Monthly Archives: September 2014

Bringing Reconciliation to a World that Longs to Know

(the lyric is from the song rejoice…I haven’t a clue who the song is by)

Due to the nature of this topic I am going to try my best to not use any nicknames that could identify the people I am writing about even to other people who may know them, because that is not in any way my intent here…

At church this weekend, a major topic of the sermon was reconciliation. I do not have time to go into everything, but here is the basic idea behind reconciliation…Community is believe the best about ppl so we can wade through the worst. Not everyone is nice, kind, forgiving–people have been hurt by ppl and I can’t fix it. We can’t reconcile horizontally. Pursue reconciliation. Contempt ignores the positive and focuses on the negative; It says you are not a person to me. This is murder. Both murder and contempt are telling someone that their life is not worth it. It is too thin to just not actively murder anyone–if we think maybe it is then we don’t understand what murder is. An unreconciled relationship says you are not worth it. We’re done…You gotta know who is suing you. (Even if you think you have reconciled if you think about the person and one of the first things that comes to mind is how you’ve been hurt then you are not done reconciling.)

This touched very close to my heart, because I have been hurt by a lot of people in life…and a lot of those people are the ones who were people who I had opened my life to and let get very close to me. Some have been people I trusted to help me, which makes it sting just a little bit more to be hurt so badly. There is a lot of hurt in my life that I haven’t even attempted to unpack…and other more recent hurts that I just haven’t pursued as actively as I should yet because I was afraid of getting hurt further…

I came home and made a list of people I needed to reconcile with…so far I am starting with only the most recent hurts because those are the ones with people who I am more likely to come into contact with again, and the ones I am more likely to actually have a way of connecting with…and I do plan on working on this soon…

I am very prone to meeting someone and the next day dumping my life story on them if I deem them a good person…I am getting a lot better about not doing this, but I guess for a long time it was my way of getting to know someone since verbally I did so poorly. I suppose I figured since relationships were often not long term in my life at that point that it made most sense to dive in head first to make the most of whatever time we’d have together. This plays a role in why becoming facebook friends with me was extremely difficult, and ultimately on my original facebook account I completely stopped adding friends no matter what. I started over on facebook when I came to college, and although I am trying to be more open (and more effectively use privacy settings) I obviously am pretty selective when it comes to friending since I have had this account for just over three years now, and still have under 100 friends. I am very deliberate about who I friend and who I do not friend. That information is necessary to understand that when the pastor talked about being unfriended on facebook and how much that can hurt that the hurt is magnified for me, because I have poured my soul into forming relationships via social media, so as petty as it seems, being unfriended is a pretty big deal to me…and this summer when I was desperately turning to social media for some community when my world was falling apart and I felt so alone and in need of friends to do life with, two people unfriended me…I kind of sort of started reconciliation with one of them, but I know I am not done, and I haven’t even started with the other one. Reconciliation is not about making people like me, and the goal is not to make them re-friend me. I do not have any desire to force people into friendship with me who have no intention of supporting me. I do not need another avenue for people to tear me down–that is not why I am on social media. Reconciliation is about letting people know how they have hurt me and releasing that hurt and replacing it with forgiveness and compassion. I also see reconciliation as a collaborative process that involves both parties taking the time to understand what happened and why and how it affected the other person…I see it, when used correctly, as a potent learning experience for both the hurt party and the party causing the hurt…

On that note, there is also the question of what if the other person does not want to reconcile or for whatever reason you physically cannot reconcile with that person. This is really difficult for me. People are very important to me, so I deeply desire to restore relationships and give people second chances and heal hurting people, and there is one person in particular whom I will refer to as 989…don’t ask me how I give people nicknames…I have a LOT of nicknames for people that I would likely never use to their face although many of them are variations on the person’s name…probs the strangest internal nickname I have is someone I refer to as kit-kat–I have no idea how I came up with that one, but I thought it once and it stuck…so yeah, anyway, there is a lot of friction between 989 and I, and I can sense that if we had the opportunity to sit down with each other and openly ask questions and seek understanding that both of us could walk away feeling very fulfilled…but she doesn’t want anything to do with me and has refused reconciliation. I believe that there is a lot of positive that could come from talking things out, but she is not interested, and I have to respect that I cannot fix it. I have gone as far as I can on my own without involving her, but God will have to intervene on my behalf to soften her heart, because forced apologies are not worth much at all. The best I can do is continue to pray for her daily (esp since the latest I have heard she was exploring Christianity but mostly on the fringe trying to decide whether or not to seriously consider it more than starting to make a life choice) and not let bitterness grow in my heart over it…and this has to be it b/c it is time for girlie bedtime time for girlie bedtime (Anyone catch the teletubbies reference??–and yes I know that by the time teletubbies was produced I was too old for it…that didn’t stop me from occasionally watching…)

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Standing on this Mountaintop Looking Just How Far We’ve Come…Scars and Struggles on the Way

(Never Once–Matt Redman)

I had an appointment yesterday that was frustrating on so many levels…but I can look back at it and see that perhaps although I feel like I am standing on a mountain that this might be a struggle leading me to an even higher mountain…I know that God has given me victory to get to the top of this mountain, but getting to the top of another mountain requires either flying, climbing downward, or being pushed downward before I can stand on the struggled that brought me there to get to the top of the next mountain…

There’s another lyric stuck in my head today too “Nothing’s gonna stand in my way. Nothing’s gonna stand in my way.” (Even if–ZoeGirl)…People might throw barriers in my path, but you know what, hurdles were my favorite when I was in track, so I’ve got this. No one can stop this girl from following her dreams…(Haha, and why was this girl who has always hated running in track? Umm, good question, I really don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea…I tried almost every sport in an attempt to find one that was a good fit for me…and I think perhaps I thought I could get away with just doing hurdles and high jump and throwing things and never have to actually run…it didn’t work out so well…and the only time I got ribbons for anything other than showing up was when there were only five girls running the race I was in…and just my luck, 5th place was the same color as the showing up ribbon…Anyway…every victory is God’s power in me, and I have no reason to believe he would abandon me now.

Also, this is kind of making my resolve even more firm that I do not EVER want to be like some of these people I am coming across…not that I ever did since I am a huge people pleaser and would rather make other people happy than myself happy–which is probably why I don’t stick up for myself very often and end up waiting until it is too late to bring up issues, but this just makes me examine my actions even more closely to make sure no one will be hurt (except for that if I am grading I cannot give someone a better grade than the points they earned on their paper even if it isn’t such a good grade, because that would be dishonest, and also because some people occasionally need a wake-up call to let them know that what they are doing is not working…and if they get 100% without studying then what incentive is there to study the next time (assuming like I am that they don’t understand that the reason they are being taught this material is that it is exceedingly important to know it in order to be the best pharmacist they can be…)

Also, as I have felt injustices and felt somewhat powerless to change it, I have played with the idea of going back to school at some point after I graduate. When I was asked to come up with something I could do if I didn’t pass the interview into third year I was completely at a loss, but over the course of winter break I came up with an idea: I wanted to be a social worker if I couldn’t be a pharmacist…looking back now, I don’t think I necessarily have to do one or the other. There is no doubt that I am going to become a pharmacist, but it could be really fulfilling to be a social worker on the side…I don’t want to wait too long if I decide to do that though, because I am not interested in getting another degree and being too old to start out a new career…Being a social worker might not let me change all the bad people in the world, but it would at least let me give the option of light to a few people, and even if I only helped one person, that is one person that wouldn’t have been helped without me.

A Hero in The Eyes of God

(You’re a winner–from the musical Camp Wise’n’Up)

First off, I have been loving this musical lately, and when I was trying to patiently wait for the alarm (that chose not to go off for the third morning in a row–time for a new alarm) Friday morning I was singing this song to myself…I was going to say I was singing it inside of my head, but in reality knowing myself, I probably sang it quietly outside my head…Secondly, this song is just so good…musically it is great, but then check out some of these lyrics “You’re a winner, you’re the smile on God’s face even if you don’t win the race. He delights in the truth and he loves to hear it coming from you so let the Truth be on your tongue and in your heart. The world may say that it’s okay to lie when you’re in trouble, but don’t believe what they say ’cause it makes your trouble double.” “Yeah mates, good on ya’.”

I am still behind in school, which is a little scary, especially considering my grades so far, but I am getting better and better at realizing that grades are not the only thing in life and if mine aren’t the greatest it is not the end of the world, and I am getting more comfortable with trusting God to do what he does best: making things work together for the good of those who love him and are obedient to his words…may or may not mean good grades, but my identity does not rest on a letter on a transcript…and if it did then I’d kinda have a problem since last year’s grades were not exactly the greatest either…After talking to my academic advisor about things I somehow feel like perhaps I will someday catch up…not really sure how…I do know that the first week of school was really rough and more time was spent struggle-bussing than anything else and I really didn’t get much more than the bare essentials done during that time, so even just the fact that things outside of academics are evening out at school is probably going to help things…

I like to think that my eternal daddy is looking down and proud of the progress I have made in the past year. At the beginning of last year just getting as far as greeting people I wasn’t close to with a hi and going beyond an initial acknowledgement of recognition with people I did know was the best you were going to get from me, so to have the problem I had on Wednesday of not getting much done because I saw someone, started talking, and didn’t realize I was still talking two hours later, is pretty incredible…with who it was I kind of needed to be cautious how much longer we were talking because we were treading on thin ice between the conversational topic and the fact that IT sent her to fill the printer with paper and were probably going to wonder what was taking so long, so the conversation was put on hold, but it does feel really good to have people I can share life with…I guess excessive time spent talking is the opportunity cost to no longer struggling to have even basic communicative skills.

And last year if anyone even so much as mentioned being sick–even if it was not any time recently I went into crisis-mode…I don’t really want to go into that right now, so suffice it to say it was awful and not something I would wish on anyone ever…now: I know of someone who is moving and people have had stomach flu at the house for the past week or so and the reason I am not over there helping with the move is due to my schedule rather than due to the illness…

And I got baptized last weekend. I intentionally kept it small so as not to overwhelm myself or anything, and because I wasn’t sure who to tell since I didn’t want to bother people by making them feel like I was asking them to re-consider their plans for the weekend, but I did it…I now have had ear infections for the past few days which I am guessing is probably related since I haven’t had them in a long time, but that is a small price to pay for finally being able to follow my Savior’s command to be baptized…

So yeah, I am still busy with school, leadering Cru, TA’ing/grading, unofficially tutoring, volunteering at a community counseling center (which is probably the best thing ever for me–last year that was where I learned to meet someone “the right way” for the first time since I was starting to get basic social skills and the person I was working with didn’t have facebook and has her twitter protected–and now it gives a retreat from school to a place where I truly feel that I fit in as a member of the family even though I am only there a few hours a week and would be fairly low if we had a totem pole…I may not even be doing lay counseling but that doesn’t mean anyone treats me at all as lesser for taking on fewer roles), and various other commitments…I know I was talking recently-ish about my life goal of loving life every day, and I can honestly say that despite my school troubles that I am pretty much living the dream…As long as I can continue to pass my classes, I am on my way to graduating and being able to hold the job I have dreamed of having since childhood…obviously God can dramatically change my plans at a moments notice, but I am satisfied with where I am an confident that whatever happens will be to His glory.

You Make All Things Work Together for my Good

(Your Love Never Fails–Newsboys)

While it is amazingness that I am not worried about germs anymore, it is times like right now that make me wish I maybe had kept a healthy level of fear of germs instead of reverting to toddler throw everything in your mouth behavior…

I am not 100% sure if I am getting sick or if I am just exhausted for no reason, and I don’t know if I’m allergic to something, or if it is a cold, or just tiredness that has made me feel like I am suffocating on and off for the past couple days, and perhaps this is a remnant of the OCD leftover–IDK if other people think this way or if it is just me, but I have been internally reviewing the past few days and finding a lot of ways I made myself vulnerable to getting sick…I am glad that I am not being ruled by anxiety and not freaking out about things that I have no control over, but it would be nice if I could, for example, wash my hands before I eat especially if I know the person I have been talking with prior to the meal has recently gotten over a stomach bug…there are some exposures that while I used to try to avoid, the appropriate response is to just accept the potential risk, but in other situations I feel like perhaps I should be a lot more careful about taking standard precautions…I decided pretty quickly after ending counseling with my first counselor that any rules I had agreed to with a counselor no longer need to be followed if I don’t want to anymore when the relationship is over, but I am really considering re-instituting BJB’s rule that hands must be washed before eating, but alter it to only for meals, because I think washing hands before meals is a reasonable thing to request that would keep me a bit safer…which safety might be kind of important since after the amount of avoidance I had I am probably more vulnerable to germs than the average person due to lack of exposure…

I know God has a plan for everything and that could include me getting sick, and I don’t get to decide if that is a good thing or not. With everything going on at school both academically and non-academically it is had sometimes to believe that God will work this for good, but I like to remind myself that my move to my new church on August 10, 2008 also felt like a completely horrible no good very bad thing, but even though I still have myself convinced sometimes that things could have happened differently and been better, I can’t deny that my at home best friend is amazing and I met her at the new church, and while it is true that I could have met her in different circumstances, the reality of the situation remains that it would have been a lot less likely, and that socially I really doubt I would have initiated anything with her even in my other fantasies of how I could have met her, and without the church situation she would have never had reason to reach out to me…

Don’t tell me when I’m Grievin’ This Happened for a Reason

(Not right now–Jason Gray)

The title has almost nothing to do with this post…it is just a lyric from a song I heard on the radio recently and have not stopped listening to since…oh my, such a good song!! (The link goes to the story behind the song–so powerful).

So if you’ve read my older posts you know the part of my story where I realized last winter that I had essentially re-written my belief system to accommodate my fear, and you also know that God has helped me conquer my fear…and so it was time to honor God’s command to be baptized, and I did that today.

…And I almost cancelled it on Friday because I was having a really rough day…I wasn’t feeling anxiety, but I was feeling an overwhelming level of stress and frustration and was about to throw in the towel and give up because I felt like even just the extra half hour commitment was going to make me fail my classes and my track record this semester hasn’t been so good on the grades front, and things outside of grades just weren’t going so well…basically, there is one person at school it is hard for me to be around and I pushed myself not to flee when I saw her, and shortly after she and I parted ways I made a phone call that ended in a way that frustrated me and the cumulative stress just really got to me and I was a mess for a while…let’s just say it was a Really Good Thing I had plenty of spice drops with me because I was crashing and needed a sugar boost…

So yeah, I didn’t cancel and today was going reasonably better…except I probably should have known that self-care might be kind of important especially considering that I was still vulnerable from the previous day…So yeah, I opted not to eat dinner before going to church…I know for sure that doing that can induce panic attacks, so I suppose it is not too far of a stretch to assume it can also cause anxiety attacks, and for the first time in months I started feeling some very real anxiety…and after almost no anxiety for a while, feeling a 3.2ish (out of 10) feels awful…So yeah I stopped by Walgreens to buy more spice drops, except they didn’t have any and I had to convince myself to buy orange slices instead because I didn’t feel like I deserved that. Spice drops are good and have sugar so they are fine for taking the edge off when I am struggling, but it doesn’t feel right to me to have something I would look forward to so much for that purpose–why should I reward myself for not being able to handle my own emotions? It made sense to binge on skittles when I was fighting severe anxiety every day and needed it to be functional, but at this point the candy is more of an emergency backup than a lifeline…I got to church and was up to like a 4.1 which kind of showed when I struggled to walk in and give my name…the friendly assertive version of me was gone…I usually want an option to speak for myself before I let someone else talk for me, but in this case I was so relieved when the pastor said that if they had people introducing themselves and telling their stories that he would do it for me…I knew that there was a pretty good chance I was going to be really fighting to get the words out of my mouth if I had to do it, and the feeling of shame that follows would be intensified with it happening in front of so many people…

So yeah, then after all the times I practiced the routine inside my head, there was a change…I don’t do change well…I found out that there would be no communion…and I also made a new friend, because the person who told me could tell I was scared and she sat down next to me and talked to me for a few minutes…so yeah, at 5:44 I left to change clothes, and then as soon as I was alone sat down in the lobby and rocked myself until my ankles were sore then stood up and walked around and sat down again…I was now around a 5.5 and was really ready to escape…and my new friend saw me and sat down with me and prayed with and encouraged me…she was such a blessing. I am so thankful that unlike MRH who would back off and seem kind of intimidated by my fear that this person could recognize my fear and was not afraid to meet me right there in the fear. So yeah, the sermon ended and we went back in for baptism. As I stood there waiting I was up to a 7 and holding back tears. I really wanted to smile at the little girl standing next to me and be able to be friendly with her, but it was all I could do to just take care of myself…and I did it!! It was a little awkward because it didn’t occur to me at a time I had words that it might be a problem that I don’t see much more than light and dark without my glasses and had a series of stairs to go up and down and was already kind of uncoordinated from anxiety, but I made it! I chewed on my towel to calm down afterwards, but by the time I had changed clothes the anxiety was completely gone…until after the service when everyone wanted to talk to me at the same time…I felt surrounded and overwhelmed…once we got outside though I was fine…and some donuts and then getting some real food in my body was super helpful…I feel exhausted and I don’t know how I made it for so long living with that anxiety 24/7, but other than that I feel fine now, and am really glad I was finally able to do this! I probably need to be careful for a day or two instead of challenging myself to do hard things so that I don’t give the anxiety an opportunity to become a regular cast member in my life again, but I am so excited that even after reaching a 7 that I am pretty certain that I can remain free from the anxiety. That is a testament to the redeeming power of my Savior’s grace.

Here are some pictures…pardon the blurriness…my old camera is in a different state than me, my new camera opted not to turn on, and my old phone which takes really awesome pictures was safely at my apartment where it wouldn’t accidentally get used which left only my new phone to get pictures with…

Me getting baptized
Me getting baptized
Me and my new friend helping me not kill myself walking down the stairs...
Me and my new friend helping me not kill myself walking down the stairs…
Haha...I am only including this one to show how awkward I am...arms out to catch falls in case of estimating incorrectly where the steps are...
Haha…I am only including this one to show how awkward I am…arms out to catch falls in case of estimating incorrectly where the steps are…

So yeah, if you haven’t read my old posts I thought I’d add here some of my story…This is copied from my baptism registration which I wrote in word and copied there…so I think I caught the most important multiple re-format absurdities, but if anything seems wonky still, that’s why 🙂

For me the life changing process started in preschool. I did something I was not supposed to, and from my early Sunday school lessons I knew verses such as Romans 3:23 for all have sinned, and Romans 6:23 for the wages of sin is death. These verses weighed heavy on my preschool mind, and I thought, “I am going to hell.” This was when I asked God into my heart for the first time. I thought at that time that every time I sinned God abandoned me, and I had to ask him to return. This caused me to reconfirm my faith often. It was not until second grade I really understood that God abided with me even when I messed up; Matthew 28:20 I am with you always even to the end of the age. This was when I stopped the constant reconfirming. God has continued since that point to work in my life to make me who I am now, and I have grown much in my faith. Once I claimed God’s love and mercy for myself, I was filled with a passion to let others feel it too. When I was in third grade, one of my friends started coming to church and AWANA with me and near the end of the year accepted Christ. That amazing experience has given me confidence that God can work through anyone to win people to his kingdom Acts 1:8 when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere. God has taught me many things through the years. One particularly pivotal discovery was that if I asked God for something he would always listen and, if it were something that would be beneficial for me, would grant me my request, James 5:16 the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. This exhibited to me the enormous value of prayer, and commenced my obsession with prayer. Another revelation I have received gives me an abundance of courage. This was that God would get me through any situation I was in no matter how difficult, Philippians 4:13 I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. Knowing this helps me to not become so overwhelmed and discouraged when things are difficult. Similarly, God has reminded me of his promise that Romans 8:28 all things work together for good, for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. This has been of great comfort when I feel that something is hopeless and there is no possible good that could come of it. It assures me that even in the most desperate situations there is always hope because God always has a plan for it to work for good in his plan. This gives me much courage. However, he has also shown me that it is okay to express it to him when life does seem hopeless: Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; Instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Through everything I have been through in life, God has shown me that he does not just accept me; He wants me. He does not look at me and say “oops,” but rather looks past my imperfection to see the child he loves. Isaiah 41:9 I have called you back from the ends of the Earth so you can serve me. For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. My eternal Daddy didn’t die so that my life on Earth would be rainbows and daisies; He died so that I could bring him glory and live with him for eternity.

The Gospel is the Good News! It tells us that although we are dirty wicked sinners who deserve nothing more than pain, death, and suffering, in eternal separation from our maker, that God loved us enough to send his only son to suffer and die in our place. They didn’t take his life; He laid it down so that we could become his sons and daughters and live with him in heaven one day. The gospel says that my glory is that I am nothing but God is awesome. The Gospel is the ultimate example of grace; My sin killed God’s son, yet he forgives me and calls me his child.

I grew up mainly in an E. Free church which is Swedish Baptist (I am not Swedish though), and now my family attends a Baptist church. Based on that history it may be surprising to hear that I have not been baptized. It is not that I don’t believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, rather, there have been obstacles. When I was around eight years old I decided that on my birthday I wanted to go to a baptism class, so my brothers and I went to my church’s baptism class. My brothers ended up getting baptized, but there was a new thing that people had to share their story with the church in order to get baptized and I was not willing to do that, was no longer interested, and ended up not getting baptized. As the years went by I felt like I was too old to get baptized anymore–I saw it as something for kids and for people who had turned away from faith and just recently come back. As I got a little older I realized that was not the case, but I was still terrified of being in front of people…and it didn’t help that my family had switched to a new church that was a lot larger than the old one we had been attending. I attended another baptism class, but I never got baptized. At some point I was so terrified about getting baptized that I convinced myself that I didn’t really need it, but I felt like people were pressuring me to do it. As I started feeling more pressured to do it I still resisted, but to reconcile the pressure I was feeling from people with my refusal, I claimed that I didn’t believe in a God who was so picky about where I get wet that if I didn’t do it at church that was a problem, and if the goal is an outward display of faith then that is dumb because as a Christian I should already be living in such a way that Christ lives through me, and if God can save people who die minutes after they believe in him, then certainly he can save me without ever being baptized no big deal…I really thought I fully believed this and really believed that baptism was completely pointless, and I guess I really did…but then last winter when because of the weather baptism happened two weeks in a row, I knew was God’s way of telling me it was time to conquer my fear and do this–but I couldn’t. Sitting in church that night I realized that I had essentially re-written my belief system to accommodate my fear. I am all for accommodations while in crisis to make life live-able, but outside of a crisis situation I HATE when I feel like I am being pulled around by my fear and having to accommodate the fear into every decision that I make. That really opened my eyes to the way that anxiety had come between God and I. I really knew that I needed to finally be baptized, but the idea of being in front of everyone was terrifying, and I struggled so much with germs that the idea of being exposed to the water was also completely debilitating. Over the past few months, God has helped me finish conquering the anxiety that once ruled my life. I am still not a fan of being in front of people–that is just not my personality–but to show everyone that this is not me and my strength, but God and his power working through me, I know that it is way past time for me to take this next step and be baptized. God has done amazing work in my life, and the least I can do is follow his command to be baptized.

And a disclaimer: I do recognize that my relationship with my new friend is completely different than my relationship with my former counselor MRH ever necessarily should have been…I didn’t mean to imply that MRH should have acted as my friend…

Also, I kinda forgot shorts to change into but didn’t want to admit that yesterday…so for the first time in ever as far as I can remember I wore a dress/skirt without any shorts/pants on underneath…and it felt really awkward and limiting…haha oh, and the first words of the sermon this week were “We deeply yearn to communicate with other people…At the very core of who we are we are communicators because we were created by a God who speaks.” I definitely know that feeling of really WANTING to be able to speak but the words not coming…inside my head feels the same way that the kids looked in the selective mutism videos I watched a few years ago when the kids were pressured to speak (I desire so much to speak but am paralyzed and feel like frustrated that I can’t do it and the added pressure of being in a situation where I should speak is embarrassing and produces shame)…I am so glad I no longer live there and am pretty sure that the anxiety I felt was an isolated incident and not a sign that things are going wrong…If the anxiety hung around past the instigating event or if it occurred at every possible trigger or started occurring more often I might see it differently, but since it was confined to a single situation and promptly ended when the situation ended (so definitely without a multiple hour period to get back to baseline which in the past was like a 3 or so anyway, but now is essentially a 0), I am pretty sure it was a fluke, just a product of vulnerability, lack of self-care, and a stressful event…I might not usually be fighting anxiety anymore, but my personality still places me away from the center of attention…taking away my fear let my bubbly and sarcastic personality show through more often, but it didn’t turn me into someone I never was before, and I don’t think anyone would have expected it to make me a different person…I am what I am and that’s all that I am (please please like me–Go Fish)…

My heart was true

(Lifesong–casting crowns)

This post was going to wait to be written until Friday, but I am finding that I really need to share it before I will be able to focus enough to successfully study, and I desperately do need some focused study time for the exam I take on Thursday…among other things…

So at community group last night we got onto the subject of rape, and that stirred up some memory for me. I have not been raped, and I am hesitant to even call what I experienced sexual abuse…I guess more like awkward encounter is the way I would describe it, but yeah…this is something I believe I have only ever told one other person (a former counselor)…but I feel like I need to share it, and writing it is less scary than physically telling anyone.

I was a senior in high school or perhaps I had just graduated–I don’t remember with certainty. I was at church early every Sunday to work on MediaShout and lighting for senior high sunday school and sometimes the services as well. It was often only me and a facilities person in the building and I loved the responsibility of being there getting these things done before anyone else was around. One facility person in particular started talking to me a little bit on occasion. It just seemed like being friendly so even though talking was scary I tried to acknowledge when he spoke to me. He started telling me that we should ride bikes together, and gave me his cell phone number and eventually I gave in and we did it, because I was really bad at saying no and at disappointing anyone, and I didn’t know how to politely refuse.

Except that when we started biking he thought we should go to the lake. I couldn’t find the words to disagree. He thought we should go swimming. I couldn’t disagree. He wanted me to sit on his lap and talk to him. I couldn’t disagree. He wanted me to swim for him. I was scared and couldn’t disagree. Like I learned in lifeguard training to get people to let go who are pulling you down I pretended I couldn’t do it and went underwater…but he wanted me to try again. I thought I felt his boy part touching me the next time as he held on and I submerged again even more terrified and wanting out. He tried to talk to me and the words were not processing. I somehow managed to express that I needed to leave to go to bible study. We left. He noted that my clothes were soaked and tried to take me to Walmart to buy clothes. I refused. I just wanted to escape. He offered to pick me up after Bible study and drive me home. I was non-committal and hoped he didn’t know when it ended. I was fearful about coming home–what if he was waiting for me and was very thankful when someone at Bible study suggested we go to Applebees after Bible study and someone offered to give me and my bike a ride there–I was free.

That night I felt dirty. I didn’t know how to tell anyone what had happened. I told them that I had gone biking and swimming but no one knew what really happened that day.

The male in this story had given me his name as “Gift.” I started receiving texts from him signed off as “Gift from God.” I hated it. I changed his name in my phone to ignore. I left for school, finally free, but still getting occasional texts.

One day over winter break I was unsuccessful in avoiding him and he approached me despite my attempt to hide. He tried to talk to me and I just wanted to run away, but needed to be polite. He kept asking questions, wanted to know why I wasn’t communicating, wanted to know when we could talk more, I tried to keep saying I didn’t know and he kept pushing for real answers, and I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know how to make the conversation end, I felt trapped. I felt small and alone. He said what happened we used to be good friends. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to scream we were never ever friends, but I couldn’t be impolite. I just kind of stared and shut down wishing the conversation would end.

I came home for the summer and had a shirt that I loved that said the name of my school on it and was excited to wear it to church…until I realized that if I wore it what if he followed me back to school in the fall? I couldn’t wear the shirt for a long time.

I am not really sure that the other person did anything wrong. Perhaps I was unjustly terrified because I had been taking a class at school that was teaching us that any male regardless of how well known or what they look like is probably out to hurt you and should be attacked. I couldn’t bring myself to attack anyone, but perhaps that class made me expect something that wasn’t going to happen. Either way, I was vulnerable. Had someone attempted to do anything very wrong to me I would have struggled to resist it because of my people-pleasing nature. It would have been exceedingly easy to get me into a dangerous position. I trust people much too deeply for my own good and had no advocational skills. I passively people pleased. That day it felt like he stole my innocence, made me grow up and realize that people would not always make me feel safe and I needed to protect myself to keep it from happening again. It made me realize how much worse position I could have ended up in and that scared me. I still feel bad trying to stay away from him though…once a people-pleaser, always a people-pleaser, and clearly I didn’t learn my lesson about blindly trusting others considering what has happened in my life since then, but yeah, that was what I needed to get off my chest today…thanks for letting me tell you a piece of my story that has been locked up inside for years…and obviously if you know me in real life, this is kind of a private topic and I haven’t actually told me in real life friends and family about this, so please please please do not “help” me with that.

Thank you!

I wish I weren’t a girl sometimes so that I didn’t have to deal with this…

Ne me Quitte pas (Quick Comment)

(Don’t leave me–Regina Spekter)

Yeah, so in high school I wished so much that English class could be taught the way that French class was. While in English we learned to classify language and synthesize language, in French we learned how to use language. I loved being specifically told if you meet a friend in this situation this is what you say, and in this situation this is what you say. I loved that the way we were learning it was as a set of rules for social interaction, and really wanted that for English language.

As I began wanting to be able to communicate, the words would come to me in French, but while I might be able to directly translate them, I could not speak the correct English words for the situation–often because the direct translation is not what would actually be appropriate in English…

What is really incredible to me is that as I get more comfortable in social situations and am learning through observation words that seem to work, I no longer come up with the French for the situation before the English words come…

I still wish English were taught the way French was so that I wouldn’t need to learn by observation or guess and check, but it is nice to know that as I grow I won’t be stuck in my language issue, because it is kind of frustrating to want to communicate and have a language barrier in the country you have lived your entire life…

And to know you is to love you

(Oh How I Need You–All Sons and Daughters)

Because I have been through the fire and come out on the other side, I am especially passionate about helping hurting people. I read this morning that the author of one of the blogs that I regularly read is struggling. I do not know her off line, but I would appreciate it if you could join me in praying for her.

Here is the link to her most recent post: http://71sunny.blogspot.com/2014/09/relapse.html .

She is currently experiencing an OCD relapse. I hurt for her, because I know how hard it is to feel the desperate NEED to do compulsions to even make life live-able and to feel the weight of despair as the anxiety crushes you despite the compulsions, yet at the same time absolutely HATING performing the compulsions and knowing there is more to life than that but being trapped in your own pain, unable to reach the other side. It is not a fun place to be, and it can feel extremely ISOLATING…so yeah, prayers appreciated for Sunny…

Ask and you’ll receive is that so hard to believe…so take away my fear

(I believe in You–Stephanie Pauline)

There are so many things I do with barely a second thought now and I look back and am amazed at how far I have come in the past few months.

I had one of those life is amazing moments last night…

Because of the OCD I was really nervous about raw meat, and because of that I had never cooked raw ground beef or anything else except for frozen hamburger patties. If someone else could do the cooking I was usually okay eating it because out of sight out of mind and I usually didn’t think too much about the process of meat becoming cooked, but I hadn’t cooked it and even just grabbing the package and putting it in a plastic bag at the grocery store grossed me out and made me feel pretty contaminated…how did I get around this living in an apartment by myself…well, the first time I had my mom do it in theory because I’d never done it before but in reality because I was scared…and then I just bought the meat at home and was sure to be busy so that my mom would cook it for me…

Well, a couple of weeks ago I bought ground turkey at the store…raw…and I transferred it to a plastic bag and put it in my freezer…that isn’t where the pride comes from: I immediately brought the trash bag with the packaging from the raw meat to the dumpster…but last night I cooked the meat. Not only did I cook it, but since I am not overly coordinated and it was my first attempt, I ended up with raw meat everywhere…as in I had it all over the floor, the countertops, my clothes…and after I cleaned the first spill up and threw my raw meat covered clothes in the laundry basket (not immediately to the washer!!) I continued to spill and ended up with raw meat against my body and didn’t actually wash up before going to bed…and somehow in my attempt at this I managed to end up with grease drippings all over the floor…the first drippings from spills out of the pan, but some others due to forgetting that the colander would immediately start dripping when I started pouring…and then not necessarily paying attention to where I was holding it as it finished dripping…and you know you are distractible when there is a washcloth on the floor soaked in grease, and a bar of soap on the other side of the floor where you set it down after realizing that while you were washing your hands because it turns out hands are much easier than spoons for moving meat from colander to plastic bag, the meat on the stove probs needed stirring…yeah…

I find it really incredible that I am able to go to bed just fine knowing there is raw meat germs on myself and pretty much everywhere else by that point that are going to cross-contaminate everything I own, when a few months ago just picking up the packaging of meat to put it in a plastic bag was enough to send me searching for my hand sanitizer and avoid using that hand until properly washed…

As much as I worked on this and as much as I prayed for the fear to be taken away, I am not sure I ever fully believed that not only could I stop washing that I could stop even feeling the need to wash…I am so thankful that I have a powerful Father who can take away the anxiety that I have dealt with for so long and let me delight in everyday life…it really changes your perspective on things that can easily be taken for granted when those things used to be nearly impossible…if you’d told me before the OCD got bad that I’d one day be elated to be able to cook meat I may have thought you were a bit delusional, but after walking through the fire and emerging on the other side, I have a new appreciation for these basic things…for nothing is impossible with God…

Edited above because I don’t usually let myself be a word-choice Nazi on here, but it is really bugging me that I chose the phrase “pretend I forgot how” to describe what happened when in reality since I’d never done it before, I arguably really didn’t know how…could I have figured it out pretty quickly on my own had I wanted to figure it out: yes, but I was grossed out by the raw meat so it was easier to have my mom do it and just watch in case I one day really did need to do it…(clearly I didn’t retain all of the steps like making sure the colander was not just over the floor before pouring…)…so as an element of self-nurturing I am changing it so that it will stop bugging me…

Don’t cross the line Don’t Don’t Don’t If you wanna love you’re gonna get hurt

(Don’t–Stephanie Pauline)

Yesterday was a lousy day for a variety of very valid reasons, but my attitude towards those things partway through the day was definitely a contributing factor to the lousiness of the day. Yes, it was disappointing that when ABERT called I found out that I needed to re-start my search for a counselor, but my reaction wasn’t really appropriate to the situation…I let go of hope for anything good to ever happen and was frustrated that I was even having that conversation…yes, it is frustrating that every time I feel like I almost have everything set that something happens to make everything be un-figured out again, especially as I watch the sand fall through the timer closer to my deadline…

And yes, it was frustrating that my group presentation went horrifically, and the quiz I took was even worse, but emotion doesn’t change the past. The best I can do is move on and try to do my best on the rest of my assignments/quizzes/tests…

If I want good things to happen in life I need to be willing to hold on to whatever shreds of hope and goodness that are available instead of focusing on the possibility of being hurt again…Even in a world where it seems everyone is telling me what I can’t do, I can’t let negativity allow me to become another voice telling me what I can’t do (except for sucking my thumb…) (and on that note, I just want to say that it is really unfortunate that BJB insisted a couple years ago that electricity kills germs though, because I have used that as an excuse to suck on my headphones…)

Sorry, this was a really random un-well thought out post…but anyway, yeah, Stephanie Pauline is an incredible person and writes really deeply powerful songs 🙂