Posts Tagged ‘life’

Perched

 

 

This is a letter to myself. A letter to myself that I am sharing with you in hopes that it might help you as it is slowly helping me.

 

Today I was at my wits end. Recently I have been struggling with intense overcast feelings to the extent of not wanting to leave my bed and feeling as one without hope. I blamed these feelings that I felt on many circumstances that I was drowning in. External pressures, external loss and disappointment. I was a victim of my circumstances. And I couldn’t overcome it. As a Type A personality I do very well at burying my feelings and emotions under work. I schedule my days to leave no time to think, reflect… or to breakdown. My mind is always moving, always achieving. But I couldn’t shake the cloud that had been following me. It was persistent, vigilant, shaking its hand at every ray of sunshine that tried to lighten my way.

 

Then something happened that took me from sitting under a cloud, to sitting under a cloud, as it began to downpour. With no coat or umbrella, I felt like shaking my hands at God. Was I not low enough? How well was I handling the cloud, that made you decide now was the time to bring the rain!

 

During this pity party, which was hosted and attended by me and myself alone, I came to the realization that my perception of the intensity of my circumstances stemmed from one issue. I tried to quiet all of the external voices for one second and the only voice left was my own. And I was screaming one thing. “God why have you discarded me! You have left me!”

 

The only reason my circumstances were drowning me was because I no longer believed that I had a lifeguard watching over me, ready to dive in and buoy me up. I felt that God was absent, uncaring, and un-invested. I felt like I was fighting a battle myself when I should have been letting God fight for me. But how could I sit back and let God fight for me if I didn’t believe He was on my side? Or even if He was on my side maybe He was unfeeling. He didn’t have anything to lose in this game! When I am doubling-over in pain that’s just me hurting, me alone. Why should I let him direct me if I have to face the aftermath by myself? When Job had sores on his body (Job 2:7) and his breath was putrid. God was unaffected!

 

I shocked myself with my thoughts. I pride myself on being pretty well read biblically. I could have quoted to you: Isaiah 49:15, which says “Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” Or Lamentations 3:32, “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.”

 

But the problem was the Bible is just a book, unless you believe in the power of the words there in. In my pain I reached out to someone, which in and of itself is incredibly unlike me. But I needed someone to remind me of those words. But not just the word, the power behind those words. I needed someone to tell me those words and hear in their voice that they believed that which they were saying to be the truth. Like a match to a candle I was reminded of what I had long sought.

 

Romans 8: 38-39; “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

I wish I could tell you I am equally as persuaded as Paul was when he was writing this verse; after facing beatings and imprisonment. I am not there yet, partly because I haven’t been tested on that level. I don’t want to be to you like Peter who swore twice He would not deny our Lord and Savior, only to deny him thrice (Luke 22:54-62). But I will tell you that though I still remain perched under my cloud, the rain has slowed and when I reach out beside me I recognize that I am no longer alone.

 

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Not special, but Strong

Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you are strong. Stronger than you know. Stronger than you give yourself credit for. Strong despite those who left you or hurt you. Your worth is not a variable that someone can thumbs up on Facebook, or unfollow on Twitter. Your worth is grounded in who you are. Who God made you to be. Even on your worst day, after your biggest mistakes, in your loneliest places, you are worth something.

 

No matter how much loss you’ve experienced, rejection you face or road blocks in your way, the fact that you are still here, still alive, still waking up each morning, putting one foot in front of the other and weathering whatever storm life brings, proves your strength! I don’t care if you break down and cry, or get lost in periods of depression or self-hate. I see your strength when you put on a brave face and show up to work on time, smile at a stranger, or make dinner for your kids.

 

Take time to appreciate how far you have come without drowning in the awareness that there is still further yet to go. Notice the wounds that have become scars. Maybe they aren’t fully healed, and maybe they are still tender to the touch, but Praise God for the ones that no longer bleed!

 

This life is hard; but take comfort in the fact that your struggles don’t make you special, because we—individuals all over the world, are with you, struggling together. Your struggle is like a unique snowflake but together we are snow helping each other stay alive, whereas alone we might melt. Today I am praying for you, in the same way I hope you are praying for me. That we keep fighting, we keep surviving, and we keep overcoming.

 

You are strong! Find your strength.

 

 

 

 

Overstimulated

How much of our life do we spend searching for, seeking, or desiring the companionship of others? Whether family, friends, or lovers, oftentimes we are searching for someone to share our life experiences with. We use the presence of others to keep us from feeling the full force of the burdens we carry from day to day.

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The problem comes however, when we are so dependent on other people that we are unable feel content when we are alone. We automatically equate being alone with being lonely so we avoid embracing time spent in solitude.

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Even when we do find ourselves isolated from society even momentarily—we reach to our phone, tablet, or laptop to plug us back in. It is priceless to be able to find peace in solitude, to quiet the voices of doubt, regret, stress, pain, and loss, and to see life as a gift without feeling the need to drown yourself in outside voices.

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#firstworldproblems

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I tend not to complain out loud about my problems unless I am talking to my mother– since we all know it’s every mom’s duty to listen dutifully to just about everything you have to say regardless of whether you are 25 or 40. If I complain about my issues to anyone else it might sound overwhelmingly like #firstworldproblems, an impression that may only be partly wrong. I called my mom once… –just last week if I’m being honest–in the middle of the night after I hadn’t been able to sleep all night for 3 nights in a row, plagued by my own mental demons, and she picked up. She picked up– even though at that time she was with a patient who would be taken off life support soon.

 

She was just reading a few bible verses to him, and I am pretty sure he couldn’t hear her and was totally unaware of his surroundings or anything else for that matter, but I was shocked that she as a physician was taking time out of doing her rounds to read some verses for a patient that couldn’t hear her and to pray for him before he passed… and also that amidst all this that she picked my call because she was worried about me. I proceeded to tell her I was completely fine, she should get back to work and after I hung up I began to cry. The perspective that the call gave me forced me to tell myself that: hey you should be happy and grateful you’re not deathly ill or dying, and that your problems are so small, and in the grand scheme of things– probably even meaningless.

 

But the truth is minimizing our problems by comparing them to someone with bigger problems can be both helpful and at the same time hurtful. It can invalidate your hurt and your pain and trust me it is incredibly hard to heal from something you don’t fully let yourself feel. If you don’t come to terms with pain in your life because ‘hey there are people starving in Africa and you have it much better than them,’ which may very well be true, but that doesn’t mean that your suffering, albeit privileged suffering, is any less real or any less hurtful. Much of our own life is shaped by our mind–our thoughts, and thoughts can be powerful enough to cause a person to pull a trigger, jump of a bridge, or prevent them from trying to achieve something they have always wanted to achieve.

 

It is good to be grateful and to see life from a perspective other that your own. Be thankful for your privilege. But also be gentle with yourself. Know that it is okay to let the small things sometimes get to you. It’s okay to not be invincible all the time. To feel weak, overwhelmed. It’s okay to simply just let yourself feel. Now it’s another thing to dwell, to sink, to never move forward. But just for today I want you to be honest with yourself about the emotions you’ve been keeping bottled up, the frustrations laying there right under the surface of all the pretense and fake smiles and cheerful demeanor. If you can’t be real to people at least be real to yourself, because honesty takes you to a place where true healing can finally begin.

 

Overcoming obstacles

Sometimes it is easy to wallow in self pity. When I get in that frame of mind I tend to dwell in it for quite a bit. I wake up not so ready to face the day and with a feeling of two large hands pressing down on my chest. Then there is also the feeling of walking under a perpetual cloud. Today was one of those days, where I kinda just planned on barely making it through the day. I got to work and after some semi-challenging news I started feeling like the cloud above me was going to burst. I picked up my phone hoping to distract myself, but as usual there is never really anyone to talk to when you really need them, so I ended up going online and reading an article about a woman who has every reason to wallow in self pity but doesn’t.

She literally goes around giving TEDx talks exuding positivity and strength; when she can’t sit down and has a to use an external bag as a stomach. She’s extremely skinny because though she eats 8,000 calories a day she only retains 20% of it. Which most of us would think great right? But not when the rest drips out of what should be her stomach. I thought wow. If I was going through that I would be such a mess. I mean imagine relationships, the limits in getting closer to people, the constant rejection and explanations she has to give. Never really being able to be ‘normal.’  And the bitterness that doctors actually made everything worse. But she literally just pushes past all that and lives a meaningful life. Traveling, meeting people, sharing her story- her insecurities, and exuding strength and courage.

I know sometimes looking at how worse off others are can be a means of disregarding our very real problems and suggesting that what we are going through isn’t valid. But that’s not what I am suggesting you, or I for that matter do. I feel like stories like this should give us strength to tackle whatever obstacle we are facing, and encouragement that we are not alone in our struggles. There is no one out there living a ‘normal’ life. We all have our own versions of normal. But we don’t have to be overwhelmed by it, or just accept it, we can thrive through it.

Well I am off to finish facing my own obstacles. I wish you the best in tackling yours!

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The Dead Sea

There was a boy who loved a girl, when she didn’t love herself. But as she learned to love herself, the boy resented her for it. As she became stronger, more confident, he told her that she’d changed. That she wasn’t the girl he had fallen in love with. That she was no longer simple, and that she was no longer unique. As she found herself, she lost him.

 

There was a husband who had a wife that was outspoken and intelligent, a go-getter. At least she was before she married him. But after the marriage suddenly something changed. The husband wanted her to speak out less, and conform to his will more. Forgetting that it was her spark that he first fell in love with.

 

There was a woman that had a man that she loved to control. She didn’t mind that he had no job, and preferred that she provide for all of his needs. But the man began to feel, like not so much of a man. He went out and got a job. He began to provide for himself, and contribute to the relationship—but his woman despised him for it. Now he had a voice, now he didn’t need the woman in the same way–he still wanted her—but he didn’t need her, so she no longer wanted him.

 

When waters are stagnant life cannot thrive. When our loved ones change, we don’t stop loving them. We don’t have to grow apart from them—we can grow with them. Relationships can morph and change and grow, if we let it.

Happy

 

I started about three years ago, recording videos every once in a while, in which I would talk about the things on my mind. I’d gossip to the camera about my own life: the positive breakthroughs, my loved ones, school, and the things I was worrying about at that moment. Sometimes all it’d be is a video of me crying, and not actually saying anything comprehensible. What was the purpose of that you might ask? Well to me it has served as a history of my highs and lows. I can look back and observe my state of mind, the things that were bothering me and see if they were resolved, or if they still aren’t.

I can see how I’ve changed, how I’ve grown, and the ways I’ve stayed the same. And even though there were highs as well as lows in my life I realized I felt the lows more strongly and quickly forgot the highs. Today I logged in another video and literally my exact words when I started recording was “I am so happy.” And I am. 🙂  I’m really happy, and that’s a first. I have a type A personality so for me to not be obsessing over anything is a rarity. Your first inclination may be to ask why? Or what happened that has made me so happy? And the answer is simple. Nothing has happened. 🙂 At least nothing external has happened.

 

My life is not seemingly more perfect than it was a year ago, or 6 months ago, or even a week ago. In fact God has been consistently awesome throughout my life. Yeah I have faced challenges and letdowns that to me—at the time—felt life-shattering. But that is my point. At that “time” it “felt” what I considered to be “life-shattering.” But it in fact did not shatter my life, and how I felt was constrained by time.

 

There are a couple things I have recently come to the realization of:

 

  1. There are very few things that time will not heal.

    Okay so I know you’re reading this and you’ve heard this all before, but you think this statement is not true, or at least that it doesn’t apply to you. That you’re facing something right now that time will not heal. And how do you know this? Well because you’re feeling this pain at this exact moment, and it’s so strong, and has lasted for so long–so surely it will last forever. But humanity has a certain resilience and a great emotional capacity to heal. It may take years. But you can overcome whatever event that has caused you pain—just be patient with yourself.

  2. Happiness – lasting happiness will never come solely from achievements

    …or fame, or another person’s love, etc. Yes these things in that moment can make us happy, but that feeling will not last. The truth is: there is at every moment things in our life that we can dwell on that can make us either happy or unhappy. And it is up to us to make that conscious decision to be happy. Which brings us to my next point,

  3. Happiness is a choice.

    You need to decide you want to live a happy life, and realize that your happiness is up to you. You cannot forever choose to be a victim of circumstance. You have to decide that you will control your emotions; and that your emotions will not control you. And that comes with realizing how easily we let our emotions envelop us. For years I’ve let sadness envelop me and recently I realized I do the same thing with anger. It consumes me and I simply self-implode. Once I realized this I decided to be more purposeful with the way I handle my life and my feelings. So on to the last point:

  4. Be purposeful.

    Why are you unhappy, or angry, or sad, or worried? If you don’t even have quiet time to reflect on your life, how can you improve it? How much time do you take in the day for you? I find peace when I go to the gym every day; it’s a time when I’m doing something just for me. When I walk the 30 minutes from home to work every day instead of using my car, I get time to listen to a sermon, or a TED talk, to think, unwind, and be purposeful about my day. As someone who has struggled with certain things, I have learned what my triggers are and try as much as possible to stay away from those situations.

In closing I just want to encourage you to stop looking for things outside of yourself to bring you lasting happiness. You need to decide to love yourself enough to listen to what you need, and with strength from God you can live the life you want and have the happiness you desire regardless of external circumstances.

I wish you well on your journey to  a happier you 🙂