often.

I think this all really boils to down to fear.

In the root of my smallness and desire to have things that are bigger than myself rests fear, all snuggled up like he owns one of the rooms in my heart. Fear doesn’t play no games neither. He gets right to the point and whispers lies and uncertainties into your ears at night, or when you would least expect him too.

In the bible there are many occasions when followers of God were frightened and let fear drive their life but my favorite is found in Matthew—when Jesus walks on water. You see, the disciples were fine out there on that boat, but then they saw Jesus and were terrified because they thought he was a ghost.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say my fear is a fear of ghosts per say. Not specters that haunt us from ‘the other side” but ghosts that have brown eyes and a crooked smile, ghosts that look like dancing across a stage with grace and confidence. Ghosts that came in so subtly but then left abruptly, ripping a chunk of my life out and taking it with them. I am afraid of these pieces. What losing them meant and what it means to go forward without them.

I think we all have these pieces of us we carry. These ghosts that cause us all so much fear. We need to let go of the past. The things that we are holding so tightly to that aren’t letting us blossom into our full potential.

Today, I had to perform in front of twenty-ish of my peers. This is not something I have ever done, not solo anyways. I was so caught up thinking about the ways that it would go wrong, the ways I wouldn’t measure up to the rest of the class. I, once again, let fear in and let it shrink me.

Did I perform? Yes.

Was it the best I’ve ever sang? No.

But was it an honest representation of where I am in my life? Yes.

Because I struggle with anxiety and the ghosts that I do, of course something this vulnerable was going to be hard. 

Life is going to be hard.

It’s not about the storms that we go through, it’s about the way that we fare through the torrent seas.

I am a mess of a human. But God still shows up. Jesus still walks on water and approaches me in whatever boat I am in. Whatever the state of my life, He is  a l w a y s  f a i t h f u l.

I need to stop existing in the ways that are expected to be smothered. was not created to be small, though in the grand scheme I am. I was not made to walk the main road, so I’ll take the narrow path. There are so many more things to me than meets the eye and through all 20 years of my life I am still learning and finding myself. And that astounds me. That there are so many different things to learn about a single human and we are all constantly changing, like weeds into wishing flowers.

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Fight Song. Part 2.

8/11/16



“You have to learn to give yourself grace.” 


The white noise of the coffee shop surrounded us and I sat there, uncomfortable with the thought of that. Of Grace. Of giving it to myself. She just stared at me, so sure of that advice, like to came from the marrow of her bones– giving grace is the thing she’s made of. So why couldn’t I be made of it too?


I looked away from her. I couldn’t bear to stare into the truth of that statement. But for good measure she repeated it: “you have to. You have to give yourself grace.” 

—-

This summer I struggled more with anxiety/depression than I have before. I worked at a summer camp and I was surrounded by more people like her, people who dish out grace to themselves and others like it’s candy. Like it’s the thing that they’re made of. 


I struggled with comparison a lot more too. I was constantly looking at my co-counselors and beating myself up because I wasn’t them. I wasn’t the counselor who thought to start the game at Flex Time. I didn’t have an amazing one-on-one today. I didn’t get to speak the gospel to someone. 


And I let that eat me up inside. I started to doubt that I was there for a reason, started to doubt the power of the Lord, and His love if I’m being honest. I was so focused on how I wasn’t measuring up that I forgot to look at how He has already measured up for me, how He loves me because He wants to, not because of the things that I’ve done or have done or will do. So I struggled. I had anxiety attacks and sob fests and broke so many times I am honestly shocked that I was still standing at the end of the summer. And I think it all goes back to my friend Comparison. 


Comparison, as I was told, is the killer of joy. 


Joy is a tough topic for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t actually recall a time when I can remember feeling full of joy. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to feel joy. 


That’s something hard for me to admit, but I learned this summer that admitting things is a real step in the direction of His heart. Because if I can say it to myself, then I can say it to Him. If I can be real with myself for just a minute, then I can be real with Him too. This life is just a series of moments where we choose to be real. And raw. And present. 


—- 


It took me all summer to get the weeds uprooted from my heart.

There was a speaker at this camp who talked about pulling up weeds and then having them growing up because he wasn’t grabbing them from the root.  I think life is a lot like that. We all have these lies that grow like weeds in our hearts and we need to uproot them. 


So I narrowed it down to two weeds: 1) I don’t deserve love & 2) I don’t deserve grace. 


I know that those are two hard things to move past, but I desperately want to and I know that with God all things are possible.  I finally broke into the arms of my camp mom and sobbed for a good 30 minutes about how I want to love myself. About how I want to see myself in the ways that God sees me. I finally took that first step. 


And I think that’s a step towards grace. I think I’m spoon-feeding myself grace daily, slowly becoming okay with the fact that I may not be okay. And that is fine. People need time and we need love and we need grace. 


I may have taken a long time to get here, but 20 years is a long time to waste being enemies with the person looking back at me in the mirror. 


From here on out, I’m pursuing hope, love, and grace. I’m pursuing a life that is flooded with faith and with being who I was created to be.  So much so that God is all people see when they look at me. 


“you have to learn to give yourself grace.” 


and then you have to learn how to live with it reflecting out in all you do.

Fight Song. Part 1.

4/26/16


I let the darkness win on Sunday. 

I let the darkness win but that doesn’t mean that I am the darkness. I am not. I am not. I am not. 


There are days when the darkness is all we know. There are people who can speak truth into your life but you are not going to hear anything unless you want to. You will be deaf to the good news as long as you continue to dip your feet into the stream of all things bad for you. 


There will be days when the darkness seems to be your only friend. When the people you rely on and enjoy spending time with will spend time with someone else. There are more people in their orbit than you and there are more people in your orbit than them. Don’t confine people in boxes. Don’t keep them captive from the world. We all know the story of Rapunzel, nothing ends well when we keep people locked up in a hypothetical tower. 


There will be days when the darkness makes you feel like Rapunzel. There are days when the tower seems too tall and you can’t reach the ground despite how long your hair has gotten. Don’t forget to look up. Don’t forget to look to the sky when you are fascinated with keeping your feet on the ground. Sure, the ground is safe. But, the sky holds hope in it’s hands. 


Some days, the darkness will win. Some days. 

But the other days are more important. The days when the darkness gets muffled and you feel light and seen and heard. Those are the days to cherish. Those are the days to look right in the face and say “I am happy when you are around, but I want to feel you all the time.” 


And you can ask for that. You can pray to that God way up in the sky and ask Him for good things. It’s allowed. It’s wanted, even. God wants good things for us. 

This is something I struggle with. I hate the thought that God would want to give me good things when I consciously and constantly sin and mess up and fall short. I hate that God singles each and every one of us out and asks “what is it you want? what is it that makes your heart flutter?” 


I don’t like being the center of attention. I don’t like when people ask what I want before others. Sure, there are desires that rest in the nooks and crannies of my soul, but I am not going to shout them from mountains to the creator of the universe.


But why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t you? The fact that we are allowed to approach the throne of God with our desires is something that I think we take for granted a lot of the time. It’s something I think we just do, we go through the motions of prayer a lot of the time and I am going to write a lot more about prayer as God continues to teach and break and grow me in that area. 


So why shouldn’t you ask God for good things? Maybe you feel unworthy. Inadequate. Small. Maybe you are fearful. Quiet. Tongue-tied.  But that doesn’t mean that you let the darkness win by staying silent. That doesn’t mean that you give up and slip deeper into the stream of all things bad for you. Fight the good fight. Swim for the light. 


I think that our society likes to focus a lot on the darkness and the victory, but I’d like to focus more on the battle. 


I’d like to focus more on the times when you feel ignored and invisible and weak. I’d like to bring to attention the times that you break down at 3 a.m. but also when you need to hide at 4:15 p.m. because you can’t stop the tears from coming. When the fight gets too much, that’s where we should focus.


Too many times, people are fighting fights alone that they shouldn’t be. Addictions, Mental Illness, Identities. Things that people should feel safe to tell their close circles but don’t because society tells us we should be redeemed or that we are the lost cause. There is no middle ground and I am fed up with that. 


Life is a battle of dark and light. 

Life is a fight between good and evil

Life is grey and ambiguous and hard to discern. 




It’s not about the way that life is, it’s about the way that you get through the fight. 


It’s about the way that you continue to stand up no matter how many times you get knocked down. It’s about the way that you come beside those who are broken and how you help them rise to their potential. Not for the praise. Not for the likes. Not for the recognition. Do it for God’s glory and because people are worth fighting for. 


No matter what else you care about: People are worth the fight. 

I Am Not Alone

1/27/16

This post is going to be brutally honest.

I’m actually more afraid to be writing this piece than I am to fail out of college. I think it’s just because the thought of saying these things out loud make them real and I don’t want them to be real.

The thing is, I’ve been writing this blog for you and that isn’t what I want this blog to be. I need it because I have a voice that is worth hearing. I may not believe that on most days, but it’s true and I need to repeat it, especially on days like today when I am shaking while clicking on letters.

So like I said, this post is going to be vulnerable— because we like to fluff things up. Everything has to have aesthetic, and be perfect. We are expected to be “hipster” and “have our life together” on social media. It has to look like that from the outside looking in.

My life is not perfect. My life never has been and never will be. So I’ll say it again, and feel free to say it with me: my life is not perfect. But, there are perfect moments: playing at my grandmother’s farm when I was younger, my first time on stage, my first kiss, my first love, when I met my best friend, riding wheeled chairs down a sloped hallway. But there is also hurt: when my friend committed suicide, when my grandmother died, when I injured my knee and ruined possibilities, moving every few years, being bullied, being abused. So yeah, my life is not perfect, but it is filled with perfect moments.

Yet, no matter how hard we try to focus on the positive moments, the bad always come creeping in. And it’s okay sometimes, we need to see the ugly to appreciate the beautiful. But when you focus on the negative too much, it can get hard to see the good at all, it can get hard to breathe—I find myself struggling to breathe.

Depression has this way of asphyxiating any living thing that he can get his hands on. He shows up at your door like the ex-boyfriend who is trying to persuade you to take him back. And you could say no, you know that you could… but you don’t, his presence is too intoxicating for that. You have some weird addiction to the sadness. Or maybe, you’re just not used to joy. Being joyful scares you.

So I welcomed Depression into my home. Told him to take off his shoes and make himself comfortable. And let me tell you— he knows how to make a home out of anywhere and at night, depression can get chatty, like somehow this is a sleepover between best friends. He’ll call up his friend Anxiety and they’ll talk your ear off all night long.

I wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating, wasn’t thinking positively about anything and yet, I still smiled… I tried so hard to convince others and myself that I was fine. I am far from fine. I fell so much further into myself than I ever have before and the enemy was feeding me lies of unworthiness. I began to lose sight of the truth. The bible became a book that hurt me to read, I would get queasy when people would bring up God’s name in a conversation. It was like the guy who left you, like he left you hard. I felt so abandoned by God and I didn’t want to let go of Him, but I was also so hurt by Him that I denied Him like Peter did. I began to feel so inadequate, burdensome even.

So I pulled away from my closest friends. How could I bring them into this? How could I bring them down with me? They were all so happy or had things of their own to deal with… I couldn’t burden them with my problems. I turned to an unhealthy option, a path I thought I had been redeemed from. I got lost in the woods of relapse and still haven’t gotten my footing back yet.

I am not out of the woods yet.

I am not out of the woods and I am not in the clear but I am grateful for friends who have wandered in with flashlights to remind me of who I am and where I am. And I am thankful for a God who has created me and created the woods I am stumbling through blindly.

So these past two months have gotten progressively more messy, broken, and human. But I will not apologize for that. I will not apologize for crying for hours, for needing people and God and help. I will not apologize for my feelings because they make me human and they make me alive. But I will apologize for the consequences of my reactions to the feelings. I will apologize for hurting people unintentionally, and letting people down, and for hiding it from people. I am truly sorry because being a Christian means living in fellowship and community and that means being vulnerable with the people within that circle. I should rely more on that love.

I am sorry for the pain I caused other but I can’t apologize for mental illness and addictions. I am seeking help, I am confiding within my community. I think that there is this stigma to romanticize the struggle that people with mental illness and addictions and issues go through. I don’t want to come off that way, I want to make it clear that I fight for my life every time that a stray negative thought crosses my mind, I fight for my life every time I get triggered, I fight for my life every time that I relapse with self-harm and my eating disorder. There is nothing romantic in that. But I will admit that there is hope in healing, in recovery. There is hope in being any way redeemed—which we are, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

So when the lies swirl around you and tell you, on repeat, that you are alone, know that you are never alone. Did you hear that babycakes? Say it with me:

I am not alone. I am not alone. My life is not perfect, but there are perfect moments to live for. I am never alone.

Untitled Vol. 1

12/15/15

I thought I was redeemed of all addictions until you came sweeping into my life and breathed yourself like heroin into my system. The worst part is I enjoy the high each time, more and more. Each inhale of your breath. Each injection of your presence. They each drag me deeper and deeper still.

I think that we have this habit of taking people aside and claiming them as our own. Even we don’t have a right to them, even when we know we shouldn’t.

I have this habit of taking you aside and making you mine. I have this habit of making you toxic and then blaming you for everything. I am sorry for that. I know I am toxic too. Some chemicals shouldn’t mix and baby, we are explosive.

There is this theory I have, about love: I think we don’t necessarily fall in love. I think we can choose love. And that love is a choice you make every day when you wake up and go “That human? They are mine and I am theirs. As long as we both shall live.”

I think love comes in waves. And today it is a riptide pulling me under and I am sinking farther away from the surface into everything that you are. It hurts, to be in the thick and thin of the pain. But I also know my limbs will fight. My limbs and body will fight to the surface and my breath will struggle until I survive.

When it comes to love, I think we all hope for the happily ever after. I am starting to believe that those aren’t real, I’ve given up on fairytales and have woken up to the reality. It’s true, what Stephen Chbosky said “we accept the love we think we deserve.” I have stopped believing I deserve any kind of love so it’s not shocking that everything I enter into is toxic.

And it’s not your fault you chose them over me. It’s not your fault or mine, it’s just reality. I just wish you saw me in the saw light that you see them, did I not shine? Did I shoot across the sky like a shooting star? I am sorry, I am a dwindling flame on a melted candle… just breathe away from going out.

Love has this way of choking the very thing that breathed life into it. I am sitting here, choking on saltwater, and wishing you could see me drown.

Go Tell Lauren

12/10/15

(pic credz)

There is a girl in Pennsylvania named Lauren who shines so bright. She shines brighter and brighter but I think there are days when her light feels small. When she doesn’t feel like she is shining. When she doesn’t think that the light is worth following. There is a girl in Pennsylvania named Lauren who shines so bright and I want her to know that she illuminates my soul form miles away.

Lauren, you are allowed to feel small and insignificant. You are allowed to think you aren’t worth it on some days. You are allowed to feel all the bad feelings, but you mustn’t make your home in them. Make sure that you only built a temporary home there, one built out of straw or sticks, so that when the time comes you can blow them down with a huff-and-a-puff.

People will tell you things that build you up but they will also tell you things that hurt. People are the worst and best things to happen to you. Make sure that you guard yourself, but don’t forget to live, Lauren. Live big and live bold. Take chances on people you wouldn’t normally take a chance on, but also know when a situation is out of your control.

It can be hard to let people out of our orbit. Especially when we’ve fashioned them into some sort of sun. But it is something that must happen. There comes a time when we get used to the toxicity of certain people and we start to accept the lies that they are all we are worth.

Lauren, you cannot make homes out of people.

My grandmother taught me that when I was young and I didn’t really understand what it meant until I fell in love with a boy that had the warmest eyes and the coldest heart. But he masked it, he tricked me into falling in love with how he made me feel and the rush I got from being made important in his eyes. The truth came out eventually but I was in too deep. I was too attached, clinging to the thread of him he left dangling in front of me to trail me along.

Lauren, you cannot make homes out of people and you can’t invite another soul to move into your rib-cage. That space is all yours babygirl, don’t let another human take advantage of the home you’re building inside of yourself. The home that is your safe haven, the home that enables you to love every corner of yourself. You can’t make homes out of people and you can’t let them make a home out of you. You will lose yourself and I don’t want that to happen, not when you are such a beautiful and special young lady.

You are a whole person and no human can ever fill any empty space within you.

We are not some puzzle that is missing a piece. You are whole. You are here. You are seen. Did you get that, Lauren? You are here and you are seen. Every stubborn molecule in your body is present and fantastic and human and seen.

Lauren, I want to thank you. For being my fan. For cheering for me. No, seriously, thank you for being my cheerleader. These past months have been hard but God has been good and people like you have given me hope. People like you have kept me from hitting delete on my blog and have inspired me to keep showing up, to keep writing: even when I don’t want to… especially when I don’t want to.

Keep showing up for people, Lauren, especially when you don’t want to. Keep showing up and keep being a light into the bitter darkness that surrounds us. People need you. The world needs you, m’dear.

Dear Future Daughter of Mine (Vol. 1)

12/9/15

(pic creds)

I want you to know that I love you already and you are tucked into the prayers that I whisper to God at night. I’d like to think that I will be able to protect you from everything but I know that that is not how this world works. Your grandmother was the best mother and she couldn’t save me from a lot of the darkness from this world, that’s just life. You have to wrestle with the dark in order to find the light that is deep inside yourself.

Baby Girl, when Despair come a knock-knock-knocking on your door, open it wide. Welcome him in. You’ll be able to know it’s him from the wrinkles of age and worry etched onto his face. He will be almost bald and have a welcoming, but eternally sad smile. Let him, sweet child. He has many stories and many lessons for you.

Despair will try to tell you that you have to be with him all the time. Know that it is a choice. You will have a choice to stay with Despair. But choose his cousin Joy sometimes too. She can get lonely and needs some company, especially when Despair comes over. So turn on the lights that he has dimmed, tell her to join you guys for dinner.

Joy will sit down with a plop and bounce all evening while exclaiming “Isn’t life so great!”

“You’d like to think so, wouldn’t you?” Despair will interject, “But haven’t you seen all the work that Tragedy has been doing? Where is Hope? Where is the reason to keep going when all things will come to an end…”

To this, Joy will always answer “people are the reason to go on. They are the reason to keep fighting, Despair. I mean, look at her— (at this, Joy will look and point energetically at you) she’s been in your company all day but is still smiling, I think that is where Hope hides. In the smile of broken and raw people.”

Despair will stare at you with those sad eyes that seem like they are way older than he is, they hold the entire history of pain and hopelessness inside them. And you, baby girl, you will stare right back. Because you shouldn’t be afraid of Despair. And you shouldn’t be afraid of Joy. You should only be afraid if you stop feeling both altogether.

There are some people that will tell you that feeling all these things can be unhealthy but I want to assure you that it isn’t. Not feeling is so much worse than feeling and I hope you stay in a pool of emotions your whole life. They can be overwhelming. They can feel out of control. But I promise you, I promise you sweet daughter of mine, that God and I will be there every step of the way through the thickness. We will not abandon you.

So open the door. Let them all inside. Feel joy, and anger, and sadness, and despair, and fear, and courage. Feel all the things that your favorite song makes you feel and the boy next door. Feel the things that come when you lose your footing and when you contradict the popular opinion.

Baby Girl, feel. feel. feel.

You’ll thank me one day.

Unveiling the Masks // A thank you note to the guy who illustrates from the Girl with the Stars in Her Eyes

12/3/15

(Pic Cred)

It’s been almost 7 months since I wrote and submitted this post to If You Find This Email. It’s been almost 7 months of him and me and ups and downs and no’s and yes’s and why’s and goodbye’s. I may not have been in Fillmore at the time but, the story is true. Read it if you want. Him and I are still friends, we still talk.

http://www.ifyoufindthisemail.com/theemails/2015/5/14/subject-line-the-girl-with-the-stars-in-her-eyes

——-

So I’m unmasking myself. I think I wear too many masks nowadays and I don’t want to be living a life of lies anymore. I think that transparency and vulnerability are what let us really be intimate with God. I want that more than anything.

I am the Girl with the Stars in Her Eyes. I dream too much and too big. I eat junk food on a daily basis, but I also try to run or even do dance every day as well. I watch Netflix and movies everyday. I sing loudly and off-key. A lot. I get depressed and have panic attacks. I enjoy coffee a little more than I should. And I like girls and boys.

——

That causes dissonance inside my heart and inside the church. It isn’t as hard for the church to accept it as it is for the God-fearing christian who experiences it.

But I am accepting of that part of me now. I don’t sit in my closet anymore and curse at God for this, begging him to take it away from me. I accept it now because we are suppose to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I wasn’t loving myself. So I wasn’t loving others.

It all comes back to the guy who wanted to illustrate my book and my life. We had deep conversations and he was one of the first people I admitted that to. One of the first people who knew I experienced same-sex attraction and he didn’t judge me. Slowly, I started opening up about it and not being judged and I am proud of the church for that. And I am grateful for that guy for helping me. If you are reading this, thank you for saving the stars from going out of my eyes. I owe you one, bud.

——-

Romans 13:8-10 is so important because Love fulfilled the law. And Love wins. Love always win. “When Jesus was sacrificed on the cross, he provided the ultimate fulfillment of the animal sacrifices. His death and resurrection accomplished the purpose that all of the Old Testament regulations about sacrifices could only point towards– the final reconciliation of God with God’s people. As a result, the sacrifices were no longer necessary. It’s not that the laws were abolished, but they became irrelevant once their purpose had been accomplished. They were fulfilled.” and I am so thankful to love a God who just calls me to love. Everyone. All the time. No matter who they are, what labels they wear or identify with, we are called to love.

And if I am called to love all others “as I love myself'” then I am glad I started to see myself and accepting myself for who I am, for who I am categorized as, for the masks I am tired of wearing and the labels I suppose I fit into. I need to love myself– no matter who I love and who I fall for because Jesus will still be at the center of my heart.

——-

It’s crazy to think that God swooped me out of an existence of not knowing Him with the same line that is helping me gather the courage to press the publish button. “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us.” Because Holy Crow. Nothing I do can ever snuff out His light in me. All of my shame, all of my sin, all of the darkness and masks and closets that I’ve been hiding inside of… His Love and Grace covers it. So I’m shedding this shell I’ve been hiding in for years. Because I don’t want to regret never being completely honest and completely me.

I Understand Now Why They Name Hurricanes After People

11/12/15

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You said you had moved on.

You said you had moved on and the ship had sailed. So why do you still flash up on my notifications and message me asking me how I have been?

You said you had moved on.

So for the past year I had pushed through the feelings: the denial, the unwantedness, the self-loathing, the “am I not enough”.

But you just kept showing up, every few months you would show up and I couldn’t move on.

You said you had moved on and the ship had sailed but it took me months until I realized that seeing your name didn’t drown me any longer.

It took me months to look in the mirror and stop picturing you standing behind me.

It took me months to breathe easy and stop smoking. To accidentally drop the lighter you had given me into a river… washing you away with it.

It took me months because you said you had moved on but kept showing up in my life but now, it’s been months since I have thought of you, longingly and lovingly.

Now I just pray that you get happiness and sometimes, I don’t pray or think of you at all.

It’s been a long race: running to you, then away from you, and then finally running for freedom.

And fear was a big contributor to the chains I was wearing for the past year. The fear of being alone. The fear of rejection. The fear of not being enough. Just fear, crippling and disabling fear.

You see, I let fear be my life’s author this past year, and depression seemed to co-write it too. I let them wash over me. I became complacent and submissive to everyone around me. I was drowning in fear and sadness and I couldn’t move my limbs to swim.

I wish you could see me now. Like really see me. The kind of seeing that involves us sitting down over coffee and talking about life, our faces so close we can see our reflections in each other’s eyes. I need you to see me that way so you can see how I have changed:

How I no longer filter everything I say. How I move my fingers like I’m playing clarinet when I get nervous. How I second guess a lot of my decisions. How I can look you in the eye with no fear of getting attached any more. How I am stronger, more peaceful.

But I need you to know that you have changed me, for better or for worse because you said you had moved on but still showed up. It changes someone that does. And it helped me realize that I am not okay, most days.  That I still am not okay.

I am a hurricane; I destroy people before they even get close to me. 

That is a truth I am trying to change, the only one I want to change. I am sorry if I destroyed you, but you destroyed me first. That is a truth I cannot change, no matter how much I wish to.

Swim For The Better Days

10/4/15

I’ve been treading water for the past 10 months.

I’ve been treading water because I have been too afraid to actually swim, to put my hands out in front of me and to trust that my body will keep me alive.

This depression was the worst one. It wasn’t one that made me think about taking my own life, but I can understand why people do. Finally, I understand the reasons why.

It’s not because you’re sad, it’s not because depression is crippling. It’s because the control is gone: to get out of bed is a battle with your mind and to eat is a battle and to walk is a battle and to think is a battle and to be with friends is a battle. You don’t have a choice… you have to fight every. single. day.

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I think our society has a tendency to brush off mental illness. We have a tendency to scoff at it, like it’s not a real problem. Like Mental Illness is the girl who sits in the back of every class you have but you know nothing about her, just the rumours that travel around. Mental Illness is the mysterious one, stories surround her. But no one will even try to get to know all her sides.

Along with Mental Illness are  her younger cousins, the triplets, Sadness & Wretchedness & Numbness.  They rush into your life so quickly and quietly , it really is hard to catch the warning signs sometimes

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And then everything else starts to fade… they almost get a pedestal to rest upon, we unintentionally idolize them. And then we look outward at everyone else and feel envious. Why are they happy? Why aren’t they feeling this way?

And we grab a hold of people and they look at us and feel a surface-level fulfillment..  I think all humans have some sort of savior complex. At the end of the day, we all want to save others because then maybe, someone will save us.

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I am obsessed with trying to save other people. Let me take your burdens. Let me carry your load. I am willing to help, take me on as a willing scapegoat for your troubles.

I don’t spend even close to enough time trying to save myself. I focus outward and think that society and a culture-based version of Christianity have taught me to do so. Serve others. Be small, be invisible.The good Samaritan didn’t have a name, so help and don’t think about who you are. Just help. Just save. Just look outwards.

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Don’t get me wrong, I think that serving others and putting them before you is definitely something that we should do. But not always. Not every minute. Take the time to look inward. Take the time to notice the warning signs, to see the hurt, to work through the pain. It’s okay to take time to yourself. That doesn’t make you selfish— that makes you human. And this world needs more humanly people walking around on it.

All this to say that I have been treading water and focusing outward.

But last Thursday I prayed a simple prayer in my closet before going to a student-lead worship night. It went something like: “Lord, I don’t want your love if it’s a half effort. I want real, unrelenting Love that wrecks my walls and pulls up my roots, just to plant a new and better and more reflective version. I want joy. I want your faithfulness to be prevail and for this promise to be met. These sermons I’ve been reading and listening to, promise that Joy, a Joy of a divine nature, is possible. Make it possible, Father. Please?”

And nothing happened. I didn’t expect it to right away. But this past month, I have been reading and listening to sermons on joy— mainly because Hannah  Brencher recommended it, mostly because I need joy— and I had been praying for this joy to take root in me. But it hadn’t. But these things take time.
During worship, the team started playing “How deep the Father’s Love.” And I thought “how fitting, a somber song for a somber girl.”

But at a line I usually just sing over and never think about, I remembered 2012 and a talk I had in a chapel during a thunderstorm. I remembered a question and an answer: “why would God love someone who is as unworthy and small as me? He just does.”

That line was: “To make a wretch his treasure.”

And maybe the signs include the sermons telling me that Joy is a choice in my heart and God whispering “why, child, won’t you just choose me?”
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I’ve never thought of myself as treasure. It all starts there. I have never thought of myself as treasure or worth gold or the perfect love of an all-encompassing God that knows the inner bits of my heart.

I can relate to the wretch. I am wretched on most days. I am a wretch, and sad, and isolated, and self-hating. I am most definitely a wretch.

But I am also treasure. You are also treasured. For all your insecurities and imperfections and worries and anxieties and beauty and heart. You are treasured. Above all.

So my prayer this week has been even simpler than the first:

“If you choose me God, then I am all in. I choose you, too. I choose you, too.