God’s Comforting Presence

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I was strolling through a city with my family the other day, and every person we walked by seemed to call out to me. It was like their life stories were needing to be told. It seemed as if they were screaming out for my help and love and compassion.

There were average families of four that seemed to be enjoying their vacation, couples who looked happy, friends laughing and chatting, but with each of these groups that we passed I felt an insane calling to help them all in some capacity.

Now, obviously, I did not speak to any of these people, but it reminded me once again that we all have stories that remain untold. We all have histories and backgrounds and unsolved problems in our lives. We are all hurting in some way.

And in need of God.

While I could tell that each of the people I passed needed help in some form or fashion or were going through a trial of some sort, it’s not me who can help them because I didn’t talk to them and I’ll never see them again.

But God can help.

No matter who you are, or where you’re at, you always have God but your side to help you through every trial that comes your way.

He knows your history – and he isn’t judging you for it. Some parts of my childhood and life still today are difficult (as is for all of you I’m sure) but to know that God knows about it all and understands my struggles and sticks by me reminds me that it’s okay and that I’m never truly alone.

I hope this can bring some peace to you all. We expect God to solve all of our problems (not saying he couldn’t!) but sometimes the greatest thing he can give us is his comfort and presence. I know this realization has helped me in my times of stress and frustration and I hope it will help you too!

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My Abuse Story, Part 2

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One day we were arguing in the parking lot after school as we so often did, and he got so angry at me for whatever reason that he was yelling and hitting his car – so hard that he dented it! Some bystanders saw it and called the school, so the secretary had to come out and check on us. Thankfully, he never hit me.

I will admit that we were quite physically and sexually attracted to each other, but there were still some days that I wasn’t even interested in kissing him – especially when I began to be more and more discontent with our relationship. I always had to weigh my options though – give into him in some capacity even though I didn’t necessarily agree with what he wanted or want it myself, or risk him being angry with me for hours or days on end, making my life miserable. So, yes, I was pushed into situations I wasn’t completely comfortable with and wish I had the bravery to say “no” as I should have. But I felt him being mad at me was worse at the time…

Sometimes I would stay up until he texted me that he got home from work which would push midnight or later. One night, I fell asleep before he got home but didn’t tell him that I was going to bed (because I can’t always control those things…), so he texted me 30 times and called me 15 times, leaving me a message saying how worried he was about me and that he hoped I was just asleep (at 12:30 on a weekday night when I have to be up for school at 5:30). The next day he proceeded to blame me for why he was so tired all day and didn’t get any sleep the night before…

Over spring break I went to my grandpa’s house in Florida, and my boyfriend got mad at me because I wasn’t texting him enough or keeping him in the loop. Because I was in Florida. With my grandpa. Whom I hadn’t seen in person for like 7 years…

Finally, after prom, he and I went back to my house and met his best friend and his date. On our way upstairs to my bonus room where our two friends were waiting, he grabbed my arm in an almost death grip manner and whispered through gritted teeth to me, “You better not ignore me just because they’re here.”

While I have not been physically abused or majorly sexually abused, I have been emotionally abused. It has stayed with me all this time, and thoughts still haunt me as I begin to explore new relationships with other people. But I’m so thankful that I am out of the relationship, and I have been a much happier, healthier person since our breakup. I questioned for a while why God put me in such a terrible relationship. Why did he give me someone that was so charming and kept me around, accepting the abuse? But it taught me how to stand up for myself. It taught me what to look for in a husband and what to look out for. It gave me an avenue through which to hopefully minister to others.

I am so sorry if any of you have suffered any form of abuse, large or small. Know that I am here for you, and there is hope for you to get out of the relationship and into a better life. While I can’t say that I’ve found a better guy yet, I can say with confidence that there are many guys (and girls) out there who are incredibly loving and not controlling or abusive at all, and I pray that we all find that special person who loves us as we are and will build us up and not break us down.

Not everything is your fault.

My Abuse Story, Part 1

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I’ve been hesitant for a while to write this post. I’m worried that some people will think I’m writing this to gain pity or act as if my situation was “the worst.” Neither of these reasons are true. I want to detail some parts of the abuse I faced in my last relationship because I feel a calling to advocate for others that have fallen victim to similar forms of abuse as me. I want to prove that every person deserves to be treated with love and respect and that if you are being controlled or belittled: it’s not okay and you can have a better life away from that person.

On that note, I will be writing a two-part post about a few situations that occurred during my relationship that should’ve been red flags that I was being emotionally abused and needed to get out. I hope even just one person can read this and have their eyes opened to the abuse they may be facing in their own life and that they don’t need to take it anymore.

The first few months of our relationship were great! Honestly, it wasn’t until about six months in that things really started to fall apart.

We both wanted to celebrate our six month anniversary, which happened to fall on a Tuesday, but I ended up having a day-long conference tennis tournament. It was my senior year, so this was my last opportunity to advance to regionals and states. I had been playing all day, and my very last match was a heartbreaker. I was a ball of mixed emotions upon arriving home around eight that night, but my boyfriend still wanted to come over to celebrate our anniversary. It was sweet – he brought me sushi, and we hung out for about two hours. The next day I told him how I dreamt the night before about the tennis tourney and how I couldn’t stop replaying the match over and over again, and he was offended that I was thinking about that instead of our anniversary…

In October, my best friend from elementary school flew down to visit me for a long weekend which was soooo exciting! Before she arrived, I spent some time with my boyfriend, and he got mad at me because I apparently had told him originally that my friend and I would visit him at work, but I hadn’t recalled ever saying that so he got extremely defensive as if I was attacking his memory capabilities. Then, because I felt so bad and didn’t want him mad at me, I overcompensated and offered for my friend and I to wake up at 7am and come see him at his senior picture photo shoot; therefore, sacrificing my precious time with my BFF and bowing to his wishes…

My boyfriend was in the marching band, so I attended several of their competitions, traveling by car with his parents as all the band members rode together in a bus. They were long days of me sitting around with adults for hours at a time, watching their performances, and then seeing him for a few minutes here and there. At their last competition, I was taking pictures with my best friend who also happened to be in band, and he asked me to come with him to take pictures, but I knew his mom was first taking pictures of him and his sister, so I thought it would be fine if I went over after a minute or two of taking pictures with my friend…he was so angry with me that he didn’t want ANY more pictures with me and wouldn’t talk to me before they performed at his “last performance ever.” I cried to my friend’s mom because I was so frustrated…

The scariest moment of our relationship occurred in December. We went ice skating for his birthday. It was a beautiful night, and I was so excited to be on the ice, but I was hesitant as first because I hadn’t been in a while and there were a lot of people. Well supposedly, because I was so nervous, it seemed to him as if I didn’t want to be there or be with him, so he became angry and refused to talk to me or skate with me. Then we argued for an hour on the edge of the rink, him yelling at me for acting the way I was. Later, we were leaving and driving home and in the car he begins yelling at me so loudly, saying, “You ruined my birthday,” and “I hope you’re happy” and swerving the car because he was so angry that I was honestly scared for my life…Eventually I broke down and gave some bull crap apology that he guilted me into. I was convinced once again that I was in the wrong somehow.

 

Hindsight

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In psychology, we learned about hindsight bias. It basically means that after an event or outcome has occurred, we feel that the event had been predictable all along even if there was no evidence beforehand.

I think our faith works this way.

Many times we don’t see an event having a impact on our life until we’ve already been through it and God has already done His work through it. Only afterwards do we think, of course that event was important.

I went to a public high school, but we had Bible classes that were self-funded. We only had the classes one semester a year since there wasn’t enough money to pay a teacher both semesters, and we did many fundraisers every year to keep it going. My senior year we didn’t have the classes at all because we were so in debt to the county.

When I was signing up for classes my sophomore year, we had to put 3 electives that could replace our first-choice electives if the schedules didn’t match up with our other classes. That’s 3 back-ups, not 1 but 3! My mom convinced me to put “Intro to New Testament” as my third and final alternative if my first several choices didn’t work it.

Little did I know that God was working behind the scenes to make sure I was put in that stinking Bible Class.

And I think I downplay in my testimony what an important role this moment had in my life.

In hindsight, I see that the wheels were starting to turn with that class. The Bible was becoming cool and my mindset was shifting. I was seeing the world in a whole new light. And it was all because of this class that I never expected to take.

In my testimony, I always credit my move before high school to my faith, and that is 100% true, but I think I gloss over the things that made an impact on me once I did move. And this Bible Class was a huge factor!!

If you get a chance, take a Bible Class in High School. If you’re out of high school, find a Bible Class in a public school like mine to donate to. It may change the course of someone’s life.

What I’ve Learned this Year

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I could make a list of all the things I’ve learned my freshman year of college, but you can find that on 50 other blog sites I’m sure! What I will do is talk about the one thing I have learned most this year!

When you go to college you meet a wide range of people. Even if it’s a small school like mine, you’re still going to encounter so many different people with different backgrounds and history. I have learned that EVERYONE comes with a unique story.

One of the girls that I met this year, I had actually met over the summer at a camp here at my university. She was really quiet and didn’t really click with the other girls and me, but she was living in the same dorm as me this year, so I befriended her again! Little did I know that this quiet, valedictorian was living with tons of health conditions and taking multiple pills daily. She was born without a pituitary gland which is so rare she can’t even find a statistic online as to how few people have survived without one. But she has! It’s incredible! And no one would know that she is such a miracle without taking the time to get to know her and value her.

Another friend of mine is probably the sweetest person on Earth – no joke. She would never harm a fly and is a huge people pleaser and friends with everyone!! We all love her because she’s always so happy and attentive to our lives! You never would’ve guessed that her dad passed away last year of a sudden heart attack. It’s incredible how she keeps such high spirits all the time for having such a traumatic and heartbreaking experience.

Finally, one of my best guy friends here is much like the girl I mentioned previously. Super nice and friendly to everyone! Doesn’t have a mean bone in his body and always stays true to himself (he has a flip phone because he didn’t use his smartphone enough…). If I hadn’t taken the time to get to know him, I would’ve have never found out that his brother passed away suddenly from an aneurysm this past summer. I can’t imagine how hard that has been on him and his family, but he always keeps up a positive attitude.

My freshman year has taught me that I need to not judge others for their outward appearances or have preconceived notions about people – we all have different stories and backgrounds, and they are all worth learning about and respecting and understanding. I have never learned to love so many people at once as well as feel so blessed with the life God has given me.

Take time to get to know people. And recognize that we all have a story to tell.

Fibbing

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When is it okay to fib? Is it ever okay to fib?

Obviously, it’s wrong to blatantly lie to someone especially because we all know that one lie always turns into another and takes a tumbling effect, but is there ever an appropriate time to tell a small fib?

I am the last one to advocate this, and I’m always trying to find a way to tell the truth and be honest in every situation (because it definitely is the best route!), but I feel like I’ve come to a point in my life where I understand that there are some times where it might be okay to fib like when it’s to protect you in some way or keep you out of harms way.

My parents always told me in high school to blame everything on them if there was something I was uncomfortable doing (like going to a party: “sorry, my parents are annoyingly strict and won’t let me”). I think this also works for a current situation I find myself in.

I coach tennis in the summer, and one of the parents got a little too friendly with me last summer. He didn’t ever physically come onto me but would text me too often and about things unrelated to his son and tennis lessons. Well he just texted me again recently asking about lessons for this summer, and I think I need to fib a little to get myself away from this uncomfortable situation.

What do you think?

Like I said, while I don’t typically endorse fibbing, this parent makes me extremely uncomfortable, and I don’t want to put myself in that position again, so I think I need to make up a small excuse for why I can’t coach his son. I hope God doesn’t look down on me for doing this…

Seasonal Moods

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In high school psychology, we had discussed the mental disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Some of you may have learned about this too or you may have it yourself! I believe it’s an extremely common disorder! I don’t think I have it per se, but I do believe I understand how people who do have it feel.

When I first came to college, I was on an emotional high! I got a little homesick, but fall break cured that pretty easily, and I was excited to come back and see my friends afterward. I was very happy at school through most of first semester. I think it’s been this first half of second semester that has hit me hard.

I’ve felt lonely even when I know I have plenty of friends and spend time with them often. I’ve felt down on myself at times and unmotivated. I’ve felt drained by the smallest things and not super excited for the weekends even when I know I’ll end up having a pretty good time. It’s just taken so much effort to want to go out and get to class.

But today and yesterday have changed my whole mood.

We are finally into spring and are having the most beautiful weather! Yesterday I went hammocking which was so beautiful and peaceful, and today I got to go to a baseball game and do homework out in the amazing sunshine and blue skies. My mood has suddenly changed from feeling down and unmotivated to excited and energized and at peace.

It’s crazy how a little bit of sunshine and warm weather can change your mood completely. I feel so much happier and calmer and more excited to be with people than I have in a while! It’s not that I haven’t been happy this whole time, but I just feel more enthusiastic before doing anything whereas, before, I dreaded things before they happened.

I’m so grateful that God created the sunshine and the change of seasons. I wish we didn’t have to go through sad winters, but it makes me appreciate spring and summer so much more!

Being a Woman

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I am not a feminist, but I do believe in being treated like a human and having basic respect and “equality.” When I heard that women might have to start enlisting in the draft, though, I was not happy! That is not something I feel should require equality…but that’s a discussion for another day!

One of the things I struggle with most is my role as a woman within the Christian faith. First of all, the church I go to back home is a pretty liberal methodist church, and the pastors are a husband and wife. I personally don’t like how the wife preaches, but it’s nothing against her! But I know many people (especially Baptists since I go to mostly Baptists churches now) that do not believe a woman should be able to address and entire congregation as a pastor. I think they argue that it is not biblically correct for them to be able to, but I struggle with it a lot. I’m not sure what to think about it…

The other thing that keeps me up at night (not literally guys!) is the submissiveness of women to their husbands. I find this really hard to wrap my head around especially because I believe it is abused very easily. I do not think submissiveness means to push a woman around. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines submissiveness as: “a readiness or willingness to yield to the wishes of others.” And the fact that the woman is expected to feel this way allows the husband to force her into doing many things for him whether it be making breakfast or performing sexually at his every beck and call. To me, being submissive means putting your husband before yourself and being willing to help them and yield to their wishes as the definition says. I don’t know. It just seems like it can be abused easily and not used the way that it should be. (Good example: A husband is called by God to plant a church in a foreign country. With prayer, the wife should be willing to pick up and leave her life behind for him. I think submission requires God’s will as well.)

These are two ideas concerning women especially within the church and women that read and trust the Bible’s authority that continually challenge me. If any of you have any experience, advice, direction, etc…please help!

On Divorce

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Last night I went to see God’s Not Dead 3 with my friends. It was pretty good! A little cheesy and lame at times but overall entertaining and cool message! One of the people in the movie didn’t really believe in God or have a faith at all, and he explained to his girlfriend why he didn’t: when his parents got divorced because his dad abused his mom, the church condemned his mom and didn’t support her at all. The movie was not extremely emotional, but this part pulled at my heartstrings.

My parents got divorced shortly after I was born, so I’ve always lived in the world of my parents being separated. I’ve grown up with an amazing step-dad, and I’ve always been a big supporter of divorce because I know how miserable my childhood would’ve been if my parents had stayed together. No, my childhood was not perfect, and it was difficult having to travel to visit my dad, and I’ve been through a lot of hardships surrounding that, but I still wouldn’t rather my parents to still be married.

I know that divorce is not good when it comes to a couple just giving up because things get “hard,” but I see it so often that Christians who don’t come from divorced families are so quick to condemn others who do divorce. They always think divorce means that a couple hastily married and now can’t handle whatever small pressures and bumps in the road have come their way when, a lot of times, that’s not even the case. Divorce is not always an act of cowardice or unfaithfulness to God. Sometimes it’s a cry for help.

I have definitely felt judged by friends and acquaintances for my parents being divorced, and I can see how some would be so turned off by this as to turn away from the faith completely. It’s not good to feel judged and condemned when the person doesn’t even fully understand the reason behind the divorce. Some people are being physically, verbally, or emotionally abused in their marriages. Others are stuck in a toxic relationship with a person dealing with their own internal struggles and are unable to give themselves fully to the marriage. Neither of these are healthy situations to stay in, and I think it is perfectly acceptable to divorce.

You could say, “Well they should’ve known each other better before they got married,” or,  “It was so foolish of them in the first place knowing he/she was like that,” and on and on and on. You can keep blaming it on the couple, but we all make mistakes and we all make less than perfect decisions. I didn’t know my ex-boyfriend was going to be as controlling as he was until over 6 months into the relationship! Sometimes things don’t show up right away!

I believe in the truth and dominion of the Bible and that God does not encourage divorce. He does not encourage us to marriage-hop or give up easily. But he also doesn’t encourage us to take abuse and neglect.

I hope that the church can begin to understand the causes of a couple’s divorce before judging them. Show love towards struggling couples and help them to determine whether they are just discontent in their relationship or whether it is truly unhealthy.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

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Cliche right? But very true!

I’m sure you’ve all heard this saying before, but it really resonated with me recently, so I thought I would share and maybe shed some new light on this idea (or not?)!

So before Easter break, I was feeling a little lonely. My best friend was super busy and caught up in other obligations, and I felt like I had no one to vent to or eat meals with when in reality, I have plenty of friends I could call up and say, “Wanna have dinner?” I just feel most comfortable doing that with my best friend rather than my other friends.

Anywho, Easter made me feel a little better because my best friend and I spent all 5 days together again, but coming back to school I was a little nervous as to how things were going to go – especially when it came to the first time she wasn’t able to meet me for a meal or attend an event with me. What happened though these first two days back has been just short of perfect.

  1. Yesterday, I had my bio lab (which I hate and was dreading!). It was as boring as ever, but when I thought things couldn’t get more dull, a guy in my lab group starting messing around with us and making us laugh, and I just started laughing uncontrollably – you know that laughing that makes you feel like you can’t breathe and causes tears to well up in your eyes? Yep, that was me, and it’s my absolute favorite thing in the world! Honestly, it instantly made me happy! I think the saying is totally true that laughter is the best medicine!!
  2. Tonight, I went to an open mic night in my school’s student center. There was also a women’s banquet going on, but I decided to go to the open mic night instead and regretted it almost immediately. I was so worried that I had made the wrong decision and would have a miserable night all alone, but then a friend of mine that I haven’t talked to in a while came by and sat down with me. We ended up having such a great conversation that just made me extremely happy and content right where I was! And this was totally unexpected!

So, to say the least, I am NOT feeling lonely anymore. This week has proved to me that God can give us comfort and a sense of belonging if we are only willing to open ourselves up to it. I do have more friends than my one best friend, and laughter can really make a difference in your life even when feeling the slightest bit down. I’m so thankful for all of the people God has put in my life and for the gifts of humor, friendship, laughter, and conversation!