Thursday, March 31, 2016

I've already won.

Did you know that nerves can get contusions? Because I didn't. At least, I didn't until a nerve in my leg got a contusion. And you know what is really unpleasant? Bending your knee and feeling like someone is trying to cut your leg in half.

People think I'm so brave and so strong all the time, but it's times like this where I feel like they're nuts because I'm just. so. tired. This is the same knee/leg that just recovered from a severe sprain like a week and a half ago. I texted Clayton and told him that just when it feels like my life can't get any more frustrating, it does.

How I feel right now is exactly how I felt my last semester at Campbell: all I want to do is just make it to graduation and it feels like every possible thing in the universe is trying to get in the way of it. I try not to be self-pitying, but sometimes I wish that things would come easily for me just once. Just once. Everything feels like a battle and I'm so tired.

But it's a good thing that I don't serve a God who is dependent on feelings. The God that I serve stays the same, the one constant that I have in a world where everything changes and I control next to none of it. The God that I know has plans that are far above my understanding and doesn't do anything by mistake. That is the one hope and promise that I have to hold on to when everything feels like it's beating me down, like the stress is winning and I'm losing.

Here's the thing I struggle to remember, though - I can't lose. I can't lose because the battle was won 2000 years ago when a man the world thought was dead got up out of a tomb and left death in his place. The battle was won when prophecy was fulfilled and the men who thought they were killing Jesus were completing everything that had been foretold centuries before. The battle is over. We won. That's what Easter is all about. The Lord has already fought for me, I need only to be still. (I'm not very good at that, if you haven't noticed.)

Hope is all I have when things feel like they're too much. But here's what my friend Jon says in "The Wall" that seems perfectly fitting for me right now. Maybe you need it, too.

With God, what seems like a hopeless situation is not only possible, it's favorable, because only God can turn a mess into a message. Only God can turn a trial into a triumph, a test into a testimony, and a victim into a victory. His power is made perfect in weakness, so let us rejoice in our trials and hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, because He who promised is faithful, was faithful, and will always be faithful, no matter how hopeless the situation.

Even when it feels like everything is going wrong, He is faithful.

Thank God for that.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Falling and Waiting and Praying and Trusting

Oh the irony...

I wrote just a few days ago about how I was seeking to focus on God instead of guys and my relationship status and whatnot. Little did I know, I was in the middle of getting myself knee deep in another...problem.

I don't want to get into the details quite yet, not until I know how this is going to play out, but they're not really important to what is on my heart tonight anyway.

Anyone who knows me knows that I invest 100% of myself into every relationship I have. It's gotten me burned plenty of times, but the times that it has gone well have been enough to make me not want to change. My mom calls me "intense," and I'm finally not running away from that description anymore.

Yes, I am intense. Yes, I feel things more deeply than most people do. There really is no middle ground for me; I either don't care or my heart is in it. I refuse to keep apologizing for that. It's the big, boundless heart that God gave me that allows me to be a source of support and comfort for my friends when they need it. There have been times when I've gotten hurt that I've said I wish I didn't care so much, but I don't mean it. I don't know how not to care. I don't know how not to love fiercely and proudly and deeply.

The one thing that I'm still not okay with in all of this, though, is the fact that the intense way that I feel everything in life leads me to falling way harder and way faster than I should for guys who, up until this point, have never been worth it. I crave love to an extent that probably seems unnatural to most. My two biggest love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch; I need that real, obvious personal connection. The only problem is that when I feel that connection, I fall into it like a warm, soft bed after a long day before I even think it through. And that's usually how I end up getting played and/or hurt.

That's the situation I'm in now. Everyone keeps telling me to guard my heart and not invest too much of myself when there are reasons I'm pretty sure this connection isn't going to last long, but I don't know how to do that. I never have. And I don't know how to train myself to do that. Guarding my heart and not investing myself mean holding my heart back and that's not something I've ever done, despite all the times I've gotten hurt for it. Does that make me an idiot or a masochist? Maybe.

I don't know what I'm doing, especially not in this, with a guy who seems to actually like me and not just want to use me for something. So I suppose all I can do as I see how this unfolds in the next few weeks is trust that God will use all of this to teach and grow and mold me. A friend told me that as crazy as these feelings seem right now, they are God-given, too. So I have to believe that God is going to use this - not because it's what I'm "supposed to" believe, but because I need to believe it for my sanity - even if I can't see how yet and probably won't see it for a while.

There are two things I know for sure right now, though: 1) God is faithful, and however this ends, He will continue to prove Himself faithful, as He always does, and 2) If this ends not the way I want it to, I have an incredible community to pick me up and help me work through it.

Happy Easter, my friends. Because God won, so did we.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

This is the love story I've been waiting for.

From the very beginning of this year, I knew that I wanted to learn how to become content with my singleness. That's the major reason for my One Word choice for 2016. Back at the beginning of January, I said this:

But most of all, I want my heart to get completely lost in God this year. I want to live my days fully believing that God is enough for my peace and contentment and joy, where I am centered and resting in God's love and truth and promises and not standing on the shaking ground of what other people say about me and my worth.

Truth be told, I've kind of forgotten about these goals that I had made for this year. I've been caught up in still wishing I could meet someone. I've joined two dating apps in the past couple of months, telling myself (and others) that it was just because I wanted to meet new people and get out and have a life, and while that's partially true, it's also because you know, everyone says "oh that's how everyone's finding relationships nowadays" and I want it to include me. I've been on a few dates since I started, and they've been good, one recently was REALLY good, but they just leave me wanting more. Surprise surprise, what I thought was missing, what I thought I need to do, didn't make me happy enough. Go figure.

There's a wonderful girl that I know through my trip to Texas named Catie. Over the past year and a half, I've witnessed (via social media) her go from single to engaged to married. Last weekend, she posted something on Instagram. Knowing what I do of her story, it really encouraged me to see her so happy, and I told her that. After a few comments, I asked her if I could send her an email elaborating on how I was feeling, and her response hit me straight in the heart in the best possible way. I could copy and paste the entire email here, but that might be a bit long. These are the pieces that stood out.

God knows your heart, He knows those desires and He wants to honor that by possibly one day providing you those desires, but He is also a JEALOUS God who deeply desires (just like you and I desire) an intimate, tender, precious relationship with you... to sanctify you and make you holy and blameless, to love you deeper than you could've ever imagined or dreamed of.  

The creator of the universe, lover of our soul.. says we're beautiful, more precious than rubies and gold, ABSOLUTELY HIS CHERISHED WORKS OF ART.

...the Lord of all things pure and holy finds you worthy of a relationship with Him.

...I had to be honest with myself, and know that even if God never provides me a husband or a sweet baby, HE IS SO SWEET AND GRACIOUS TO ME BECAUSE I GET TO BE HIS DAUGHTER. 

Fall in love with Jesus, He is so worth it. He created you to fulfill your every need and desire. Let Him fill your need with just His grace and love alone. And stop letting Satan lie to you, Mal. You ARE beautiful! We must stop looking to the world and to boys and whoever else to feel pretty. 

I really do want you to KNOW (not simply feel) but with all your being no matter who says otherwise, that you ARE wanted, that you ARE beautiful. And also remember that His life is His love story to you.

His life is His love story to you. That probably stood out more to me than anything. I've been waiting for a love story to sweep me off my feet, when I have the greatest love story of all of a King who found me worthy of giving his life to save. ("In the eyes of the Lord God, you are loved, and you are worth dying for." - Jon Jorgenson) I've been waiting for a guy to love me when I have a God who loves me beyond all comprehension, infinitely more than another broken human being ever could, even one that does feel like my Prince Charming. I've been waiting for a relationship to make me happy, when happiness is fleeting and the true joy I need to make it through this life comes through a relationship with the One who created me, who knows and loves me more intimately and deeply than I could ever dream of asking for.

God needs to be enough for me. I need to have joy even if God wills it not to bring me the husband and kids that I've desired for as long as I can remember. I need to have contentment in the idea of just having God...but right now, I don't. I want to be, though; I so desperately want to be. I hate this feeling of thinking that I'm not lovable or wanted or whatever simply because I don't get a lot of attention or validation from guys. The only way I know how to put it is that it seems that my mind and heart have been so caught up in what I want for my future that I'm making myself more important than God and His plans for my life, despite how many times He has proven that His plans are so much better than mine. I'm so thankful for the Lord's willingness to forgive me for this.

Lord, I love you. Help me grow ever closer to You this year and, as Catie said, faceplant in the truth that I am loved and beautiful and your cherished masterpiece.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Prayers for Brussels

There aren't words. It feels like we lived through this horror in Paris just yesterday, and now, here we are, watching yet another city ravaged by the pain of watching lives taken and others destroyed right in front of their eyes.

I don't have words for the way my heart aches for the people of Brussels, and Belgium as a whole, but what I do have is a poem by my friend Jon Jorgenson.

I've quit watching the news. I'd rather watch something a bit more Old Yeller. Because between the race riots, and the bombings, and the school shootings, I'm not sure how much more I can handle viewing. And for every brokenhearted mother, trigger-happy officer, and lonely teenage mugshot that I see, I find myself saying the same thing over and over again: "It's gotta stop somewhere."

Crying while cutting, hate crimes and Dateline, it's gotta stop somewhere. 

Drug busts, terrorist bombs, drinking binges, junk bonds, it's gotta stop somewhere.

Homophobes, hate in droves, depression, and an obsession with a fake ideal, with fitness ads and Facebook boasts that are anything but real, it's gotta stop somewhere.

And the internet bully is fully convinced that she doesn't cause any pain through hat she puts into cyberspace, but the tap of fingers on keys can cause far more damage than a punch to the face. We gotta tell her, "Your words leave a trace, and they've gotta stop somewhere." 

Another school shooting rooting itself in our reality, becoming the norm, and when we form an opinion before we form a relationship, it's no wonder that anger and violence and hostility are what's being born.

Classism, racism, sexism, won't speak with 'em, sit with 'em, or eat with 'em if they don't look like me, talk like me, won't even extend the courtesy to let them walk by me without a dirty look, a flirty hook, trying to "get some" but then judging her if she's already been took, and me thinking I know something about black people just 'cause I read about 'em in a book?

It's gotta stop somewhere, because it's only happening over a tweet until it's happening on your street right at your feet and you become one of those 140 characters. Like a sickening cycle we're doomed to repeat, retweet, but it's gotta stop somewhere.

Why not here? Why not with your peers? Why not with them? Why not plant seeds from which a righteous generation can stem? It's gotta start somewhere. You see, we can blame or shelter people all we want, but once they're out in the field, the only shield they'll be wielding is the wisdom, courage, and love we either did or did not pass on. 

It's gotta stop somewhere, and this generation, they're the best chance we got. 

How much longer are we going to let this happen? How much longer are we going to allow hatred and prejudice rule the world and rip hearts and lives apart at the seams before we decide that enough is enough? How much longer are we going to let love and light be forced into the background?

It's gotta stop somewhere.

But for now, pray for Brussels.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Not Forgotten

I've been meaning to blog this all week, but needless to say, the past seven days have not been very kind to me. Better late than never, though, I suppose.

Last Sunday, I woke up in a bad state of mind. It's weird that that often happens on Sundays (not). But I was talking to my friend Steven after the service asking him to pray for a few things, and before I could even get into the details, he said something that hit me right in the gut.

"You know, I've actually been praying for you all week. I wasn't sure why, since it's been a couple weeks since we've seen each other, but God just kept telling me to pray for you."

I couldn't help but chuckle a little, because what else are you supposed to do when you hear God go "I haven't forgotten you, silly girl." I think that when it feels like so much negativity is piling up on me, it gets really hard for me to remember that God's still here and still faithful whether it feels like it or not. I'm so thankful that we serve a God who is not dependent on feelings. Imagine how messed up this world would be if that were the case!

I often struggle to remember that God isn't focused on whether or not I get angry or doubt. God is still the same whether or not I feel secure or am at peace. God is still paying attention even when it seems to me like he's not. It was shown to me in the fact that my friend knew he needed to pray for me even when he wasn't sure why. Steven didn't know anything was wrong, yet God told him to pray for me because God knew I needed it.

I've been feeling so overwhelmed lately, but it's stories and moments like that that remind me that God is bigger than I can ever possibly imagine. The details are not lost on the King of the universe.

Praise be to God.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Cue the sappy, oh-how-time-flies blog post.

Matt's baby girl arrived tonight.

My first best friend, my original big brother, he's a dad. The guy who always said he wasn't going to have kids until he was 40, he's a dad. I've known about this for months, and it's still crazy and still something I'm trying to wrap my mind around.

I remember how, on my 21st birthday, Matt spent hours playing with Blake, and as I watched them, I thought "he's gonna make a great dad one day." I just didn't think it'd be this soon (and I don't think he did, either).

And now I'm just sitting here thinking a) how badly I wish I was down there with him (though they're coming up here this summer so I'll get to meet the baby soon enough!) and b) as cheesy as it sounds, how much time has passed and how quickly it's gone.

It's bringing back all these memories of high school. How in love with him I was. How scared I was to trust him or, even worse, lose him. How he never retreated, even for a second, no matter how many times I questioned him and his loyalty. All the times he saved me from myself when my mind thought a little too hard about suicide. How getting harassed for being friends with me never changed how he felt about me. How he was always the one escape I had from my family. How he would sneak through the woods between our houses even when it was pitch black just to come see me.

I remember the day that I realized it really was best that he's just my big brother and how it felt to realize that I was actually completely over him. And I've watched our relationship get even stronger since then, because my feelings were no longer blinding me from seeing the blessing that our relationship was just as it was. I remember all the times that those feelings came up in conversation and how he never held them against me or looked at me differently because of them.

I was in 6th grade when I met this loud, rambunctious kid who also happened to be a musical genius, and now I'm about to finish grad school. I was there through his many girlfriends, and he was there through my bullying and emotional trauma. I was the one who told him he deserved better than what he was getting. He was the one who promised me that there would be other people who loved me like he did, I just had to hold on to find them.

I never could have imagined that that kid I met in orchestra and Academic Derby would end up being my best friend, my big brother, my family for life. When I was struggling to make it through high school and he was all I had, I never could have imagined that one day, I wouldn't need him so badly anymore. When I was fighting for my life in and out of hospitals, I never could have imagined that I would one day get the life he always knew was coming for me. I'm not kidding when I say I couldn't have made it here without him.

I'm so happy for him, and proud beyond words of the man I've had the honor of watching him become. And the best part is that I know he's going to feel this exact same way when I have a family of my own one day - he can be sentimental when he wants to be. :)

It's been thirteen and a half years since the story of us began. Here's to the next thirteen.

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

One Good Thing

"The one good thing about me getting that job was that I got to meet you."

That's what a friend of mine told me tonight. He used to work at a place near my apartment but quit. We were on the phone tonight, and I mentioned that I miss seeing him (which I do), and that was what he said in response.

Now, don't worry, this isn't just another blog post about me gushing about some boy. It's not like that. I'm mentioning this because it got me thinking.

My friend, he hated that job. Like really hated it. Like, he doesn't have another job yet but is still so happy he doesn't work there anymore. Yet he still found a good thing that came from that experience.

How many times do I have the opportunity to do that, to find something positive in a situation that was not good, but choose not to? How many times do I let frustration or sadness or anger or whatever get in the way of me being grateful? Far too many, I'll tell you that much.

Perspective is everything. In a world this messed up and broken and scary and confusing, if we don't keep perspective, the darkness will destroy us. Satan will win and he'll steal any light we have if we give him the chance.

I know it's way easier said than done. I know depression, and I know how hard of a battle it is not to let the pain completely overtake you some days. But we have to at least try. Because if we don't try, what's the point? If we don't try to hold on to the beauty in life, what else do we have? Even just getting up out of bed can make a day a win. Give yourself credit for getting up and facing whatever comes at you.

When people start treating me or talking about me like I'm Superwoman, there's something I always tell them: I'm just trying to make the best out of the life I've been given. I know what it feels like when the darkness is controlling everything, but I also know grace and what it feels like when the love and power of a King pulls you through trials you know you couldn't have survived on your own. And that second thing, that grace? Trust me, it's way better.

So tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, I'm gonna do my best to find at least one good thing in the day. Today that good thing was this reminder a friend gave me without even realizing he did it.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lucky, lucky me!

You know what's better than a severely twisted ankle?

A severely twisted ankle and a possibly torn meniscus.

You know what's better than a severely twisted ankle and a possibly torn meniscus?

A severely twisted ankle and a possibly torn meniscus on opposite legs.

Yeah. Because I can't do anything simply, a seizure that I had on Friday ended up with me twisting my right ankle and my left knee. Thankfully the ankle is only twisted, but I'm off to the sports medicine doctor tomorrow to get my knee examined further. Hopefully this doc is nicer to me than he was when he treated me for my shoulder.

In happier news, tonight I got to do something really fun. A friend of mine, Eddie, whom I met through Holly, came over to the apartment tonight and filmed me for a documentary he's making on people's experiences with dating apps. I had a couple funny stories to share, so he asked me to be a part of it. The coolest part is that he works for The Huffington Post! Look, Ma, I'm famous! (Kidding.) He's also gonna look for an actor so that we can actually act out/recreate one of my stories I tell in the video. Two words: foot fetish.

The roommate was here while we were doing this, so she took a few pictures of the setup and us filming. I want to remember this; I mean, how often does a girl get asked to do something like this?

I think it went well, too. I got kind of nervous right before we started filming, but I noticed while I was talking that Eddie was having to force himself not to bust out laughing, so apparently my storytelling skills were successful.

That hour while he was here was the one break I had today from thinking about how much pain I'm in, so I'm really thankful for that.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March Madness

March is here, which means basketball season is coming to a close and everyone is fighting to get into the national tournament. Considering the only chance that State has of getting in is if they pull off a miracle win of the conference tournament, I'm not quite as invested as I have been the past few years.

Besides, I'm dealing with my own March madness. It's basically the midpoint of the semester (Spring Break is next week) which means everything is moving faster than a roller coaster towards graduation in 71 days. All the assignments are piling on top of each other and I have to get my Master's thesis in top shape and I have to get it all done on time if I want to walk.

Which is why it's...unfortunate, to say the least, that my seizures are coming back hard. It makes sense, I suppose; you have stress-induced seizures, and of course they'll get exacerbated in your last semester of grad school when you also have an internship to worry about.

That doesn't make it easy to deal with. I don't have time for this. And it scares me that this could derail everything. It drains my energy every time I have a seizure, and I don't have time to waste. Plus, I injured my knee and ankle in the most recent one (Friday), and I'm on Vicodin which is making me even more exhausted than I usually am.

But fear gets me nowhere. The only option I have is to keep pushing forward and fighting like I have every day of my life. I can't give up now. Even though that would be the easy option. Because man, I am tired. So tired. And scared. And frustrated. And a million other negative things that can beat me if I let them.

(Side note: This is a perfect example of why I tell people t they're crazy when they start looking at me like I'm Superwoman. I don't have it all together. Not even close.)

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Try twice as hard and I'm half as liked

I thrive on words of affirmation.

I want people to like me.

I try so hard to make people like me because, in the back of my head, it feels like if they don't like me, I've failed and there really is something wrong with me, like all the horrible things I heard growing up would be proven true.

I try to be a good person and a good friend because it's as if my subconscious thinks that if I am good to people, they will be good to me.

I try to be open with people even when it's hard because I want them to feel safe being open with me.

I try to be honest even when I'm scared because I would rather get the truth from them even if it hurts than be told lies.

And yet, in the past year alone, I've have several people, people whom I naively thought would be some of the few who would be in my life long term, decide they were done. Decide that I was too much to deal with, that I was not enough to be worthy of friendship.

I put more heart and dedication and love into my relationships with people than most do, and I still end up being told that I screwed everything up. Maybe I'm naive, but that seems wrong to me.

Every time it happens, I get thrown further and further into the pit of battling the negative voices who want to tell me it's all my fault. But as a dear friend told me, I need it to be my fault because if it's my fault, I can fix it. I hear voices from the dark corners of my mind tell me that I need to fix it. It's on me to fix it. So I beat myself up if I can't make it all better. I disregard the idea of both people being responsible for the state of a friendship for the notion that I'm a failure.

God gave me this heart for a reason. I have this passion for loving people for a reason. If other people have a problem with that, that's just it - it's their problem, not mine.

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