It’s been my goal the last few weeks, to release a blog post every Friday. So far, I’m doing okay. However, today I found myself stumped by what to write about. I knew I wanted to write something but just didn’t know what. I wasn’t feeling a recipe or anything too educational, and all of the recovery related topics I thought to write about were too heavy. As I brainstormed more throughout the day, I decided I’d write a bit of a life update after going through a lot of change this summer, and now Fall—yay for pumpkin spice and sweater season… am I right?!
Okay…but on a more serious note, I do believe life updates are important to share not only for our own archive or the interest of family members, but because I truly do believe the best way to learn is through the experiences of others.
Last week, I spoke to my mom on the phone and she told me her and my grandparents had been chatting about how noticeably happy I’ve been lately. I smiled on the other line.
We all like to be complimented, but this compliment hit me deeper than the typical “I like your shirt” or “you look pretty today” compliment. I started to wonder what had changed in order for them to recognize such a difference. So much so, that they’ve continued to say similar things since.
To be honest, I haven’t exactly felt “happy” recently. Just short of a month ago, I was up late listening to music and writing in my journal, wondering if where I was, was where I was supposed to be. My journal entry was as follows:
August 26, 2019
People keep telling me that moving to Baker City was a courageous and brave thing to do, but my perfectionistic self saw it as nothing more than quitting. Always quitting. Can’t ever stay committed to anyone or anything.
My monsters say things like:
All you’re doing is running from the things that scare you.
You’re a waste.
You gave up too quick.
You’re wasting time, never doing anything meaningful.
I’m still not sure why I came to Baker. I think at first, I thought I was coming to rest and decompress from the last 4 years of college, and to save money and figure out my next move, but now I’m not so sure. Resting hasn’t been easy. Actually, I feel a lot of pressure being home. Anxious. Like everyone needs me to be everyone. I came here to help myself and sometimes I think they forget that. Lately, I’ve felt selfish. Like maybe I’m a horrible person for not always wanting to jump in and help everywhere I can. I don’t want to be selfish, but I knew my decision to leave everything in Portland was a selfish decision, and a so very necessary one.
I want to finish my book here. I want to create stuff. Recipes and photos and things. I want to read books. A lot of them. I want to feel purposeful. I want to let go of every trace of shame while gaining confidence and soaring over my fears. I don’t want to be known for the acceptance or attention I crave, but I want to be known for the work God has done in me and is still doing. Without Him, I am nothing. Without His work, I’d be broken.
Some days I think I want to be a small town, country girl who can rock a Coors Light just as easily as she can a craft IPA, while other days I think I’m more naturally a city girl who loves her farmers markets and $10 coffees. But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter who I think I want to be. At the end of the day, who I say I am isn’t nearly as powerful and true as who God says I am. He knitted me together in my mother’s womb. He’s heard all my cries. He hasn’t everleft or forsaken me. He is my God and I am his child, dearly Beloved. I want other women to know they are God’s dearly Beloved’s too.
Ben always seems to reach me where I’m at:
And through it all, I stood and stumbled, waded through my thoughts and heart.
Yeah through it all, I fooled and fumbled, lost to the poet’s frown.
I fought the wolves of patience just to let it lie down.
See these waters they’ll pull you up, Oh, now if you’re bolder than the darkness.
My my, let these songs be an instrument to cut, Oh spaces ‘tween the happiness and the hardness.
My my, spaces ‘tween the happiness and the hardness.
Now, I will admit that sometimes when it’s late, I have a tendency to drown in my sorrows and exaggerate my emotions…but when I read back through this entry I didn’t sense that’s what I was doing.
Moving 5 hours east of where I’d been living the last 4 years has been hard. I left behind the university I attended, my job, my friends, my church, the dirty MAX rides I slowly learned to appreciate, the streets, trails, and bridges I ran on (and quickly learned the city by doing so), my yoga studio, my favorite grocery stores, where I knew where everything was and had established an effective route to the check stand, my cold yet comforting basement apartment, my bed, my study spots, cooking on Friday’s with friends, the farmer’s market, my plan to go to Seminary and graduate with my master’s in 2 years, my boyfriend who is no longer my boyfriend….and on the list goes. These things might sound silly to you, but they’re what filled my weeks and kept me busy.
I got so engrossed by what I was leaving behind that I forgot to look at what I was moving toward.
My family would tell me they were so glad I was here, but I didn’t know how I felt about being here. I’d confidently tell people I had just graduated and was taking the summer to decompress, but then I’d stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning browsing jobs overseas and fantasizing a different life. The pressure I felt from my family was mainly pressure I was putting on myself and it seemed like no matter how much I tried to rest, I never actually found rest. My mind was constantly busy.
One of my closest friends hasn’t failed to keep reminding me, “You are right where you’re supposed to be,” and this is the first week I’ve actually believed him.
I think my happiness lately is a result of many things:
- The new job I just got working at a physical therapy clinic, doing and learning things I’m actually passionate about and studied in school.
- Being close to family after being away from them for so long, and giving back in the small ways I can.
- Having made a couple good friends in Eastern Oregon.
- Getting in a car accident last week and having two close friends in Portland come to my rescue, in addition to getting ample money back for my car being totaled (my poor baby Subaru).
- Practicing shame resilience and self compassion.
- Focusing more on experiences than I have been my body or food.
- Reading through Ephesians over and over and over again to try and grasp more of my identity (given to me and not achieved) in Christ.
- Communing more with God through silence and solitude, while asking for more of Him and less of me.
- Establishing a morning routine.
- Having less pressure and stress from school, work, and leadership in the church all at the same time.
- Moving further down the road in my recovery and being grateful for that.
I’d even go further to say my higher energy, bigger smile, and present person are birthed more by joy than they are happiness. Many of the things I listed aren’t just temporary fixes, but internal transformations toward a healthier and more content me.
This morning I cried more than once, as I sat and took note of all the places God has showed up this week and weeks prior. Every once in awhile, I’ll have one of these moments with God. Sometimes my perspective gets so foggy that I forget He’s still at work in my life, but then the windshield gets wiped and it’s almost like looking at the world with a new set of eyes.
I still don’t know much about what lies ahead, and I can’t say my anxiety is entirely gone…nor is my constant worrying and desire to always have a plan and meet expectations. I will say, however, something playing on repeat in the back of my mind this week has been:
God can make good out of anything. Any situation, circumstance, fear, and brokenness. “From the uttermost to the guttermost” He is at work.
He’s at work in me, and He’s at work in you. You’re right where you’re supposed to be because He’s everywhere you are. I believe that for us both. We are all in process—still becoming, experiencing, and learning—and that’s a beautiful gift if you ask me.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:14-21).