Friday, July 31, 2015
I've decided that August will be social media free. It's not a decision that comes easy for me. In fact, I've felt lately as if things are finally moving in the right direction - so this almost makes no sense.
Yet, there's so many things that it is distracting me from. While some days I find it to be life-giving, there are other days that it feels like I can't win amongst all the noise.
Right now I'm extremely frustrated. There's a lot of negative emotions that have crept up and are choking the life out of me. Not all of it has to do with social media, but a lot of it is spurred on or made worse by the things I see. Sometimes it's things that I don't agree with, the ways of the world, the injustices and every single opinion that gets attached. Other times it's simply too hard to see everyone else's life and feel as if maybe God forgot about me. I've unfollowed so many people who were not posting anything wrong or negative, but simply have too much of a good life. It's just too hard for me right now as I come out of this season of grief to see that my life really has been the only one on hold (so it seems) while the rest of the world continues on, dating, getting engaged, getting married, having babies, buying houses, finding new jobs, taking dream-worthy vacations, experiencing life to the fullest. All of this while I desperately try to take hold of anything I can, knowing that it's all fleeting and temporary.
In addition to the emotional aspect, I've also discovered that I spend a lot of time aimlessly scrolling all sorts of social media. It's not that this is bad, but it's not really fulfilling. I could be reading a book or watching a good movie. I feel that would be better use of my down time. Not to mention, I would have more ambition to go forward in simplifying my life. Putting routines in place to make my life less stressful.
One of the things I am learning about myself is that I am simply not great at sticking to something for more than a week or two. It's just an area I struggle. I don't know if it's because I am not a type A personality or if it's simply because I lack the motivation or experience to know how to push ahead. Sometimes I think I struggle simply because there's no one to guide me. I didn't grow up with structure. Day-to-day in my house you never knew what you were going to get. Since I never had routine, I feel like it's just something that I haven't learned how to master, yet.
Summer is here but it will be gone soon. I'm in this peculiar place where I am seeking joy but often left drained by the end of the day. I want to embrace this last month of summer. I want to feel the fresh air blowing in the wind. To see the way the sun shimmers on the water. I want to take slow walks around unexplored places. To experience a significant amount of time without all the background noise so I can truly rest. I want to read as many books as possible and slow down to summer. September always reminds me of fresh starts and new ambitions. Maybe because that's when school starts or because fall comes in with it's new crisp air that I swear makes life good again, even when your heart hurts.
In this season that is mixed with grief and new hope for me, I find myself wanting to withdraw from life for a while. At least life as I know it. As a single girl who lives alone, social media is my way of connecting with people and not feeling so isolated. But I think I need to do it for this month. I feel really called to do it. I can't explain why but for weeks I've known that come August this was going to be my quiet time where I shut down from all the news feeds. It's something I feel the Lord is calling me to do and though I'm not sure why exactly, I know that it will be good for my soul.
September holds a lot of exciting things for me, but for now, I want to enjoy the simplicity of August. I've intentionally tried not to make "too many" plans. I hope to keep it that way as the days creep closer. Filling my schedule is an area I have struggled with so I'm hoping to be able to honor the quietness that it craves.
I haven't decided yet if I will blog still. I will still have my phone on. Friends can call and text and email. (and I hope they do!) For fellow Influence friends, I'll still be over there occasionally. If I do blog, I will not be posting the updates to social media, so I ask that if you're interested that you sign up to receive my new blog posts by email. This will keep you in the loop with any of my postings and musings. :D
I'm hoping + praying that September brings new starts, new hopes, and a healed heart. I'm ready to step into that and I ask that you join me in prayer that God will heal the final pieces that need mending so I can walk into the newness He has for me.
Lots of Love.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
So lately I've been kind of a loner. Wow. That sounds depressing. Sometimes it feels that way too, but other times it is so fulfilling that I just want to hug the day and say thank you for allowing me to experience it.
Last week I was sitting at home and I was stewing in a lot of negative emotions. Something happened earlier in the week that literally made me so angry and full of hate and resentment that I could feel it rotting away at my bones. It was awful and I hated feeling those hateful feelings, but no matter what I did or how I prayed, it just wasn't going away. I was sitting in all of this and finally decided that I simply cannot stay here anymore. I don't know why but some days I just hate being inside my apartment. It's a lovely apartment, but it gets so dark and there's not a lot of windows so I just feel trapped. I could go to my balcony and sometimes I do, but it doesn't always help me clear the air.
Instead I drove to a beach I've never been to before. An area of RI that's so far south, they ask you if you're from Connecticut. It was beautiful and such an amazing experience. I will write more about what I learned there on another post.
But yesterday I went to a place in the opposite direction. It's in the woods and had a pond of some sort that kids were swimming in. It was really nice (and would have been so peaceful without the screaming children, but anyways...). It also seemed like the kind of place where you want to be on alert for any kind of creeper men who might want to kidnap you and bring you back to their cabin in the woods. Maybe I've seen too many episodes of CSI + Law and Order, but I think it's best to play it safe.
After that I got back in my car. It seemed weird to unpack my car and go back and sit somewhere again but I wasn't ready to leave. I pulled up the map on my GPS since I'm not familiar with this area and saw there was another park about 2 miles down the road. I didn't know anything about it but thought at the very worse I take a drive down there and discover it's not really a park and I turn around and head home.
I let my GPS, who I call Siri, though I'm not sure if it's really her... drive me to this new park. As I pulled in the lot I knew I wasn't in a park. A little frustrated but more so because there was a guy walking up the lot when I pulled in and I just hate when other people see me make wrong turns and look lost. I always try to pretend I belong and know what I'm doing, but it was clear I didn't and there was no where to go around, I had to turn around and go back through.
Before I could reverse that said guy was standing at my car asking if he could help me. UGH. Thanks a lot, Siri. So I explained to the cute park ranger who was about my age that I saw there was a park down here on my GPS so I wanted to drive over to it. Obviously realizing now, this is not really a park. Then the cute park ranger who was about my age told me where the park was, it's actually just a little ways up on the other side of the street. I thanked him and said I would head over and then he said that he'd see me down there.
Now my hopes are up. Such a typical girl, ay? I was thinking, this is it! This is my meet-cue! (If you haven't watched "The Holiday" please stop reading this right now, go watch that movie, and then come back. Thank you.) I was pretty interested to see how God was going to use this encounter. I got to the park which was another pond with lots and lots of picnic tables. I set up at a picnic table near the water but off to the side from all the screaming children (seems to be a trend) and finished reading one of my books. I waited. I thought that cute park ranger who was almost my age was going to come over and chat with me. Part of me realizes just how lonely I felt yesterday and would talk to anyone who was interested. But he never came. Eventually I saw him with some other park rangers but they were doing their thing and it was clear he wasn't coming back over. I realized that when he said he'd see me down there, he probably didn't mean he was going to come and have coffee with me, but that if he saw me he wanted to make sure I knew he wasn't following me. I don't know, I'm a little crazy, huh!? Haha... I digress.
I'm thankful for this disappointment. I am actually happy for it!
Let me explain.
I have hoped and dreamed that God has a plan for me, but honestly, I know I haven't been emotionally ready to even approach the idea of seeing someone new. It just feels like salt being rubbed in a wound that says "God didn't answer your prayers, so have this instead." Yuck. But yesterday I got excited about a guy potentially talking to me. I didn't feel the urge to run into the other direction, in fact, I was actually looking forward to it. This is new to me. I've never felt so open and ready before. Not even with my ex. He had to convince me to go out with him at first because I was so used to running the other way. Even from the things I wanted. But here I was hopeful and anticipating. Not just in the way where I would joke about it (like my marriages to Tom Brady + Taylor Hanson + Mat Kearney, etc). Here I was and I was actually looking forward to it, expectantly.
So even though this guy didn't end up coming over and chatting it up with me, I am happy! Because I realized that I'm finally on the edge of being ready for when that time comes. It means that even though I'm still grieving, that I'm also healing. There's hope even in the sadness and the let downs. There's hope even in the suffering and hurtful actions of others. That stuff won't hold me down forever. At one time I believed it would, even if I preached that it wouldn't. I don't think I believed it in my heart - but here I stood and I saw that I was ready to embrace new life.
I'm going to go ahead and dare to say it. I've never told a single soul this besides what I've wrote in my journal. I've had this feeling in my heart for a while that this is the year. This is the year that I meet someone and things change. I have no reason to believe that's true other than what I feel in my spirit. I've wrapped my arms around these days alone, gratefully, because I truly believe there's a day coming soon where things will be different. That's not to say that I don't think I'll have my alone time anymore... No. The best way I can describe it is that right now, all I have is hope. But truly, the future is uncertain. I want to rest in that hope and knowledge that God is good - no matter what, even in this season. I want to have that quiet time where I can reflect and ponder about the future - these days where I have no inkling of what will happen. Because once you're in a relationship, like it or not, even your alone time changes. There's this hopeful assurance that there's a future...less wondering about who and what things will look like. But right now, I don't really know what that looks like, and it's kind of exciting to wait to be surprised.
Today I am thankful for the disappointment because it points me to something much bigger. That God has done a number on my heart. All these days in between I haven't really felt it or thought it was real. But yesterday, I saw first hand that things are in fact changing. And it's so good. So, so good.
Monday, July 6, 2015
I kind of feel like Jonah. You might know him as the guy who ended up in the whale (which is actually just a 'big fish', but fish do tend to grow in size as the stories are told, don't they?). I don't feel like I'm stuck in a whale, but I do feel like I've been avoiding God's direction for my life. Which if you don't know, is how Jonah got stuck in the whale in the first place. God told him to go one direction and Jonah, for many reasons, chose to go the opposite direction. God wasn't letting him go so easy, which long story short - explains how he got sucked up in the smelly whale!
It's strange, I mean - I'm not intentionally trying to avoid it, but it dawned on me this weekend that I think that's just what I've been doing. I have a few things that have been placed on my heart. I don't know if they are there from God or my own desires or if it was just a thought that popped up and I thought "hmm, that would be awesome!". I suppose it's hard to know if they are meant for me since I'm not spending as much time with the Lord as I should be.
I pray for friends and family and special requests. I count my blessings and thank God each day for the ability to notice them. I come to God with my needs and desires and feelings and hurts and I know He hears me. But I'm not sitting and reading the word, per se. Instead, I pick up one of many other books I'm reading, I spend time on social media, I watch movies or listen to music, I paint. None of these things are bad, but they are replacing my quiet time and I can feel my soul just twitching because of it. I can't get out of my own way and really it's for a lack of me trying. I feel stuck. I feel overwhelmed by the chaos of my life, the clutter in my world, the financial needs I have climbing up and up. I want to do more, be more, see more, experience more. I want to be a better friend, I want to grow my relationships with those I've known forever and those I've never met. I want to open up and get to know people more and talk about me less. I want to be a better person, I want to be more thoughtful, more caring, more proactive. MORE, MORE, MORE. ME, ME, ME. I WANT, I WANT, I WANT.
I've been stuck in this "be better than I used to be" mentality since my last relationship devastatingly broke my heart. I keep thinking if I can figure out the magic formula to "make myself better", then next time, the guy won't leave me for someone else. I've discovered I am people pleasing to a high degree. I overcommit. I chase down dreams, buy a million books and devotionals, start countless workout plans - none of which stick. There's a heart issue here. It's not because I'm a failure, though that's what I find myself whispering each time I fail. I could list all the devotionals and studies I've started and never finished. The prayer routine I've stuck to for just a week. Even meal planning or exercising. It works for a burst of time and then fails. I'm run down because I'm running in every different direction. I want so much out of life, and these are not bad things - but I'm not seeking first the kingdom of God.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you." The things provided talks about the things we tend to worry about. The header for this paragraph in the bible is "The Cure for Anxiety". Jesus speaks about not worrying about life, what I'll eat or what I'll drink. He says don't worry about my body and what I'll wear. These things will be provided to me as needed and worrying / chasing / striving after them will never add value to my life.
These other things? They'll never fulfill me. They'll never be enough. Just like I'll never really be enough. I keep chasing this idea of good enough as if I could grasp it and hold it up for everyone to see so that they'll like me. There's the saying, "You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there's still going to be someone who hates peaches". I laugh because, I like the flavor of peaches, but it's a texture thing for me, so I wouldn't just eat a peach outright. So I really get this statement. I much rather have a donut!
The hopes and dreams I have for my life have me running the other way, even though I desire them. Why? Because it's hard work. Because I feel overwhelmed when I think about starting. Because I feel like I don't have the time to start, at least not without putting off something else that means a lot to me. Because I don't think I'm good enough. The most recent dream I've had is amazing and beautiful and would really take all this brokenness and use it for good. Yet, I haven't done much with it because I don't feel that I'm equipped enough for this. It would require a lot of work and focus and that's an area where I really struggle. Yet, if I spent enough time in my bible I might trip over the story of Gideon who took his army of 300 and beat and army of thousands with God's strength. Or the story of David and how he overcame a 7'2 giant named Goliath with just a few stones. Again, in God's strength. I might even find new stories of hope and inspiration and reminders of how God carries us through the things that we didn't think were possible.
I'm going to be taking some time and trying to figure out what God wants me to pursue and what He doesn't. Also, just to spend time with Him. I've had so many friends who are not single, tell me they wish they had this time to grow closer in their walk with the Lord and I don't want to take this for granted. My last relationship suffered because my ex was always tied up in something else. Helping someone do something, working overtime, chasing after his dreams, spending our time together either watching tv or on his phone. I didn't feel important or cared for, which is what lead to our breakup initially. I still loved him like crazy, but it was making me crazy and because my worth resided in how much he did or didn't care about me, I started to feel worthless. I know we could have worked through it, but we didn't. I am still suffering those choices to this day and I don't want to do that to God. This relationship is sacred and if I'm spending all my time reading blog posts and hanging out with friends and focusing on all the things I want out of this life, I'm going to miss out on all He has to offer. I'm going to miss out on the most beautiful relationship I can ever have and I most certainly will continue to suffer for it.
So here's to recommitting my time to the Lord. You should expect to see less of me online - and if you are seeing a lot of me - feel free to call me out on it. I actually implore you to do that. Sometimes I just need a healthy dose of encouragement or maybe a swift kick in the behind. Just not too hard, okay? ;)