One o f my pastors challenged us to join her in taking pictures of things we’re thankful for everyday for a year. This seemed like a wonderful idea to me, since I had been trying to get better at being purposefully being thankful but struggling to maintain a habit out of it. I told myself that I would commit to at least a month and see if I can even maintain this challenge for that long and then go from there.
Today is Day 19 and I’ve only missed one day so far (which I made up for by taking a picture of the diary-egg-sugar free eggnog I made the day before. I know you’re skeptical, but its actually really good!! Recipe here). I’ve heavily enjoyed this challenge. It forces me to be mindful of things that I’m thankful for and then to stop what I’m doing and (frequently sneakily) take a picture of them. The more difficult thing is remembering to take a picture and not necessarily being mindful, which I guess is a good sign.
I take one photo that I took during the day and share it on Facebook. It’s kinda a way to keep myself accountable and also allow people to participate in this journey with me. I want to share today’s with you:
Today, I am thankful for fall and winter seasons.
This is interesting because I ranted frequently a few months ago about how fall is my least favorite season: everything dies, it gets cold, and it becomes dark all the time. I never quite understood why people love fall and winter (though winter with freshly fallen snow is WONDERFUL).
One friend I vented to said, “But you should love fall, cause everything comes back to life!”
To which I responded, “That’s why I love spring!!”
Today, while on a walk, I passed these large trees that used to be so full of leaves. I love full trees, their leaves that glow in the sunlight, the sky peeking out from behind them as the wind waves the branches, the sounds that remind me of water when big gusts come by… I started feeling sad that these trees were now so bare.
Then I heard a voice that told me (a voice I like to attribute to God), “They will be filled again with leaves soon.”
And I realized:
the fall and winter seasons teach us to HOPE and to practice faith!!
For the first time in a long time, I felt this inner joy and peace. I am like that tree. I, too, will soon be back to doing what brings me life. Until then, I will remain dormant and wait for the sunshine to return as I actively progress towards healing.
I’ve been learning a lot about hope and faith lately. I guess I’m also thankful for my friends that have been encouraging me to not give up on hoping.
I think I’m going to being sharing my Thankfulness Challenge posts on here too. Stay tuned! Soon, I’ll add all the previous days’ posts. Feel free to share your thoughts about today’s posts or about the Thankfulness Challenge in general!
I know the hedgehog’s point of view. I was him through a lot of high school, and I didn’t really feel like I received that love and acceptance until college. It wasn’t that people were purposefully mean or exclusive, but it was definitely my perception.
Lately, I also feel like the hedgehog, probably now more than ever.
On Thursday night, one of my best friends sends me a text after not responding to my messages for days. He apologizes for his lack of communication, states that he’s been really thinking about things a lot, and asks if we can talk the next morning.
Of course, this conversation is important to him, so I say yes.
I also text him to say that my mental health has been poor this past week and ask if I should be worried. He responds by saying that I shouldn’t, that I might get angry, but all he’s doing is setting boundaries and that he doesn’t want to cut off our friendship.
Okay. Seems like an accurate foretelling of how I’ll probably handle this situation. It won’t be that bad.
You must know that this friend and I have gone through so many hard times the past year, year and a half. We have deeply hurt each other and have fought through it. He’s a wonderful, patient listener, a super valuable friend. In this season, he’s one of the few people that has remained in my life and that has been helping me regularly with all the hard things I’ve been going through. I would trust him with my life. For most of that time I had a serious crush on him, but I finally started to get over it once he started dating someone else.
My anxiety pushes the release of adrenalin when tomorrow comes and he and I search for a spot. I continuously rub a calming, textured, rubber pad I carry with me.
After settling on some lounge chairs in a secluded area, he shares, in addition to some odd/unhealthy things he and others have noticed about me and how I handle social situations, that he and I can no longer have one-on-one conversations nor can we have engaging texting conversations.
As he predicted, I do get mad, and I start crying.
Essentially, without saying it, he has told me that he can’t be there for me anymore. This, to me, sounds like we are no longer friends.
I tell him that thought, and he’s surprised, but he understands my train of thought.
In the week since, it’s been weird trying to figure out what sorts of interactions we are to have with each other and what is okay and what isn’t. Further conversations have happened (one of them actually being one-on-one!), which include moments of me acting irrationally and saying rude things. A new normal is starting to settle in.
Mostly, I just think about telling him things, then get angry, and then avoid him and try to push the good memories away. Normally, I’d say that making a choice based on anger and bitterness isn’t the way to go, but once you’ve been hurt and pushed away by someone, it just kinda happens to be the right one…
ADHD + trauma = feeling like you have lost any sense of control over yourself
I blurt things (often rude and/or socially unacceptable) without ever having a version of them consciously pass my mind. Frequently, I’m oblivious to people being hurt by things that I’ve said. My moodiness shifts have become incredibly polarized. My bodily focused repetitive behaviors are becoming obsessive. Because my mind is so creative, the most subtle things can remind me of my traumatic experiences and can even trigger a panic attack. My ability to focus on something longterm (especially something that requires lots of effort and something I don’t feel like doing) is almost non-existent. Processing things fully without engaging in a conversation about what is going on internally is basically impossible.
All of these things kinda add up to social destruction, regardless of my intentions to avoid doing so as much as I can.
to reduce (an object) to useless fragments, a useless form, or remains, as by rending, burning, ordissolving; injure beyond repair or renewal; demolish; ruin; annihilate.
to put an end to; extinguish.
to kill; slay.
to render ineffective or useless; nullify; neutralize; invalidate.
to defeat completely.
I am the hedgehog.
The story of the video has a happy ending. His classmates come together to form a solution. It’s not that they’ve been mean on purpose (for the most part), it’s just that they haven’t known how to be his friend without hurting themselves in the process. His unintentional acts of destruction were a temporary occurrence with a potentially permanent solution (providing they use peanuts that won’t dissolve with rain and he always caries extras in case they come off).
The problem with ADHD and recovering from trauma is that there aren’t physical quills present. You can’t avoid emotional outbursts or neediness like you can avoid touching a prickly thing.
In order to stay safe, one needs to avoid it all-together.
You might be thinking, “Hey, I get what you’re thinking, but those that are close to you don’t that about you. You’re not destructive. They won’t avoid you because you’re going through a hard time.”
That’s what I used to say to myself, until one of my best friends actually did….
If you think I’m overreacting or being impulsive or creating a catastrophe, let me know. Write a comment. Send me a message. I wanna hear it.
Until then, I feel so stuck.
How on earth am I going to heal while walking through so much pain on my own?
I’m really starting to enjoy this series “Questions without Answers”. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep this up. It might just become the premise for this whole blog as I process everything I’m going through. I guess we’ll find out together.
It’s not that I don’t think these answers exist. This post might contain questions where answers can be found. However, as I present them today, I’m not providing answers. You are welcome to join me, chiming in your thoughts, possibly even proposed solutions. I may even revisit some of these questions in the future as I grow and learn. We’ll see.
The best way to describe my religious background is that I chose God intellectually fifteen years ago but only nine years ago chose Him wholeheartedly. Evangelical churches and their doctrine have been a foundational part of my life. Throughout those nine years, I discovered how alive and active God is, and, thankfully, stumbled upon the Neo-charismatic movement, and have been part of this wonderful adventure in learning more about who God truly is and diving deeper into a real relationship with Him.
For my fellow nerdy theologians out there, I’m not here to debate cessationism vs. charismaticism, the validity of speaking in tongues, what modern-day prophecy is, et cetera… If you really wanna know, I’ll provide some suggested places to research and books to read.
One thing I’ve grown passionate about is supernatural healing, miracles related to people’s health that defy medical explanation. Anything, from limbs growing to mental illnesses being cured to tumors dissolving even to the dead being raised, has been documented from one extent or another. I have been on both sides of verified healings (receiving and praying), and it’s truly life changing. I’ll never forget the warmth and release that happened when a couple friends from church prayed for my misaligned sacrum, causing severe pain when I would sit and walk.
One thing I’ve been pressing into for years is healing of my ADHD. It’s a very real part of my life, not only inhibiting my ability to concentrate, but making social situations difficult and really inhibiting my professional and personal life. I have a hard time following linear processes and putting my thoughts to words, and, at the very least, having a “normal” brain would enable me to reach my potential. I am so much more than who I am today, and this ADHD isn’t who I am, isn’t supposed to be there, is a product of the fall, right?
Today, one of my best friend’s asked me, “If you could start all over and be reborn, would you want to be reborn with ADHD?”
I didn’t want to admit what my gut told me…
I’m a member of a few ADHD facebook groups, and a couple terms I’d never heard of previously are frequently thrown around. As I’ve entered these words into my everyday vocabulary, I’ve realized that most people don’t understand what they mean. Today, I decided to research them further, and I found a website run by Nick Walker, a published autistic writer and speaker as well a faculty member of two California colleges, that is able to put these terms in plain language. (I’m a huge fan of plain language.)
Neurodiversity is the concept that all of us process and think uniquely. It primarily deals with genetic variation, though environmental variation certainly plays a role as well. None of us process information in exactly the same way.
A neurotypical (NT) is a person that fits “within the dominant societal standards of ‘normal.'” These people theoretically don’t need accommodations to succeed in school, work, and social situations. (In informal situations, I often see people react to more-damaging-than-helpful “how to handle ADHD” articles with “whoever wrote this is incredibly neurotypical”.)
A neurodivergent (ND) processes the world in a way that doesn’t fit within what’s “normal” and may or may not have a medical diagnosis to explain how their brain works. Diagnoses include ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and dyslexia.
One way to apply the idea of neurodiversity is taken up in the neurodiversity paradigm, which Walker explains as follows (emphasis mine):
1.) Neurodiversity is a natural and valuable form of human diversity.
2.) The idea that there is one “normal” or “healthy” type of brain or mind, or one “right” style of neurocognitive functioning, is a culturally constructed fiction, no more valid (and no more conducive to a healthy society or to the overall well-being of humanity) than the idea that there is one “normal” or “right” ethnicity, gender, or culture.
3.) The social dynamics that manifest in regard to neurodiversity are similar to the social dynamics that manifest in regard to other forms of human diversity (e.g., diversity of ethnicity, gender, or culture). These dynamics include the dynamics of social power inequalities, and also the dynamics by which diversity, when embraced, acts as a source of creative potential.
In other words, our society has culturally marginalized those that are neurodivergent, just what has historically been done with women and how Euro-centrism led to an superiority complex with other cultures and ethnicities. “Because ‘they’ think differently or not as well as us, I don’t want to deal with them,” many of us subconsciously think. (Have you not unfriended/unfollowed/blocked someone who obnoxiously posted content on social media that you didn’t agree with?)
In the past, those with cognitive disabilities, even high functioning individuals, were denied educational and professional opportunities, many of them being locked up in asylums or ending up homeless. Thankfully (I speak primarily for the US), laws were passed that mandated that schools and professional workplaces provide reasonable accommodations and resources, allowing those with any disabilities to be integrated into society. Few would argue that shifting the neurodiversity paradigm was a bad thing.
In addition to the neurodiversity paradigm, we have the neurodiversity movement. Walker describes it as “a social justice movement that seeks civil rights, equality, respect, and full societal inclusion for the neurodivergent.”
Sounds great, right? I want to be seen as an equal! I want respect! I want to be fully included into society! Who doesn’t?
Underneath that statement is the assumption that, “my neurodiversity is an integral part of who I am. In trying to ‘cure’ me of my neurodiversity, in forcing me to conform to neurotypical society, you force me into a miserable, unending undertaking of pretending to be someone I am not. I need you to see me and accept me for who I am as well as accommodate for me.”
Like outspoken members of minority sexual orientations, ND’s in the neurodiversity movement embrace this disorder as a part of their identity and have no desire to have a mind like a NT.
This idea puts me on edge. My identity is to be fully, completely in Jesus, not in my neurodivergence or anything else about me.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
And yet, as I continue to seek Jesus, my ADHD doesn’t diminish, but shines. My passion overflows into movement and even dancing; I simply cannot stand or sit still. I see and hear amazing things in my spirit, and somehow (miraculously) I can draw them out on paper or paint them on a canvas. Sometimes, I cannot move onto anything else until I’ve finished one of these artworks. I dive head-first into scripture, hyperfocusing particularly word and character studies, only to reemerge hours later with my head swimming and my heart in awe of who He is. My mind will wander and I’ll find myself talking with God or seeing Him show me something beautiful. If that’s what I’m like in the secret place, what does that mean for who I am outside of it?
In wrestling with the extent of ADHD’s role in forming who I am, the question I’m naturally led to, as one passionate about how Jesus conquered sickness along with sin, is this:
And I am torn.
I always watch closely the faces of those that lay hands on my shoulders and head as they pray for my ADHD to be removed “in Jesus’ name.” After listening to God for a few minutes, their foreheads are usually criss-crossed with confused wrinkles.
“I don’t think God wants to heal this now,” they always say.
I haven’t asked people to pray for my ADHD in years. (I’ve been pre-occupied with the pain in my arms.) To be honest, I’m scared to. I’ve grown tired of hearing that answer. I don’t want to hear it again.
You might be thinking, “Maybe God wants to use your ADHD to help you love others move effectively.” I don’t mean to sound rude, but I don’t need to keep having it in order to relate to their experiences. I’ve lived through quite a bit of them already.
I know that our views of God shouldn’t be purely formed from experiences, but…
maybe God just created my mind to be different…?
and maybe He doesn’t want to change it…?
A good friend of mine asked me how I was doing earlier today. I told him that I’m overwhelmed with all these things I’ve been wrestling with, and I briefly explained to him the things above. We have had relatively frequent conversations about my ADHD, and he has been an incredibly curious, sympathetic listener, truly seeking to understand what it’s like and how he can be the best friend possible.
He told me that he had to read a book for a special education class (he’s studying music education) called Same Lake, Different Boat by Stephanie Hubach. She proposes three options for viewing disabilities. I haven’t read the book, but from what he remembers about it, we have a few ways can handle diagnoses:
Take it as a death sentence and hold onto a victim mentality.
Completely rebel against the diagnosis, either by completely denying its validity or by embracing it as who we are and refusing to conform to society’s standards.
Admit that it’s not ideal, accept that it’s there, and don’t allow it to define who we are, acknowledging that it’s not supposed to be there, but because it is, let’s make the best of it and do what we can to fight its hinderances.
This was the same friend that asked me if I would include ADHD in my life if I was given a redo.
I told him what my gut told me.
“No. I wouldn’t. I don’t like that it’s there. This isn’t me. I could be so much more without it.”
But is that truly me talking, or the inner part of me that wants to achieve, be seen as successful, recognized in my field, and appear to have everything in control?
That is one question that I can’t begin to fathom an answer to.
Today I attended Wheaton College chapel, where the speaker picked apart the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). He described the way Jews treated Samaritans as systemic racism, so pervasive that we don’t even notice it anymore. Not every person we see is a born again brother or sister (or what have you) in Christ, but everyone we encounter is our neighbor, even those we tend to avoid or distance ourselves from, specifically pointing out how we tend to instinctively treat those of minority races.
As he went deeper on this point, a noticeable tension filled the room. Students shuffled in their seats. A girl a couple rows ahead of me played with her hair. I felt the muscles in my neck tighten. A guy across the room stood up and left, not subtly as to avoid being a distraction, but proudly, as if to make a statement.
When the speaker moved back to talking about the passage, the weight was lifted, and the students were stilled. It was like it never happened.
(Note: most of the student body is white, as am I.)
Why was this message so difficult to hear?
The previous night, I was seated alongside my church small group around the dinner table for taco salad. Somehow, the topic of the homeless came up. People shared various ways they give to the homeless, whether it’s giving food or water or time, since money is a risky thing to give them. I shared about a memory that I’m still processing.
It was a Saturday in late August, cloudy with scattered rain. I had joined a bunch of Wheaton students to go to downtown Chicago for the jazz festival. Night was coming soon. We joined the crowds as we headed back towards the train station since were afraid of missing our ride and having to wait two hours for the next one.
We were about to pass yet another homeless man, on the ground, leaning against something (a bus stop?). But he wasn’t sitting.
He was doubled-over onto his side, crying, an empty cup next to him.
And I joined the parade of people that filed right past him.
I had told myself throughout that day to pretend that the homeless weren’t like me, that their lives were so different from mine, that I needed to keep up with my friends, that I needed to save my money for my own food and that my wellbeing was more important than theirs.
My heart still breaks for this gray-haired black man with the disheveled look and worn clothes. Did someone steal his money? Did anyone have the courage to meet whatever needs he had? Did he have to do something else to get them met, something that he didn’t want to do? Did he have any friends, anyone that could help him out that night, the next week, the next month, today with the inches of snow on the ground?
I thought more on this broad topic on pushing past cultural norms for the benefit of our neighbors, and I was brought to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, specifically its fourth chapter. You can check it out here, the fourth chapter starting on pg. 95.
This paragraph, as he discusses Luke 9:23 stopped me in my tracks:
The disciple must say to himself the same words Peter said of Christ when he denied him: “I know not this man.” Self-denial is never just a series of isolated acts of mortification or asceticism. It is not suicide, for there is an element of self-will even in that. To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. Once more, all that self-denial can say is: “He leads the way, keep close to him.”
He continues to describe how a life of self-denial enables us to take up our crosses and follow Him without distraction or hindrance.
I agree with his point, but not the order in which they must follow.
In order to give up our desires and comforts, we must first see God as the most worthwhile thing, most worthwhile relationship we could ever have. We must see Him as the true source of the fullest life. We must see Him clearly for who He is: full of love for us, always with us, always wants our best, constantly pursuing us.
As we continue to see and experience Him, the denial of self happens as a result of wanting Him more. We simply fall in love with Him. We don’t consciously say to ourselves, “I don’t know you” because we don’t even think about ourselves. All we can think about is God. All our minds want to think about is God. All we see is God, everywhere we look.
Most especially, in the eyes of the least of these…
Throughout the chapel today, a guest, invited by the speaker, worked on portraying the bible story with paint on a relatively large canvas. With many colors surrounding them, he painted a black man caring for a man with a couple bullet holes in his head, a man with relatively lighter skin color (not pale, not pink, not a shade of yellow or white, just lighter). Shadows in the background indicated those that stood in the distance, walking past, maybe even watching.
After nearly everyone left, I went to the front and watched him continue to add vibrant greens and blues to the background. Why was this picture so captivating to me? How much longer could I sit in the awkward silence as those around me were greeting one another and engaging in small talk?
And, why did I find myself surprised that this man–globally-known, frequently requested for commissions of murals and gospel-depicting projects–was black?
I was in Indianapolis on a missions trip with a team of graduate and undergrad. students from my school. This is adapted from a journal entry I originally wrote on 3/24.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what the team has been doing the past couple of days. You see, I’ve been sick since Tuesday night (today is Thursday) with something that resembles the flu: fever/feverish, achiness, headache, don’t wanna eat, sinus things, ear ache, sore throat, no energy, the whole shebang.
Reasonably so, I slept for almost all of yesterday, and, even when I wanted to socialize with the team, I could only be up for about an hour before I could barely keep my eyes open.
As you can imagine, I felt powerless and helpless. And I don’t like that. And God knows it very, very well.
Since the first team meeting, I have felt the need to prove myself, specifically my worth. Even when everyone else started to let their guard down and be themselves, I still felt like the black sheep and that I needed to earn my place. Who would want to deal with a crazy, impulsive, hyperactive person for more than a week? (Well, now that I think about it, that describes at least a quarter of our team…)
On Monday night, three of us (including me) were cooking dinner for the team. I ended up burning myself pretty bad by picking up a super hot, melting plastic spoon. (I wish I was kidding.) Instead of camping out by the sink to take care of it, I would keep cooking until I could no longer bare the pain, and then run to the sink to relieve it, but only be there for a minute or two. I wouldn’t allow myself the luxury of relaxing and letting go because I needed to impress everybody on my cooking skills and show them that I could, at least, contribute in this particular way.
As you can imagine, I got this HUGE blister on my pointer finger, right where I’d hold a pencil. Even when it was tender, I didn’t let it stop me and I made sure not to make a big deal about it. I’d still help load/unload suitcases and such because, well, I couldn’t let something as small as a blister get in the way of my mission of showing everyone how valuable I was.
So, if God wanted to get to me this week, He knew He had to do something BIG to force me to slow down and come back to Him. So when I have to stay back on the first day we don’t have to move our mattresses into a storage room, and when the building isn’t going to be used on the day I feel like walking around, it became obvious that God was being purposeful in His timing and knew exactly what He was doing. It sometimes requires us to be brought into the most helpless and miserable state to remember how much we need Him and how little we actually can accomplish on our own strength.
All my life, I’ve had a tendency to revert back to feeling like I need to prove myself: to my peers, my co-workers (in spirit, in a job, in school, etc) and to God. It’s easy to believe that I was thrown into the reject pile during the quality control check, or that I have a few missing parts or loose screws. However, God’s been reminding me that He not only made me — and all of this applies to you, too! — but He also invited me personally into His family and adopted me as His own daughter. I’m not an illegitimate child in the Kingdom, but a full-blood member, having the same access to Him as the spiritual giants in my life. Not only that, but He loves me just as much as the “put-together” people too! He doesn’t have this sort of pity-love, but real, true, full-hearted love and passion for me. I truly belong here, not because I earned it or deserve it, but because He saw me and loves me and sees who He made me to be instead of my shortcomings and failures.
Friends, God is so full of love and compassion. I could go on and on about His goodness and love and grace. Regardless of how weary we are or how much work we have to do, we can find the rest we need in Him.
And speaking of rest, it’s about time I grab some myself…
I’ll see you on the other side!
Remember, you are beautiful and loved and cherished by the one who made you and knows everything about you, and don’t ever believe the lie that you have to prove anything to anyone, because a lie is all that is.
God, despite my best intentions, no matter how much I want to turn to you in the moment, I go right back to the path I was walking. Why do I keep subjecting myself to the very things I just repented and got set free from?
“Because you’d rather feel good than feel whole, rather have ice cream now than a whole feast–topped with the most elaborate of desserts–later, would rather partner with what you see now instead of the joy-filled and beautiful things that are so beyond your comprehension when I make things right and bring you home.”
It’s easy to trust God with the future… but what about the present?
No, we can only trust ourselves, since we’re the ones with agendas and deadlines breathing down our necks as well as fun activities dangling comfort and pleasure in front of our noses.
At least, that’s how it seems like we make decisions. Or, maybe, that’s just me. Nothing truly matters more than how I feel and what I need to get done by, say, 8 A.M. tomorrow.
Besides, God doesn’t care about how we feel. All He wants us to do is to die to our selves and follow Him. He’s sitting there, His mouth kinda in a slant, staring impatiently at His watch, waiting for us to get our acts together and get on board with doing things His way.
Maybe, had I done what He wanted me to do, I wouldn’t have a stomach ache from eating so many Pringles, and I’d probably be in bed by now since I’d have all my homework done, and I also would have talked with Him for quite a while instead of watching a movie with my friends.
I guess I’m having too much fun loving my life instead of losing it.
Hey, friends. I didn’t forget about you or this blog. I’ve simply been struggling with trying to write out what’s in my head. (In fact, I have 8 drafts, most of which were attempts for a post that I’m still working on.)
The truth is, I’ve grown afraid: afraid that the things I write here will bite me in the butt in the years down the road. In order to describe what’s been happening in my life, I have to be vulnerable, and that’s scary.
Which is weird. Vulnerability hasn’t scared me in a long time. Am I crazy for being afraid of having no fear? Man, the enemy must have fun messing with our thinking.
Today, around noon, I was watching TED talks that had to do with dealing with the hard things in life, all having various lengths and methods of delivery. It took me a while before I saw the one that finally inspired me to get out of bed and move forward with my life: “The Power of Vulnerability” by Brené Brown.
I’ll post it here for you. It’s so well worth the watch.
The main idea that got me thinking was this (in her own words):
There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.
I can’t recall a time where I’ve truly felt worthy of love. Maybe it’s because I’m in a slump where I don’t feel worthy of it and can’t imagine anything different. I stare at myself in the mirror, peering at my acne and the scabs on my forehead and my huge nose and my “kangaroo pouch” of a stomach and think, “Why would anyone ever love this?” I look back to what happened on the playground, in the classroom, and inside every relationship, and my heart begins to grieve because, maybe, no one actually did. Maybe no one ever saw me as being worthy of love.
Then I hear a teeny-tiny, soft voice from behind me, a voice I’ve grown used to ignoring, saying:
Mary, Mary, remember the day you hit your rock bottom? Do you remember how your friend saw you and found people that poured love and grace into you? What about your roommate, who is so sad that you won’t be rooming with her next year? What about the girls on your floor, the other people in your dorm, those you see everyday in your classes? You don’t think they care about you at all?
And what about me? I let them pierce my hands and feet, let them whip my back till it was raw and bleeding, and I gave my life… for you. I know that makes you feel ashamed right now, but all the pain was worthwhile because it was the payment needed to bring you home. I love holding you and hearing your laugh and seeing your smile and watching you love and find joy in my creation. You are worthy of love, even when it seems like no one else is making an effort to communicate it.
I share these things with you all because Brené Brown mentioned something else that struck me: those who feel worthy of love weren’t afraid of vulnerability. “They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were.” They were fully, unashamedly, authentically themselves.
If nothing else, writing to you is pushing me outside of the box that I’ve created for myself the past few months. The fighter in me that has been shut up by the condemner is coming alive again. Instead of trying to be someone I’m not, instead of hiding my thoughts and emotions in fear of rejection or hurt, I am holding onto the truth and living like it is reality: I am worthy of love, and I’m surrounded by those who care about me.
Now I feel my soul is awaking. I’m beginning to feel again. My mind is alive with ideas and hopes and dreams. Instead of being a passive sponge, I’m utilizing and creating. I feel powerful and fulfilled and energetic. I’m smiling! I feel like singing songs to God, pouring out my heart to him in a posture of worship, a desire I haven’t felt in months.
All because I took hold of the truth and claimed it over my life. Huh. Funny how that works.
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”― G.K. Chesterton
I’m currently in college. Our floor theme this year is “story,” and the idea that stories have power. I myself am a huge fan of Tolkien, with a growing love for CS Lewis and a deeply rooted connection with Erin Hunter from middle school. From growing up with a love of literature and growing up inside a culture where people share their life stories, I’ve grown to really appreciate interacting with stories, regardless of their genre.
Here, on this blog, I’m inviting you into participating with my story, not that I think my story is inherently better than most and should be a model to follow (I’ll tell you right now, it’s not), but because because it’s through interacting with stories that we grow and learn. Like G.K. Chesterton said, maybe we know of some things, but we don’t know the deeper things behind them (such as how or why or what to do about it) without the stories of those who have gone before us and conquered them already.
I anticipate many of my posts being reflections on life and processing what I’m currently facing and learning. I’m one of those people that, when an intense feeling comes or an intreguing idea begins to take root, I will basically drop everything and lean into what’s happening. Not only will writing them out here help me process them, but it opens the door for you to join me in pondering the things that are weighing on my heart.
Another aspect of story that I love is how our experiences have shaped us all into unique people. Because of what we’ve seen and been through, we all see the world differently.
This past June, I got my first pair of glasses EVER. Starting my junior year of high school, I had a feeling that I was developing nearsightedness, but I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. After seeing an optometrist and undergoing all sorts of eye and vision tests , I can’t put to words the joy and shock when the machine configured my prescription. I would have never guessed at all the details I had missed.
I remember even more distinctly the exact moment when I put my glasses on for the first time. The first thing I noticed was that everything had some sort of distinct outline. The edges of objects always seemed fuzzy, like a far away road sign that looks like some square-shaped blob in the distance. There was a box with light blue font, and I noticed that the letters were outlined in dark blue! I remember driving back and laughing nearly the whole way to work, for the leaves were so distinct that I could count them. I’ve always had depth perception, but it felt like stepping from the second dimension and into the third, for I could now see a more detailed sense of how the light reflected off objects or was blocked by them.
If we think of our eyes as our personhood, our being, our soul, however you describe the thing that makes us human, then our experiences are like our glasses. Each even in our lives impacts us, in big or small ways, so our glasses are ever changing. Sometimes, they help us see things more clearly. Other times, they get dirty or cloudy or scratched and hinder our perception. Maybe we’re hurting inside and our glasses don’t adapt to our needs, leaving us with a fuzzy picture on what’s actually happening around us.
Now picture taking your glasses — the culmination of everything you’ve seen, experienced, processed, believe — and temporarily trading them for someone else’s. All of us have done this and seen how the seemingly ordinary and everyday transforms into something almost unrecognizable. Now imagine all our glasses having colored tints, like sun glasses in a way, and how that affects how you perceive colors. Maybe there’s dust or mascara or other particles on the lenses that obstruct the view and becoming an unavoidable barrier to interacting with what’s right in front of you.
Imagine if we actually had glasses that reflected our life experiences. If you were to try out mine, you’d get a much greater sense of who I am and how I view the world. The same would be true if I could look through yours.
This blog is an invitation to exchange glasses. I’ll be giving you a sense of not only what I see, but also why I see it in this way or that way. You will also have the opportunity to let me see through yours, as much as you’re willing to invite myself and others into.
Friends, I’m so excited to embark on this adventure with you! Let the storytelling begin.
PS: if you’re a writer and have any critiques on grammar or anything of the like, don’t hesitate to let me know! This skill has grown quite a bit rusty and I can’t put in the time to really revise and polish these things yet, so your help would be much appreciated.
Because I’m sick, I really can’t stay up any longer to write much tonight. I’m mostly doing something tonight because I finally finished tweaking the settings to make it my own (though unfinished), and I’ve wanted to write for hours.
I kinda can’t believe it: I finally mustered the gumption to create a blog. A lot of my friends have started blogging, and I’ve heard many critiques from my conservative circles on why blogging is dangerous and unhealthy… I’ve been stewing over it for a long time now, and now I finally did it.
Tonight, I’ll quickly answer a question that you’re probably thinking right now:
Why? Mary, what, of all things, would motivate you to start a blog?
Honestly, it’s a combination of multiple pressures, some of them quite major (like becoming distant from my current best friend), others quite small and silly (like running out of pages in my journal and avoiding writing in there), and others still maybe aren’t entirely healthy (like insecurity).
The biggest one, though, was that I simply miss writing.
I never write anymore. I also don’t read much outside of class, but that requires a bigger step of intentionality that I haven’t built up yet. I used to free write ALL THE TIME, letting creativity flow through some obscure story or a dark poem reflecting the state of my heart. I miss expressing myself through the stringing together words.
I’ve become incredibly talented at scrolling. I’ve hit some type of low-point where all I want to do is cruise through life. Why work to take risks and do anything meaningful when I can just sit back and watch life happen like an entertaining television show?
I’m tired of just letting life scroll on by. I’m sick of not fighting, sick of passivity, sick of being afraid of expressing opinions without the passion or articulation to fight for them, sick of wondering when I will awake from this coma or wondering what it will take to ignite new life into these tired bones.
I could give a huge, long introductory post explaining my vision for this blog and giving you a sense of who I am, but because I’m a busy person, I’ll just begin by making a few little posts on these topics. Honestly, it’s all still in the process of forming, so I’m not entirely sure myself what will happen. (Then again, is that ever the case with new things we do?)
So, here I am, world. This girl is awaking from her slumber. Watch out.