Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stopping the Cycle

I am really bad at standing up for myself. I continue to find myself stuck in various situations where others take advantage of my caring nature. This is a HUGE problem. How do I stop the cycle?

Saying "no" to different activities or suggestions from others is almost impossible for me. Even when the best thing I could do in that moment would be anything but what is being suggested. One of the major reasons this is so hard for is because I never want to hurt people's feeling and in order not to hurt others I continue to overstretch myself and lose track of who I am. I find myself confused because I try to be who people need me to be. Can anyone relate? Have you ever experienced the social pressure to be who you think people want you to be and in the process forget who you are?

I'm getting so tired of being the version of myself that some pressure me to be. I've been learning that even people who have good intentions can sometimes forget that you were not created to make their lives easier by being at their beckoning call any moment of the day. And I also recognize there are some people who consciously use others for their own purposes. Both types are dangerous and I continue to find myself as a victim to both.

I am who I am. I will no longer be pushed around and manipulated. I am finally saying, "enough is enough."

Here's some conclusions I've come to so far:
1. I would LOVE to help others when I can but I cannot be expected to continually give of myself when it is no longer a helping them. Sometimes we think we are "helping" someone and instead we are just allowing them to remain in a place they need to get out of on their own.
2. By not being honest about what is best for me I am not loving others the way I should be. God says, "love your neighbor as yourself." I have to first love myself enough to take care of myself before I can love others by taking care of them.
3. Some friendships are one sided. There will always be people who want you to be their support, cheerleader, or listener and never do the same for you. It's the one's that will always be there for you that we should all seek to find.
4. In order to make a change in the way you are treated, you must show people how you expect to be treated.
5. Confrontation is uncomfortable but not saying anything is more painful then an awkward conversion.

This season of my life is full of lessons that I need to learn in order to make a better future for myself. They are not easy to learn and I am working hard to build the foundations of the person I hope to be one day. It is through God's goodness to be in the past that I can confidently place all these struggles in his hands, knowing that He will not disappoint.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Repeated Message...

The past two weeks there has been a concept that has shown up in my life at least 6 times. I've been going crazy trying to figure out why God keeps putting it in front of me. And now, I'm done trying to pass it off as simply "coincidence."

There are a few different places in the Bible where it is found but here is the one that I read last night:

"...put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4: 22-24)

This idea of letting go of the way I used to live and deciding to live as the new person God has made me is not an easy thing for me to do. I am very much stuck in the past. And it's extremely hard for me to change that.

Instead of healing, I constantly find myself allowing my past to bring shame and guilt into my present which is hindering me from creating a better future.

I love this quote from Rick Warren: "We are products of our past, not prisoners of it."

I definitely make myself a prisoner of my past instead of accepting that I am who I am today because of everything in my past. I tend to view myself in light of the girl I used to be...angry, hurt, mean, and out-of-control. Instead of seeing myself as the woman I'm becoming. I don't exactly know who that is yet but I trust that I will continue to learn more about who she is through God revealing it to me.

Another passage of Scripture that has this same idea is this:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

God has made me an entirely new creation! The old me has died...but do I live like I believe that? I can honestly say that I do not. Hmm...I am quite a mess. But I know that God isn't finished working on me yet and I will continue to wait for Him to show me where to go next.

There have been a lot of thoughts and ideas that I've been trying to process this semester and at times I have no idea what I'm thinking or feeling but I am confident that I am not alone. God is with me and He is teaching me a lot and I'm just trusting him in this time of growth.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Blanketed with Snow

As I looked outside this morning to see all the snow on the ground, I was reminded of how much I love Minnesota.
Not technically Crown...but it's close enough :)

Yes, I would have preferred for my eight am class to be cancelled but that was not the case and I had to crawl out from under my covers and get an education! :) I've been listening to my classmates complain about snow in March and I just laugh. Oh, how I love MN. When I told my Indonesian roommate Marhenza that we have gotten snow storms in April I nearly gave her a heart attack.

It would be easy to find a reason to be upset or irritated about many things in life and choosing to complain about the weather serves as a great reminder for me today. Sometimes we get upset about things that are out of our control. We try to take all the precautions to avoid certain situations that honestly can't always be escaped. Some times we try to blame God, I know I have at times. When bad things happen in life or tragedies come close to home, we can sometimes lose hope in humanity or we go farther and try to argue that God is to blame for allowing pain and hurt.

I know that I find it much easier to blame others, whether that is God, friends, or family, for the difficult things in my life. It's not as easy to think about the ways my choices have influenced myself and those around me. We are good at comparing ourselves to others and coming to the conclusion that "I must be a good person because I'm better than most people. I haven't killed anyone, or stolen anything, I'm not a criminal, so I'm okay, right?"

Is being a "good" person enough? I don't think so. Why are we willing to settle for simply being good?

By comparing ourselves with others we do not come to the reality of our own nature. Everyday we contradict our own standards. We have a list of do's and don'ts that other people must follow yet we don't hold ourselves to the same standard. Is this alright? Does this makes us good people?

It's strange for me to think about the way that I have come to be where I am right now. Looking back on my life, I never would have seen myself as someone who is seeking much more than being "good." I am now seeing how much my story has been intricately woven by the hands of God. Every moment that seemed dark  and painful I now see were intentionally placed in my life to contrast the moments of joy, in order to make my life into a masterpiece.

I am far from finished and I know that there is still much to be understood but I fully place my trust in Christ and choice to have hope in the future he has planned for me. <3

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Burdened Heart

I just wanted to take some time to share what has been on my heart lately.

I've been learning a lot about what it means to be helpless. I am not in control of all the things I wish I was. It's been a lesson God's been trying to teach me lately. Not only have I desired to be the master of my own personal life but I've been struggling to understand why I can't have more say in the choices that others make. These past few weeks there have been a lot of circumstances where I have heard or seen friends and family making choices that I see are only going to end with pain. It breaks my heart.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that I think I should be given the right to tell others how to live. Rather, I wish I could save those I love the trouble of feeling pain in order to arrive at the truth. My deepest desire would be to save as many people as possible from suffering but I know from experience how much suffering can actually turn into a blessing.

I am generally not so personal on this blog but I feel like I need to say what I know is true. I hope that my honesty is heard in the tone that I intend. Please, see that everything I say is meant out of love. But once again, don't misunderstand me. Saying things out of love doesn't mean it's always easy to hear. At times when others have said things "out of love" to me I know that I haven't always thought they were "nice" but I love all of you too much to settle for nice.

Feel free to message me personally, if you want to talk about anything that I post from now on. I would love to have conversations with you. :)

My time here at Crown has really changed how I view myself. I've always been the black sheep of my family, being the only one who loves Jesus Christ and knows Him as my Savior. And it wasn't until I got here, that I realized I depended on my difficult home environment and trials to keep me believing that God was at work in my life. That may sound really odd but let me explain.

Being in this nice, safe, Christian environment, I feel like I've been dropped on some foreign planet where no one understands what it's like to literally depend on God to just make it through each day. Don't get me wrong. The people (students and staff) at Crown are not perfect and their lives are not perfect either. There are a lot of difficult circumstances that many of my fellow students are facing and I don't mean to undermine those at all. Rather, what I'm trying to say that in this environment away from the "harsh realities" of life that I'm used to living in day-to-day I have no idea who I am!

I've always seen myself as the survivor. I survive the tough stuff. I help my family. I work really hard to support myself. I keep fighting even when the going gets tough. But what now? I don't have any of that anymore. Yeah, I'm a poor college student but I'm used to being poor. Yeah, I get lonely sometimes but I've seen much worse. Sure, sometimes I think about being on my own in a few years and have a mini-panic attack but I'm looking forward to that so that I will have SOMETHING to fight through!

God has really been trying to get me to just stop. Stop trying to do it myself. Stop trying to find something to "overcome." The past three weeks, I've been having nightmares and many restless nights. I was worried that it was spiritual warfare but instead I discovered that it wasn't that at all. It dawned on me that my sleepless nights were God telling me to just rest in Him. He was telling me to take the time to trust that He would be the one fighting for me. I didn't need to do it anymore; Him put me out of a job.

So now I'm jobless and helpless, great. Now what? I honestly have no idea. I don't know how to rest in God. As I look at the people around me, I see them having fun and doing crazy things and you know what I feel like God is telling me to do? Go in your room early and spend some time with me! Don't seek people. Come to me. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS?!?!?! I feel like I am letting people down, I feel like I'm being a party-pooper. I feel so lame and...OLD. (No offense :))

But you know what else I feel? I feel like I'm in God's will. And that is better than any expectations placed on me by people.

To clarify, God doesn't seek to ruin my fun or make me some crazy hermit lady. He knows what's best for me. My whole life I've been so concerned about what other people think of me or want from me. WOW! Have I had it so wrong. No wonder I'm worn out! Trying to please others is EXHAUSTING! Instead, I choose to learn how to choose God's voice over all the rest. So that is my mission. I know I will need God's strength to learn how to do this.

Your prayers would be appreciated as I attempt to follow God's will even when it's extremely difficult for me to give up my selfish desires.