I've been recently reading "Captivating" by couple John and Stasi Eldredge. I'm reading it because I've come to a point in my young life where what I'm doing just isn't enough. That there's gotta be more to life. That I've been hiding away in a little shell for YEARS.
I realized this after I had a breakdown after a friend's graduation party. I was completely broken, and I hadn't a clue why.
Spiritual warfare isn't a joke, a fairytale, a myth church elders tell young people to get them to come to church. Spiritual warfare was the exact description of my life after that party.
This major breakdown was a result of, sadly, Satan controlling me like a puppet. Anytime I'm with people-- and it can just be walking into Wal-Mart-- these demons just gnaw at my wounds. They pick, scratch, and stab my flaws and fears. That's rejection, mistrust, everything I experienced in 2008.
Now that I realize it, 2008 was just a year where I experienced some hard-hitting things. They weren't terrible. Surely my problems didn't compare to those who've experienced divorce, rape, poverty. My year was just confusing. I didn't know how to handle it, nor was I close to mature enough to handle things with ease.They're actually minute little details that I let control my life & define my heart. I've been holding myself captive. I've been frozen in time, replaying 2008 over and over in my head. I've been hiding-- and I'll go more in depth on this later. Considering I didn't know how to handle the events that happened that year, I decided it was better to relish in it, never move on, rather than change. God spoke to me a lot that year. I was saved at Baptist Vista in June (my second birthday is coming up in about a week...actually exactly today! weird). But I was saved, that's it. I didn't change. I didn't shift gears. I'm now paying for that ignorance.
I suppose I should start at the beginning.
I grew up in a small town in Arkansas. I had a magical childhood filled with sticky Popsicle's and sprinklers. My mom worked graveyard shift, so I hardly ever saw her. She was getting the big bucks at a paper-producing company an hour-or-so-away. My dad did most of the raising. Also, I had a babysitter who lived next to the church where I was born into. Meme (even though she wasn't my real grandmother) married Papa (still not blood-relation) who has two grandsons Beau and Luke. For the majority of my childhood, I was over at Meme's with Beau and Luke, and my older sister, Lydia.
Usually, the outcome of the childhood of an individual determines who they are. Bad childhood = bad adulthood. Good childhood = good adulthood. Now, that isn't true for EVERY person on the planet, but it's pretty psychologically correct. I had a good childhood, so I'm not sure why tween/teens were so difficult.
I think it's safe to say I lost myself in Middle School. I went to the big school, tried to fit in, and lost myself in the crowd. Probably because I desperately wanted to fit in, to be one of the "It" girls. I didn't even care who I shoved on my way there. People didn't matter anymore. It was all about me. I wanted to be popular. I wanted to go to sleepovers, gossip, wear matching outfits, be a cheerleader... but it never really worked out well. I ended up with a broken, closed, locked-away-forever heart, soul, and mind. Which is kind of funny, if you think about it. Today, I'm one of the most unique people you'll ever meet. I have my own set of character traits that sets me apart from the rest of society. I tried to be someone who I wasn't in Middle School & I've learned my lesson. Being a boring, stereotypical, cookie-cutter carbon copy of a group of people is distastefully boring.
Now that I'm contemplating this further, I realize this happened in fourth grade. The final year my best friends in the whole world lived 3 minutes away. Instead, they moved 17 hours away. Beau and Luke. The last thing I would ever do is blame them for my mistakes. It wasn't their fault, it still isn't their fault. It was just a God thing.
God knew I was going to flip my lid once they were gone. I was probably starting to define myself in them. "Yeah, I'm Beau and Luke's friend/cousin." Even though we weren't cousins. He knew I'd get to this point in time. I'm still working on it.
I was a brat. I didn't care. I just enjoyed being a brat. I'm sure a lot of people I was friends with/bullied currently wonder what happened. Now, they're probably past that. Heck, it's hard to recall my old life. Probably because I've pushed a lot of it away. I can honestly say I HAVE NO CLUE what happened! God. Life. Maturity. Fate. Destiny. Global Warming. Whatever you want to call it, it happened. Of course my change didn't happen over night. hahaha. That's funny, because I think I thought it would. Who would want to be a lonely brat for the rest of their life? Nobody. It took a summer, a full school year, another summer, another school year, and a summer to become even remotely the vision God wants me to be.
But, for those of you preteens and teens who want to change, believe that there is better out there, are incredibly unhappy with their life... I'm living proof that you can change; however, you must be realistic to this life change. Not pessimistic, and not too overly optimistic. Be a combination with both, with a dash of Realist, a sprinkle of Spirituality, a bucket-full-of-hope, a river of faith, and a planet of patience. You can do it. It IS incredibly hard. But it's so worth it. I promise you. If you decide to change (authentically, seriously, guys) call me in 6 years and I'll bet a few million dollars your decision to change was worth it.
Then it was the summer before I was going to Junior High. Eighth grade. The summer of '08. Long story short: my best friend betrayed me. And she didn't steal my lip gloss or start a rumor about me. Typically, it's not what 13-year-old's go through. I'm going to be brutally honest. She slept with the guy I liked. So, not only was all hope for friendships out the window, but I lost all hope for trusting another guy again. After this, I go to church camp to get away from everything. I meet God. I grew up in church, I knew all the stories, but I didn't know him. I didn't understand the concept of grace, mercy, and love. I had (and will never have) no idea the capacity, depth, and width of God's love for little ole me. If I hadn't lost my best friend and given up on relationships, I wouldn't have met God. I needed my priorities to be stripped of friends and boys to realize that God not only needed to be numero uno, but wanted to be my number one.
God is more than this figure you pray to. He's more than the train conductor to heaven. He doesn't just take our tickets to heaven, then disappear to bigger and better things. He's my Father, my Lover, my Husband, my Redeemer, my King, my Savior, my Redemption, my Safe-Haven, my Rock, my Shelter... everything.
I shut everyone out that summer/year. If losing them wasn't hard enough, I suffered from MAJOR lack of self-confidence. I had terrible, rotten, no good acne. It's really embarrassing to admit it, but I let that get to me. I became this super paranoid freak over it. I cried myself to sleep, I covered mirrors, I stayed in front of mirrors for hours to cover my flaws, I felt betrayed by God. I wondered, "Why are you doing this to me? Why do I have to be ugly? Why did I have to lose my friends, and now hate the way I look?" Worst of all, it was physical AND emotional pain. It hurt, and I was willing to do ANYTHING to get rid of it. Luckily, I have the best Daddy in the world and he said, "I'll do anything, give anything, to make this go away." And up until a year ago (this summer) I was heavily medicated and used a LOT of prescription medication for it.
Like all good things, there were consequences. Side effects. It turns out that this medication I was taking to get rid of my severe acne, gave me a disease. Yes, a disease. It's called Papilledema. (Pronounced pap-ill-i-dem-uh.) Emedicine.com defines it as "optic disc swelling that is secondary to elevated intracranial pressure". This means that there was pressure building up in my eye as a result from the -cycline in the medicine I was taking. I'm allergic, it appeared, to the wonderful -cycline. Which sucked, because the medicine was helping my skin. But it was also making me blind. To this day, I have the worst eyesight. Even more so than elderly people. To enlighten the severity of the problem, if it was left untreated, I would've been blind. I think the ability to see triumphs my skin problems any day.
The total contrast to who I was and who I am is pretty amazing. I used to walk around school, completely and utterly paranoid. "Do they know my skin is so bad? Can they tell it's inflamed? Do they know what Amy did to me?" Someone would randomly laugh, and I'd think, "They know what happened. They're laughing at my pathetic life."
hahaha. I know. I know. PATHETIC. Pathetic... But that's what happened to me. I can't say it's any worse or better than someone else's situation, even though it's minute in comparison. But my sensitive/romantic/dreamer/writer's heart next to my demons pulling out the big guns to drive me farther and farther into the ground was just too much for me to handle... on my own.
You know that one Flyleaf song? "I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't do this by myself." Literally one of the most influential lyrics you'll ever hear. Have you ever been so dead set on doing something/being someone and failed? And that feeling that you get when you realize all "your hard work" went to waste? You feel worthless, stupid, incapable, ignorant, and all things synonymous.
Good news! You do realize, though, that it's Satan telling you you're all those things. He's also telling you, "Get back up! Try again! You can do it." Which isn't so bad, in theory, but when you start to do things with the mindset that you can do it all on your own, you don't need ANYONE to help you, you're bound for failure.
God does all these great miracles. He is the one that changed me. With his grace, his mercy, his help, I am who I am. It was definitely not my doing. Obviously. Because here I am, again, figuring out that what I'm doing just isn't quite enough & I'm still not happy, completely content with my life. Nope.
Here's even better news: I can come out from the dust, conquer my demons, and cross the finish line a completely different person. This unbelievable change is possible with God. Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (NIV) The Bible doesn't say, "I can do all things through myself because I'm a strong, independent woman." Nor does it say, "I can do anything I want, because technology has come a long way." I mean, really? God. It's God who changes, forgives, truly loves & equips our weak hearts. Without him, who knows where I'd be. Where you'd be.
Now I'm back to the graduation party. I come home and my sister and I sit in the car for a little bit. It turns into 30-40 minutes because I'm just having a mental breakdown. I'm bawling, and I'm scared. Lydia makes it known to me that I'm not completely okay/recovered from everything. I'm still holding onto my past. I'm letting it define myself. I'm still broken.
My first reaction is to act defensively. NU-UH! I'M A DIFFERENT PERSON, I'VE CHANGED, I'VE FORGIVEN THEM! I'M OKAY!
...... No, you're not. If you're still paranoid when you're around other people, you're not okay. If you still feel undeserving of any friendship/love, you're not over it. Do you have a best friend? No. You're still guarded. Have you gone on a date since? No, you're still jaded.
Then, I'm quiet. All this time? It's been 3 years. 3! 36 months. 1,095 days. 1,577,846.3 minutes. 94,670,778 seconds. I've wasted. I've been the same person. Is this normal, I ask myself. Is it normal to grieve this long?
"He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy. Then all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me. Oh, how he loves us so."
John Mark McMillan wrote this trying to communicate/vent his anger towards God over his best friend's death.... Sounds like a love song, huh? Doesn't sound like a hate-note, right? Midst John's heartbreak, he got closer to God.
This Wednesday at youth group, Alan played a video. It's John talking about "How He Loves". I knew the story, but this was more personal. You could hear his voice, see him crying, and feel it all the same.
Although my best friend didn't die, I lost them all. Beau & Luke moved away, my girlfriend gave into her fleeting desires. They're gone.
In the video, John says, "It's been seven years, you know, and it's still hard to talk about it."
Bing! The sound of a bat against a ball. Home run! Maybe selfishly, but more personally, I understand where he's coming from. I can relate. It's hard to talk about the things that mold us into who we are, whether we want it to or not.
We're all different in the grieving department. Some take days, some take months, some take years, some take even lifetimes... It matters how long-- when the amount of time interferes with your personal & God life-- but it matters more what we turn the situation into. Where we go after we realize it's done, we need to move on.
Flip the page. Start a new chapter. Heck, start a new book. Better yet, go to a different library. Move on.
I'm in that position. I'm relocating, finding my new library. Maybe one with a good view of the ocean. I'm...I'm moving on. I'm changing. While that's such a cliche... New Years Resolution-esque. But I'm dead serious.
I'm walking into new territory. I can't go back to a point in my past to where I was "good" because I was never "good". I'm feeling in the dark here. I'm striving forward, being reborn. I'm a baby. I'm relearning everything. Everyone. I'm receiving a whole entire body/soul/spiritual transplant.
Wish me luck, for I wish you all the luck in the world. God Bless, and loads of love!