Self-Confidence

If you post nothing but positivity and perfection on social media, you make everyone else feel bad.  While everyone also believes that there is absolutely no way your life is that perfect.

You’re just faking it.

You shouldn’t brag about your accomplishments.

But you shouldn’t have low self-esteem.

Do this.

Don’t do that.

Act this way.

Don’t be absurd.

Why are you being like that?

Just be real.

Oh, but not that real.

Share your feelings.

But only if they’re positive.

But be real.

Admit your struggles.

But don’t talk bad about yourself.

Have self-confidence.

But be humble about it.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Because it certainly does to me.  There is such a fine line between self-confidence and self-deprecation that it’s truly a wonder if any of us have a small measure of mental health.

After a lifetime of never feeling like I was good enough, or smart enough, or just plain enough…I finally feel like I’m maybe, almost making a little bit of progress.  Not to say that this isn’t a daily struggle.  Because it is.

But…

I know that I do not need to settle for anything less that I deserve.  And when I say that, I mean…I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m strong, I’m stubborn, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m a million different things.

And when I say that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than what I deserve, I will not settle for anything less than someone or something that sees who I truly am, and isn’t fearful of that.  I will not surround myself with people who choose to put me down instead of lift me up.

We often get so focused on what other people think of us, and how other people make us feel about ourselves that we lose sight of what is truly important.

God.

Not only who God is to us…Father, Creator, Friend, Strength…but also who we are to God…loved child.

We.  Are.  Loved.

Daily, we are surrounded by so much love, it can be overwhelming, it can seem false, but it is never unfailing.

Never.

Do you need to read that again?

Because God’s love for you never fails.

No matter what you’ve done.  No matter how unloving you have acted.  God’s love for you has never failed.

It seems incredible, doesn’t it?  That someone loves us without any type of condition laid upon us.

Yet, it’s the truth.

So…

How can that truth help us navigate the tricky path that I laid out above?

Let’s talk about the word humble.  The act of “being humble” does not mean self-deprecating.

To be self-deprecating means to put yourself down.  To say that you are less valuable that you actually are.

But to be humble means to have knowledge and confidence in who you are, and knowing that all you are, all you have, is because of God.

Does that solve a lot of problems?

Well, yes.

I will.  Maybe not instantly.  But it will definitely solve a lot of problems.  And it will help you build a more firm foundation to navigate the rest of the challenges that life throws your way.

So now that we have the easy answer out of the way…what does this really look like?  How do we begin to implement this in our lives?

It isn’t easy.

It isn’t fast.

But it is so worth it.

God didn’t create worthless pieces of junk.

So maybe one of the things that you need to do is take some time to really look at yourself, and who you are, and the things that you offer to the world around you.  Write out a list of all of the good things that you are if you need to.  Turn it into a poster and hang it on your wall if you need to.  Whatever you need to do to remind yourself of your value.

Read your Bible.  I cannot stress this enough.  You must spend time reading, studying and understanding God’s words to truly understand who He is.  I can sit here and type until my fingers bleed about who God is.  But until you actually get into a relationship with Him, you won’t really know Him.

Now…can the Bible be complex, and overwhelming?  Absolutely.  It can be terrifying.

But it’s ok to be afraid, and still move forward and do it.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Maybe take it slow if you need to.  Get help when you need it.  Ask questions.  Just, please, make sure you’re asking for help from people who have some understanding of the Bible.

Once you have taken those 2 steps, something will naturally happen.  You start to take a look at what you’re doing, who you’re surrounding yourself with, and you really start to take a look inward about whether you need to make any changes in your life.

And guess what?

Those negative voices that have surrounded you in the past, the voices that have tried to bring you down…once you stand up for yourself, and have confidence in yourself, those negative voices tend to weed themselves out.

Not always (unfortunately) so you may need to make some drastic changes to your social scene.

But you won’t be sorry for it.

My friend, you are loved.  You are amazing.  Now go have an amazing day!!!

New Year, New Fret

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t because historically, most resolutions fail.

In an epic way.

So I don’t make them.

I also believe that if I am going to try to improve myself, I don’t need the turn of a calendar page to make that decision.

But as the end of 2019 approached, I had an overwhelming sense of unease.  And I couldn’t really quite put my finger on it for a long time.

Until I did.

And then I wish I hadn’t.

The fear, the trepidation, the unease was because I was worried that 2020 still will not be the year that things happen for the better.  That I still won’t find that perfect guy God has all picked out for me.  That I won’t make some huge breakthrough on what it is God wants me to do with my life.  That I won’t feel like a success, yet again.

The answer to all of this, that I am still finding it difficult to accept is that no matter what this year brings, God will get me through.

Deep down, I know that I will be just fine, and that even if all of those things do not end up happening this year, God’s perfect plan for my life will still be playing out.

I know that.  Of course I know that.

But the longing for all of those things is still there.

So, of course, God has to tap me on the shoulder as I’m reading my Bible this morning.

“Ahem, *cough, cough* this is for you, my dear.”

I was reading Psalms 37.  And in Psalms 37, David, yet again, perfectly describes the anguish that we, as humans, often feel.  And then he directly follows it up with what we, as Christians should do.

“Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.”
Psalms 37:34

Basically, there is a huge amount of wisdom in Psalms 37.  How we shouldn’t look at what evil people (people doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason) who end up succeeding, temporarily, with envy.  Not to look at them and wish that we had their successes.  Because in the end, their successes will be revealed to be ultimate failures, as they don’t get to share in the eternal prize of Heaven.

It’s difficult to do.

Because we know that their success is a result of evil things.  Evil intent.  Evil purpose.  And often, those people don’t care who they run over to accomplish their goals.  But the results of some of those evil things look oh so tempting.

I get it.

But we must keep our eye on the true prize.  The prize that gets us eternity in Heaven with our Father.

And until then, keep relying on His strength, guidance, mercy, grace.

And hope in the Lord, and keep His ways.

I’m a Big Ol’ 5

On a scale of 1 to 5 – 1 being the least, 5 being the most – how much do you trust God?

The “church answer” is obviously…

I’m a 5!

In reality, me personally, I am a 5…

But…

Let me explain.

When asking the logical and pragmatic side of my brain, I absolutely, wholeheartedly trust God with every single aspect of my life.  It has taken a really, really, REALLY long time to get there.  But it’s the truth.

I trust God.

With everything.

But…

I am human.  With human emotions.  With human reactions to what happens in my life.  So there are definitely times where my emotional, irrational side takes charge.  So I have an emotional and irrational reaction to whatever is happening in my life.

I don’t understand why some of the things in my life are happening the way that they are.  Or why God isn’t following my plan for my life.  Or when I think I’m following the plan God has for my life, the rug suddenly gets yanked out from under my feet.  There are moments that I’m just not sure what God is thinking.

But…

Once my emotions have cooled off a little, my rational and logical side returns to control, and I trust God with whatever His plan is for my life.

If there is one thing you should know about me, it is this: my path to such complete trust and reliance on God has not been easy.  I have been stubborn, and a jerk, and quite unlovable.  I did (and still do) things that I know aren’t what I should be doing.

But…

No matter what, God has always been there for me.  God has never stopped loving me.  God has never stopped caring about me.

Never.

Period.

No matter what bad things I have done in my life.  No matter how much I have struggled against God, He is still there, loving me.

And no matter what, God will get me through.

So when I tell you that I really am a 5 on the trusting God scale, I honestly mean it.  And I am trying, though not always succeeding, to remind myself when I’m going through a struggle season, that God has a purpose for whatever it is I’m going through.  And that I will continue to love and follow God, because He deserves my love and devotion.

Period.

Dream vs. Reality

I have hugely wild, huge and ambitious dreams of what I want to accomplish in my life.  And some days, I feel as though I’m failing miserably.

But, am I really failing miserably?

Many of these dreams are things that I truly feel God has put in my heart to do.  And I pray every single day for God’s guidance in my life on what I’m supposed to do.  And day after day after day after day, here I am, just trudging along.

I feel as though I’m not making any progress on those dreams.  And in the things I am doing to work towards some of those dreams, well some of those things I feel aren’t making any progress.

Currently, I have a job that I don’t honestly feel reaches my full potential.  I am a Teacher’s Aide.  I’m the low man on the totem pole.  Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that my job is important.  And I do feel like I am making a difference in the lives of the students I work with.  I know that I do different, more complex things than many other people with my job title.  And I honestly do feel like this is where God has called me to be right now.  Yet there are times that I want more.  For a couple of reasons.

I am looked down upon by some of my colleagues.  Not that any of them would every blatantly say that.  But it’s in the little things that I experience that tells me they value my worth less than other certified teachers.  For example, yesterday, one of the other teachers went all the way around me to ask for a key to my room, so she could use my room when she needed.  She didn’t ask if that was ok with me.  She went all the way around me.  And then, when she did have the opportunity to discuss it with me, well, she didn’t.

But, beyond that, I feel like God has put things on my heart to want more out of life.  More than what I’m currently doing.

I’m just not so sure of what that is.

But…

Perhaps all of these things are preparing me for something else.

If I turn to the Bible, what does it tell me to do?  Be humble.  Be a servant.  Love God.  Love people.

Humble.

This one is tough.  Because I have always struggled with my self-worth.  But if I have low self-esteem, am I really just being humble?  Well…no.

Low self-esteem basically means I feel I have absolutely no value in the world.  I am worthless.

Being humble means I recognize that I can do great things, but not because I am super awesome and amazing.  No, no.  I can do these great things because God has given me these gifts, talents, abilities, strengths, etc.  Knowing that someone far greater than I is in charge, and the one that really has those talents and abilities.  That is being humble.

Servant.

Jesus tells many parables about how the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  How we should strive to serve others.  To help others when we can.

Have you watched the show New Amsterdam?  If you haven’t, as soon as you’re finished reading this, go watch all of the episodes.  My DVR is full of TV shows and movies that I rarely have time to watch because I’m too busy doing other things in life.  But this show, this is one I love to watch.  The main character is the head of a public hospital in New York City, and his entire world is filled by one question.  “How can I help?”

Each show revolves around some new challenge that must be faced, and no matter what is going on in his own personal world, the offer to help others is always forefront in his life.

I know that the show is fiction (though based loosely in reality).  But even fiction can help us grow as humans.

How can I help?

This phrase changed my life.

When I go to school, my main role is to help others.  Other teachers.  Administration.  Students.  How can I help you?  What can I help you do to be successful?  Even on the farm, I take the same approach.

I get a little salty about some of the things I end up doing.  Because I do want to do more.  And sometimes I feel like I am not only being held back from doing greater things, I feel like I’m being pushed down.

One of my bucket list items is to help during harvest by running the combine all by myself.

I have barely been able to convince my dad to let me cut the last little strip of beans, while he watches over every single move I make.

But what my role typically ends up being is the gopher.  Meaning…I do all of the little jobs, that, though vitally important to the operation of the farm, really kind of stink in doing sometimes.  I take a wagon out to the field.  I make a trip looking for engine oil because there’s an oil leak.  I make parts runs.  I go put drops in my grandma’s ears because she has a Dr. appointment in a couple of days.

I get the minuscule tasks that really don’t seem all that important.  And it’s easier for my mom to be the one to run the combine because she’s been doing it for years and years and years.  Not that I can’t learn how to do it.  Not that I’m incapable of doing it.  I just don’t know how.

I do know that value is found in those small little tasks.  As I said, they are vitally important.  Because, if I hadn’t gone to retrieve the oil, we would have been shut down for hours.

So I get it.  Those tasks are important.

But I still want more.

But maybe putting in my time, learning the value in those smaller jobs, whether on the farm, or at school, maybe one of these days, they will all lead to bigger and better things.  Maybe these things are preparing me for something much bigger.

Or maybe I won’t get to experience all of those great things myself.  But my role in life as the servant doing these things is part of a much larger plan for something else.

Only God knows.

I know that no matter how salty I get about things, this is where I am supposed to be right now.

Love God.

This one shouldn’t be difficult.  And in the overall, big picture of my life, it isn’t.  But, like any relationship, we have our moments.

Some days, I really don’t understand why I am in the places that God has me in.

But I trust in God’s big plan for my life.

Love People.

Other people make this a challenge sometimes.  Sometimes, I may not be all that easy to love myself.  But the best marketing plan any Christian can do is to love other people.  No matter what.  No matter who they are.  No matter what they have done.  You love other people.

So…here I am.  Trudging along in another day.  I’m not where I want to be in so many areas of my life right now.  But I trust with my whole heart that I am where God needs me to be.

The Magic 8 Ball of Prayer

Does Brad like me?

Ask again later.

Will I be rich and famous?

As I see it, yes.

Will I pass my American Lit test today?

Outlook not so good.

Recently, I was reading in Leviticus, specifically the section where God was telling Moses exactly what the priests (Aaron and his sons) should wear when coming into the temple.  And if ever there were an elaborate outfit, this definitely fit the bill.  And then I got to the part about the Urim and Thummim.  And when I read the note in my Bible about it, I definitely wanted some Urim and Thummim.

These two objects were to be worn in the breastplate the priests wore.  And though the actual origination or purpose isn’t specifically known, but it is believed that these pieces were to receive answers from God.  That somehow either one piece was a yes, the other a no, or some combination of the pieces gave the specific answers.

Either way, these were used to receive direct, clear answers from God.

Kind of like the old Magic 8 Balls we played with as kids.  Where we could ask it the deepest, most secret questions of our hearts, and we would get some kind of answer, plain as day.

In life, in prayer life specifically, we rarely get such a clear answer to our prayers.  Especially not the answers that we are looking for, or the ones that we feel we so desperately need.

Not to say that God doesn’t give us a clear response, but it often looks much more different that we would hope or expect.  And sometimes, we have to look very hard to see and understand those answers.  And I will be the very first to admit that this can be frustrating sometimes.

But God does answer our prayers.

Sometimes, we just need to pray through to see, feel, and hear those answers.

Life is an Adventure

Youth group: last night.  12 teens, 6 adults, sitting around my friends living room.  Awkward looks across the room. How is this going to go? Am I really prepared to do this?  

Of course I am.  

I love youth group.  

Stressful as they may be to work with at times, and yesterday was definitely a stressful day, I love working with teenagers.  

And the series that we are starting with is so much fun.  Life is an adventure.  

So here are the basics of it:

There seems to be this formula for being a Christian that we all think we have to follow to make it to heaven one day.  But look for more unique, or beyond the normal ways of spending time with God.

When asked what they thought of when asked how to spend time with God, we got a whole list of church answers.  You know what I’m talking about. Read my Bible. Pray. Go to church.  

Don’t get me wrong, I do think those things are important.  Because they are. But they are far from the only ways to spend time with God.  

Several people opened up last night that they struggle with reading the Bible.  They just simply struggle with being able to comprehend what it actually means, or the message that it is trying to convey.  I get it. Been there myself. Some days, I still am there myself.  Because when it gets into Deuteronomy and it keeps listing the rules over and over and over and OVER again, my eyes start to cross, and I simply start to wander off into la la land.  

It happens.

Don’t tell me you’ve never experienced it.

But there are strategies to help focus more, and to understand what the Bible is actually talking about.  For one, I started reading a Life Application Study Bible. So beyond actually reading what the Bible says, super smart people also tell us what’s actually going on, why it is important, and how you can apply principles that were established thousands of years ago, to life today.  For example, in my Old Testament reading I am currently in Exodus, and it’s the part where Moses is explaining all of the rituals that God commanded them to have in order to worship Him.  

The first few times I read this, I thought it was absurd.  And I didn’t understand it. And I got frustrated. But there was one comment in my Bible that has helped me tremendously.  People living at that time didn’t know how to worship.

Did you catch that?

Worshiping God was a completely brand new concept.  

So looking at this, reading this, from the perspective that I have, where people have worshiped God for thousands of years, we kind of know what to do.  

But back in the day, no one had any idea of what to do, or how to worship.  What they weren’t supposed to do, or wear, or anything.  

So knowing that one teeny, tiny piece of information makes complete sense.  So now I’m reading with that lens in place, and it is far less ridiculous.  

If you go back to the beginning of what I was writing in this post, you should recall that our discussion last night centered around the non-formulaic ways to spend time with God.  And then I brought up Exodus, and the very strict formula they were given to worship God. So why did things change? 

Easy.

Jesus.

Jesus changed everything.  

Jesus made this relationship possible. His life, his death, his sacrifice, made my life possible.

So…adventures.

The last big adventure I went on was near the end of summer, and I went on a short trip with 2 of my girlfriends from college, to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  Which just seems ludicrous. Because there is no possible way that I started college 20 years ago. Except, we did. So when we started planning this trip, and the location that we chose, it was mentioned that ziplining was available.  

My mom has even stated that she wanted to try ziplining sometime.

So I mentioned that I had never went, and I needed to check it off my bucket list.

I’m an idiot.

Because guess what?

I hate heights.  Like, really hate them.  A lot. Just thinking about it gives me heart palpitations.  And I might cry. Or pee my pants a little.

Ok, maybe not.  

So first of all, let me tell you one thing.  When we actually made the plans to go ziplining, I started praying.  A lot. Because I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it.  So I prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Before, during, and after.  

If life, and my relationship with God, is an adventure, I think my experience ziplining describes it quite perfectly.  When I was standing on the platform, getting hooked up to the line, I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. I was scared to take that leap the very first time.  Because I had no idea what to expect. Am I really about to trust a harness and a little strip of cord to support me and carry me to the next platform? What is it going to feel like?  Am I going to vomit? I had no idea what to expect.  

For those of you who are tentative about beginning a relationship with God, you may feel much like I did standing on that platform.

But I lept.  And it was amazing.  

I landed on the next platform, that happened to be up a tree.  So we’re all standing on the platform, and it’s swaying a little.  And I really think that I might puke. I am completely freaking out yet again.  And then it was my turn to zip once again. I stood up to get attached to the line.  And I couldn’t lift my feet. I thought they were going to have to push me. But then I had the realization that being stuck up the tree was my problem.  That is what was making me nervous. I knew that as soon as I lifted my feet, and trusted the line and the harness and our guides, I would be perfectly fine.

And.  I. Was.  

Maybe you’re exactly where I was up in that tree.  You’ve began your relationship with God, but you’ve landed on the platform, which isn’t a bad place to be.  But you’re afraid to move forward. You’re afraid to take the leap, because you just aren’t sure of what is going to happen.  Things turned out fine the first time, but what if the next time, they don’t. What if it isn’t going to feel the same? What if it’s worse?  

Well, guess what?  I had 7 lines to zip.  And every single time I had to lift my feet and jump, it kept getting easier and easier.  

By the end, I wasn’t holding on with a death grip.  I was relaxing, and going with the flow. I even let myself flip upside down, because I trusted that I would be ok.

Your relationship with God is and adventure.  It can and it will be scary sometimes.  But in the end, it is so totally and completely worth it.

Personally, I can’t wait to go ziplining again.

Yes, you can be nervous.  But take the leap. I promise, it’s worth it.  

Live the adventure.

Love the adventure.

Imma Pray for You

I had to pray for someone yesterday, someone that is not a very nice person.  Someone who created a current, horrific situation affecting people that I love.  And this same person has created horrific situations for other people that I love in the past.  This person is selfish, and mean. Long story short, unless this person has a profound change within their soul, she is going to hell.

And I HAD to pray for her yesterday.  Not because she asked me to pray for her.  But because I felt in my heart that she needs a profound change in her life, and we needed a miracle.  

I have no idea what has happened in her life for her to be such a mean and hateful person.  I know her parents. I know the area she grew up in. I know a great deal of her family. And nothing explains why she is the way she is…except Satan has got a hold of her.  

Satan…man…that guy is just bad news.   And when he gets his hooks into someone, really digs in deep, bad things will happen.

I have known for a long time, and personally experienced, Satan tries to throw things my way because I’m a Jesus girl.  Satan doesn’t like it when Jesus girls continue turning to God, no matter what hardships or war Satan tries to throw our way.  So sometimes the more we turn to God during a temper tantrum from the evil one, the worse the temper tantrum becomes.

And that’s exactly what happened.  Satan has tried throwing a temper tantrum, in human form.  And havoc ensued.

So how is it possible that I can pray for such a hateful person?  Well, the Bible told me to do it.

I look to these 2 verses for direction in how to pray for people you just don’t get along with.

“You have heard that it was said ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Matthew 5:43-45

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-”
1 Timothy 2:1

Paul isn’t telling us to just pray for our friends, and people that we love.  People that we get along with, and the ones that are nice to us. No, no, no.  Paul is telling us to pray for ALL people.  

So while I fully understand that when you pray for people who just haven’t been very nice to you, you may start off doing so through gritted teeth and a locked jaw.  I get it. Been there, done that, gotten the souvenir t-shirt.

I feel you.  

When Satan starts using people to attack you, persecute you, do evil and vile things, his goal is not to get you to pray more.  His goal is not to get you to turn your back on the evil, and pray. Pray for the person that Satan is attacking. Pray for the situation.  Turn everything over to God, and let Him be the one in charge. His goal is to win! He wants you to crumple. He wants you to turn your back on God and think that He has left you to suffer this tragedy all on your own!

I urge you…don’t bow down to Satan and the things that he wants to happen.  

But rather…what an awesome way to thumb your nose at Satan!?!  Tell him that you aren’t going to cave to the pressures he is putting you under.

Turn everything over to God, including the person Satan is using to attack you.

Not today, Satan.  NOT TODAY!!

What Am I Not Doing?

What am I not doing?

Talk about a terrifying question, with some potentially terrifying answers.

Last night, I talked to a dear, sweet friend.  A friend, who, we both agreed, do not talk often enough.  She’s been my person, and my support, even though sometimes we go months without talking.  

The exciting thing is is that she’s getting married.  I am absolutely over the moon happy for her. Genuinely, ecstatically happy.  Because she is happy. You know the kind of happy that just explodes out of someone’s face?

Well, it just so happens that her fiance has never been married before.  And, as women of a certain age, that doesn’t happen very often. But his comment was that he has been waiting for her to come along.

She sent me a passage that her fiance read to the point he memorized it.  And he let that keep running through his head. It’s a beautiful passage titled “A Message From God About the Perfect Human Relationship.”  But this beautiful, well written passage, prompted me to ask, once again…what am I not doing?

As a Christian, as a Jesus follower, what am I not doing?  

I am certain that I am far from perfect.  There is not one thing in this universe that I am more sure of.  But I also know that I am better than I once was. (Isn’t there a country song in there somewhere?)

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

So I know that God has this super awesome and amazing plan for my life!  And I’m going to let God take control of things. And it’s going to be, like, the best thing ever.

Meanwhile, in the back of your mind…

So I’m just going to say that, and play along for a little while…and hope that saying that makes all of  MY hopes, MY dreams, MY plans come true. Because, clearly, I know what is best for my life.

Hey guess what?

That’s not how it works.  Not even close.

I know that’s what has been going through my head.  

I DO want God to use me for whatever he has planned for my life.   Honestly, purely, genuinely. In the depths of my heart, I want God to use me. I want God’s plan for my life.

But at the same time, what I haven’t done, is let go of MY plan.  

So here goes.  I’m letting go of my plan.  Because maybe it isn’t in God’s plan for my life to get married, or have kids, or travel (more than I already have), or be the perfect teacher, or perfect gardener, or be in perfect physical shape.  And it’s honestly, truly terrifying to let go of those plans. I have spent years and years and years making those plans. Hoping for those plans. Dreaming for those plans.  

But I also know that releasing my hold on those plans, right now, opening my heart freely and without reservation to God’s plan for my life, there is hope.  There is excitement. There is joy. Because all of those plans that I spent years dreaming up, those plans are NOTHING compared to what the reality of God’s plan is for my life.

The Detour

Disclaimer:  This is not something I enjoy writing.  Or talking about. Not that I’m embarrassed.  But talking about this makes me feel vulnerable.  And often people don’t know how to react, so then it just gets all weird and awkward.

If it were up to me, this post would never get written.  Ever.

But for the past year, I have felt called to share my story.  And though I have started talking about it, I have known that writing about it is what I am supposed to do.  And I have delayed, and procrastinated, and put it off. And God just kept coming back around tapping me on the shoulder saying…ahem…you have some writing to do.

So here I am.  Baring my soul.

I am a survivor.  A survivor of domestic violence.

I know what it is like to be thrown into a wall.

I know what it feels like to be picked up by my hair and thrown across a room.

I know what it feels like to get black eyes.

I know the shame and guilt that comes with trying to cover up a black eye.  And trying to explain away how I came to have a black eye.

I know what it feels like to be told that I should go ahead and call the police, because he welcomed it.  I was in his house, and what had happened was my fault. So I would be the one arrested.

I know what it feels like to be so afraid to leave my house because I was terrified he was going to show up at my house.  To be afraid every time a car drove by.

But the story doesn’t end there.

I got away.  But more than that, I have moved ahead.  Moved forward. I wouldn’t quite say I have recovered, completely.  Because I haven’t. I’m not sure I ever will.

But I also know that right now, I am no longer afraid to leave my house.

It took a long time to get past the things that had been done to me.  To get to where I am right now. And it has been a long and difficult journey.  Because I felt alone.

Aside from the actual physical abuse, the guy that did all of this, well, he did all of this under the guise of being a Christian.

Now, if you want to annoy me, the thing that gets me the most is to claim to be a Christian, while clearly, and willingly doing things that are not Christian.  Now, please don’t confuse this with sin.  Because I understand that we are all imperfect, and as a Christian I have received grace and mercy far above and beyond what I deserve.  But to deliberately do things that go so far against the Bible bothers me. A lot. And beyond that, to try to use the Bible as part of the abuse, by trying to tell me that I was wrong, and that was part of my punishment, because I defied the man.

So, to say the least, God and I had to find our way back to each other.  Ok, strike that, I had to find my way back to God, and he might have drug me along, kicking and screaming.  But I am extraordinarily grateful that he never gave up on me.

Through all of the hardship, and struggle, I have found that I can use my past to improve my own future.  I wake up every day lucky to be alive. Because there were days I was knew he was going to kill me. There were days I wished he would so the torture would end.

I also know that God works in mysterious ways.  And that, though I’ve been through some really sucky things in my life, He wouldn’t have allowed it to happen if I wasn’t strong enough to handle it.  I am tough. I forget that sometimes. But I am tough. And I also know that if I don’t use my experiences to help other people, then everything that I have went through is for nothing.

So I started talking about it.  I started talking about this to some of my friends.  To some of the girls that I work with at church. I want to help them recognize the signs that I accepted because I thought that’s just how it had to be to have a relationship.  Because I want to prevent other women from going through the same thing.

I started talking about it.  In manageable bites. There are things that I experienced that I will likely never speak of to anyone ever again.

God blessed me with a very good friend.  A second mother at times. Who had been through many of the same things I had.  Because it wasn’t until I told her how closed off I was about my experiences did I understand that was perfectly normal for my situation.

So I will talk about it, some of it.

I will shock the staff of my Drs. office because they now have to ask if I have ever been a victim of abuse.  I casually said yes. The girl asking me all of the personal questions looked up with a horrified look on her face.  My response was very much…what? It’s not currently going on.

I’m quite certain she almost had a heart attack.

But the one thing, one thing above all else, that I hope you noticed at the beginning of this post.

I refuse to call myself a victim.  To me, victim has a negative connotation.  And one that I do not believe fits me. At all.

I. Am. A. SURVIVOR!!!

I am alive.  And not only am I alive.  I live.

So while my life is far from perfect.  Though I am still single. Though my social life often just involves my parents or my dog…I am happy!

So whatever your current situation.  Whatever life has thrown at you. Do not be afraid.  God is with you. God is for you. God is beside you every single day.

So let me wrap up this evening by saying this…if you are currently in a situation where you are being damaged, physically, mentally, emotionally…you are not alone.  You are not so stuck in your situation that you cannot get out.

You.  Can. Do.  This.

Also, I understand that this is a detour from my normal writing.  And though I know that I have been called to talk about this…my normal humor, mixed with sass and sarcasm will be there too.  Because life in general is amazing and fun. And I’m kind of a klutz, mixed with a less than sane profession. So let’s not always take life so seriously.

I Pity the Fool

Compassion: Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortune of others.

Feel compassion, because you never know what the other person is going through.

This is a line that has been said to me many times in my life.  Many. And I would like to think that I try to be a compassionate person.  I realize and understand that the behavior that other people have towards me is not my fault, and that it is merely a reaction to their own life circumstances.

I get it.

That doesn’t mean that I have to enjoy it.

Because I don’t.

I struggle.

There, I said it.  I don’t like to admit it.  But I do. A lot. People suck sometimes.  And I work in a building full of teenagers, who often suck every ounce of compassion, kindness and patience that I have.  So when an adult exhibits behavior worse than that of those teenagers, I am frustrated. Frustrated because they should know better.  Frustrated because they shouldn’t be so selfish. Frustrated because before my day can even begin, they have sucked the compassion and kindness and patience right out of me.

So I have had a rough(ish) week dealing with an adult who tested my limits.

This woman, a co-worker, has tested my patience daily since I started working here.  A know-it-all, who, given the opportunity, will take the information I give her, repeat it back to me as if she just had this profound, life-altering moment of clarity, and will repeat what I just said.  Except this time, of course, she came up with this all on her own.

Those people frustrate me.

A lot.

Please don’t be that person.

Well a week ago, we had a minor confrontation.  I politely stood up for myself. I did not yell.  I did not belittle. But I stood firm. And that might have made her mad.  So mad that she began muttering under her breath, and then refused to acknowledge my existence.

One week later, and my presence has still not been acknowledged.

I honestly do not know what has happened in her life to make her such an unhappy person.  Because before the incident last week, I was already on her bad side. And not because I’m a horrible person that treated her badly.

I am nice, and friendly, and outgoing.  And the students I work with talk to me.  About their life. About their day. About anything.

I don’t treat people badly. At least I try not to.

I’m also happy, and upbeat, and friendly.

Unfortunately, that seems to irritate people that are already unhappy with their life.  So I am not surprised, even though I still don’t understand it.

I don’t understand, because I am not the person that I am because I have an easy and fabulous life, where I have never had one ounce of hardship.

No, no, no.

I am the person that I am, in spite of the struggles and hardships I have been through.  In spite of the struggles and hardships I still go through.

So while I am capable and willing to feel compassion for others, I often struggle because I do not feel the same level of compassion from other people.

But that’s ok.

No, really.  It is.

Because, Mr. T. reference aside, I do not want your pity.  I actually don’t even like the word pity. Especially not in reference to myself.  I don’t want your pity, nor do I need it. And while we should always be compassionate towards others, I really don’t even need that from you.

Why?

Well, let’s take a look at Isaiah 30:18…

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

He will show me compassion!  Whoohoo!

So if you are like me, and struggle with those people in your life who don’t show you any compassion, don’t stoop to their level.  Rise above! Do what the Bible instructs us to do, which is to love other people.

Be the light when there is darkness and negativity all around you.  Shine the light brightly!

Don’t just choose joy, be the joy!

It.  Will.  Spread.