I'm Just Saying

Regrets, I’ve Had A Few

Let’s talk about regret. And about doing things that we regret. Because I’ve been really, really good at that this last week.

This might sound arrogant or presumptuous, but if I’m being honest I really don’t often do things that I regret. I try hard to keep a level head on my shoulders and to think before I do things.

But this last week has been a rough one in my life for a lot of reasons. My mind has been pulled in a lot of directions with a lot of things, and as a result my mind has been even less mine than it normally is.

What is hard about doing things you regret is that you can’t undo them. You have no way of knowing just what your actions have done or how they have changed your life.

What’s funny about this post is that from a grand perspective these things I’ve done really aren’t bad. They really aren’t even regret worthy. I honestly should’ve saved this post for something regret worthy.

I was talking to God about this tonight, and it was a really great experience because I’ve felt rather far away from Him throughout this whole thing.

He assured me, as He always does, that He has a plan and everything is going to be okay. That our tiny mistakes aren’t going to ruin the grand scheme.

It’s such a relief to know that even when we slip up, God is still on our side. He is still there for us, and His promises are still sure.

We just have to start again and have faith and hope.

I'm Just Saying

When The Night Is Coming Down

Today I want to talk to all of you about anxiety and depression.

This post is something that I have had on my mind for a really, really long time. For a few years probably, if I”m being honest. I have mentioned this kind of this vaguely in some posts or posted about it indirectly in others, but today I want to be open and honest about it. True to Jordan fashion I’ll probably remain a little vague, but I’ll share the most important facts of my story with you.

Mental illness is a pretty touchy subject for a lot of people. Despite the growing understanding of it in recent years, I think that it still remains a largely taboo subject. I think there are a lot of reasons for this, honestly, but one of them is because mental illness is really hard to understand. And until you’ve dealt with something like anxiety or depression it is really hard to wrap your mind around what it does to your brain. Another thing that makes it hard to understand is that even though there are common symptoms or feelings, it honestly does different things to everybody. But today I want to tell you my story; or give you as much of a glimpse as I can.

I grew up in a family who operates by ignoring the deep issues. My father was severely boxesabused as a child and to this day has never sought any kind of professional help for the things he experienced. We are a farming family: hard workers who believed in getting the job done. Because of these many different factors, any kind of emotional struggles we ever had as children were dealt with with a “get over it” mentality.

Before I continue let me just say that I don’t think this was any fault of my dad or his experiences. Or my mother for that matter. The older that I get the more I realize that the generations before mine simply dealt with hard things that way in general. If there wasn’t a physical problem or a physical way to fix it, then it is easier to forget about it. Box it away in your head. And even though we’ve discovered that this isn’t necessarily healthy, I understand it. Maybe because I was raised that way or maybe because sometimes it just makes sense, there are days when boxing away the emotional baggage is incredibly tempting.

Anyway, with this background as context, this was the mentality I grew up in. Looking back at my childhood now, I recognize one period of time in particular when I was very depressed and needed help and didn’t get it. After this experience, I followed in the tradition of boxing things up. A lot of other factors played into this, factors I won’t get into, but eventually, my mentality was to either deal with my issues by myself or act like they didn’t exist. I didn’t feel like bothering anybody with things because I didn’t like asking for help. I didn’t like inconveniencing anybody with my problems. So if I couldn’t deal with it alone, I simply ignored it.

For me, anxiety and depression go hand in hand. I think that’s the case with a lot of people. (I will also say as a quick aside that there are way more people in this world that deal with anxiety and depression than we even know.) As a general rule, I think I deal with depression more than I deal with anxiety, but anxiety is still very real and usually triggered if I’ve had a bad day depression wise.

All of this information about myself was hard learned. If I’m being completely honest, the words “anxiety” and “depression” did not exist in my vocabulary in reference to myself until I was 19 years old. I was serving my religious mission when all of that happened, which is really where everything came to a head.

I will never forget the moment that I broke.

I remember where I was and who I was with. I remember what time of day it was – 9 brokenp.m. I remember every detail of how it felt. Like a giant cavern had opened inside of me and I was falling inside of it, falling forever and ever and ever and smashing into the sides along the way. After several weeks of intense pressure, one single moment not only cracked open the emotional boxes I’d packed on my mission itself but every emotional box I had ever packed ever. Every single one split wide open all over inside of me.

To date, there have been two such moments in my life when this type of thing happened inside my head. And both times my very first thought was, “Well (insert expletive of choice), this is going to hurt.”

I’m not sure if this practical/joking approach to emotional decimation is healthy, but nevertheless, that’s what my brain decided to say in that moment. The last moment of sanity before the madness, apparently. But I digress.

The aftermath of this first breaking moment was not good, to put it mildly. For months afterward, every moment of my life was a constant battle to try and figure out what was going on inside my head and how to fix it. It was the hardest thing I’d ever dealt with up to that point in my life. Looking back on it now, depression was probably the main thing I was dealing with, but anxiety was close on its heels.

I remember waking up every morning. Waking up was the most horrible thing to ever happen to me for days and days and days. The instant I gained awareness, the dark cloud descended on me again. There was absolutely no escape from it. Have you ever woken up in the morning crying? I wouldn’t recommend the experience. Every single morning was the devastating moment of, “Oh, I’m still here. This is still my reality. I have to do this again.”

candleDepression is horrible. There’s no way around that. Nobody should have to deal with things like that. Nobody should be trapped inside their own head like that. There is something about depression, about the moments when it is the worst it gets, when you are in the darkest of places, and you sit and realize that nobody is coming to save you, that is one of the worst things a human can experience.

And as hard as it is for those of us on this side of it, it is also incredibly hard for the people who have to watch us go through it.

Because more often than not, they just want to help. They can see the value of life and the potential we have so much more clearly than we can. More than anything they want to be there for us and help us fix it. But when we don’t even understand everything that’s going on in our head, it’s so hard to let others try and figure it out.

For me, one of the hardest things about depression is that even when it is horrible, just downright terrible, and I’m in the midst of that kind of darkness, I still know what all the answers are. I know the value of life, I know there’s a point, I know great things are ahead of me, I know that God has promised me incredible things and that He does not and cannot lie. Everything motivational you could think of, I know. I know all of that. But in those moments that are the darkest of dark: I just don’t care.

And I honestly think that’s the greatest tragedy of all. Just not caring.

When you mix this mental illness that brings you to a state where you truly and honestly do not care with a mental illness that makes you care too much, you’re going to have issues. It is 100% completely immobilizing. And honestly a little bit humiliating. I have a hefty record of canceling plans, being unable to make it to work, and basically avoiding the process of life because of things that are going on inside of my head. It’s frustrating because you want to be fine. You realize how crazy all of it sounds, and that by all accounts you’re completely okay.

It’s hard because on the outside you appear completely fine.

But you’re just not.

To continue with my story, I eventually got things figured out. I say “I” but honestly I was not the one who figured it out. I was surrounded by an army of supportive people who refused to leave me alone, but not in a way that suffocated me. They were simply there. To talk when I needed it, to support me when I needed it, and to cry with me when I needed it. They figured it out for me. They carried me through. They taught me that love is the key.

I wouldn’t say that there just came one day when everything was suddenly okay. Because to this day, I still fight the same battles sometimes. And they are still just as devastating. But I will tell you a few of the things that helped me get to a point where I could entertain the notion of life again.

  • When I realized that the things I was dealing with were real, it became easier to move forward. I had spent so much of my life feeling like emotional things were fake, something to be pushed away. But once I came to terms with the fact that it was a real thing it was much easier.
  • For a period of time, I allowed myself to embrace the darkness. It is a risky strategy lightthat I’m not sure I’d recommend. But for a moment I let myself be completely immersed in the darkness, I embraced it, I lived in it. The hard thing about this strategy is that it is so easy to get stuck there. But for whatever reason, allowing myself to be in the darkness helped in the end. I didn’t stay there long, not at all, but getting to a point where I could admit the issues with complete honesty and face them head on helped. If you’re going to pull this kind of mental battle, you have to know when to retreat. If you fight it too long really bad things happen. You have to run away from the darkness before you’re ready. If you get too comfortable there that’s not a good thing.
  • I had to understand some things about my mind. I had to come to terms with the fact that I am a human being who feels things on an incredibly deep level. That goes for sadness or happiness and everything in between. Once I came to terms with this fact about myself – or was at least aware of it – it became easier to move forward.
  • I learned the difference between moving on and moving forward. I learned that “moving on” is pretty much a myth. Sue me, but none of us really ever “move on” from anything. Nobody just forgets completely about the things that happen to them and live life merrily like it never happened. To be honest, I felt dirty. I felt dirty and used after going through all of this. And when you feel dirty and used, moving on isn’t really a thing. You just do your best to move forward and cling to whatever whispers that someday you’ll feel clean again. You move forward, not on.
  • Along with this, I had to learn that being beaten up by the world doesn’t make me dirty. For reasons I don’t know, my entire life I’ve thought that if I remained untouched or innocent of certain things in the world then I was clean. But the moment I broke I was dirty, the moment I let the world hurt me I was dirty. To this day I still struggle with this and fall prey to it, but until I began struggling really badly with anxiety and depression I didn’t even know it was a thought pattern that I had. Becoming aware of it made a lot of things a lot clearer.
  • I learned to find joy in small or new things. I learned to dig the joy out of small moments. I went on this crusade to discover new things and find the joy in learning and discovery. This discovery of new things to love and find joy in is a great strategy that I still use.
  • I learned that sometimes we just have to go for certain things – even if we aren’t ready. A few months after this breaking moment the time came for me to move areas in my mission. I was terrified because even though I’d been struggling so badly, at least everything in my life was familiar. I felt I had come so far and I was scared that a move would take me right back to square one. But even though I wasn’t ready I went forward with faith, and it ended up being one of the best parts of my mission. I didn’t feel ready, I was still so trapped inside my own head, but I went for it anyway.
  • I learned to hang on to words. Because my brain/body is so crazy steeped in emotion, I had to learn how to hang on to facts. For me, this came in the form of words. That way, even in the black moments there were words I could remember. As a person who loves words, this was an especially effective strategy for me. Even when I wasn’t feeling great, when my emotions were so dark and so overpowering, I could remember words, comforting words from others or from God, and get through it.

dream of sunlightThis is definitely my longest post to date, and if you’re still with me, thank you so much. The end of my story is an interesting one. And since I’ve dropped you this novel I’ll give you the short version – I mostly “recovered” from this breaking moment for a few really wonderful months that are very precious to me. I met great people and had so many wonderful adventures. I eventually experienced a relapse, however, and became so ill that I had to return home. I had to sort of begin again with my recovery process, but all the things I had learned about anxiety/depression and myself made it much easier.

Anxiety/depression aren’t things that you ever 100% recover from. They are things that you learn to live with and manage. Some bouts are more serious than others. And you do your best to move forward step by step even if you don’t care, even if you’re surrounded by darkness. Hang on to the words, the facts that you do know. Remember that you aren’t alone, even in the moments when you realize that nobody is there to save you. Because even if you can’t believe or feel that you’re not alone, it is still the truth. That’s the beauty of truth: it is the truth no matter how we’re feeling. That’s been a huge comfort to me in my own journey.

Much Love.

I'm Just Saying

Just Do It, Please?

I have so many things going on inside of my head tonight. And if I’m being honest I have absolutely no idea how to get any of them out. I have begun this post three or four times and gone back and forth about whether or not to post anything tonight.

Earlier tonight I had a really great idea about what to post. I think it was going to be really wonderful, and I was quite excited about it. And then after three or four hours of homework in which I read two very shaking short stories and a 23 page article about Confucianism, I could no longer remember what this blog post idea was.

But still, I felt the need to come on here and say some of the things that have been rolling around in my head the last few days.

I’m not sure why.

Sometimes I feel this burning need to get something out, to say something that has been nagging at me. And I just know that after I get it posted and somebody out there reads it, something in the world is going to change. Maybe I’ll change somebody’s life and they’ll be inspired to act on my words.

I can’t say that this has ever happened in the years that I’ve been blogging. I also can’t say that it hasn’t, but I digress.

I’m fairly certain that I wanted to post something spiritual. You are all aware of how religious I am, and that my religion plays a huge role in my life.

Do you ever feel like you just say the same things over and over again in your creativity? I don’t even want to know the number of times I have posted something to the effect of:

Just do it. If God tells you to do something, do it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Sure, there are unknowns. Sure, it’s scary. But there will never be a time in your life when you’re completely ready for something. There will never be a time when you know all the answers. Life is too short to wait around for whatever it is you’re waiting around for. Trust that God has a plan and He knows what He’s doing. And if you happen to do something really stupid and not do what you’re supposed to do, then get back on the path of doing what He told you to do. It’s never too late with God.

And since my mind is now blank, I’m just going to trust that this was, in fact, what I was meant to write to you all tonight. Even though I’m quite sure this is just me giving you the same post I’ve given you a million times. But if I am supposed to write it again, I can only assume from a spiritual perspective that that means that one of you isn’t getting the message.

Whoever you are, just do whatever it is you’re supposed to do. Please?

I'm Just Saying

The Things We Learned Last Summer

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetFrank Sinatra has a song entitled, “The Things We Did Last Summer.” Of course, music being what it is, he’s not the only one who ever sang that song, but as we’re all aware he’s the most important.

I’ve had the title of this song on my mind for quite a while now. You see, the last four months or so of my life have taught me a lot. Particularly the last two months. And for some reason, every time my writer mind tries to make sense of all the lessons I’ve learned this song title comes to my mind. But with a twist. And I’ve decided that if I were to ever write a book about everything I’ve learned in the last two months, I’d title it, “The Things We Learned Last Summer.”

I personally think it’s a pretty great title. It would also be a very good book, too, for that matter.

All of you are aware that this blog has been an interesting place lately. I, Jordan, the queen of keeping my readers in the dark about what’s going on in my life, have been very, very open about my recent heartbreak.

My life just came to the point where I truly and honestly did not care anymore. Every decision was prefaced with a, “Well. Why not?”

So all of you got to see very clearly and deeply into some of the blackest moments of my life. Congratulations. I’m sure it was thrilling for you. (Please note the sarcasm, I’m sure it wasn’t that fun.)capacity

But goodness, I’ve learned a lot. God has been super enthused about teaching me lessons, and I’m doing all that I can to absorb them like a sponge. Tonight I’m feeling a little more introspective than usual, which can only spell disaster to be honest but we’ll roll with it. I’d like to here record a few of the lessons I’ve learned. I’m doing this more for myself than for any of you, so I apologize for that, but hopefully you can take something from this post and not have to learn through experience the way that I did. So, here we go.

The Things We Learned Last Summer:

  • The only one who knows exactly how you’re feeling is God. He knows every aspect of your life, and He’s right there for you. No matter what type of heartache you are facing, He understands. He gets it 100%. I can’t even count the number of times I sat crying and felt Him right there, or the number of times I was suddenly assaulted by memories that caused a jolt of pain and heard Him whisper very love is powerfulsimply, “I know.” He knows. I promise.
  • As scary as love is, it is absolutely worth it. I spent such a long time being terrified of love, and swearing that I’d never let anybody in so far that they’d have power to destroy me. But that’s what love is. You let somebody in further than you even let yourself in, and you give them all of your love and trust. Every single infinite wave of it. And sometimes it hurts. But it is worth it because at the end of the day, love is absolutely beautiful. And it conquers all. It really, really does. Love comes from many different places, and in many different forms, but it can heal wounds and transcend all hurts.
  • Never give up on anyone. Including yourself. God will never, ever give up on you. And you shouldn’t give up on others, either. Or yourself for that matter. We are all going to make mistakes, we are all going to do things that hurt others. We’re human, that’s just the way it works. never give up
  • But we forgive. We forgive because it is the right thing to do. We forgive because we want to be forgiven. We forgive because it is the only way to heal. Forgiveness requires love. They go hand in hand.
  • Listen to God. I’ve been taught this so, so much over the last year or so, and it has really been driven home the last two months. When you receive an answer from God, when you know what you are supposed to do: DO IT. It doesn’t matter how crazy it seems, it doesn’t matter how ridiculous. It doesn’t matter how hard. JUST. DO. IT. If He has given you the answer, He will also provide a way for you to accomplish it. Just listen. Just do it.
  • Be patient. Life is a process.
  • Avoid slamming doors. Literally and figuratively. In a literal sense, slamming doors is just not good for them. In a figurative sense, it is not good for you or others. Believe me, my personality is the queen of slamming doors. It is a defense mechanism that I may or may not have expressed pride in before. I’m quickly learning it’s not something to be proud of. When something horrible happens to me, my very first instinct is to slam the door as hard as I can right pathand run away as fast as I can. To get rid of anything and everything to do with that situation, to treat it as though it is dead to me, and completely move on as though it never existed or occurred. This is not only very complicated (you have no idea how irritating it is when you think you’ve gotten rid of all the evidence of something only to find more evidence weeks later when you aren’t as angry and can’t decide what to do with it) but it’s just not really healthy. And doesn’t promote growth and learning. Most of the time, you’ll be slamming a door prematurely and burning a bridge that wasn’t ready to be burned. And then it takes a little bit of time to reestablish things all because you got a little too hasty to run away from what hurt you. So just don’t do it.
  • Stay creative. It fills a lot of empty spaces, and enhances the full ones.
  • There are, in fact, some things that Frank Sinatra can’t fix. I know. I was just as shocked as you are. For years and years and years I not only wholeheartedly believed Frank could fix anything, he always had fixed anything in my life. No matter what I was going through, it was nothing that Frank Sinatra couldn’t fix. Not this time. Not this time. I tried it, believe me. I played his music and willed it work away the grief, to pull away the emptiness. But it didn’t. Not this time. I even angrily asked him about it and his picture seemed to answer back, “I can’t fix it this time, baby. I’m sorry.” hands of god
  • Never stop turning to God. I needed to learn the previous point in order to better understand this point. My love for Frank Sinatra has brought a lot of happiness into my life, really, and despite how melodramatic I can be about it I’m very grateful for it. His music makes me happy, and I enjoy sharing facts about him. It’s always been a blessing. I have a firm belief that God gives us things like this to enhance and brighten our existence, to help us in good and bad times. But these interests that fill the corners of our lives are not a substitute for God. They make us happy, they are wonderful, but at the end of the day it isn’t our passion for cooking or our love of black and white film that will save us. It is God. Never stop turning to Him. On good days as well as bad, talk with Him. Tell Him everything. Review the plan of your life. Let Him know how you’re doing on the things you’ve agreed to do. Give Him a report. Make sure you’re still doing what He wants. Thank Him. Praise Him.
  • Trust your own journey. God has a different plan for each and every one of us. Nobody’s story is the same. What works for some people won’t work for others. Everybody has a different journey because we all need to learn differently. This is why it is so, so incredibly crucial to stay close to God and to listen to Him when He waygives us answers and direction. To be faithful.
  • Believe in happiness. Never, ever let go of hope. Never let go of love. In the darkest pit of despair, remember that you are never, ever alone because of God. If you can’t see the sunlight, and can’t remember how it feels to have it shine on your face, if happiness is so far away that it is only a cruel memory, just have hope. Hope that you’ll feel it again. Hope that it does exist. Believe that whatever you’re going through will be worth it one hundred times over when you feel the happiness awaiting you. Because when we get to that darkness, complete joy and happiness are closer than we think. Just around the corner. And when the sun finally comes out again, it will be worth every moment. I promise.
  • We all face hardship, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, and telling people that you need it. There is no shame in sleeping on lots of couches or spending too much time with your friends if that’s what it takes to bring you into a new day. Take advantage of the love and support that you have around you. Gather those people around your heart and let them love you. You’ll be able to return this love someday.never walk alone
  • Discover new interests, and rediscover old ones. Like I said, God gives us these things to enhance our lives. It is such a great experience to make room for a new talent or hobby, to feel that passion starting up in your life again. Take advantage of the beauty the world has to offer. Rediscover something you love. Pretend you’re seeing it for the first time. (Frank and I are on good terms, by the way. I’m listening to him right now and all is well. So, there you go, proof of the rediscovery process.)
  • Believe in goodness. I have this personality flaw where I sometimes say that I hate people. And when I say that I usually think I mean it, but somebody very close to me recently let me know that this isn’t the case. I don’t really hate people. In fact, I love people. I love humanity. I love every aspect of what makes us human. I love being human. And I have this overly optimistic view of what that means. Honestly, I do. I love to believe in the better side of people and things. It really takes a lot for me to just think of somebody as downright horrible. I love to believe in beauty and goodness. I love to believe in the good. That’s just who I am. And it is honestly a blessing. We are surrounded by enough negativity as it is. We face enough hardship and sorrow as it be stillis. Just choose to believe in the better side.
  • Don’t look back. When you’ve gotten your answer from God, no matter how scary, ridiculous, or insane it might seem and you decide to just jump and go for it, go all the way. Jump and do not look back. DO NOT LOOK BACK. God has got it covered. He’s led you to that cliff for a reason, and given you that answer for a reason. And He will not let you fail if you just have faith. There will be no hitting the bottom. You’ll jump, and you’ll land in happiness. I promise. Don’t look back. Not for one second. Jump.
  • Trust God. This is just a lump way of summing all this up. Just trust Him. I know it can be hard. Believe me, I know. I’ve got a rich history of trust issues. But He is God, and He created all things. He will not give you answers you cannot follow. He will not let you cry tears He can’t wipe away. He will not give you wounds that can’t be healed. He is capable of ALL THINGS. And through Him, we are capable of ALL THINGS. So no matter what, stay close to Him. Believe Him. Listen to Him. Trust Him. He’s got it under control. Just believe me. Follow Him, talk with Him, and trust the path He sets before you. He wants you to be happy and He’s got a plan to make that happen. Trust Him.

 

I'm Just Saying

Faith, Trust, And…

Many of you are aware that I am a very religious person. I also know that many of you are as well, and it has been a real pleasure to share my belief in God with many of you.

Today being Sunday, I’ve got lots of spiritual things on my mind. Well, if I’m being completely honest, I’ve usually got spiritual things on my mind. But today in particular I’ve been thinking.

To put it mildly, my life has been very interesting lately. And I have learned a lot of things. So many things. And every time I have prayed, God has been right there. Comforting me. Supporting me. And giving me countless answers.

Seriously.

The answers I have received from God in the past weeks have been endless, and too intense for me to ever deny. And they have come in a variety of ways. One of the things I love most about God is how well He knows each and every one of us. As we get closer to Him, we are able to communicate with Him in a way that is unique for each one of us.

Because I love music, He has often answered my prayers through song. Because I’m really observant and love looking at people and the world around me, He often answers my prayers through small things. Even something as simple as a license plate or a shooting star. Or a feeling. Or a small voice whispering to me.

But unfortunately I’ve got this problem. I have a really hard time trusting, and more often than not this gets projected on to God. He’ll give me answers, and suddenly I put on my suit of armor and say, “Okay! Cool! Answer received! I’m ready to make it happen! What next?”

Imagine my shock then, when He simply says, “Nothing. I’ll make it happen. Just trust me.”

Like…what?

You mean, you don’t need my help?

What can I do to help this thing along?

“Nothing.” He says. “I’ll take care of it. Just trust me. Be patient.”

And there I am, kneeling beside my bed in prayer all like…okay. Cool. Answer received. I’ll just…go on my merry way.

But here I am, learning things. This is honestly such a new experience for me. And I get anxious and frustrated and discouraged too easily. I start wishing I had more faith. But then I’m reminded that I did get this far, and that’s something. And to be honest, I think that all of us have more faith than we think we do. Really.

God is giving me answers that make my heart want to burst and soar all at the same time. But then He asks me to trust Him. He’s going to make it happen. For some reason that is so much easier said than done. I’m not used to reaching out and relying on others that much, and yet time and time again recently God has been asking me to learn how to do that. And now it’s time to rely on Him. To trust these incredible answers I’ve received and wait patiently.

It’s all about trust right now.

But then again, maybe that is the lesson. Maybe it is always about trust, and realizing that God has a plan, and trusting that He has everything under control. He loves us infinitely. And He is able to answer our prayers and do ALL things because, after all, He is God.

 

I'm Just Saying

The Best Is Yet To Come

It has been a really long time since I talked about God on this blog. I guess that’s probably because, surprise surprise, I’ve let myself get distracted again. I have that tendency.

do it with passionYou see, I have this character trait which is simultaneously a strength and a flaw: my passion. When I become passionate about something, it absolutely consumes me. There is really little else I can think about. That’s why, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I can see things in black and white terms at times. I don’t have it in me to be halfway passionate about something. I have a tremendous amount of loyalty that way. It isn’t something I’m trying to be boastful about, it is simply the way that it is.

And it is always completely amazing to me how God can find me in the midst of these whirlwinds I get myself caught into. Here is a truth: I have to be very, very selective about what I give my energy to. Because I know myself. And I know that once I get in, there is no getting out. That is why I try to avoid popular fads and phases as much as possible (not only because I’m a bit rebellious and a nonconformist at heart), but because I know how easy it is for me to get caught up in something once I’ve put my toe in the water.

But last night, I had a tremendous experience. One that has happened to me before, but happened to me again. I was reminded, in a very simple way, of just how much God knows me. How much He loves and cares for me.

As He so very often does for me, He answered a heartfelt prayer with music.best is yet

I went on a drive to clear my head. Once I’d returned home I sat in my car, holding my head in my hands as I prayed for direction in a stressful time. Frank was singing quietly in the background, as he so very often is in my daily life, and as I finished this prayer, the song changed to none other than the classic: The Best is Yet to Come.

This is significant not only if you know the lyrics of the song, but because this is the second time that God has answered this type of prayer in this exact same way.

I was at a turning point in my life the last time it occurred, right before I left on my religious mission. Many things about my future were up in the air, and though I was tremendously excited, I don’t think that I’ve ever been more afraid. I drove to a quiet place on the farm and stood in the trees, praying that I would know what to do. After several moments of waiting and listening, only to hear the rustle of leaves and the chirping of birds, I walked back to my car in the fading light.

Once there, I closed the door, started my car, and turned on Frank. I hit the shuffle button, knowing that whatever song came on would be able to calm me down and help me think straight, as that is what Frank Sinatra does for me. And what song do you suppose started playing then?

takes us as we areAs I mentioned, I have now had this experience twice, and both times it has happened, it has reminded me of several things:

  1. Trust in God. He loves me, He knows me, and He’s watching over me. He understands my frustrations, He understands my griefs, He understands my confusions. He is there.
  2. Trust in myself. Far too often I find that I am trying to rein myself in, and control this uncontrollable thing that is my soul. But I believe we are all a little bit that way, and we don’t give ourselves credit for the beauty that we are and the joy that we have the potential to bring into others’ lives.
  3. Trust in the process of life. Things rarely go according to plan. I look back on every intricate plan I’ve ever laid out for myself and realize that most of them haven’t turned out anything like I thought they would, no matter how great I felt about the plan in the moment. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life is wonderful the way that it is, and it would have never come to this if I hadn’t been willing to change my plans and do what I felt was best for me, even if it wasn’t necessarily what I’d always had in mind.
  4. Believe. Life is a beautiful thing, and more often than not it is messy. But it was never meant to be perfect, only something to become better at. I have this long-standing, and perhaps irrational, fear that I’m going to mess things up. I love having deep discussions with people, I love getting to that point in a relationship where I can trust them enough to open my heart, and when they’ll share a part of theirs with me. But then I start worrying that by exposing these depths to others, that I’ve ruined something, and then all of the sudden I feel a million times more connected to them and I realize that they’ve become an indescribably crucial part of my life. Like I said before, I have to be careful about the passion thing. But experiences like these brush away all this worry, and make me grateful for experiences that crack open my heart, because all too often it is a little bit shut away. Experiences like these teach me to have faith even in the midst of the mess of life.
  5. Have understanding for others. If these experiences open my eyes to anything, it is all work outthat God speak to all of us in a different language. He speaks to us in ways that we understand personally, because He knows us. He knows how to help soothe each individual heart. I can always tell when I start to get close to somebody because I start wondering what things they are passionate about, and what things help soothe their heart. And I start wanting to share mine with them. It is a beautiful perspective, to realize that God understands us so well, that He speaks in different ways to His children. It helps me understand that we all receive comfort or revelation in different ways. Its an incredible thing.

For several posts now I’ve been alluding to a struggle I’m experiencing in my life. You all know me well enough to know that I’m not going to be pouring out all the gory details to you probably ever, but I will tell you this: with the end of my semester approaching, it has me thinking a lot about life in general. It has gotten me thinking about what I want in life, and how I’ve realized that it is quite a bit different than I expected.

Endings always cause this kind of reflection for me. So not only am I trying to juggle finals and papers and moving and good-byes that I’d rather not face ever, but I’ve all this philosophical stuff taking up room in my already very over-crowded head.

But then last night happened, and I was given a very personal, profound, and simple reminder: God is there. He knows me. He loves me. He has a plan. Have faith. Have courage. Have hope. Be loving and kind. Don’t worry. The Best Is Yet To Come.

I'm Just Saying

The Wisdom Of Bike Paths

bike pathI remember sunlight. Hot, hot sunlight falling in giant golden waves from a wide, blue sky. So hot that the cement of the sidewalk burned my feet through my shoes. The air was so thick that the only relief was getting on our bikes and riding along, just to get moving through the humidity. There came a point when I just had to acknowledge that I would never be dry again.

There were bike paths we used. We’d fly down the sidewalks, skirts flying, through groves of trees where cicadas chirped loudly. At first I hated that sound. Probably because one tried to attack me once. We’d ride under the trees, in the dappled light, and come out on the other side in a whoosh of air.

I miss it that feeling.

My religious mission ended about nine months ago now. I cannot believe that it has been that long. And though it was a huge part of my life, so incredibly vital, it isn’t something that I talk about a lot on this blog.

To be fair, there’s lots that I don’t talk with you about.

It’s not as though I feel guilty or anything. I’m sure there is a lot that the blogs I follow don’t share either. And that’s fine. We can all choose our level of privacy. I’ve just chosen that mine be pretty strict. sunflowers

The reason that I bring up my mission tonight is because I’ve got a lot going on in my life right now. I mean, A LOT! You probably guessed this by my lack of posting, which I apologize for. Honestly I’ve just been trying to keep my head above water here.

But my mission changed my life forever. It changed me. To this day, my mission has an impact on my daily life and I think it’s pretty safe to assume that it always will.

There were many times out there in that Texas heat that I felt so incredibly alone. Interesting, when I knew that I was on the Lord’s errand. It seems so beautifully intricate to me now, though, how God works. How He teaches us things. There were many things I didn’t understand then that I understand right now. In this moment.

As a history student I look at the past every day, it is one of my main passions and makes my heart so happy. These past weeks since being in school again have broken my soul wide open, and things are pouring out of it that I forgot about.

pietaI look at Michelangelo’s work and can’t breathe. His sculpture literally takes my breath away. It makes me cry. Looking at his work Pieta is nothing less than a spiritual experience. His works are so beautiful it aches.

Leonardo da Vinci has forever been one of my all time favorite historical figures. It is only recently that I realize how much his work pulls at my heartstrings. His paintings bring about an awe that I cannot suppress.

I have discovered that Anglo-Saxon literature breathes a fire into my blood. When I read the opening lines of Beowulf I couldn’t help myself: tears welled in my eyes. There was one passage in particular that caused an actual gasp to come from me. A man sees Beowulf and says about him, “He is truly noble.”

This pulled at me in a way I could neither deny nor explain. I’ve been fascinated with the word “noble” for a long while now. In fact, I have a canvas on my wall painted in royal blue with the word NOBLE painted on it in big gold letters. It reminds me daily of what it means to be a noble person, and to act as one.

All of this beauty and inspiration has gotten the wheels in my mind turning in ways they haven’t for a long time. To be honest, I was beginning to fear that I’d lost my talents and passions. I was beginning to fear that my ambitions were gone and that my thirst for knowledge had been drained.

mondaI’ve come to find the opposite has happened. It is as if my mind cannot get enough, and it’s spilling into my heart and soul. And instead of filling, they are only expanding and crying out for more beauty and knowledge. It is incredible to me how it is all working. I sit in awe and wonder how I’ll ever learn it all, how I’ll ever hold everything I wish to know.

And then I think of the practical things. Where will life fit in this scholarly road? For surely one must put scholarly pursuits aside at some point to just enjoy the sunshine.

And there we come to another theme in my life. The sunshine. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been thinking so much about my mission.

I miss the sunshine! I haven’t seen it in days, and my soul is craving it. I just keep reminding myself that someday it will shine and someday there will be green grass again. Grass that you can lay in and roll around in, sunshine that will tan your skin, and the heat will just sit there and roll over you, and it will feel incredible. And all of that sunshine will just go right into your soul. And that is beautiful.

And with it all there has been a lot of confusion. A lot of loneliness. It is strange to think that being surrounded by thousands of people I could feel lonely. But I do. My family isn’t even that far away, but still I feel separated from them in a strange way.

And I don’t know how to make it all fit. Life and family and knowledge and learning. And nobleI know that it can, and I know that it will. But the sidewalk isn’t as illuminated as it was in Texas. The way to go doesn’t seem as clear. But then again, at the time it didn’t either. At the time, apart from all of the wonderful things I was doing and becoming, I was having the hardest time I’d ever had in my life. I couldn’t see the way. But eventually I did, and when the answers came they were brilliant.

Lately I have been going through an experience similar to one I had previous to my mission, where I was confused and felt lost. I felt that something was missing but I didn’t know what. The answer that I received then was very simple: Have faith and continue on in what you know.

I did that. And the answer did come. Though it isn’t exactly the same now, it is similar. I sundon’t necessarily feel as if something is missing so much as I feel that it isn’t all coming together. It has been strange because in many ways I’m very, very happy. All of this learning has fed my soul in a way it sorely needed, and brought me a kind of joy that I’ve dearly missed.

But in the things that I don’t understand, I can have faith. I can continue forward in what I do know and trust that the rest will come with time. I can remember that the sun is still shining, even if I can’t see it, and soon it will be warm again.