Category Archives: Emotions

From my perspective, it feels a lot like it looks in those predictable romantic comedies. I’m driving through my small hometown late at night. Windows of course are down, and I just happen to be blaring Taylor Swift from my speakers. During the day I would be mortified if someone I wanted to impress witnessed one of these episodes. But, it’s late, I’m already feeling a little moody, and I’ve decided I just don’t give a damn. I am unashamedly dancing in the driver’s seat and singing along at the top of my lungs. I laugh. It feels good to pretend I’m a teenager again. It’s therapeutic. I glance over, while I’m waiting at the red light, to see if anyone I know is at the local coffee shop. My eyes scan the windowed-wall that runs the length of the place. I focus in on a face that’s all too familiar to me. A face I once associated myself with. A face that brought reassurance to my fears. I would know this face anywhere and yet it feels disconnected from me, as if it reinvented itself while I was away. These days it seems the face is always wearing white. A contrast from much darker colors it previously donned. This face is leaning across the counter, smiling and conversing with another face that represents mine. The face smiles back. Everything is in slow motion. Something inside me shifts. Do you know that I see you?– the light changes to green. I turn my car to point away from downtown. Life begins to play again in normal time and Taylor Swift’s lyrics that were playing become apparent to me.

“I used to think one day we’d tell the story of us,
How we met and the sparks flew instantly,
People would say, “They’re the lucky ones.”
I used to know my place was a spot next to you,
Now I’m searching the room for an empty seat,
‘Cause lately I don’t even know what page you’re on.

Oh, a simple complication,
Miscommunications lead to fall-out.
So many things that I wish you knew,
So many walls that I can’t break through.

Now I’m standing alone in a crowded room and we’re not speaking,
And I’m dying to know is it killing you like it’s killing me, yeah?
I don’t know what to say, since the twist of fate when it all broke down,
And the story of us looks a lot like a tragedy now.

Did that really just happen? Are profound words being spoken to me through a Taylor Swift song? Or was that just a coincidence? “Please don’t let Taylor Swift be profound right now…”

I lean my foot just a little bit more into the gas pedal and evaluate how I’m feeling. There are no tears. There definitely could be but there are not. I classify this under the “making progress” category. Something inside me definitely shifted. Jealousy? After all it is 10:15pm on a Friday night and I’m driving home by myself from a teen girls event at a local church… listening to Taylor Swift. Jealousy is quite logical at this point. Will that shift always be there or do you grow out of it? Learn to live around it? There’s not much emotion really. I just lock up. I classify this under “that’s not good”. I am an emotional person and considering nothing has been resolved in this situation I should be feeling MUCH more.

But I won’t let myself. This isn’t how it was supposed to go. We were supposed to talk. We were supposed to solve. God was supposed to make it all new again. But he hasn’t and I find myself wondering if He will at all. I haven’t gotten around to letting myself “feel”. I don’t know what I want. I don’t know where I stand at all. I do know that the longer you smile at that face that’s smiling back at you, the longer I close myself off to processing. The little girl in me believes that if our relationship was of high importance to you, your actions would reflect that sentiment. I am afraid to ask you to do this because I believe, at this point, I might be wasting your time. I’ve been reorienting myself each day with what life looks like without you by my side. Whether or not I was when I started doing this, I have made myself okay with this because it was my only choice. Is Taylor Swift right? Does this all just fall under a tragedy now?

I think about texting you. Something snarky. Something obvious. Something that stirs up all the dust that’s settled. Something that passive aggressively let’s you know just how I’m feeling. But I don’t. I don’t even reach for my phone. I exercise self-control. I practice letting you go all over again. I keep driving. I shake it off and try to be hopeful for better things to come.

If it weren’t for this post you would never have known all that was happening during that red light while you were looking into the eyes of someone else. You don’t know what you don’t know (more Taylor lyrics). Mind you, this post is wholly written for myself… undoubtedly though, you will read it.

My friends say I need to process. I need to know how I actually feel. We need to resolve things before it’s too late. Tonight I just don’t want to and I wonder if maybe it already is.

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Love Through Me

there is plenty on this earth to suit our needs
but there will never ever be enough to satisfy our greed
weigh this heavy on me now until i can hardly breathe
love through me

i’ve never gone a day without a meal because i couldn’t afford it
stood on a corner and begged for pennies, holding out a sign
call me blessed, but it sure does feel pathetic,
when children ‘round the world are hungry nowso would i give up:
pillows and cable, clothing and candy,
if a boy could rest his tired bones?
would i lay down:
making all this money, just to have my milk and honey,
if my fellow man could get the chance to watch his children grow?

there is plenty on this earth to suit our needs
but there will never ever be enough to satisfy our greed
weigh this heavy on me now until i can hardly breathe
love through me

i feel in the right, self-justified giving coins away
but what about the time i consider mine not tomorrow but right now today?
clothe the naked; feed the hungry; welcome strangers
come on, get up and open your eyes

so would i give up:
pillows and cable, clothing and candy,
if a girl could have some more to eat?
would i lay down:
making all this money, just to have my milk and honey,
if my fellow man could get the chance to hear about the King?

there is plenty on this earth to suit our needs
but there will never ever be enough to satisfy our greed
weigh this heavy on me now until i can hardly breathe
love through me

help us see, our eyes are weak, help us please
love through me

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The above are song lyrics to Love Through Me by Jenny and Tyler
I’ve liked this song for a while now, but I think it especially fits the whole theme of what’s been rolling around in my head and heart since Sunday. Something inside me was just pretty much wrecked on Sunday during church when my pastor was talking about 14 million starving children in the horn of Africa and…. wait, WHAT? 14 MILLION?! I’ve heard astronomical numbers like that before in regards to death, poverty, hunger… in fact, I hear things like that daily. I see it on the BBC news feed on my Google home page. We hear those things all the time in text books and on the news. Somewhere along the way I guess I became numb to the reality of what that really is. What it really looks like. It literally felt like something was sitting on my chest when he said that. The last time I felt hurt in my heart comparable to this was when I was finally letting Africa and my experiences there sink in. Forget comparable, it was an identical feeling. The feeling that comes with being able to attach a name, a face, body weight, mannerisms, and a personality to ONE person out of the endless numbers who are being affected by something so devastating. It sucks. It sucks so, so, so freaking bad there aren’t words horrendous or extreme enough to express how much it sucks and how much it hurts my entire being. How I’m hunched over in a chair while tears flood out of my eyes, a string of snot hangs from my nose to my knees, my eyes are fluttering so quickly it feels like lightning is flashing. My body is heaving so hard that nothing external could make it cease. I know this is sounding extreme. I don’t feel this way often, but I know that when I do God is breaking down and regrowing something in me. I don’t think he’s asking me to sell all my worldly possessions and pop on a plane to Africa. Or anywhere else right now for that matter. But I think there are things he wants to position my heart for. There are things he wants me to be mindful of. For a purpose. I am called according to his purpose. It’s unmistakable that he created me to have emotions like this. To feel my heart crack when I think about baby Anita wandering the mountainside collecting grasshoppers to eat until her next carepoint meal. She can’t be more than 2 years old. And she’s a lucky one! So many in the world don’t even have a carepoint to go to. A loving gogo, a warm plate of ‘pap’, a shelter house to rest. And we have so much. We. Have. So. Much. There is plenty on this Earth to suit our needs….
To Be Continued. Maybe.

Realizations

My name is Jenn and I am 21 years old.

I live in an apartment complex that advertises “Senior Discount” as a perk of living here.

I think they should advertise the fact that there are cockroaches that swarm the back lot every night and if they were larger we could say they were “guard animals.”

I used to stay up late and loved to go “out” and live a “glamorous” lifestyle.

Now my favorite part of the day is coming home to see my cat and taking my pants off.

I used to be really exciting, outgoing, and fun.

These days I’m pretty boring, and like to keep things low key.

Not long ago I thought I was moving to New York City to focus on myself and become a famous actress.

These days I find myself making the 30 minute drive almost daily to my hometown. I can’t seem to get away from it. Additionally, while I’m learning much about myself, I pray for a lifetime of humble service to others.

I used to have a lot of friends, and then I had no friends, and now I fall somewhere in between with a few great people I can almost always rely on.

I used to love big cities, nightlife,and crowds of people.

These days they overwhelm me and I enjoy weekend trips in the country.

I used to think I wouldn’t even get married until I was 30+ and would probably just marry a man for money.

Today is my 2.5 year dating anniversary with the love of my life and I can’t wait until we decide to make a life-long commitment to eachother.

I used to wake up hours early to shower, shave, exfoliate, apply full make up, and style my hair.

Sometimes I don’t remember when I last showered or washed my hair and consider it a “good day” when I don’t have to wear makeup!

I used to be in a really unhealthy dating relationship(s).

The boy I’m in love with does his best to love me like Jesus– with grace, forgiveness, and even gifts from the heart when I feel undeserving.

I used to love meat.

Now I’m a vegetarian.

I used to want to travel somewhere glamorous and romantic like France.

This past March I went to the Kingdom of Swaziland to serve HIV/AIDS orphans…. but I fell in love there too.

I used to think God was far off and distant.

Yesterday I saw myself dancing with Jesus in my mind’s eye.

I used to feel pretty alone even though I was surrounded by people and had lots of “friends.”

This summer I have been brought to tears by the community that surrounds me and the people who have invested in me.

I can’t wait for more realizations : )

Shoulda Seen It Comin’

Welp. I finally had a good Africa breakdown tonight, although I have an inkling that it won’t be the last. I guess it’s kind of expected when you spend, oh, a month avoiding talking to God about what you saw in a third-world country. Honestly, I could laugh at myself now for thinking maybe I could just carry on with my life and God would never get to me. Hardy har har.

Tonight at Joshua House, I was mid-worship in the song “Hosanna” uncomfortably keeping this nice little wall up between my heart and God, as I have been doing for the past month, when we came to the lyrics “Break my heart for what breaks Yours…” As soon as I sang them I felt my gut wrench and my breath caught in my throat. “Oh no,” I thought. Here it comes. For a moment I tried to close my eyes and hold it in. “I don’t have to ask, He’s already shown me and I can see it all vividly right now.” I quickly decided that in the past it’s been much worse (and probably very strange-looking for those around me) to fight God than to just let myself go. I didn’t have to think twice about those lyrics. I don’t have to ask because He’s already shown me. “I’ve seen what breaks His heart, I’ve held them in my arms.” A month ago He gave me a week-and-a-half-long insight into what breaks His heart in Nsoko, Swaziland.

Tears were streaming down my face as all of the first-hand images came flooding back into my mind. Pictures I’ve taken with my own two eyes of hundreds of children in Swaziland surfaced and each one crushed my heart a little bit more. I really felt like I couldn’t breathe. (Partially because there was snot literally hanging out of my nose like a string). I had to sit down because I was heaving so hard. {Praise God for extremely loud contemporary worship bands!}

I sat with my head lodged between my hands and the seat in front of me. I half-heartedly asked God to make it stop so I could stop crying and embarassing myself. But I knew that wasn’t what He really wanted. I couldn’t stop thinking about Tmbalithle and baby Anitah and Boss Lady and all the Muchos of Swaziland. My chest hurt so bad. My heart literally felt like it was being ripped in half. This is super awkward, but I was basically silent screaming. (My emotional sisters out there know what I’m talking about, right? Like when your heart literally hurts and you’re basically screaming but it’s silent? Someone please affirm me on this one haha) God was literally breaking my heart for what breaks His. Now I know God doesn’t give anyone more than they can’t handle, so it makes me wonder: If that moment felt excruciating for MY heart, I can’t even begin to fathom what God feels when His heart breaks for orphans… for His children.

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to be,” ran through my head. “This is not what God intended for His children.” It’s not their fault and He’s not punishing them. Quite the contrary. I’ve never witnessed so much of God’s love as I did in Swaziland. His love is abundant, but so is sin from The Fall. It’s because of sin that these children have broken homes, that there’s abuse, that they are neglected and go without food or shelter. Some people might ask why, if my God is so mighty and loving then, doesn’t He save these children? The answer is because He’s God. Because I don’t really have the answer and no one does except for Him. Because if God made everything perfect here on Earth it wouldn’t be Earth, it would be Heaven. If all was right in the world, we wouldn’t need God. We wouldn’t seek Him out in times of trouble or despair. We wouldn’t cling to Him and worship Him for his majesty. We’re on this Earth to glorify God and to worship Him. We’re also called to be His disciples and that means that it’s OUR job to take care of His children. God sustains them in more ways than we’ll ever know, but in no way does He owe anyone anything. WE owe Him everything and as His followers WE are called to take care of His children….

“You’re right, Jenn. I didn’t intend for Tmbalithle’s mother to be consumed by alcoholism and abandon her with extended family. I didn’t intend for her to grow up without a mother and a father and to run around half-dressed.”

“No, Jenn, it is not what I want for Anitah or the other orphans at Eskalene to wander the countryside with little-to-no supervision collecting grasshoppers to tide them over for the day until their next meal.”

“No, it is not my intent for children to grow up in a home where the father has abandoned them and their mother; for their father to travel far away for work, to take another wife, or to die because of AIDS.”

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I guess I’m beginning the “processing-process”. More to come.

Simple, quiet, sunny.

No, this is not a description of my life or the weather today. The title of this blog was a blurb from a post I wrote four days before leaving for Swaziland. It’s interesting to read my thoughts pre-trip and now have real images to pair with those thoughts post-trip.

Before I left for Africa I had one random day of peace, simplicity, and sunshine. I remember blogging about it now. I wrote something to the extent of “Maybe this is a little glimpse of what is to come” referring to Africa. When I wrote that it seemed like a shot in the dark. Looking back, it was dead on.

Africa ended up being completely different from what I thought it would be. I thought it would look just like The Lion King and I thought people would be in despair like they might after some natural disaster. It wasn’t really like that at all. It felt a little more South American. It was more like here than I thought– but then again, not like here at all.

I’ve really been missing “simple, quiet, sunny.” Africa really was all of those things in a weird way. I keep thinking about that lately and I’d like to post some pictures. Apparently 3 weeks home and I’m still not ready to really write about my experiences yet. Go figure.

So the last picture was the one I wanted to post for simple, quiet, sunny. And then I started to notice a pattern with all of these pictures and their amazing skies! If you just blew through those pictures, I would encourage you to go back through and really study the detail in each of the skies. The colors, the rays of light breaking through the clouds. It’s funny at the time I didn’t think much of it, but looking back at these photos, the sky was pretty much out of this world whether it was sunning or storming. To me, I just see God in all of the sky pictures. I see Him painted up above the valley of Nsoko, spreading as far as you can see. He’s there with the orphans and the gogos and He’s watching over all of them. He’s the light breaking through the darkness in the storm pictures. I don’t know about you guys, but I really identify God with the sky and clouds. I wish I could say this in a non I’m-an-obnoxious-Jesus-freak-so-agree-with-me-please way, but I can’t. So…

Can you look at the sky in those pictures and tell me there’s not an amazing, incredible, complicated, and mighty God out there somewhere?

Solitude. (disclaimer–profanity)

Okay, let’s just be honest.

I’m scared SHITLESS to be alone.

Please pardon my language.

In the last three weeks I have not only flown to Africa with someone I didn’t know… to spend a week and a half with 9 other Americans/Canadians I didn’t know… to go share Jesus with hundreds of Swazi men, women, and children. I then flew back to the States leaving behind my “new family” in Swaziland to feel just as alone upon returning home. And just to shake things up a little more, I decided to move out of the house I’ve been living in for the last nine months and randomly move to a one-bedroom apartment pretty far from campus in what looks and smells like an old people’s home.

And like I said above. I really hate being alone. I crave being alone when I’m around people too much, and then when I’m alone for too long I  freak out. It scares the living daylights out of me and I have no idea why I keep putting myself (conscious or not) into that situation. I’m starting to think maybe it’s not entirely me pulling this “alone” plug. I feel like God really wants to chat with me about some stuff and He knows how distractable I am. He could very well be screaming at me and I would be staring off into the distance wrapped up in my own thoughts. I really suck at letting Him in.

The last 48 hours have been miserable. My apartment creeps me out. It smells weird. I don’t like the location. Everyone I know is far away from me. So is school. It’s too expensive. I called to put utilities in my name and get internet and Lord only knows what else I signed myself up for since I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. I guess we’ll find out when I get my bills!

I’m so used to being helpless and putting a cute smile on my face and getting other people to do things for me. That’s horrible and it’s time to grow up. Today I had to carry a microwave from my car, into the building, into the elevator, and up to my room. I was about to have a fit trying to balance holding that and getting my keys to open every stinking door. Once in the elevator I thought, “This is ridiculous and embarrassing. Who ARE you? You used to be so independent and did everything on your own. NOW look at you!”  

There’s a huge disconnect between my life now and my life about 3 years ago. Three years ago I was Miss Independent and, again pardon my language, but I got shit done. I wasn’t afraid of much, or so I thought, and I was pretty confident. But I also didn’t have Jesus in my life. Now, I have Jesus in my life, but I’ve pretty much lost everything else. To be honest I would rather live every day of my life walking and talking with Jesus and feeling broken, than being a cocky, 20something girl who is far from Him. Want to know the cool part, though? I don’t have to do either. This depression and solitude I’m going through right now is only temporary… and only because I asked for it!

I asked for God to make some serious changes in my life upon returning from Africa. I have asked Him to heal the brokeness from my past and make me new again. And He’s totally doing that… just not in the shiny package I had expected. He’s doing it in His way and on His own time. And let’s be honest, isn’t that probably the better route to go? I think yes. I’d rather have the Man Up Top guiding my every step, than have my anxious and uninformed self calling the shots. What a mess that is.

So. Solitude’s the main theme in my life for the next little while here whether I like it or not. Right now I don’t like it one bit, even thought it’s “what I thought I wanted.” But I have a sneaking suspiscion a year from now it will be the best decision I’ve made, not to mention all the change that will have happened within me if I let God do his thang.

My counselor told me living by myself would suck for a while. He said I’d be lonely, depressed, and that I’d cry. He told me I’d hate it, but if I wanted God’s healing in my life instead of a band-aid, I’d better hop to. He said he doesn’t really care if my life sucks for a little while because it’s better to go through it and come out changed, than to just try to cope and never experience the highs or lows. Thanks, Greg. Sometimes you’re an asshole but you’re completely right :-D.

Music, good music, is good for the soul.

I woke up this morning and blogged a huge blog but had to leave for church and couldn’t finish it. It’s amazing how by the end of the day so much changes. I don’t even feel like posting it because I think it’s stupid. Or maybe it was just meant for me to blog and keep as a draft. Just a mental process.

Tonight was my first time back at Joshua House in a realllllllly long time. Like, I don’t remember the last time I was there because so much happened leading up to Swaziland that I couldn’t ever make it. I was kind of lukewarm about going because sometimes I feel like it tends to be more of a show and that was the last thing I wanted after spending a week in a third-world country. I walked in a few minutes late… to them playing my favorite song right now! The lyrics at the top of my blog actually belong to the song– “Your Love Never Fails.” This was really cool because I’m pretty sure they’ve rarely, if ever, played that song before. It was like I was being welcomed back. I immediately just had to worship. God knows me so well. He knows me better than I’ll ever know myself.

But it gets even better! Not that the service was outstanding or anything, but it’s amazing how much better it is when you are intentional about being there. Being intentional about prayer and about taking notes and about the words that I’m singing just totally made the service. I guess I didn’t understand that I wasn’t being as intentional before. Or maybe I wasn’t able to feel this way until I came back from Swaziland and had experienced things to be intentional about.

Tonight I’ve been really anxious. There’s just a lot coming up in the…. well, I would say next few weeks but there’s just a lot coming up in my life! Haha. I’m really trying to give everything over to God. I was sitting here trying to wrap my head around it all and I just gave up. I turned on some worship music–which I haven’t done in a long time!– And have just been blogging out my thoughts and letting Him consume me. It’s so much better this way. I could literally drive myself crazy and the crazy thing is I don’t have to! I don’t ever have to worry about anything (not saying that I won’t!) but I don’t HAVE to because Jesus went before me. He went before me and He’s with me and He follows after me. Either way I look at it, I’m covered.

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What songs really speak to you? What can you just turn on and listen to and feel completely at peace?