Re-Opening: an internal reflection during an outward time of change

It’s a unique time. Some call August the beginning of the end of summer (only true if you have kids…), and while we look towards September and all the questions of the fall, we are still in the weeks of summer sunshine and freedom

Which, naturally, means that it is time for me to take some time and lean into this in-between time called August and think.

I don’t know if this is a me thing or everyone does this, but every so often I find myself longing to re-evaluate my life. I have an overwhelming need to look at where I’m at, what I’ve done, and where I’m going. Maybe it’s the list maker in me or the side of me obsessed with controlling my own future, or maybe it’s the part of me that is absolutely terrified to wake up one day and feel like I’ve wasted my life…whatever it is, these last 2 weeks have been the perfect catalyst for me to sit and think about the next few years.

Truthfully, I also probably find myself revisiting my lists and goals more often than I intend to because God has a sneaky way of nudging me (maybe shoving when I’m being particularly stubborn) towards the next right step forward. So I took some time and looked at my 30-by-30 list. If you’ve been around this blog for a few years, you might remember me talking about my 25-by-25 list on my 25th birthday. Making these time sensitive lists help me break down things I can try to do to move in the direction I want to go. They also force me to a. think bigger than I normally would, b. break out larger goals into smaller steps, and c. remind myself to do fun things, too.

Looking at the next 1.5 years before I turn 30, my main goal is that I want to be moving towards being a person who loves deeply, gives generously, and moves in wisdom, strength, integrity, and honesty to further the kingdom of God.

Getting there is … a little daunting. But I hope that I will move towards it with lots of grace, holding some of these things with open hands – if I’ve learned anything in the last 3.5 years it’s that anything can happen.

If you’d like to look at my updated 30-by-30 list you can find it here. One of my goals is to live a more open/transparent life which is why you’re getting this fairly short little post about it! 

Wishing you all the best as we run through the fields of August into everything the fall is holding for us.

Thoughts on Depression (hello, I am back)

Talking about what it’s like to come out of depression feels…harder in a way than talking about depression does. Let me explain. When you are depressed, you can just say that you’re not ok. We’ve sort of come to a place as a society to accept those sorts of statements, and we know what to say to someone. We are constantly getting better at accepting the role of therapy in our lives and we know that “it does get better” (and truly, it does, I promise).

The thing I’ve learned, though, is that healing is not linear (and oh, how I wish it was). Coming out of depression is starting to feel better and then realizing all the messes that you have around you because you weren’t taking care of them when you were taking care of you. Your house is probably a disaster. Your personal hygiene routines might need to be reset. Your physical body may not resemble what you thought it used to.

Oh, and the world? It kept going. Many of your friends are no longer as close as they used to be. Unreturned calls and texts, cancelled plans, and not talking divide those relationships you used to hold dear. You still hold dear. But to reach out and try to fix it still feels overwhelming.

Because it’s not linear. You don’t just get better. You start getting better. You are constantly learning new things about yourself and dealing with things that set you off. You are learning that some weekends will just destroy you – and your coping mechanisms won’t work perfectly 100% of the time.  Sadness is still a hue part of who you are and you wonder if people want to walk along side that as you keep trying to get better, even if you do slide backwards sometimes.

Meanwhile you are still sorting out everything you’ve worked through. New revelations about why you do things certain ways and trying to fix them (and being very aware when you still haven’t). Dealing with things that trigger overwhelming feelings – triggers you didn’t know you had. And you still have a pile of things to sift through. Thoughts, feelings, ideas … how has this impacted your faith? Your perception and understanding of yourself? How you express yourself?

And it is lonely.

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

– Genesis 28:16 (ESV)

In this passage from Genesis, Jacob has had a dream about how his descendants will cover the earth. He awakes and knows that even though he couldn’t see it when he went to sleep, the LORD was present. He then builds an Ebenezer – a pillar of stones as a marker of where the LORD had spoken to him.

God hasn’t given me a special dream to show me why I have had to work through all of these things – why I am still feeling like I will never fully be whole. And yet I know that He is in this place. He is between the lines of my journals as I write out my thoughts. He is in the space between my ragged sobs on the darker nights. He is in the gentle words and hugs of dear friends holding me up.

I have been writing this post for weeks. I just couldn’t get it to come together. I think it’s because I wanted to be fully healed and done before I wrote it. I thought my pile of rocks (i.e. special blog post on the internet) couldn’t be built until I was done. But Jacob’s story wasn’t done after he built the alter at Bethel. And I want to remember this time – and I want to be able to look back and see the things I’m learning. That’s truly what this blog is for me – a record of where I’ve been. I’ve been so afraid to write anything for the last 2 or so years…but I’m back (I hope). It’s nice to see you again.

Good Bones

WordPress nicely reminded me that I started this blog 7 years ago. Well, May 31 2012 was my first post – so a little over 7 years ago. When I started blogging, I had no information on here that identified me aside from the blog name – and only a few people in the world would have known to link that back to me. I would post things and privately send the link to a few friends so they could read what I had written. Fast forward to a year ago when I took a full plunge and updated my site, bought a domain, made a Facebook page, and decided I would wholly embrace being identified through this blog.

Upon this moment of reflecting on 7 years of blogging regularly (and also not-so-regularly — how do people have time or energy to post all the time???), I took a moment to go back and re-read some of my earliest posts. Reading my old thoughts is something else. I posted on here and other places during some really really high points in my spiritual walk, but also some really low ones. Each post is a little snapshot of where I was and what I was learning at the time. My style has changed over the years, as has my jargon, but also – most interestingly – my faith has morphed over the years.

There’s a song that’s been stuck in my head the week or so – the chorus in particular (which is always how it is???)

When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter
Yeah, the paint could peel, the glass could shatter
Let it rain ’cause you and I remain the same
When there ain’t a crack in the foundation
Baby, I know any storm we’re facing
Will blow right over while we stay put
The house don’t fall when the bones are good
– The Bones, Maren Morris

The song is written about her relationship with her husband, but as the words and melodic riff cycle through my head for the umpteenth day in a row, I started thinking about how they also remind me of a very familiar passage of scripture:

 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
– Matthew 7:24-27

I say my faith has morphed over the years – and I mean that in the best way possible. Originally I was anonymous on this blog because I was afraid of backlash or people getting mad/judging me based on what I was writing. part of growing in my faith was learning not to be ashamed of the seasons I go through – and there have been SEASONS.

As I re-read my old posts, though, I am also reminded of the constancy that is Christ. Sometimes as I walk through highs and lows I am presently aware of how He is still there, other times I have not been able to see Him, feel Him, or understand where He possibly could be, but I know that He is. My faith and thoughts on faith have changed as I grow, stretch and am stretched, and face various things in my life, but the weathering of the storm comes down to the fact that the base is there. As I test and explore things, the “home base” that I come back to remains the same.

My life  sometimes feels like paint is peeling, glass is shattering, and rain is leaking in everywhere…but the foundation is firm. God is clearly remodeling – much to my chagrin – but I know that with the little bit of faith I have, it will be ok. After all – the bones are good.

Inner Growth (2 Corinthians 3-4)

I was just talking to a sister about how much we still think we need to grow in various ways. It’s always a bitter sweet thing because we want to be able to be all these things (spiritually mature, patient, responsible, etc.) but we often forget that the steps getting there are important too. We see the sins that we do today, the mess ups of yesterday, and we forget that God is continually renewing us, and growing us day by day. Yea, we might not look like much on the outside all the time (clay isn’t always super pretty, though it can be kinda nice sometimes …) but on the inside we are treasure. I think that speaks volumes about how God perceives us, and gives us all the more reason to trust him in what he has planned for us. We are but clay in the potter’s hands.

“So we do not lose hear. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16

#didntdeserveit

Today I was blessed with a great day.

No, a guy didn’t sweep me off my feet. No, I didn’t find out I got 100% on some midterm. No, I didn’t win a pile of money. And no, everything didn’t go my way.

Today was fantastic … purely because while I was still exhausted, stressed, worn out, and tired from doing so many things with fellowship, school, and work … even though I forgot my end-sheets, messed up on an assignment and nearly dozed off in a class … today God was good. I mean, He’s good every day. However, today I was blessed to see it more clearly.

Last night as I was headed home I was sitting on the Gotrain and debating with myself. Do I pull out my Bible and do my quiet time, or sew my book for class? It may not sound like a hard decision, but it was. I really REALLY wanted to finish this book. I had so much to do, and I was freaking out. But God was speaking to me … and he was knocking on my heart. Do you value me over your school work? Do you trust me to lead you? Do you believe that I am BIGGER than your life and your worries?

I’m not going to lie. It was hard to surrender the time for sewing to read my Bible. But I knew in my heart that I needed to surrender and trust that I would have time enough to finish what I had been given.

And then today. I was exhausted. I always am by Thursday. Sleep deprived and stressed I went to sleep with a headache coming on. Sleep deprived and … full of peace and excitement I woke up? Now thats a little odd.

All I can say is that by the grace of God I was able to burn through a good portion of my to do list. Through the grace of God I ACTUALLY understood my marketing metrics today. Through the grace of God, I was able to invest time in a friend.

Through the grace of God, I learned that I still have a lot of space to grow…but that He is growing me.

I didn’t deserve this day. I have done nothing to warrant it. But He gave it to me anyway.

What a wonderful God

– Matt Redman