Our Beautiful Mess

This made me cry earlier today. It made me think of the friendships that I have found in the last few years, that have carried me through some of the most difficult times of my life so far.

God has blessed me with a circle of friends that goes beyond all of the hopes that I had held growing up. In every stage of my life, I had been hoping to find that great, loving circle of friends in that stage, or in the next. Always hoping for the friendships I had seen all around me, in youth groups, churches, schools, and families. I have a few long-term friends, and a few life-long friends within my family, but I had never come across what God had in store for me.

In the last few years, God has blessed me with some of the most loving, caring, and passionate friends that I never even thought I could hope for. I am blown away by them, and how God works through them in my life. Through them, he has shown me more about His love than I ever expected to experience at this age and place in my life. To see the love in their eyes when we are together.. it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. These friendships will definitely stay with me until my last breath. Since the days that each of us met, we have seen each other grow and learn so much about life, love, God, and ourselves…and so quickly, all because of God and the experiences we shared.

God has put us in each others lives for a reason. And I think this is it. To show each other, and other people, God’s unconditional love and compassion, and to experience life for the good and the bad together with God. These friendships mean so much more to me that I had ever anticipated. I am so grateful to God for putting these people in my life, at the best possible moments.

Some of my absolute favorite moments are when one person shares their heart, and the other, or several others, as the case may be, all support them and show them true, unconditional, compassionate love. The look in their eyes is indescribable in the beauty and the love that shows so strongly.

 

 

A Girl Like Me

We walked down the well-worn path telling story after story as Matt listened in, getting a glimpse into our past life. It was a weighted feeling of joy mixed with emotion and pain remembering the many life altering moments…standing in front of the dorm where Jenna and I first met freshman year…where we immediately became best friends, walking by the steps into the woods where I got the call that hit me like a ton of bricks, stepping into the quiet library where I spent late nights trying to cram as much information as I could into my exhausted brain, driving past spots where Jenna and I took study breaks to have random photo shoots…

It was a reminder that we have conquered many obstacles and had too many memories to count…

We walked down the hall of the Science center…again, spilling our stories to Matt about how we made…

View original post 733 more words

He’s hard at work on my heart…

God is really working hard on me this week…

To start things off, my mom was told that she has cancer. That made me think of everyone I know who’s had cancer, and of course, my mind initially went towards the worst of things that could happen, so needless to say, I was a complete disaster. I told one of my best friends about it over the phone.. bawling and rambling one night on our back porch, basically hiding my reactions from my family for the meantime.

See, I know that God has it, and that He is working through this problem, as well as other medical issues because there is something else, something better to come of it in the end. But the thing is, the day you find something like that out, is a very hard day to get through without freaking out to some degree. So there I was, blubbering on the back porch on my phone, and my friend was extremely supportive and encouraging. She told me, because she is becoming a nurse, facts about this type of cancer, which were very enlightening and actually lifted a terrible fear off my mind. She also told me that she sees that my mom is strong and a fighter, and she thinks she’ll get through it just fine.

Later that night, I talked to another of my best friends, from college. I told him I was terrified of what could happen. He was extremely supportive as well and was advising me to listen to a relevant song, pray, read a passage in the bible, and rest. So when I did those things, a huge burden was lifted, and I felt much more free and I knew that God is in control. I had always known that He is, but in times like that, I tend to lose focus and see only the situation for a few minutes.. those few minutes are enough to cause uncertainty. I knew, that if I took it all by faith, everything would turn out okay, and I would feel more stable with God, instead of my fears.

When I was talking to him, though, a devotional had popped up from a ministry’s facebook page that I liked. (Proverbs 31 ministry) This post was entitled “From Panic to Peace.” The main emphasis is on worry vs peace in God. My friend had mentioned that the worry isn’t from God, and that I didn’t have to be terrified and frantic, because that’s not how God intends it to be for His children.

So now, a few days later, I found yet another devotional from this page… And this lady was writing about her battle with cancer. She talked about how she couldn’t see the good in it, or any degree of fairness. She knew, by her beliefs, that God was in control, but it was a very hard process for her to go through. Her testimony about trusting God with this situation was inspiring to me.. especially because of what happened in my heart and mind a few days prior to finding this.

Last week, I was saying things like “God’s got this..”, “Trust Him with it. He wants the best for this..”, and even “It’s hard now, but there will be good that comes from it, because God is working in this.” However, Was I actually believing all of that wholeheartedly? Unfortunately, I think I was primarily saying it to try to encourage people and “look on the bright side.” I mean, yes, I believed it, but how much was I actually taking by faith in Him? Not all that much. I was doubting a lot, but I would never let on to that, no… I wanted to be this strong believer in the face of trials and life or death situations, but I think I need a lot more faith than that to be successful in that in my own heart, especially. I have been struggling a lot with trusting God completely, with everything in my life. And this happens.

It seems silly, but by my human nature, of course I want control. I want to feel like I can be independent and powerful. However, I’m not supposed to. I need to trust God with EVERYTHING. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s necessary. I know this.. I do. But it’s incredibly hard to accomplish. Heck, I don’t know if anyone truly has accomplished this in everything in their life. It’s that much of a process.

However…. that’s not even half of what God’s been busy with..

The next day was better. I was happier, still thinking, still concerned, but not as frantic or terrified. I was easing into things, and God was helping me relax and trust Him with the situation. So that was getting better. I’ve been encouraging my family, asking for prayer from friends and family, etc, and it seems to be less of a panicked area of our lives at the moment. Thankfully I had a few friends I could go to, and not cause a huge blowout in my family, because we were all a big tight bundle of nerves over all of it. We’ve barely begun this thing, though, but I’m hoping that God is going to bring us into it all with our hope placed in Him and His love.

The next couple days, though, were slowly building to something, which is what I’ve been handling yesterday and today. the first couple days were pretty smooth and we were busy and I was talking to some friends on the phone, catching up with some people, and enjoying most of my time. Then.. last night happened.

To give you a little background…

First off, you should know, I have done my schooling mostly online or through homeschooling, until college. 1st grade was an online curriculum, 2nd, I was home-schooled by my parents, then 3rd-12th, I was cyber-schooled again. So I’ve had my fair share of the online worlds of communication and friendships…It can be a wonderful place, if you find the right places and people.

I had a conversation with a friend at college early in the semester… bad cyber communication experiences came up, which reminded me of something I had experienced back in middle school, which I will explain shortly. So I didn’t say much about it, but it came to mind and I was able to empathize with my friend’s situation pretty well, so I encouraged her and told her I understood all too well. Then, a couple months later (a few weeks ago), I had a heart-to-heart with her and another friend. This other friend told us her story, about things she had been thinking about in recent months, all in reference to bullying. I’m sure you can guess where this is going by now.

Not many people know this about me, but I was cyber bullied when I was younger. Middle school was an awful time in everyone’s lives.

My first encounter with bullying, was likely the worst I have ever come across. It was awful. I was threatened. I know it was an idle threat, because the idiot was across the country, but it terrified the innocent little middle school girl on the other side of the internet. I was literally scared for my life because of this guy. I was so terrified that I never talked about it until this week, actually. The only time I tried to after it happened, I was so terrified and hurt that I couldn’t verbalize it and just cried to my sister, who tried to perk me up and distract me, which I am still grateful for to this day.

So a few years later, I was “picked on” by some other guys. One was a jerk, the other was stupid and stuck up. The second was more annoying than anything else. The first one was hurtful. Which was his intention. By this time, I was better equipped to stand up for myself and tell him to shut up, which I did on several occasions. I also had a few close friends by then who were backing me up, thankfully.

At this point, I must have been in like 7th-8th grade, possibly even a little went on in 9th grade. Eventually it just stopped. I toughened up, told people off, ignored people, they got tired of it or changed, and it kind of fizzled out. I hadn’t thought much about my bullying experiences until recently, though.

So I was thinking about them yesterday, sparked by my two friends from college talking about some of their experiences. I realized that I still have so much to work on in my heart. I talked to a friend last night about all of it.. He was the first that I had told about it, and it was such a relief to tell someone.

I have struggled with my self-esteem for most of my life because of many factors and experiences. I won’t go into all of them here, but let’s just say I’ve dealt with a lot of things from the people in my life. And, as you might infer, I have some pretty serious trust issues because of things that I’ve had to deal with all of my life. Whether it’s betrayals, lies, sin, or even backhanded comments that were poorly placed or worded, but never accounted for. They ALL contributed to me destroying my self-esteem. Yes, I’ve changed a lot in the last year because I went to college, and it was all for the better, but I still have things to work through in that area, and definitely in trusting. Every broken heart, hurt feeling, insult, or doubtful thought that I’ve had has influenced me over time. Last year, I didn’t think much of myself at all. This year, I think a lot more positively of myself, but I know I still have trust issues because of things that have been said or done to me. I’m not holding anything against the people, but I’m simply saying that things were done to me that I unfortunately let destroy me over time, because I didn’t think to do anything differently. I let these insecurities change me and hurt me more and more.

Back to my day yesterday…

Earlier in the day, I had read Hebrews 11. Very good passage about faith. I recommend reading up on it if you haven’t, or need a refresher.

Then, talking to my friend, I told him about reading that, and he suggested reading Romans 8. About faith AND trusting God because He loves us. Also a very good passage. He also mentioned a couple songs about God’s love and faith. Let me tell you, way before this point, I knew that God wanted me to see something about faith that day… it had been showing up a few times in the days before this, as well. So I was expecting something to click at some point.

Unfortunately, what does click is basically a glimpse of the truth, and I don’t know that I’ll ever get the full picture of any of the truths that God wants me to know about. But, with all of these partials, it’s more than likely that God is fitting me into something bigger.

So I knew I needed to pick something up about my faith. And then I realized that I had serious trust issues, especially with guys. I’m usually very skeptical of them and their intentions for caring about me.. basically in any relationship, whether it’s friendships, romantic, or even family sometimes. I don’t like this skepticism. I would rather trust with a balance of CAUTION. Not flat-out fear of being hurt. I hate being in this place and not openly trusting and loving someone because I’m afraid I’ll be hurt yet again. I want it to go away, but I know I can’t just wish it away and be fine. I have to struggle through this with God guiding me. I know He has me. I know it’s not His intention for me to be living like that, so I know He wants it to change for me as well.

Then, today, I came across another devotional on Proverbs 31 ministry’s page. This one was entitled “Jumping out of airplanes.” It actually brought tears to my eyes because of this:

“Have the words of others or your past put limitations on you?

Have they caused you to fear, or to think that Jesus can’t use you because of your story?

Does it seem too hard, or too big?

“You do it.”

That’s Jesus, putting His vote of confidence in you, knowing He can supply all your needs.”

I then looked around for some other blogs from musicians and I found one from the wives of the men in Tenth Avenue North. Reading through a few of their blogs brought tears to my eyes as well because of the truths contained in them. (A Girl Like Me| Grace for The Everyday Girl)

Through all of this, God has been teaching me about Trust, Love, and Faith. In those, He has also recently taught me about forgiveness and boundaries in relationships with people. This week, I think He wants me to be focused on letting Him have control, knowing that He will get me where he wants me to be, and where I need to be in life. It’s a hard process. Some of the hardest things I’ve ever had to face, I have to face now, but I know that God is working through this for something so much better in my life.

Don’t lose hope. I know it’s easy to, and sometimes very tempting, but God has you. He really does.

Strength…hope…Helga..

Alright, so I always thought strength was either brute force, muscles, sweat, and grunts, or an inner strength of not letting things break you and being able to overcome anything, without feeling or showing any weaknesses.

I was dead wrong. At least about the last one. The bodybuilder woman who resembles a viking named Helga can still be considered strong, if you want. 😛

True strength is when you can show these weaknesses and emotions. I recently was on the receiving end of this.. I was really emotional about something really hurtful and deep and mind blowing, and I was bawling like a baby in my dorm room. My friend looked at me and said that I was strong, so strong. She said it was the strongest thing she had ever seen.

I was blown away. I had never even considered that I could be seen as strong with the tears running down my face and my expression resembling an angry mutated pug that had just been kicked. I have since been told this repeatedly when I’m crying or passionate about something. I’ll tell them that I don’t see it, I feel incredibly weak, etc, and they stand firm that they see me as strong in my vulnerability.

It really is a beautiful thing. I don’t like seeing people hurting, but when they express their pain openly to me, be it anger, tears, singing, or art, I feel incredibly honored and like I am witnessing a miracle of sorts.

We are all broken and hurt and struggling. But, have you ever thought about how your release and expression of your pain can speak to the people around you, the people who care about you? It is as much a testimony to them, as it is a sign of your character. So don’t be afraid to show your pain and cry, scream, whatever is necessary. It is beautiful, just like you.

<><><>

Hope.. hope is a crazy thing…

On one hand, you don’t want to give on any hope…

On the other hand, you don’t want to be consumed by it…

So.. you have to find a balance. Not too hopeful, but not too cynical of that hope…

Trust me, I know, it’s one of the hardest things to find a balance for.

But I learned something recently.. Hope is a kind of confidence. Specifically, a confidence in Christ.

The way I see it, we normally equate hope with wishes… however, hope should be a certain kind of confidence in something good coming, not a wish for something better. Wishes don’t last. Wishes are merely things we say or think to try to convince ourselves that the odds are in our favor. Hope is much deeper. Much stronger. Much more stable and lasting.

Forgiveness…

The ultimate act of forgiveness will forever be unmatched. That is Jesus’ sacrifice.

However, forgiveness is something that we, as humans, not only Christians, need to work on in our lives.

It is hard, but it is necessary.

It is the process of extending mercy to people who have wronged us.

We are told, in scripture, to forgive 7×70 times over. Matthew 18:21-35

We are told to “turn the other cheek.” Luke 6: 27-31

Usually, when we are told to forgive someone, we step back in shock and scream all the reasons why they don’t deserve forgiveness from us. However, when you think about it, Jesus does the very same thing for us… He forgives us every single time that we wrong Him, with no hesitation.

Why is it so hard for us to forgive others? Are we too proud? Are we too power-hungry? Do we like becoming bitter and believing that we are better than someone else… does it give us some kind of pleasure?

Unfortunately, yes.

We tend to think holding a grudge makes us feel better. In reality, when we forgive someone, things are much more pleasant for us, and them. Whether or not we still communicate with that person, or even if they know nothing about what has happened, it is the best possible option when we are hurting.

We are unable to do it by ourselves, however. We need God’s help in forgiveness. It is much harder for us to do alone, because we tend to fall into bitterness the more we think about it.

I know from experience how damaging it is to hold on to grudges and hurt for too long, and not successfully forgive the person who had hurt me. I was hurt by a couple friends back in 7th grade, and it took me until last semester… age 18.. first year in college…to actually forgive them and to not be bitter anymore. Instead, I have come to understand their side more, and I no longer get angry about what they had done to hurt me. I don’t have very much contact with either of them anymore, but even so, I don’t hold it against them. In fact, it doesn’t affect me now.

Forgiveness is a very freeing thing to experience. Mike Donehey  in his video journals, talks a lot about God’s forgiveness and the freedom that he is offering in that action.

I have been struggling with a lot lately… a lot of hurt. a lot of doubt. a lot of betrayal. However, I am slowly working towards forgiveness. It is hard, and it will take a while, but I know I’ll get there with God’s guidance and strength. Trust Him.. It’s possible.

It’s also healthier to forgive someone, than it is to hold onto your pain and form grudges and be bitter towards someone. It frees you up, and it frees the other person up as well.

We can forgive, because we have been forgiven by God.

“..Forgiven people forgive people..” -Mike Donehey (From Tenth Avenue North)