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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cynicism, I don't want you in my life anymore.

It has been a very, very long time since I have written on here.

I've tried to be more transparent about what I've been going through recently. Initially, I would have rather dealt with it myself and kept the front of my "perfect life" up but thats not really what I want.

This past year, a LOT of change has taken place. I got married and started a life in Monroe with the man of my dreams. We are so incredibly blessed to say that all of our dreams are coming true and every. single. one of our prayers has been answered and exceeded. Gods grace is immense.

Prior to our wedding, I had been dealing with depression. Depression that was taking place due to the wall I had put up between me and God to be honest. Something that one should never do before you're about to get married. My husband knew what was going on in my heart. I always told him everything that was going on in my mind and he patiently took it all in while praying for me to shut up and run back to our heavenly Father. He always listened to everything I had to say, never told me I was stupid or crazy to be feeling the things I was feeling but always having the faith to carry us both.

The wall that I had put up can be summed up in one word: cynicism. This wall was a place where I questioned everything- the purpose of my life, the Bible, the church, even God's existence, which was the most painful place I think I have ever been.

This cynicism grew out of a combination of things.
First and foremost, my lack of reading Gods word. I didn't want to read it because it didn't make sense to me anymore. That was a time I needed to read it the most, to try to be able to make sense of it. I heard God whispering to me to open it but I always tuned Him out. I didn't want to face truth.
Second, I had very little Christian influence. Starting my second semester of my Junior year at college, I spent a lot of time locked up in my room watching Netflix. I went to church infrequently, and when I did go to church, I would inwardly roll my eyes to everything said. I thought it was all one huge cliche. I looked at all the people who attended and saw them as fakes. Just people dancing around to watch each other dance around. People dressed up for a big show. Even scrolling through my Instagram feed, I would scoff at people for their "perfect" appearance and silently hope for their flaws to make a big scene. My cynicism was greatest towards the church.
Third, the change was weighing heavy on me. I was excited about the change that marriage would bring. But the change that was happening in my life with my friends was killing me. I knew my friendships were changing-- something that has happened so many times in my life and takes pieces of me every time. My best friends and I were all going down different life paths and it felt like each step towards each personal destiny was tearing me apart. I don't know how many nights I locked myself in the bathroom to cry over the change.

Scrolling through Facebook, I saw believers putting up walls between each other because of their differences in doctrines. I saw so many people putting up walls between each other because of differences in culture. Differences in likes and dislikes. Differences in political affiliation. Differences in sexuality. Differences in anything you can think of... And every. single. post. fed my cynicism.

I had countless "aha!" moments, where I knew I was in the wrong, and I had to do something to go back to the woman of God I was meant to be. So many times, I would call out to God begging for forgiveness and for a clean slate and every time He gave that to me, I would be back to a cynical place within a week. Cynicism doesn't go away. Satan has had a grip on me through it. This past weekend, my pastor talked about how Satan gets you through your confidence-- confidence in God, in yourself, in the belief that He's got everything taken care of... And Satan only gets that confidence when you give it away. I can definitely say that I gave away my confidence through my cynicism. Because I was so cynical about every doctrine I had ever been taught, about things that were going on in the world, about my own life purpose... I lost all confidence in my Savior.

I never allowed myself to face my problems head-on. I didn't want to deal with them because I knew it would hurt. I knew that the only way to get out of that cynical place was to make huge changes. And I would make baby steps back to God, but I always felt numb.

A few weeks ago, I had an emotional breakdown that made me realize that it was time to let go of the cynicism that was strangling me. It was when I realized I was alone. I had my husband, but I had nothing else. I was far away from my family, had no friends in Monroe, and it was all because I was too cynical about everything to be able to make friends through the one place that I could- at church.

The next day was my first day towards healing. I woke up and knew that the first thing I needed to do was read Gods word. Even if it was just a little bit. I remembered how I used to spend so much time in Psalms and Proverbs because it comforted me. That was a start. The next thing I knew I needed to do was distance myself from social media. There was too much cynicism on Facebook and Twitter, and too much hatred in my own heart to look through Instagram. I wanted to be back in a place where I loved people more than myself and let go of the questions that plagued me.
My husband and I started a bible study and the very first night, God showed us things that brought peace into my heart that I hadn't felt in a long time.

Today I logged back into Facebook and I don't think I need to be on there every day. Maybe every once in awhile to check in on my family and friends. But I'm still fighting against the cynicism-- it doesn't just go away. It is a battle and it is a choice to look at the world through the lens of Christ--to remind myself that He died for me so that I could live in freedom and not in chains.

"Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again -- my Savior and my God!" Psalm 42:5-6

To those of you who read this, I recommend taking a break from social media as well. Sometimes its just a big stewing pot of hatred and questions and accusations and confusion and I know that when I put myself in a place where I am subjected to that, I give away my confidence. I have a long way to go. I'm far from perfect. I'm far from who I know I am destined to be. But I'm working on it, through the Grace of God. And I know He's not done with me yet.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Confessions: when you want to live somebody else's life for them

When I have intimate relationships with people, I love them with all I have.
My friends are my life. They make me who I am, they make me better, and they feed my soul on a daily basis.

My friends, like everyone else in the world, go through hard trials. And me, being the controlling person that I am, would like to jump into the driver's seat of their life and try to steer them the "correct" way.

My fiancé, for example, is in the process of finding a new car after his car was totaled in the middle of the night by a texting driver. This is a new process for him, as he hasn't really had to search for cars on his own yet. With me being in class constantly, I'm often helpless to assist him in battles with dealerships and it really bothers me. This car situation has been such a source of stress to him and all I want is to take it away. However, me stressing about getting rid of the stress has essentially added unnecessary stress to the situation. Me feeling like I need to have control over my fiancé's problem has added more problems. In this situation, I reverted back to some old tendencies of mine.

I've always been this way. At first, people called me the "lecturer" because anytime anyone would do anything remotely bad I would tell them all the reasons why thats going to put them down a bad path. I lost a lot of friends this way. Because when people are going through something hard and they don't feel like they have control over their life and actions, the last thing they want to hear is how everything that they are doing is wrong.

I learned this the hard way, unfortunately. And I've been on a journey of trying to recalibrate my judgmental words to those who I love and transform them into words of support and love.
But that still doesn't change the gut-wrenching feeling of "I want to change your life for you".

When I love you, I feel what you feel.
For a long time, I thought it was a curse, but today I see it as a gift. The ability to feel empathy is a gift. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this world who are unable to feel empathy, for whatever reason. But the heartbreak and confusion that my friends face, is something that resonates within me too. Sometimes I lose sleep over it, overcome with the idea that someone I love is probably losing sleep over that broken place in their life.

While I cannot fully understand all the inner conflictions and sensitivities of everyone, I still want to try to. Thats why I dig into people. I frequently ask "Penny for your thoughts" because I truly, truly do want to know your thoughts. I want to be a listener and I want to give advice when asked for it and I want to be a support when it feels like no one else is supporting.

Its a struggle, however, because most people don't want to give their thoughts. Sometimes thoughts are bad, are hard to swallow, and really, really, depressing. But those thoughts are real.
I'm in a place in my life where all I crave for is real, honest-to-God, authentic humanity. Even if its dirty and as far away from perfection as it possibly could be. Even if it hurts.

If I could just reach inside you and pull the inner struggle out of you, I would.
I know what inner struggle feels like. Just because I struggle with things different from you does not make me any less able to feel empathy for you.
I've said this in a post before-- Its still the same struggle.
My pastor once said that its the same struggle because we all struggle to surrender.

You know how hard it is to want to surrender everything to God?
You ask yourself-- how does one even go about doing that?
When you have so many questions and not enough answers, sometimes the only thing you want to surrender is your thoughts.
So, surrender them to someone who wants to listen, whether it is me or another person you trust.
I'm a firm believer that keeping things bottled inside only lets the bad feelings simmer into a pot of mess-up-your-life-stew.

I want to help. I can't live your life for you, though I might want to, but the least I can do is be a confidante. So lets open up to each other.

Lets be real.