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My Life Lived in His Grace

Fear is not welcome

Fear.  Fear is a big one that holds a lot of people back, including myself.  I have fear of change.  Fear of the unfamiliar.  Fear that things I don’t want out of my life will be taken away.  I have fear that I don’t have control over every aspect of my life.  I fear not the dark itself, but what or who may be there, sometimes. I fear public speaking.  I fear losing loved ones or people I love walking out of my life.  I fear messing up at my job.  I fear not being accepted by people that I look up to and want friendships with. I fear rejection.  I fear hurting anyone with my words or actions.  I fear that the the words that I speak are a burden to others, or are a waste of someone’s time.  I fear that the devil is so good at placing every mistake of mine right before my face so all I may be able to see is how much I’ve failed, everything I’ve done wrong, and how many times I’ve fallen short.  I fear believing the lies that run through my mind and that they will be stronger than I can handle.  I fear being too weak to face a storm or a coming situation that may be difficult.   I fear next year, when I will be working 40 hours a week, with an internship on top of that for 21 hours a week, and classes added to it.  I fear loved ones getting hurt.  There is so much I fear, I could go on with a very long list.

Just because we fear does not mean we have to let that fear overcome us and take control. We don’t have to let it determine our next step, or determine if we will be able to take that next step.  Love conquers fear. Grace conquers fear. Forgiveness conquers fear. Truth conquers fear.  Faith conquers fear.  Mercy conquers fear.  GOD conquers fears.  If you watched the video linked above, it told us that God says ‘do not fear’ 365 times in the bible.  It’s like every day we wake up, He says ‘do not fear’.  We don’t have to fear because we are loved so intensely by our Creator.  We are His prized possession.

I don’t know what my future holds, I don’t know the bad or good that will happen, but I do know, no matter what comes, I have my Savior by my side walking through it with me.  I am not alone. I do not have to fear. Fear has no place here.

Crash

Have you ever been on the go so much and been so busy that you had no time to sit, no time to relax, no time to get proper sleep or proper nutrition?  Ever had so much on your plate that you were super stressed and it made you physically sick, eventually?

I have.  That’s where I’ve been the last five weeks.  I have been working full time since last August and decided to try to work to attain my Masters degree at Grand Valley so that I can advance in my career and work in an area that I love going to work everyday.  So right now, since August 30th, I have been working full time and going to school part time.  I have never before gone to school and worked a full time job, so this has been entirely new to me.  Some people can do it, some people can’t.  I’m one who struggles to do it.  I love being busy and being on the go, but I’ve never before been this busy and this on the go.  I was desperately trying to find time that I could squeeze homework into, but by the time I got to that opportunity, I would be too tired and exhausted to do so.  It was a losing battle.  Many friends and family members told me I needed to cut something, that I needed to rearrange my schedule somehow, fix something, but I did not think there was a way of doing that. I made a plan and I was going to stick to that plan (because I’m stubborn).

Well, I ended up crashing real fast.  Last Thursday, a week ago, I started getting nausea and headaches on and off every day until Monday.  Monday I couldn’t even walk ten feet without ‘getting sick’.  I got out of my bed a total of five times to use the restroom, and the restroom is ten feet from my bed.  That in itself was an extraordinary task.  I was unable to eat anything and slept almost the entire day.  The next two nights I ended up sleeping between 9 and 10 hours, still.  I haven’t ‘gotten sick’ (thrown up) since this past Monday, but everyday I have still experienced fatigue, headaches on and off, and nausea all day to the point that it’s extremely difficult to eat anything.  If I do eat anything, I end up feeling even more sick than I did before I ate due to being hungry.

So here I was on a Friday morning, working on a big research project for a class I was completely lost in and had no clue what was going on. I was searching the internet, searching reading materials, on how to help me, but nothing made sense.  The thought finally crossed my mind ‘it’s time to slow down’.  Take a step back.  Reevaluate.  This was not my plan, as I’m usually an over achiever, but I ended up dropping my social research class.  I am now at only six school credits instead of nine.  This now leaves me with three hours on a Monday free and many countless hours free that would have been spent on that research class.

I guess my point of this entire post is that being busy is ok, but there’s a point that you have to slow down.  I know I have many friends that thrive on always moving, always going, always being busy doing something.  Please, slow down.  Take a breath. Take a step back. Reevaluate. Rest.  Are all the things on your schedule absolutely necessary?  If not, why are you doing them? What is the purpose?  We all need rest or we will all end up like I did, like how I still am, being sick.  I mean, you may not specifically end up sick like I am right now, but it will wear you down eventually.  We weren’t made to always go go go.  We need rest, we need to recuperate, we need to relax.  If we aren’t any good to ourselves, if we can’t help ourselves, how can we be good to others and help others?

The Black Dog

I have been thinking about this post for the last several weeks, but wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take it and wasn’t sure how far I wanted it to go.  After the last few weeks and a couple of classes in the program I’m in at school, it’s helped me to make the decision on where this is going to go.  Bare with me on this post.

In my Psychopathology class last night, a presenter came in to talk about different disorders, and illnesses, psychotropic medications, their benefits, and their risks.  After a few hours of talking, he showed the YouTube clip, ‘the black dog’, which I have attached to this blog post.  It’s a few minutes worth of your time and I suggest you watch that first before reading this post, as that was the clip that helped me decide where this post is going to go.

This is where it gets a little, or a lot, personal:
Not a ton of people know, only a select few, but I have dealt with anxiety and depression on a very regular basis since my senior year in high school.  I’ve been on and off different medications, but six years later, I’m still dealing with these.  Sometimes there is a reason for it, sometimes there is not.  Sometimes it lasts for a long time, goes away for a while, and then comes back.  Sometimes it comes and stays for a very long time. I never know what any given day is going to bring.  This has helped me ruin a lot of my friendships, or to highly damage them, and to have many conflicts with my family members from the way I treat them.

I always thought it made me a weak person, that I should be ashamed and hide it from people. It’s not like that.  It’s not supposed to be like that. It’s not a shameful thing. It doesn’t make someone weak or others better than that person.  It’s a mental illness.  People don’t choose it, it’s not what they’ve done, it’s how they were created, things that have been broken along the journey called life, so to say, and how their brain works/doesn’t work.

The illness does not define you. It does not make you a bad, unworthy, useless, or weak person. Trust me, I’ve gone through all of those.  So many people feel like they will be judged and looked at differently if only people knew what they were dealing with.  If only people knew what feelings you dealt with on a constant, daily basis, or if they only knew the thoughts that cross your mind, that they would no longer want to be friends or involved in your life.  It’s time people stop thinking of people with a mental illness as less than others or be afraid to talk about it.  It’s a very common thing and the illness does not discriminate.  You would be surprised how many people actually struggle with this illness.

I recently started going to counseling last week, after a few close friends recommending me to do so, and it’s probably one of the hardest decisions/things I’ve had to make.  It took me many months of different friends suggesting it to actually take the step to set an appointment up.  I always thought counseling was for weak people, but oh, how I was wrong.  It’s anything but that.  It’s difficult.  It’s hard.  It takes effort, energy, time, and makes you acknowledge situations in your life that you would rather keep buried and ignore and never return to.  It takes strength and takes acknowledgement that something is not right that needs to be discussed and worked through.  So many people go through life with this illness thinking that one day it will just go away and get better, but it never does, it just gets worse the more you try to ignore it or bury everything.  They think that they should have it all together because of what family they come from, what friends they have, how fortunate they are in monetary value, the kind of job they have, or because they are Christians, love God, are leaders, examples to their friends and younger family members, etc.  It doesn’t change who you are as a person and the amazing value that you have or the impact you can make on others around you.  It effects your ability to do so, at times, but it doesn’t make you a less valuable person or a less of a role model or a less of a light to the places you decide to go.

You can either do nothing about it and let it defeat you, or you can learn how to get help to be able to manage it and to live with it.  Trust me, though, it’s easier said than done.  It won’t just disappear like we all hope.

I guess the point of all of this is to bring awareness to this subject so everyone isn’t all ‘hush hush’ or so people don’t feel like they are the only one they know that deals with it, which makes them feel alone and like they have to act a certain way around people so they won’t figure it out.  You aren’t alone. You are valuable. You are loved. You are treasured. You are HUMAN, imperfect, but so precious in His sight.

So there you have it.  If anyone has any questions or would like to talk further about anything, I’m more than willing to talk with you.  🙂

What’s Your Story?

Sunday night I had a three hour long conversation with a very good friend.  This conversation gave me a healthy, renewed perspective on people, how they act, why they may act that way, why they may believe or not believe something, or why they are the way they are.  In that three hour conversation, my friend told me a lot about herself as I in turn told her a lot about myself.  We were able to share the worst part of our stories with each other.  You know what that didn’t do? It didn’t make us judge each other on our worst mistakes, it didn’t make us dislike each other because of those mistakes, and it didn’t ruin our friendship.  In fact, it grew our friendship. We were able to share parts of our stories that we hardly, if ever, talk about.  We helped each other realized that we aren’t alone in the mistakes we have made, that we all fall short, all mess up, all do something things, and all have regrets.  We reminded each other that no one is past grace, no one is beyond hope, and no one is worthless.  We reminded each other that no matter what, we are treasured in the eyes of Christ & He does delight in us.

Although we have different stories and have been through different situations and made different mistakes, we were able to identify with each other.  We were able to openly and freely discuss the things that are hardest for us to talk about.  The things that set us back in our personal, emotional, and spiritual growth.  I’m usually a person that says things through texts or messages, as long as it isn’t face to face, I can do it all day.  Talking to someone face to face, though, is one of the most difficult things I can do. I hate attention, I hate people looking at me while I talk, I stutter a lot in normal conversations and have a hard time getting words out in the middle of sentences because my brain freezes up under the pressure.  Sunday night, though, I was shown how worth it that it really is to step out of my comfort zone. Not only for myself, but for my friends.  As much as I hate and regret so much of my story, God used it and is using it to help others.  I know Sunday night helped me just as much as it helped my friend.  No, we weren’t instantly healed, all our problems fixed, all the past mistakes erased, and on with our joyful, happy journey.  No, that all stays the same, except, now, we know we have someone to walk daily with that can identify and understand us.  These are the kind of friendships I want to keep developing with people because they are so fruitful in so many ways.

We all walk different paths and have different circumstances and different stories.  We all experience different things and get into different types of trouble.  My story is not worse than my friend’s story, and her story is not worse than mine. They are both different, broken stories. I often think, “The things I have done, the places I have been, the things I’ve thought, I can never heal from, I will never be whole from.  I will never be good enough and ultimately suck.”

Before talking to her, I thought I was alone in my story. I thought I had done so many bad things that are worse than anyone could imagine someone doing. I felt isolated and like there was no way I was worth as much as my friends were worth. There was no way any of my friends have been through the things I have been through.  But Sunday night I was reminded of how wrong I was in those thoughts.  The devil is super sucky and likes to isolate us with those thoughts, but when we put ourselves in community, as we were meant to live, that sucky devil has no power.  I was, once again, reminded of how important community is.  I love my community.

In talking with her, I was reminded not to judge people on how they act on any given day. Some people may be angry, reserved, loud, obnoxious, have short tempers, hide themselves from society, put up walls, etc, and it’s because we all have different ways of coping.  It is because that’s how we learn to deal with what we’ve been through and where our story has brought us.  Some of us are under so much pressure, have anxiety, and do not know how to deal with past regrets other than letting the negativity build until we treat everyone around us like we think we ourselves should be treated. I have no place to get mad at someone for not being the way I would like them to be. It’s not my place to judge them based off of their mood for the day.  My job is to love. To love people no matter what.

All of us were bought with a price. That price covers everything we’ve ever done wrong. You. I. Everyone. We are all worthy because He chose to make us worthy.

What is your story?

Fully Known by JJ Heller

https://youtu.be/zi98pqDtJtY — Fully Known by JJ Heller
Go ahead and listen to the song on YouTube and follow along with the words below.

Have you ever felt lost?
Driving down the same road everyday.
And you’re caught in traffic but everyone feels a thousand miles away.
Does anyone see you? Does anyone care? Does anyone know your name?

You are fully known by the author of space and time.
He won’t let you go and you cannot change His mind.
No, you cannot change His mind.

Do you ever think back, to all the things you wish you never did?
And you never lose track, an endless loop repeating in you head.
Would anyone love you? If anyone knew who you really are.

You are fully known by the author of space and time.
He won’t let you go, and you cannot change His mind.
No you cannot change His mind.

No matter how far you are,
No matter how dark your past,
His arms are always open, there is a home for the broken.
All of the words He’s spoken are true.

You are fully known by the author of space and time,
He won’t let you go, and you cannot change His mind,
You are fully known by the author of space and time,
He won’t let you go, and you cannot change His mind.
No you cannot change His mind.
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*
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My thoughts:
Last night I went to Worship on the Waterfront, which is a free concert every Sunday night in Grand Haven from 7:30 P.M. until 8:45 P.M.  Last night, JJ Heller and her husband sang with an acoustic set.  When I heard this song, it’s as if this song was written for me by God and He shared it with me through JJ.  Yes, I know, the song isn’t just for me, but it is a song that is spot on what I needed to hear.  This is a song that all of us need to hear.

No matter what we have done in the past, no matter where we were, we are now here, in the present.  God knows every bit of who you used to be & yet He absolutely adores you.  You can do absolutely nothing to make God love you less.  There is no sin that is greater than another and no sin that can separate you from the love of Christ.  God loves you & you can’t change that.  Sure, you can do as I’ve been doing and push Him away.  You can go ahead and run from Him, try to take control of your own life, try to fix everything on your own, but you won’t be successful.  It will only make everything that much worse.  The Author of space and time, our Creator, our Prince of Peace, He is always there, you can never run too far away.

The challenge: Are you going to turn around & see that even though you turned your back on Him, He was still & will always be pursuing you?

Why am I here? Why are we all here?

I’ve struggled with this question way too many times and I know I’m not the only one. I know so many of you have wondered the same things at times in your life when life circumstances have gotten hard or unbearable.  I promise you, though, there is a reason and it is so much bigger than you and I.  I am here because I was created by a God that chose to give me life.  I know He created me with a purpose.  He created me to enjoy the beautiful world that He created, to serve Him while enjoying it, and to love as much as possible on others while doing so.  All of this is for Him, to show everyone Him.  I think it only fair that since He created all of the good that is in this world that He should receive all the glory, honor, praise, and adoration that there is to give.

This world isn’t about me, my momentary troubles or problems, or hard situations that I may face day in and day out.  Do they suck? Absolutely.  Are some days unbearable and I wonder how I’m going to get through it? Absolutely. But. I get through each bad day knowing that I have a God that loves me so much.  I have a God that gave what was most important to Him.  He gave His world, His Son, so that I, including you, can experience true, unconditional, agape love.  God sacrificed everything He had so that I could have life and have it to the fullest.  I’m not saying everything is roses, rainbows, & puppies.  I’m saying that I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to smile, I have a reason to laugh, a reason to breathe, a reason to live, a reason to put forth effort and give my best because of Him.  Because of all He has done, not by anything I have done. Only by His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness am I still here, still pushing forward, still doing my best to love anyone that I come in contact with.

Man, I can’t even begin to explain how many countless times I have failed at loving others.  Sometimes, honestly, it’s so hard to love myself because I know everything about me. I know where I’ve been, what I’ve done, the sins i’ve committed, the love I haven’t shown, and it often disgusts me.  But. I know the devil wants nothing more than to take all of that, day in and day out, and use it against me. Use it to break me down and keep me from moving forward.  But my God is bigger than the devil. My God has more power and He will not let the devil win in my life, nor will He let him win in yours.  No matter what the cost, God continues to seek after me to keep my heart deep in love with His so that I use my life to glorify Him.

God calls me to love.  God calls me to encourage. God calls me to be a light. He calls me to forget my past and strive toward the goal.  He calls me to trust Him, to lean on Him, to find my strength in Him.  He calls me to allow Him to be everything that I need.  The best part, He doesn’t just call me to this, He calls each of you to this.  All of us have purpose because He is our God.

My challenge is, no matter what you’re going through, no matter how much things suck sometimes, no matter how hard things may be, please, don’t give up, don’t get discouraged, and don’t stop moving forward.  My challenge is to choose love over hate.  Choose to look past yourself and love on people that need it most.  Go out of your way to support those who may  be having a difficult time and that need your time, love, and encouragement.  Choose to be who He calls us to be by loving, supporting, and listening to people.  I know that if we choose to be this light, we can make such a lasting impact on so many lives right now and in the future as those lives then in turn effect others.  Not only are you helping others, you will see, in time, how choosing to love others will change your attitude & heart & mold it into who He intended you to be.

Choose love today.  Choose to smile. Choose to be His light.

Hope

This is my first blog I’ve ever created and the purpose is to share my life, my stories, and encouraging words to help people know they are not alone, everyone has struggles, everyone has messed up, and no one is too far gone.  I want people to know that there is always hope because there is a God who loves us.  We are all loved, desired, searched for, and sacrificed for.  None of us is better or worse than the next.  We are all saved by His grace, His love, His mercy, not by anything we have or can do.  Thanks be to God for second chances, grace, and a whole lot of patience and mercy.

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