The Truth of the Matter

I just don’t have any words. Not quite yet.

“Look how far you’ve come,” they tell me. “Look how far you’ve already come!”

I’m pissed and struggling to climb the side of this mountain with my bare hands. I feel as if I’m getting nowhere. Turn and look back at what’s behind you they say.

I realize I’m so far up the mountain I don’t even know how I got here. I just remember being miles and miles and miles away. Back over the valleys and hills and landscape I’m now looking down on. When did I make it this far? Certainly someone was holding my hand the whole way. 

Certainly love and forgiveness and grace and goodness and mercy have been poured out upon me like precious oil. I’ve been anointed. Now, just how do I forgive myself?

 

…to completion.

Hey, Self, don’t do that thing where you essentially kill yourself by over-booking any free time you have to keep yourself from processing or feeling ANYTHING.

It sucks real bad and you know it. 

Use your noggin. Rest. Breathe. Calm. Write. Stretch. Think. Feel. Process. Cry. Get angry. Tell God the TRUTH. Wrestle with Him if you need to. Cry out to Him. But for Heaven’s sake don’t block Him out or lie about how you’re feeling. It’s not like He doesn’t know what’s really going on anyways. You’re making it harder for yourself when you put on a nice face for everyone… and then end up a bucket of snot and tears later, seemingly out of nowhere.

Be real. Be honest. Be transparent. It’s the only way to find healing. It’s the only way to grow.

 

{You’re about six weeks into this thing so, DUH, it’s getting a little messy. LET IT GET MESSY. YOU NEED TO BE MESSY. It’s OKAY. There’s no way out of this but THROUGH it. Surrender. Lay it down at His feet.}

 

Philippians 1:6 has been all over my radar this week. Noted. I get it. (But apparently my heart hasn’t owned it yet… sigh.)

 

I am going to lose my mind.

What I’m doing when I’m not on Facebook…

I wrote this a few weeks ago… currently at 27 days Facebook-free!
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I have been Facebook-free for 14 days today. Whew! It continues to surprise me how much free time I have and how much I don’t really miss it at all until I’m bored or lonely. As I know many people experience, I go through seasons of content/discontent with Facebook. When I’m busy and my life is full of thriving relationships I don’t notice going a day or so without checking it.

The reality is that where I’m at in life (single, 20 something, living alone, in my hometown), and where society is (constant social media connections) means that often times I am going to feel isolated.

In 2011, I “Facebook-fasted” for the season of Lent. This was the first time I had taken a break from Facebook and I had a lot of drive behind it since it was a challenge and I was determined to succeed. During this time I also traveled to Africa for missions work. While the obvious nature of what I was doing there (and lack of internet access out in the bush) made it incredibly easy, it was also easy to continue the “fast” upon returning to the States. I didn’t want anything to do with material things and had my priorities turned upside down.

This time around, while it hasn’t been hard by any means, hasn’t been quite as easy. Leading up to the New Year I was feeling incredibly isolated and depressed. I sometimes found myself wandering around Facebook world for hours, day-dreaming about what my life could really look like if I wasn’t where I was. Let’s talk about how unhealthy THAT is. I could give up all my belongings and travel the world. I could quit my super awesome, super-blessed-to-have-it job and go love on all the orphans I can get my hands on. I could start being super-social-butterfly Jenn again (somewhat like high school but with a whole lot more Jesus thrown in) and go out for drinks with friends all the time and make more of an effort to meet new people. I could settle more into what it looks like to be a young professional in my community and really dig deep here and maybe set down roots. I could give in to maybe never going overseas long-term and live this Midwestern, whatever-class lifestyle. I could sort-of-maybe, whatever-it-looks-like try dating for the first time in 4 years.

… Can you see why depression would sink in?

All of these things are not where I AM. And while it’s good to have goals that you’re working toward, it’s really, really not good to negate the present and live in the future. The future is not here. (DUH!) It is not guaranteed and it can never be fully known. Living in the future means I’m never actually living because I’m missing the 24 hours that’s laid before me. These 24 hours are all I really get to work with. That’s where change happens.

So I made a change starting with Facebook. And that change snowballed. Into reading more blogs. Into writing more blogs. Into reading real books. Into cooking. Into eating incredibly well. Into getting myself to the gym about every other day. Into taking a YogaFit class by myself. Into reaching out to build deeper relationships with people. Into going to a new Pilates class with a friend for the first time. Into spending time in the parking lot talking about life. Into trying an incredibly risky hot yoga flow class together where I literally had to lay down and sleep the last half because I didn’t think I was going to make it. Into Downton Abbey Sunday nights with friends. Into lots of babysitting and investment at church. Into singing and dancing more…in my apartment and car. Into beginning to plan and help lead a team to the East Coast in a few months for Sandy Relief. Into shopping and pedicures with my Mom (which is a very big deal). Into getting enough sleep and feeling better at work.

It doesn’t mean I’m giving up on any of the above day-dreams but it means that I’m laying down MY tight grip on the future so that more can happen in the here and now… and hopefully it will better equip me for the future.

It reminds me of my freshman year of college after I broke up with a super bad-for-me boyfriend. Every day after a specific class we would talk on the phone from the end of that class, back to my dorm, and then to the start of my next class. In the turmoil and drama that is any 18 year-old break up, I remember walking back to my dorm room, standing in the doorway and realizing for the first time I had enough time before my next class to actually DO things. Like get homework done, eat a meal, rest, actually talk to my roommates. I remember the joy at discovering the free time gained from all that time I had been wasting on the phone. It feels a lot like that this time around without Facebook. If I cut out the unnecessary (and generally unhealthy) and manage my time just a little bit better… I actually have a really full life.

Making face-to-face connections with people has also had to increase. Or at least more personal connections. Friends remember my Facebook fast and sent personal text message invites to parties, which spark “How have you been?” conversations. Making a phone call and asking for help when I need it. Grabbing drinks and discussing life and ideas that interest me. More time handcuffed and being held captive in a homemade fort by 3 and 6 year olds when babysitting instead of absent-mindedly checking my phone. Investing in real relationships… the old-fashioned way.

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I have a huge chunk of a continuation of this post that I’m still working on. It veers off into a slightly different topic and I was feeling like they should be two separate posts. So Here’s Part I.

Because He Loves You, Because He Loves You, Because He Loves You, Because He Loves You

This Link

This is what my heart is drawn to this morning. Stuck on the repetition of this. At first I thought it was a little obnoxious, but then it just melted over me. If you can spare 9 minutes, I totally encourage you to close your eyes and meditate on this. Let it wash over you. If this is Truth, what does this mean for your life? I think I shall listen to this as many times as it takes until it really sinks into my heart. I want to own all of what is being spoken in this. I have no idea how to comprehend this kind of Love because of all the ways I’ve been imperfectly loved throughout my life, BUT I know without a doubt that God is going to show me. 

Best-Friendships

Right now I miss best-friendships. I miss the closeness and the openness of the best-friendships that I had in high school and into the beginning of college my freshman year. If I were to be completely honest with myself I don’t think I’ve ever let myself mourn the loss of those relationships that molded and supported me.

I miss being able to call at any time of the day or night and just be heard without judgment.

 I miss being able to share my heart and my neuroticism without receiving someone else’s agenda and feeling like I need to be changed right away. Not that it’s always healthy in friendships, but I miss the almost-automatic-acceptance of wherever you are in your life and in your brain.

I miss being able to ask those really dumb questions. The ones that show the not-so-great parts of you. I miss laughter (SO MUCH LAUGHTER) and personal jokes that really aren’t funny outside of the context of you and your friends.

I miss just hanging out together because it felt great to be together, not because we had to pencil it in and prioritize it over other things.

I miss how best girl friends just fill a place in your heart that guys don’t… even if they may seem to for a while. I wish I would’ve understood this better years ago. But, if I had, I wouldn’t have such a high appreciation for them now.

I find myself insanely jealous of girls that have stayed best friends since they were in their teens. I think that’s such a fascinating and special dynamic in life to be able to see someone grow through so many chapters of their life. It is to be treasured. I feel bitterness rise up in me that that’s something I won’t ever get to experience in life (at least not stemming from the teen years).

I feel defeated when I think about how much effort it seems to take to initiate those kinds of best-friendships at 22. That’s embarrassing to admit, but I know I’m not the only one. So many complications arise: careers, opposing viewpoints, jealousies, enough fulfillment from significant others.

I miss loving someone else and being loved simply because of who you are and nothing else. Nothing more, nothing less. 

Nostalgia. Obviously there are other realities that come into play, but for tonight, this is where my heart is sitting. 

Good Women Project on Pain and Sin

Good Women Project on Pain and Sin

…and this.

 

And maybe I’ll expound upon them later. 

Really professional things that I do

Today was my first day back at work after a two week break for the holidays.

My boss had forwarded me an email from the coordinator of this volunteer fair that she’s sending me to on Thursday. I’m supposed to give a small presentation on our agency in an attempt to get people to want to volunteer with us. The email said to please RSVP along with a trivia question for a trivia game that will be played after the presentations.

I promptly replied to the kind woman’s email with a trivia question about ostriches.

To which she then replied, “Hi Jennifer, Are you aware that the trivia question is supposed to be about your agency? You’re supposed to include your trivia answer in your presentation and then people will guess afterwards when we play the trivia game. Just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page :O)” (Yes, she included that exact smiley face)

I’m really excited to meet her in person on Thursday, now.

Rise and Go

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence.
In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!

For I have overcome the world.

[I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

John 16:33 AMP