That time I was mean to a stranger

FOR NO REASON.

I was mean to the poor guy on the other end of the phone FOR NO REASON.

I’ve been working hard these last couple months to raise the money i’ll need in order to travel to Nepal and (theoretically) save lives. While I’m working hard to try to make the world a better place, I managed to also make it a little bit worse.

As it turns out, getting a passport is a huge pain. Just ask ANYONE who has helped me through the process.

Today, I received a letter in the mail asking for a form to be completed and returned before my passport can be approved. Let it be known that it was the EXACT form that the nice woman at my local passport office advised me I would not need, and actually tore up in front of me while completing my application.

But don’t you worry, I definitely informed the nice man on the other end of the form of that exact happening, as well as being incredibly rude while he tried to do his job. I then proceeded to ask him exactly how much this mishap would delay my passport, as it is VERY important that I have it in time. All the while he was patient and kind with my frustrations.

So, why do I bring my embarrassing actions to your attention?

Because I think it is incredibly counterintuitive that I try to do good while doing bad. Actually, I’m pretty sure the Bible mentions something about this…

“A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” James 1: 8

I don’t want to be the person who is flying across the world for “good deeds”, but can’t be nice to the people I encounter on a daily basis. I’ve written before about feeling as though I’ve become hard-hearted, and I find myself reminded today that I’m working towards softening.

I’m definitely not perfect, and I’m definitely not who I would like to become. But, it’s important that I give myself the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. I was mean today, which hopefully means that I will be nice tomorrow.

Or, at least, nicer.

 

 

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Are we ok?

I read a blog post today that seemed sweet at first, but upon second thought was actually kind of disturbing. The article highlighted the sweetness of a boyfriend who was able to ease the anxiety of his significant other. It was a simple text exchange that boiled down to “are we ok?” and “yes, of course we are”.

The point of the article was to explain the difficulty that sometimes accompanies dating someone with anxiety. Anxiety is known to cause insecurity within relationships, causing one party to either over-express their need to affection and approval, or to push their partner away as to not seem too needy or clingy. The beauty of the aforementioned relationship was that the anxious female was able to turn to her loving and supportive male, at which time he responded with just that: love and support.

Here’s my problem with all of this.

Yes, anxiety adds a dimension to relationships that can sometimes be difficult to navigate. It can cause tension and confusion for both involved parties, often resulting in conflict and misunderstanding. I get it, trust. I have been the one calling my boyfriend at three in the morning because I had a nightmare that he left me. I have been the one sending waaaaaaaaaaaay (like….WAY) too many text messages because I felt ignored and unloved. These were not my better moments, but not in any of them did I become unworthy of support from my partner. Whether I am anxious from a medical and clinical standpoint, or I am having a string of bad days, the support from my partner should be a given.

HEAR ME OUT

It should not be a wild notion to be able to turn to our partners in moments of anxiety and worry, only to be met with love and support.

Something important to note about the article I mentioned earlier is that the woman who felt uneasy did not do anything wrong. She did not do anything that would warrant anything other than support from her boyfriend (I could go on about unconditional love, and support even when we don’t deserve it, but that will require a post of it’s own). The fact that her boyfriend responded sweetly is great, and it is worthy of noting, but it is allowed to be EXPECTED. It seems like it’s become so taboo too expect support and love from our partners, like we are supposed to be so fiercely independent that we don’t require love and affirmation in our moments of insecurity.

Newsflash: I can be a strong, independent, feminist and still require affirmation from my significant other.

IT IS OK TO EXPECT LOVE FROM SOMEONE WHO SAYS THEY LOVE US.

It is ok to be upset, disappointed, and even ANGRY, when love, support, and affirmation is not what is given.

Don’t get me wrong, no relationship is perfect, and no one gets it right every time. There are great mechanisms for resolving insecurity in relationships. There are great strategies for conflict and learning to communicate in a way that makes both parties feel safe. And, it is important that both individuals work at meeting the needs of the one they are in a relationship with. But, we go to doctors when we expect treatment. We go to our teachers when we expect to learn. While we may be disappointed from time to time, that is the role they have chosen, and that is what is expected of them.

So here’s where I’ll leave you:

You DESERVE support from your partner. You DESERVE to have your fears squashed by the one who loves you. Do not settle for less, and do not make it out to be a great and noble act to give affirmation where affirmation is due.

 

A Frog in Boiling Water

There is this theory on why it was possible for Hitler to convince an entire country to commit horrible acts against their own people. It’s the idea that a frog placed into already boiling water will jump out, but a frog placed in water that is slowly being heated will eventually burn to death.

Hitler didn’t jump into office and scream “Kill all the homosexuals and the jews!”. He got into office, created a common enemy, and slowly encouraged hatred against that enemy would ultimately lead of accepted genocide.

But why am I talking about frogs and Hitler? I’m getting there.

I was walking through campus today and realized that I’ve become sometimes so vastly different from who I used to be, that the thought sent me into a head-spin. I’m not sure when I became this cynical, judgmental, hateful, bitter version of myself, but it definitely happened, and I’m definitely sitting right in the middle of that ish.

I used to walk past people and think about everything positive they have to offer the world. I used to jump at opportunities to serve others and help out wherever it might be needed. I used to be full of joy and excitement and looking forward to the next thing. I used to (wait for it) WANT TO BE LIKE JESUS.

I have spent the last year of my life recovering from some pretty awful life-stuff, and somewhere in that process I lost sight of who I am. I’m not sure if that means I didn’t heal right, or maybe I just still have some junk to work through. I have been SO MAD at God that I stopped trying to be like Him. I stopped listening to Him. I take a moment every once-in-a-while to call Him a jerk, and then I go on with my day. The weird thing is that I figured it would come back around on it’s own. I’m mad at God, but I still expect him to do something to turn it around. I have been waiting for “the thing” that will make everything worth it. The problem with that mindset is that nothing happens except a growing bitterness in myself.

The worst part is that I thought I was doing ok. I thought that going to church again would fix my mindset. I thought just BEING in the building would change my heart. I hang out with middle schoolers and teach them about Jesus, which FOR SURE means that Jesus will show back up in my life…right? A lot of people, myself included, seem to think that doing the things will lead to a change of heart. And honestly, there are moments that it does. I have seconds of “enlightenment” where I feel like I’m back in the swing of things. I get this “spark”, and then it’s gone. This might work for some people, but it just proves to me how good I am at faking it.

As I’m typing this, I am SO ANNOYED that two FRIENDS are sitting next to me…talking. They’re TALKING about their lives and neither of them sound miserable. The nerve, right?

When did my heart get like this? How do I get my heart UN-like this? I’ve spent so much time ruining relationships, friendship and otherwise, and I’m really ready to not be like this anymore.

I miss when I got excited about things. I miss when I talked to my friends about the NOT bad things. I miss talking to Jesus without expecting anything from Him. I miss being thankful for the things happening, and not waiting for everything to be “fixed”. I’m still in pieces, and I’ve had a lot of people tell me that it’s time to be put back together. As much as that might be meant well, it doesn’t provide any of the glue I need, or even point me in the right direction.

There isn’t really a proper way to conclude this post, because the process hasn’t been finished. It was more of an attempt at being honest and reminding people that I exist even though I’m in the middle of a valley at the moment. If you’ve read this all the way through, I could probably use you in my life. ❤

When you think you have control

“One thing I’ve learned climbing is that, sometimes, when I feel like I’m trying to be in control, I’m just making it harder”

I wish I could say that the above thought was an original from yours truly, but it was just some off-handed advice from my new climbing friend. I immediately made a mental note to blog about it later-so here I am!

I was working a problem that felt pretty good up until a certain point. Then, I would get to a move that required me to reach with my left hand, and it was just a little bit of a reach. The problem with that particular move was that I REALLY wanted to reach with my right hand, and doing it that way felt SO much better. It felt way more controlled and comfortable to do it my way.

So I did it my way. And I fell.

And I did it my way…again. And I fell…AGAIN.

And I just kept falling.

At that point, it became pretty obvious that I was doing something wrong, even though it FELT like I was doing it right. I was trying to maintain control, which is usually a good thing in climbing, but I was too focused on that feeling and not focused enough on what the move actually asked for. I preferred feeling steady and static rather than admitting that I might need to be more dynamic and just kind of throw myself at it.

I can’t help but notice the fact that this philosophy is applicable to my entire life. I spend so much energy trying to feel like I’m in control, when all I’m actually doing is making myself tired. I think about the situation, feeling logical and thoughtful, but I’m just obsessing and wasting valuable time. Sometimes I just need to look at the situation, do what is being asked, and just leave it at that.

The moral of the story is that control might feel good, but it’s not always the most appropriate course of action. Sometimes we get to be out of control. Sometimes we NEED to be out of control.

Do it anyway

Let me start by saying that I love my family very much. I love my mom and I think she raised me in the way that she believed would be best. She has the biggest heart and the best intentions of anyone I’ve ever met.

And now I’ll go on.

My mom raised me to be afraid. She raised me with “you can do it” followed by “but if it gets too hard, just stop”.  It was more than just acceptable to quit, it was encouraged to quit.

I was raised to believe that my worth was in my fragility. Being a girl meant that I deserved (see “needed”) to be taken care of. And, if someone wasn’t willing to treat me like a princess, then they obviously didn’t respect me the way I should be respected.

To this day my mom encourages me to give up on things that are hard, dangerous, or make her even a little bit uneasy. Every time I speak with her she suggests that I “take a break” from climbing. But the thing about life is that we can’t just give up when it gets difficult. The difficult things are most often on the path to the best things, and I’m not about to deprive myself of that.

And then, today I just didn’t feel like climbing. I was tired and upset by the multitude of stressors in my life right now, and I would have rather stayed home and watched Netflix all day. But I realize that giving in to that voice in my head just gives that voice more power. If I don’t climb today because I don’t feel like it, I probably won’t climb tomorrow either. So, I went climbing anyway.

And it was really hard.

I was scared of the height. I was unsure with my feet. I wasn’t feeling it at all. Then, when I was talking about it with a friend, I realized that these days occur when I have other things going on to worry about. When I’m at a baseline of “stressed out”, my climbing becomes stressed. I become nervous and unsure because…well…I’m nervous and unsure.

But I climbed anyway.

The point that I’m trying to make here is that the hard things are going to be hard. There are going to be days when even the things we love become difficult. I love climbing with a solid majority of my heart, and there are days that I just don’t feel like. On those days it becomes a choice, and I can only encourage you to make the choice that will be most sustainable for you. Make the choice to push through difficult days, and the difficult days will become easier. At the very least, the difficult days won’t become MORE difficult.

I’m in the process of retraining my brain from everything I was taught growing up. But I figure if I can manage to shut out thoughts of quitting, you definitely can too.

What now?

Sometimes I read my old blog posts and wonder “damn, where did that girl go?”

I used to be this hopeful, joyful, bundle of optimism, who couldn’t be stopped for anything. I planned a wedding that came crashing down around me and still managed to find Jesus somewhere in the middle of it. Yeah, I cried and hardly left my bed for almost half a year, but I was talking to God the entire time.

People used to tell me that they admired how optimistic I was. They used to say that I had that whole “light” thing going for me, or something like that.

But lately I’m feeling like the exact opposite of everything I used to be. I’m angry…a lot. The sort of anger that doesn’t go away when you scream or cry or run a couple of miles until you forget what you were mad about.

I read the things happening in the world and I don’t bring myself to pray for the people destroying other humans. I don’t love the people who probably need love the most, and went without it for most of their lives. How else are monsters created, right?

I’m mad at the boy who called off a wedding, and the subsequent boys who got my hopes up. Hell, I’m mad at myself for letting my hopes get up. I’m mad at everyone who has ever said “it’ll get better, give it time”. I’ve given it time. And then I’ve given it more time. And I might not cry myself to sleep every night, but my light has definitely gone out.

“So what now?”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve asked that question in the last month I would probably have enough money to pay for the schooling that may or may not result in me becoming a doctor. It’s funny how one thing can happen that unravels things you didn’t even realize were at risk of unraveling.

What do I do with all of the shit that I haven’t let go of? What do I do with my anger? With my broken heart? With this giant freaking boulder on my shoulders?

The easy answer is “give it to God”, right? It should be as simple and envisioning all this turmoil and the heavy yoke that I’ve taken up, and handing it right over to Jesus, right? His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and all those pretty sounding things.

I would love to wrap this post up with something positive, or a light at the end of the tunnel. But, honestly, all I have are questions. All I have are these feelings that won’t go away, and they have to go somewhere. So I guess I’m giving them to you, reader.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Noah Gundersen, and it seems like he might understand a lot of what I’m talking about. Maybe I should give him a call.

But, I’m tired.

“Let us not become weary in doing good” Galatians 6:9

Let me just say this again:

Let us NOT become WEARY in DOING GOOD

This does not say “let us not become weary in doing good…unless we’re REALLY tired”. This does not say “let us not become weary in doing good…unless we’ve already tithed this month”. This does not say “let us not become weary in doing good…unless they might be bad news”.

There is no qualification for the good that we, as people following Jesus, are expected to do. And I am the WORST at making excuses as to why I just shouldn’t have to “do good” anymore. I’m working too much, I’m too busy with school, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’ve tried SO HARD ALREADY.

But, none of that matters.

What matters is that as long as I am breathing, I am expected to continue to love people the way that Jesus does. When I have a dollar in my wallet, it’s not up to me whether or not I give it to someone who is asking. When refugees are knocking at the door of my country, it’s not up to me whether or not to let them in based on the dangers they may or may not present.

Oh wait, did I just get political?

Jesus died for people who hated Him. He never turned his back on someone, even when He knew they would turn theirs on Him. He NEVER tired of doing good.

So, we have Christians who want to make this country biblical? How about we get off of our soap boxes condemning women seeking options before childbirth, or same-sex couples seeking marriage, and start giving the shirts off our backs? When was the last time one of us laid down our life for our friends? When was the last time I gave more than I was asked? When I walked two miles with someone who asked me to walk one?

The point that I’m making here is that we don’t get to give up on being good. We don’t get to walk away from people in need because we are tired. They are tired. They are hungry. They are hurting. And when we are in the position to give, we just do.

I write this for myself more than anyone else. This is not meant to be convicting for anyone but me, but maybe a call-to-arms wouldn’t be the worst thing right now. There is so much going on in the world right now, and the answer has never not been to love one another. I’m still working on how to do that in tangible ways, because when you see someone tied to the train tracks it’s just not enough to send them our prayers. Jesus did more than just pray for his fellow human. He turned love into a verb, and I hope to do some semblance of the same.

I’m so tired of the world being sad, so maybe let’s do something about it?