What I’ve Learned About my Battles

What I’ve Learned About my Battles

For the first post of the year, I’m going to get personal. I want to share some inner battles of mine that perhaps you are also facing, or can at least relate to, for which you can receive some inspiration, encouragement, or wisdom.

These four battles have either been longterm ones that maintained their status as the most trying battles throughout my life, or have just begun their onslaught. They are all battles I’m still facing today. Among the many different kinds I’ve faced, or am facing, these have stood out as the most resilient (but no less beatable!)

  1. Anxiety

Once upon a time I used to think anxiety wasn’t a legitimate mental problem. Then I experienced it for myself, and realized that it’s the real deal. The toughest part is the physical affect it has on me. It’s amazing how a problem that’s entirely in the mind has such power over your body and health. I’ve experienced drastic panic attacks that caused me to faint, and I’ve experienced the very subtle yet nagging symptoms like chronic nausea and inability to sleep soundly. Of course, though, I would really just like to be at peace in my mind for once.

What have I learned about it?

Anxiety is a heightened, severe version of worry. It’s gone past feeling concern for the future. It’s feeling straight up fear. So when we fight it, we have to treat it as fear. You know what we do with fears? We face them. Sometimes the best way to fight anxiety is to charge in to the very thing we’re anxious about.

For the physical symptoms, there’s a few things that can do some serious help:

  • exercise
  • healthy diet
  • taking vitamins
  • yoga and meditation
  • drinking plenty of water
  • herbal tea

Counseling, spending time with friends, reading, and partaking in a hobby have all proven, at least to me, that they can really help one deal with chronic anxiety.

2. Shame

This was no longer an issue of shyness or social awkwardness. I eventually realized that a lot of my social behavior stems from embarrassment of merely being in public! I act (and think) as if I am less than everyone around me, that I’m no good, useless, pointless, without purpose…and then I become consumed with shame.

And yes, sometimes, this feeling produced thoughts of suicide.

What have I learned about it?

This shame is an absolute, genuine, unadulterated LIE. I never needed another person to tell me that. I knew it for myself. Yet, I still let it hang around. That usually created this horrendous cycle of shame (“I’m ashamed that I feel ashamed”). How do I fight it? I recount the things I’m good at, the people who love me, and what I’m passionate about. I remind myself that I’m good at such-and-such, that so-and-so loves me without condition and has proven it, and that there’s somewhere I’m willing to make a difference: I am good, I am not alone, and I have a purpose.

3. Self-pity

Self-pity is a very dangerous game to play. Let it latch itself onto your heart, and suddenly you’re impossible to please, you’re bitter, you’re hateful, you’re narrow-minded, you’re unbearably selfish, and you’re a wet blanket. Basically, you become the kind of person no one wants to be around. It’s not too hard to wonder why.

My battle with self-pity became so bad that it reached the point where God had to convict me. Hard. It was destroying me. It is destroying me. It’s proven to be one near-impossible root to pull out. I let it become a part of me. I let it manifest itself in my everyday behavior and thought pattern. I have come to detest the person I am when I operate in self-pity.

What have I learned about it?

Self-pity goes hand in hand with clinical depression. Does this mean I’ve been depressed? Maybe. It puts blinders on our eyes that only lets us see ourselves. We’re the only ones we can possibly think about. How horrible is that? So you know what I do to fight it? I force myself to think about those in worse situations than me, like those with a terminal illness. Compared to them, I have no right to victimize myself. It quickly snaps me back into right thinking. With how deep self-pity has dug itself, it’s practically every other minute of my life. But I fight on. If there’s one thing I refuse to become, it’s a self-pitying wretch.

4. Jealousy/Comparing to others

I did not know that I had a deep-rooted issue of living in people’s shadows until the day I went up for prayer back in youth group. I had no clue what I needed prayer for, I only knew that I needed prayer and I was too compelled to stay back. Then the youth pastor began praying, and she prayed…that I stop living in my older siblings’ shadow. It shocked me so hard that my eyes shot open and I reeled just a little. That was an extremely emotional moment. It was like a glass had shattered and a light came on all at once.

That day I discovered that I struggled with being jealous and comparing myself to others.

I particularly compare myself to those more successful than me. Sadly, in my mind, that ends up being everyone! I make up some reason of why anyone and everyone is better than me. I secretly, and guiltily, desire for their success, desire to do what they did to get it…desire to get it faster. The end result is a dissatisfaction with myself, with where I’m at in life, and with what I’ve accomplished. I’ve even been so bad as to be dissatisfied with my current age. That’s when it’s just stupid and crazy.

What have I learned about it?

First of all, comparing is a big, fat waste of energy. Being jealous just makes you an unhappy cynic. The best treatment method? Thankfulness, thankfulness, thankfulness. I fight by replacing thoughts of jealousy and comparison with finding something to be thankful for. I don’t always succeed. I don’t always fail. So I’m making progress.

 

Do any of these sound familiar? Relatable? It’s okay. It’s normal. It’s human. Every kind of battle is capable of being fought and won. They each take different strategies and levels of action, but they’re all the same. You can do it, just like I can.

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Weekly Devotion: You can make plans, but…

Weekly Devotion: You can make plans, but…

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

-Proverbs 16:9 NLT

You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

-Proverbs 19:21 NLT

It’s almost humorous how nearly exact these two scriptures are, and they’re so close to each other in placement. In a nutshell, these simple yet profound proverbs say what we don’t really want to hear: you’re not in control.

As the ultimate planner of the century, this is hard to take. I feel like sometimes I live by planning things out perfectly. I may not be the greatest executioner, but I can plan like a champion. To read, and thus believe, that despite me making all the plans for every aspect of my life God’s intentions will override me…it doesn’t come easy. Since I was very young I have struggled with the problem of living in the future. A majority of people seem to find the past hard to get over, but not me. I, unfortunately, twitch and worry and agonize over the future, both near and distant. I cannot tell what is worse.

When I say that some may think, “but what’s wrong with that? Shouldn’t we live for the future after all?” No, honestly we should really live for the present. And my problem isn’t living for the future. I’m living in the future. Thus the present slips by me and I fail to cherish it for what it’s worth and enjoy the moment. Always my mind is five minutes ahead of me, constantly planning, constantly considering, constantly analyzing. Constantly worrying.

These scriptures are not telling us to ignore the importance of being prepared and ready for the future. Planning itself is not an evil thing. They communicate that despite our plans, however good they are, what God has planned for us will ultimately override our own and make them void. That can either drive us mad and send us into a endless tunnel of frustration and disappointment, or, if we operate in trust, flexibility, and open-mindedness, it can bring us peace when we realize that we need not stress over stuff.

These scriptures are asking us to accept this truth. Attempting to take sole control of your life will just leave you miserable because you’ll be working against God.

Make your plans. Set some goals. For goodness sake have some dreams. BUT! Do not put your plans on a pedestal and become unhealthily attached to them, because they may very likely change, or not even happen. Be ready to give them up for God’s purpose. Your life will always be the better for it.

12 Reasons why Life is Good (even if doesn’t seem so)

12 Reasons why Life is Good (even if doesn’t seem so)

Life is never perfect. It’s never always great either. Perhaps hardly good, at least in your opinion. Here’s one good thing about life: you’re entitled to that opinion. If you say life isn’t good, well alright then. If you say so. But perhaps I can slightly change your opinion…

  1. You’re reading this. You know what that means? You have a computer, you have internet, you have the money to have the computer and internet, and you have the time to spend on the internet. Isn’t that good?
  2. You’ve got a friend here. Hello, that’s me. Maybe I don’t know you personally, but I can be a friend if you’d like.
  3. A sunrise and sunset is never not beautiful. Isn’t it extraordinary how we can see these things hundreds of times but still be in awe?
  4. Books. Unless you’re not the reading type, then…
  5. Stories that help us escape. If that means a book or a TV show or a movie franchise or a video game, then there you go. It’s something that lets you escape the world for just a little while.
  6. Music that makes us dance and sing. Music soothes the savage beast.
  7. The oncoming of Fall. We all know what that means: pumpkin spice lattes, scarves and boots, fuzzy socks in the house, the exscuse to have a warm fire on, snowy photoshoots, days off due to weather, etc.
  8. Those days off. Whether it is weather-induced or not. Don’t waste them!
  9. The opportunities are there. Can you see them? You have to go looking. You might think there’s nothing left for you, but have you even tried?
  10. Guilty pleasures. You know what it is.
  11. Coffee and tea. And if you don’t drink either…well, you probably have an alternative (although I hope it’s not soda…).
  12. This too shall pass. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Nothing will be forever, and that’s what makes life good.
5 Moments that gave me an Inspiration Surge

5 Moments that gave me an Inspiration Surge

We can’t easily forget those moments, when something or someone so deeply inspired us that it birthed an idea in our minds or changed our way of thinking or made us take action. I’ll bet you can name one significant event. Let me share five.

  1. The day I watched The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I saw the first Chronicles of Narnia movie when it came out in 2005 before I even knew about the books. It was thanks to my brother who expressed enthusiasm for this unbeknownst story, and his insistence of me reading the books. I saw the movie, and I fell in love. “What is this story?” I asked my brother. He gave me his big fat copy of all seven books when we got home, and that was the start of a lifelong infatuation with Narnia and C.S. Lewis. And this was all before I discovered I wanted to write just like him…
  2. The first day of seventh grade English. My teacher, still a good friend and inspiration to this day, welcomed us to her class, and then ordered us to take out a pencil and paper. We were to write in silence for five minutes. We couldn’t stop, and we couldn’t erase. If we had nothing to write, then we wrote don’t know what to write over and over. When the timer began, I was thinking about The Legend of Zelda. I would watch my brother play the games, and he had recently finished Ocarina of Time.  So, in those five minutes, I wrote a short story about Link and the little MarketTown of Hyrule. That was the story that, at the end of the five minutes, I leaned back from and stared at with a tingling sense of awe. It was the moment I realized, I loved that. 
  3. When I heard my fourth grade teacher had said, “she’s going to be a writer.” My fourth grade teacher (who was also my second grade teacher) was another teacher that made a mark on my life. She saw the gift in me first, years before it came up on its own. I didn’t know she said this until years later, because she wrote it in a letter to my mom. It was confirmation to me, and a surge that kept me going.
  4. After I cried on the bathroom floor while healing from a broken back. There was a point during that season when I feared that I would never run or dance or climb ever again that I broke down in the bathroom. My mom found me and prayed over me. Something changed after that day. My attitude toward my injury shifted. I began to see the opportunities that lay in wait. And when God let me know, “Even if you were paralyzed, you’d still be able to fulfill your purpose,” it was all different after that. I thanked God I wasn’t an athlete.
  5. December 31, 2015. I made the decision to quit a previous position this day, and though the process was hard, I relished the feeling of a fresh start when it came to pass. It was a great way to launch the year of Independence with a reassuring message that I can move my feet and not make an earthquake if I didn’t want to. I can move my feet and make a path appear.

What are some unique significant moments that inspired you and made a little change in your life? What event gave you a surge of Inspiration?

Being Busy does not equal Faster Achievement

Being Busy does not equal Faster Achievement

I am not the best multi-tasker. When there’s more than three things going on in my life at once, I usually get overwhelmed and shut down. I like to take things one at a time. And, yet, I tell people that I’m a person who likes to be busy. How does that factor?

I do like activity. That’s why I’m a city girl. I find the noise and activity exciting and exhilarating. I am not a social butterfly, but I am not a homebody. I go crazy being in the house for too many days together. I also go crazy being around people for too long. Either I have a healthy balance or I’m a walking contradiction.

But here’s one thing I’ve learned from all this talk of busyness and activity and tasks: being busy does not equal achievement. It definitely doesn’t equal faster achievement. I’ve seen too much busyness in my life, including from myself, that may have kept a place standing but did not keep it growing. We are not meant to stand still; we are meant to grow, change, adapt. It makes sense why we crave to be busy. It is culturally seen as synonymous with getting things done. And it does get things done, but that’s all it does. Things get done, but nothing really happens. The greatest achievement being busy can achieve is getting us through another week. If that’s all we do, then that’s all we’ll achieve.

Every person that I have encountered that is a jack-of-all-trades kind of person tell me the same thing: they wish they weren’t. They would rather be someone who is really great at one or two things than good at all things. It leads to confusion and lack-of-purpose syndrome. But they can be that person if they hone in on that one thing that they really, truly, enjoy and wish to pursue. Doing many different things may make you well rounded, but it slows down the process of achieving a single, stand-out purpose.

What do you really, really want to do? Who do you really, really want to be? There can only be one answer. It’s a new year, and maybe instead of being busy, perhaps let go of a few extra things that add to the busyness and pursue a single, significant achievement that will result in growth and change. Basically, if some growth hasn’t happened, then it’s time to move on. You can achieve more.

Gifts…let’s use them

Gifts…let’s use them

6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[a] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:6-8

I just love this scripture, especially the first line…Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…

God intended for us to have differing gifts and dreams. He gave us those gifts and dreams. The purpose of these different gifts is to reach out to the lost and share God’s love through different methods. I love thinking about how there can be someone in this world that only I can reach, and only through a specific gift that I have, and all on purpose from God. How else can we explain our intense desire to share our gift with others? We want to reach people, we want to change lives, we want to make a difference. Where did that inbred, desperate desire come from?

We all have a gift according to the grace given to us. Now let’s use them.

What is a gift you have that you desire so much to share?

How to create a Personal Mission Statement

How to create a Personal Mission Statement

You’ve probably heard the term “mission statement” thrown around from time to time. Certainly from businesses, at least. The idea of an individual person having a mission statement probably isn’t a common concept.

A personal mission statement may seem like something pointless or frivolous, but if you create one, you’ll have clearer direction in life. What is a mission statement? Businesses and organizations all have them. They’re meant to help focus the business on a single purpose that it intends to achieve. This is the same function of a personal mission statement; it answers what you believe your purpose is and states what you intend to achieve during your lifetime.

With that in mind, the thought of figuring all that out seems daunting. But there are a few steps that will eventually get you to a clarified Personal Mission Statement.

  1. First, ask the question, “How do I want to be related to?” Identify a few things that people can best interact and relate to you. What do you value the most in others? For me it’s be loyal, be…
  2. Distinguish a metaphor illustrating how you want to be seen. For me, it is the image of a cheerleader on the sidelines, cheering people on, ready for when someone needs to run by for an encouraging hug.
  3. Identify your values. It helps to have a list of common values, like wisdom, honesty, benevolence, nobility, excellence, comfort, etc. From those values you pick, pair it down to one Core Value. What do you most want to represent in the world? What is a principle you’d be willing to die for? When I identified mine, it came to...Influence. This is my core value.
  4. A mission involves action. From a list of verbs, select a few that stand out to you and inspire you. Then, from those few, select three distinct verbs that are the most meaningful, purposeful, and exciting to you, three verbs that you believe will accomplish your core value. My three verbs? Encourage, Inspire, and Support.
  5. Ask yourself the question, “What do I want to see happen to others as a result of me?” I know you know something about this. Try to be as specific as possible. For me, it would be: I want to see people pursue and achieve their dreams because I encouraged and supported them.

By putting together all these pieces, a personal mission statement begins to emerge. It may change over time, get more detailed, become more clear, but a mission statement is meant to grow with you. And once you have this personal mission statement, your steps in life begin to have more meaning. You’re here for a reason. It’s exciting to figure out what that reason is 🙂

My personal mission statement?

My mission is to inspire purpose, encourage discovery, and support others in their pursuit of dreams.

So, what do you think your personal mission statement is?