I am continually amazed by how terrifying life feels. It never seems like there is a clear direction, and as much as I would love for someone to show up and tell me what I need to do, this has never seemed to be the case. Maybe it would be to bizarre for me to understand the plan, or maybe my current way of thinking hasn’t gone through the growth it needs to experience the plans of the future. Last week I talked about the reflection and growth that comes with the new seasons, looking back at the blessings of what brought you here. The thing is, it brings us to now, and what do I do now?Continue reading
I’ve been talking about love a lot recently. Most of my posts have centered around the idea of how to love others and how to love ourselves the way Jesus loves. The idea for me was sparked during a conference I went to over the spring of last year, the Orange Conference, its’ main theme being “it’s personal.” One of the speakers was Bob Goff, and of course, if you know anything about him, he’s all about loving people. This spark made me look at the way I live. How do I love others like Jesus? What does that look like? What steps can I take towards loving in his radical ways? The answer seems to be right in front of me, in front of all of us. We want to be better people. We want to make positive changes and influence in the lives of the people we come across. So, what do we do?
We do what Jesus did, we call out the greatness in others.
I think everyone has significant moments in their life. Moments that have shaped us and made us who we are, and often, these are not too happy of memories. It’s such a tragedy that our lives encounter terrible heartache, yet it’s how we grow and mature. It’s almost Thanksgiving, and while most of the time we are focused on family and delicious foods, I think it’s important during this time to look back at the moments that have shaped us. What you’ll find, and it’s something that I myself have found, is that these key moments, good and bad, have shaped us into a stronger person than we once were. I titled this post the way I did because I think living a life full of thanks, allows us to have deep joy and love well.
I am now twenty-five years old. That’s kinda weird to think about. I really love birthdays, it gives me a chance to reflect and dream about what can happen during this next phase of my life. Last year was really awesome, I talked about that in my post a couple weeks back; the biggest part was starting a new adventure with my dearest Danielle! As much as it was awesome, there were some challenges outside of that moment. I still deal with some of the rejection I faced, the knowledge that people who wronged me will never apologize gets me angry. I’ve struggled with anger for a long time, and if you’ve met me hopefully you wouldn’t think that. I learned a long time ago that anger feels very empty, it’s often just a reaction with no thought of the consequences that could come. I believe anger comes from fear. Our expectations and emotions were switched and we are filled with fear deep down as a result, then we get angry.
Anger is empty, love is fulfilling.
Life has been wild these past few months. I got married to my best friend and greatest woman in the galaxy. The holiday season was wild and fast. I lost one of my jobs. Danielle got a great job. We went on our honeymoon and had the best time. I started writing more. Danielle went back to finish up her school. So wild, filled with highs and lows. Yet, in all of it, I feel so very free. Normally, when I talk about what’s been going on in my personal life, I put a post under the title of “journey update,” but this didn’t seem to fit that style. Yes, this is a sort of update, mainly me laying out the things that have happened that I’ve only alluded to in my recent posts. I’ve been processing and reflecting a lot, maybe it’s the new year mindset of looking back and moving forward, but I think God has been speaking to me a lot. So, this is a personal post. It might go off on some tangents, but I promise that God wanted me to share the things I’ve been learning because it’s important to every single one of you who are struggling. Maybe you’ve hit a wall or feel like what you wanted seems far off, this, this is for you.
Isn’t it funny how things we love, aren’t always the best thing for us to be doing? Let me be really honest with you or a second. I love candy. I especially love gummy bears and Sour Patch Kids. For our wedding registry, I thought it would be really funny if we put our favorite candy on it to see if people would buy us some. At our shower, I opened up the best gift ever, two five-pound bags of Sour Patch Kids. I was in heaven, and I had no self-control. I at the majority of one of the bags in one night, in one sitting. I immediately regretted this later on when my stomach had this tight feeling to it. Now, why did I bring up this moment? I shared this because many of us suffer from a lack of controlling things in our lives. This can be like the things we eat, the things we watch, our emotions; anything that can alter the way we act. The way we act and respond to others, generally reflects the attitude of our heart; our identity. This all might not make sense, or connect right away, but that’s one of my favorite ways to write. Big concepts that don’t seem to fit, funneled together to help us learn more about ourselves. In this season of resolutions and new habits, combined with my reading through Gideon, I want to talk about how to kill the masters of your life. I want to talk about how to kill what’s killing you.
The Wolf Man. One of the classic Universal Pictures monsters, a man with a curse, every full moon, he transforms into a werewolf. Howling at the moon and out for blood, a battle he fights to regain control of his poor mind. This is a trope in horror fiction, the Jekyll and Hyde concept, normal person fighting a raging monster inside. This month I’ve been looking at old tropes from horror and looking at how God has used them to teach me, and in turn, teach you. This week, I wanted to talk about something very personal to me, something that I’ve alluded to in the past and on this blog, but never fully talked about. Today I want to talk about it. I want to talk about the creature that tries to control me. One that has tried to hold me back. It’s not a wolf bite; I want to talk about my battle with anxiety.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently on this idea of joy. As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety (and still do), this idea can be sticky. It can be hard when life throws curveballs and doesn’t go the way we wish it always would. For a long time, it was hard to go on, my head was telling me to just quit. I have been in a season that hasn’t gone the way I planned with regards to ministry. I was wanting to be in a full-time position and there was a moment that looked good, then it passed, I didn’t get chosen. It was tough. It was hard to have joy. The thing that really helped me was focusing not on the bad, or the disappointment, but the joy in the things in my life. I got engaged and its’ been such a fun season. I have a family support system that has been vital. I have people in ministry outside of my situation that have encouraged me and spurred me on. I just got back from a camp, leading fourth and fifth grade boys, being able to speak life into them and pray over them. I have unlocked strength because I have learned that joy in the lord is what gives strength.
May is Mental Health Month. This is something near and dear to my heart, both as I have suffered from anxiety and depression, as well as countless people in my life that have dealt with similar mental health struggles. It’s important to shine a light on mental health, because for far too long people have been scared to open up and get the help that they need. I think as Christ followers, we need to realize that often mental health is tied into spiritual health. I’m not saying that if you struggle with mental health issues that your spiritual walk with Christ is lacking, I would be foolish to insinuate that. For the most part though, I do believe that mental health can be used against us as we try to grow closer in our walks with Christ. We often feel the most pressure and mental attack when we are on the path God has set out for us. As we walk in the giftedness that God has equipped us with and fight towards reaching the world, that same mad titan that we talked about last week (check it out here), begins to switch up his tactic. If he can’t bring us down by a storm, he’ll try his best with a whisper. “You’re not good enough.” “That test defines who you are.” “What they say about you is true.” The father of lies (John 8:44), these thoughts, they can so easily take root and begin to choke out all life, but they have no power over our great God. These thoughts that are whispered in our minds can disrupt our progress, and the truth is, we need to realize that it’s not about us.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Anger is my go-to reaction. I struggled with self-control for most of my childhood. It felt like there was always this deep ball of rage inside of me that was ready to explode at the drop of a hat. I relate very much to that of the Marvel hero, The Incredible Hulk, mild mannered Bruce Banner, but as soon as something makes him angry, he turns into a green rage monster. Yeah, that was basically how I felt (and sometimes still feel). Big or little, it didn’t matter what it was, I got angry at people. Now, I wasn’t getting into fist fights with people, mainly just not-so-great words yelled. I would hold these grudges against people, I never wanted to let go, I never wanted to forgive. Maybe it was spite, the thought that they would see my grudge and stop what they had done horribly wrong. I directed this rage at my family which would hurt our relationships, I directed the anger at my bullies in hopes that I could one day get back at them, and I directed bitterness towards anyone else who wanted to get close. What I learned in my un-forgiveness was that I had chained myself and created a prison for myself.