of milestones and men.

2014 was a year of EPIC realizations. As I recall everything that happened over that year it feels like a veil has been lifted. In hindsight I see the fingerprints of God over all the good and bad experiences I went through. I see how God has been hemming me in to a place of surrender, to a place of brokenness, and a place of submission. So today I wanted to take some time to write down exactly how my life has changed and list the milestones I had in 2014.

The year started with me being fed a different view of Christianity. I read a book by Mike Erre titled “The Jesus of Suburbia”. It rocked me to my core. I realized that I had missed the whole point of Christ – of his movement. It wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about being a better person, or the 5 steps to being happy as a single, or how to be a better employee. I was ministering to the healthy and completely ignoring the sick. I was treating my fellow image-bearers as “less than”. It was mortifying to be faced with the ugliness in my heart. And it was also humbling and freeing to accept it and allow God to change me.

I started to explore this “radical” view of Christianity more. I was started reading books about Christians who had given up everything for the sake of the gospel. For the sake of being able to serve God and His kingdom by loving the “least of these”. I grew dissatisfied with the church I was attending. I looked around and saw the focus on small groups and ministering to other Christians override the mandate to reach a poor and broken world. I grew angry when I heard fellow Christians talk about isolating and separating themselves from less than desirable people – y’know, those people who curse, smoke, drink, have sex, lie, cheat, and steal. I grew frustrated when I heard my guy friends talk about women’s bodies and whether or not they “looked good” standing next to each other. I hurt for women when I heard men say that because they were “damaged” in some way, they would not be considered as prospective life partners. I grew confused when I realized that no one wanted to rock the boat. People didn’t want to confront or convict. Rebuke was nonexistent. It was all mildness and meekness and no change. I looked around me and thought…is this Christ? Is this Christianity?

I grew angry with myself. Because I am that person. Who will choose to ignore the less than desirable human in favor of the one that readily receives my love. I am that person who will judge another based on appearance or past circumstances. I am that person who will not speak up in favor of keeping the peace. I am that person who will try to sugarcoat a friend’s sin so I don’t run the risk of losing them. Plank, meet splinter.

I moved to a new church. I heard a lot of things that made me uncomfortable. I learned about being passionate but being compassionate. I learned that I was not too much because I felt strongly about certain things. I learned I could be mad at God. I learned I could have different convictions and not worry about being condemned or secretly judged. I am learning to do all those things for others.

I started to become dissatisfied with my job. Prestige, power, travel opportunities, a huge paycheck…I had it all. And it left me hollow and empty. It did not satisfy. It did not ease the ache of emptiness in my heart. I started to take personality tests. I learned that I was an ESFJ – a caregiver. As an ESFJ I am a people person. I derive great joy and satisfaction from being able to help and serve others. I am also extremely organized and love to create order. This was a shock to me – I knew that my job did not fit my design as a person.  I started contemplating other options. Perhaps I could go back to school and start a new degree. Perhaps I could study to become a counselor or psychologist. I applied to several schools in other countries. I received acceptance letters from most of them but have yet to hear back regarding financial aid.

I felt compelled to get my 2nd tattoo. I realized I was in the throes of major life realignment and needed something to remind me to be brave. I thought about it for a month and got a line from an encouraging worship song tattooed on my back. I felt God was clearly speaking to me that He was going to be taking me “deeper than my feet could ever wander”.

I began to feel overwhelmed with everything God was revealing to me. I felt like my life and everything I had known was spinning out of control. I fell into a deep depression (which I am still struggling with today). For the first time in 5 years, since my last bout with depression, I contemplated suicide. I trusted only a few close friends with this knowledge. My oldest friend was a rock of support for me. I saw Jesus over and over again in her. I also trusted other close friends. Some really came through for me. Others let me down. They seemed to give up on me and stopped investing their time in me, all the while promising to pray for me. I opened myself up to new people. Unexpectedly they were there for me. I learned a thing or two about making new relationships, deepening friendships, pruning relationships, letting go of friendships, and forgiving people. 

I opened up to my parents about my depression. I told them of my fear of losing control over my life. Of the idols I had put in my life to replace God. How my identity was so rooted in my career, my position, my apartment, my paycheck. I was so tired of feeling fearful and striving for control all the time. I wanted to give everything up so I wouldn’t be afraid of losing everything anymore. I worried I would not make sense to them. My parents gave me their full support. My mom told me that if I had to spend everything to find myself and be happy, then I should do it. I knew it was a miracle.

An opportunity to become certified as a counselor came up. I felt a strong pull on my heart to pursue it. I didn’t have the money. My counselor committed to praying with me for financial aid. She also is trying her best to help me obtain a work/study agreement with the program director. While I was thinking about this opportunity I also started to wrestle with the idea of leaving my job permanently, taking a hiatus to take the counseling program and then work and serve at churches and charities/nonprofit organizations for a couple of months. Again, the issue of finances reared its ugly head. God began opening doors. My friend and her husband offered to pay for a pair of tickets. They offered me a place to stay. Another friend offered me another place to stay for a time.

I took a trip out of the country to get my head straight. I was able to remove myself from worry and anxiety for a couple of days and just enjoy myself. On this trip I even managed to develop a deeper relationship with my brother and see my sister in another, more positive light. I met with a dear friend who encouraged me saying “I know this is going to hurt, but I’ve never seen you so close to where you should be before.”

Slowly but surely God was opening doors. And I grew more terrified. I wrestled with God in the mornings while I would sip milk tea, eat a chocolate bar, and do my devotions. He kept bringing me verse after verse on the importance of losing my life for the things that mattered, how important it was to be humble and vulnerable before Him, to give Him control, to not worry about the obstacles in my path. I kept insisting for a grander and bigger sign. One day I felt a peace and a confirmation that I had to do it. I had to leave my job, trim down my life, and seek Him. I had to pursue a different dream – one that is in no way fleshed out but requires inordinate levels of faith and trust in Him.

For now, this is where my story ends. Me standing on the edge of something bigger and greater and unimaginable. Petrified that I am doing something incredibly foolish and irresponsible. Terrified of being homeless, hungry, and most of all…useless. Trying to push back the doubts and trust God.

January 2015.

Honeycomb

everything beautiful and terrifying.

I read an article today called “10 things that will happen when you start pursuing your dreams”. The aforementioned 10 things are:

  1. You are going to be scared sh*tless, more than once.
  2. There are times you’re going to be uncertain.
  3. You’re going to get way out of your comfort zone.
  4. Doubt will inevitably creep in.
  5. You’re going to piss some people off.
  6. You’re going to learn what you’re made of.
  7. You will get comfortable asking others for help.
  8. There will come a day when you’ll want to stop taking risks and settle for something with more security.
  9. You will feel vulnerable.
  10. There will be a day when you’re as happy as a kid who just discovered their first jump house, all smiles and laughter.

I’ve only begun taking steps to chasing my dreams and I’m there already. In the throes of being scared shitless, feeling uncertain, out of my comfort zone, doubtful, and wanting security. I know I’m going to piss people off along the way when I give up everything they value and pursue something I value. To sum it up, I am terrified.

Some days the fear buries itself so deep in my body I can’t sleep. I lay awake watching hours of TV so I am distracted from the fact that my life is not where I want it to be. I am not what I wanted to be. So I stay up till 2 am until I doze off, wake up the next morning, go to work, and chip away at my soul by going through the rat race that has become my routine. Pushing the fear back with activity and a constant buzz of company. I can’t stand to be alone and it’s more than my natural ESFJ tendencies. I am terrified that in the silence my emotions will overwhelm me. I have forgotten what it means to grieve well. To cry out my hurts and pains to God and then let them go. I have forgotten to be disappointed but not depressed. Everything I feel is too huge, too monstrous for my body to contain. It is like a force is building inside me, an anger and helplessness that is trying to claw it’s way out, no match for the poor prison that is my thin skin.

All this because I am afraid. Other people are afraid and don’t have to deal with feeling like they want to crawl out of their skin. But I’m not most people. I have tried to control my life for decades. I can remember being an impulsive, passionate child. A bit of a force of nature. But as the product of my parents’ wild emotions and ever-changing circumstances I developed a desperate carefulness. The need to always be good, to do what was expected of me, because it meant that despite everything going wrong in my world, there was one thing that was solid, and consistent, and stable. I was a rock. Immovable. Only I wasn’t. If I was a rock, I was slowly being chipped at by the force of a waterfall. I was never meant to be this carefully controlled person.

The cracks and chips are starting to show. I have an itch under my skin to change my world, change my life. Do something impulsive and passionate and so very unlike me. To chase a dream and feel every beautifully terrifying emotion along the way. To survive being broken and put back together in pursuit of something more. To let go of everything I’m holding onto and reach for everything I have ever wanted. To feel fulfilled to my core because of all the out-of-control mess I had to wade through to get to a place of clean, pure, peace. The peace that is found in the midst of powerlessness. Peace that surpasses all understanding. And covers a multitude of fears.

fear control change