Trapped in my Comfort Zone

It’s nearing the end of the semester, so there tends to be a lot of reflection on the semester and sharing of testimonies. I have been to two testimony nights this week, and instead of encouraging, I found them confusing and overwhelming. I felt God pulling on my heart to say something, and I spent most of the time trying to figure out what I was supposed to say, meaning I missed 99% of the testimonies other people shared. When I finally figured out what I was supposed to say, they had just given the last call. It was too late. I initially felt so lost and confused that I didn’t think I had anything to say that would bless anyone else. I felt like my confusion was making me unable to experience God in a way that others could relate to… I felt alone, and I felt like my opinions and my experiences were worthless and pointless.

I said nothing. I stayed in my seat, in my comfort zone, trying to formulate each word to be exactly perfect so that my words could mean something to someone else. I wondered if maybe, had I gone up earlier, God would’ve given me the words that other people needed to hear, and maybe it would’ve been worth it. But I didn’t. I didn’t do what God asked me to do. My mind keeps racing that I’m a mess and I need to fix myself, because I love hanging out in my comfort zone, even though God is calling me to deeper waters far outside my comfort zone.

I thought that I was safe in my comfort zone. I thought that if I stayed there, I’d be ok. But I wasn’t. In my comfort zone, I felt all the fears trapping me there. Somehow, all my fears found me there, and taunted me from the outside, reminding me of everything I was too afraid to do. I was angry at myself for hiding, and I was afraid that I would never leave my comfort zone.

I felt trapped. I felt like I was caged inside this thing that knew all my fears and insecurities. Maybe that thing won’t ever go away. But it won’t trap me forever. I can’t live in my comfort zone. Sometimes it feels good, but mostly it feels like a prison, keeping me from the life I want to have, from the freedom Jesus promises. It’s terrifying, but when we leave the safety of our comfort zone, Jesus gives us freedom in a new and different way. We aren’t free from our fears, as we have to face them all the time. But, somehow, facing our fears is freedom. And I don’t really understand that right now, but maybe someday I will. First, I have to leave my comfort zone and follow His call to deeper waters.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

Oceans – Hillsong

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Suicide is Real to Me.

Suicide is a very real thing to me. To some people, it is distant and feels unreal, but I didn’t have that choice.

I encountered it first soon after graduation from high school. A family member passed away due to heart issues, but I never really believed that. Yes, she did have either a third stroke or a heart attack, but why? She had a stroke before I was born. Her second stroke almost killed her, because she stopped taking her medications and refused to call 911. It was only when she wasn’t answering the phone that someone went to check on her that saved her. That always confused me… why would she stop taking medicines she had been taking for like 10+ years and knew she needed to live? Did she want to die? Was that a suicide attempt? When she passed away, was she taking her pills? At that point, she was under the care of nurses, who admitted to not watching if she took her pills or not.

I knew this person was severely depressed and didn’t know if this person ever chose to follow Jesus, but I did nothing about it. I tried to ignore it. And now, I will never have closure. I don’t know how she died. Only one other person wanted an autopsy… so none was done. I will never know. I will always wonder if there was anything I could have done that would change what happened. It took a long time for me to stop blaming myself, but I still wonder if I could have or should have done something. Maybe it wasn’t suicide, but something just tells me it was. Instinct? Fear? I guess I will never know.

All this has taught me how fragile life is. So many people are in so much pain that we don’t even know about. Never try to ignore something, never assume that someone is ok without confirming, never keep secrets that are harmful to people involved (meaning, tell a professional or older adult that can be trusted), and never hide things that should be handled by a professional.

I almost attempted suicide not too long ago, and now I am getting help because my friends didn’t keep it a secret. I want to be a friend like that.

Where did I go wrong?
I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

How to Save a Life – The Fray

Learning to Lean

TW: Self-harm mentioned

Something God has been teaching me lately is what it means to really rely on Him. Like, totally, 100% on Him. And, believe me, that is not an easy lesson to learn.

First, it was the mental health. My mental health got out of control to the point where I needed God. I couldn’t handle it on my own. I would spend great lengths of time just crying and talking to God and pouring out my heart to Him, because I realized that it was too much for me to handle on my own. I had to seek out help from God and others. (Long story short, I am on some medicines that are helping things to stabilize, I see a counselor, and, if all goes well, I will start therapy soon.) That really bruised my pride. It was hard going to my parents and confessing that I have cut. But I think being truly honest with God was even harder. I didn’t want to be honest with Him about why I started to cut and why I kept cutting. I didn’t want to be honest with myself that I knew cutting was a sin.

As hard as it is to be honest with God, it is so freeing when you are. There is so much shame involved with not being completely honest about everything with God. And it’s sort of funny that we try so hard to hide things, because He is all-knowing and knows long before we gather up the strength to admit it to ourselves and to Him.

Currently, He has been revealing some other areas I try to control instead of releasing to Him. My grades have always been really important to me. It’s sort of become a competition between my sister and me. I am normally good at math and at school in general, so this semester, God put me in classes where I don’t excel quite so much. And it’s been hard, because I keep taking every grade so hard on myself. I need to learn to trust my grades and my GPA to Him. I need to relinquish control… but I am scared. I know He is so much bigger than my grades, but I worry that by placing that in His hand’s my grades will go down. I am scared that maybe this is too much for Him to handle. I mean, He already has to deal with my mental health and a couple other things, so why should I burden Him with yet another thing?

I’ll be honest. I am struggling. I am struggling to relinquish control of my grades, my GPA, my friendships, and the list could go on and on. I want to have control. But God keeps telling me, “Hey, I died and rose again for you. I can handle this too.”

In Bible study, we have been studying Revelation. Last week, we talked about the second half of Revelation 1. Jesus is described in all His glory, and John falls “at His feet as dead” (Revelation 1:17). Jesus responds, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:17b-18). I am learning that I can trust Jesus because he has authority over death, because He is on my side. He has all this power and glory, and instead of shying away from it, I should lean into it and trust Him with everything, because He is on my side.

The journey toward knowing Christ never stops. Sometimes, like right now, it’s hard. Sometimes, it requires letting go of things that we thought were important. Sure, my grades will help or hurt me with med school applications. But there is more to life than med school. And, if God is calling me to med school, I just need to study hard and let Him do the rest.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

My Experience with my Racial Identity

When I was younger, I was very confused with concepts of race. An elementary school version of me wouldn’t become friends as quickly with people who weren’t white. I didn’t really understand what I was doing. Everyone else was doing it, so I thought that there must be a reason why the white children in my circle were only friends with other white children. I cut off a lot of friends of other racial backgrounds when I realized this. I wanted to be popular, and I couldn’t be popular in that group if I was going to be friends with people of color.

After elementary school, I was taught this idea in regards to other things. For example, I was told that the people should marry only within their race and ethnicity, because other marriages would never work out. I ended up being really confused, because I could never understand this. Why can’t we just all be friends? Why is there so much division? I never understood, but I also never took the time to research anything. I didn’t care enough to actually learn anything about this.

In middle school, I started to hate my race. I learned in history about Hitler’s campaigns, slavery, and the civil rights movement. I hated the fact that I was white. I hated white people… and I am one of them, so I hated myself. It was a long journey for me to accept my race. I had to learn that I couldn’t take on all the shame and guilt for all those years of oppression of other races, but I should still not ignore that part of the history of my race. I believe that while it is unhealthy and unnecessary for me to feel guilty for mistakes made by others long before I was born, I still have a responsibility as a white person to speak up about the racial injustices around me.

I have white privilege, and I wish I didn’t. I wish white privilege didn’t exist… but I can’t just make it go away either. But I can – and should – use that white privilege to support those around me who don’t have it. I can educate myself as much as possible and listen to other people’s stories. I can support small black-owned businesses. I can speak up when I see racial injustice.

I am still learning what it means to be white and what it means to use my white privilege to support others. I know I have a lot to learn and there are a lot of things that I should be doing to better support those who don’t have white privilege.

I wish I could re-write my past and undo the mistakes I have made. I wish I could go back and change the fact that I have hurt people by casting them aside for their race, but I can’t. I can’t change the past, but I can choose to support people of other races now.

Anyone have any thoughts on this or want to share something relating to your racial or ethnic background?

Real Talk

Depression is real. Anxiety is real. Paranoia is real. Assault is real. Cutting is real. OCD is real. Eating disorders are real. Drug and alcohol abuse are real. Suicide is real.

Hurt and pain are very real things. Mental illness is real. All of those things have impacted either myself or someone close to me. These things are very real. You read about this stuff all the time on the internet. There are memes and videos and TV shows and movies that make fun of some of these hard, difficult things. Maybe you have laughed or liked some of those things on Facebook or Instagram. It’s time to have some real talk about these very real things.

I have OCD, depression, and an eating disorder. I struggle with cutting and was suicidal in the past. It’s hard when people don’t know how to respond. My friends knew everything and were incredibly supportive in so many ways I told my friends so many times not to contact my family or a counselor or any other older adult about what I was dealing with. I don’t blame them for listening to me. For a while, I respected that. But I have realized how much I wish they would have risked ending our friendship to tell someone what I was going through. Eventually, they did end up forcing me to choose to tell my parents or allow them to take me to a hospital.

I wish two years ago, they forced me to make that decision. I wish they had forced me to get help instead of enabling me to continue harming myself by not telling anyone who could really help me. I don’t blame them. I never have and I never will. But I know that I can never be a friend that keeps secrets when keeping them will make me an enabler. I can’t be an enabler. I would rather risk losing friends by getting them proper help than keep friends and watch them fade away.

Even when my friends did force me to seek proper help, I was angry for a while. But they stayed with me. They never left even when I tried to force them away. And, sure, in some ways our friendship is still different. Maybe it will never be the same. But, I would so much rather have that than keep my friends close and then watch their joy and light as it continues to fade away. I really don’t want to see a friend end their life because they felt like there was no hope or help for them. I have been pretty close to that, and my friends were real friends and forced me to get proper help. I want to be a friend like that. Maybe I won’t be liked, but maybe I can help someone. That’s all I can hope for.

I want to be someone who believes in other people, who acknowledges their hurt and listens, but also who forces them to get help when I can’t help them anymore. And, if I am going to be that person, some people might get angry at me and think I am not safe anymore. But, if that’s what I have to do to be a real friend, I am going to be a real friend.

 

The image is of flowers at a funeral of someone who I was concerned about but didn’t have the courage to encourage them to seek help. Maybe it took losing that person to realize how important it is to be a real friend to others.

Do Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.

My mom met this person in a parking lot. She was drunk and clearly needed help. My sister asked her, “So what are you going to do?”

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

God has shown us His will in the Bible. He has placed us in a very broken world. There is so much darkness here in the racial injustice, poverty, hatred, and other issues around us. For some of us, we can live ignorant to these issues, and I did for a while. But, there are some people who can’t ignore injustice, because they experience it every day.

God puts people in our lives for a reason. Is Christ’s love enough to make you stay and fight for other people? Or will you run away? Jonah ran away, because he didn’t like the people of Nineveh (Jonah 1). In the story of the good Samaritan, the religious people passed by someone in need (Luke 10).

So, what are you going to do? Are you going to walk humbly with God. You didn’t deserve salvation any more than anyone else. He loved you… can you humble yourself enough to follow His will and love other people?

So, what are you going to do?

What if there’s a bigger picture
What if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world

Matthew West, “My Own Little World”

Welcome to Chasing After Light Version 2

I am not the perfect person to write this blog. I have so many problems and am far from perfect. I have wasted so much time doubting God’s calling. God doesn’t call perfect people, because perfect people don’t exist. No one is the ideal, perfect person to lead in children’s programs or inspire other young women or write a blog about following God. I have always felt like I was the wrong person, but I am learning that I need to trust God’s decisions more. He chooses the broken, messed-up people that know they need Him, not the people who think they are perfect. I have been trying to remember this quote that people have told me thousands, if not millions, of times.

God doesn’t call the equipped… God equips the called. – Rick Yancey

So, God, I am ready. If you want me to lead in more Christian youth programs, I’ll do that. Whatever you call me to talk about on this blog, I’ll do it, even if it’s hard.

I needed a chance to start over with this blog, because I have been learning so much about God and other things lately. Some of my old posts will probably come back over time, but I needed to redirect this blog to also write about other things I feel God is calling me to speak out about. I have been so scared for so long about talking about certain topics, and those things need to be discussed. God calls us to the hard things.

This blog is still about my journey toward knowing Christ more intimately while navigating through mental illness, but it’s also about chasing after God through trials, through social issues, through sins, and everything that we have to fight against in this crazy, sinful world that we live in. It’s about keeping our eyes fixed on Christ and standing for Him against all the evil we deal with in the world every day. It’s about discovering His will, and then giving up ourselves and our dreams for His will.

Image taken during an internship that changed my life in this broken but beautiful city that won my heart. God has called me to this city, and I am still figuring out what I am supposed to do with that calling. I am trusting that in time, He will reveal His plans for me here.