Wow. It has been almost three and a half years since my last blog post.
All I can say is: life happens.
As I’ve reflected and processed 2018 so far (there are still ten days left!), I’ve been itching to post a blog about it. I’ve sat at this computer screen multiple times over the last couple of months and wasn’t quite sure how to start writing about the last year.
A few things I knew every other time I came to write this post:
- I wanted to share, but still needed time to process with the Lord.
- I needed to share, but didn’t have the clarity to do so yet.
- My story isn’t my own; so I knew eventually I would share.
So here I am. Finally feeling ready to put into words some thoughts and feelings about 2018 – a year that the Lord has used to break me in the most necessary and amazing ways. I am grateful to say that I may have been (and somewhat still am) broken, BUT I am NOT DEFEATED. Praise God for that, and so many other things – as you’ll see along the way.
One theme from this year: vulnerability through sharing. This hasn’t been sharing by way of story telling or openness in words alone, but in the actual sharing of my struggles with others. This year I was forced to embrace a deeper level of vulnerability in allowing others to share in my burdens and brokenness with me and to support me when I couldn’t function. Yes, it’s true, there were days that I could not function.
God used others to support me emotionally, financially, spiritually, and even physically.
I already knew I was surrounded by some amazing friends and family, but this year has placed a spotlight on the TRIBE of prayer warriors I have around me. If you don’t have a tribe of people praying for you, crying with you, laughing with and at you – I hope you experience this one day. It’s amazing. Having people speak LIFE over me this year has been one of the things that has kept me sane, kept me positive and kept me from believing the lies of feeling despaired.
Listen, I’ve cried more this year than I think I have the last 3 years before it – let’s be honest, probably the last 5 years before it. I wouldn’t characterize myself as a crier by any means. I mostly cry when I’m angry. But the Lord has changed that for me this year and I’m actually ok with it. Because, it’s in the tears where the Lord has met me most often and spoken to me about who He is and how much He loves me. He’s softened me in ways I once equated as weakness for myself.
Even though I could only see blurs before me while I cried my eyes out – His gentle voice was loud and clear as He kept saying:
- He understands me, even when I often feel misunderstood.
- He loves me, even when I feel like I couldn’t possibly be loved for who I am.
- He has my best interest in mind, even when I doubt things will be better soon.
- He alone knows what He’s doing and the story He is writing and He’s never late.
- He sees me, He knows me and He loves me still.
This year, God has stripped me of so many things. He’s unraveled my misconceptions, my false securities, my unrealistic expectations and some toxic things that I had allowed to take root in my life. Even though I’ve been in the thick of it while it’s happened, at times it has felt like I’ve been on the outside watching it all crumble.
BUT GOD – another theme for this year. But, I’ve seen God do mighty things and I’ve felt Him near through it all.
This is the part where I’m going to share some specifics of things I’ve experienced this year. I’m being as open as I can be, in hopes that someone reads this and is encouraged to press on and lean into the Lord during their own battle for the mind.
At the start of the year, I felt the Lord say it was time to move out on my own. I’ve had roommates since I was in college, so this was a big leap for me – but it was time and I was looking forward to it. God provided a super cute house, a raise to cover the extra costs in rent and a lot of provisions for me to move into the place within 3 weeks of finding it. It seemed too good to be true, or at least too easy. It wasn’t easy at all.
Long story short, I couldn’t ever find someone to sublet my old room, so I ended up paying rent at two places in DC for six months. It was financially TIGHT.
I was confused about why the Lord led me to make the move, only to have me pay a lot more than I had budgeted when I figured out if I could afford to move out on my own in the first place. I didn’t get it. I thought I had misunderstood His prompting to move – I doubted the confirmations He had given me when I moved.
My battle with anxiety hit an all time high during the Spring. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t focus. I didn’t feel like myself at all. I felt emotionally unstable. I couldn’t sit still, but I couldn’t move too much either. I felt like I was in this alternate reality at times. I overreacted to things mentally and that over reaction manifested it’s self physically. I actually was so overcome by fear during a week in April that thought I was having a heart attack – twice in the same week. I was home alone – because I now live alone – and all I could think was what if something happened to me? I called 911 and had an ambulance come to my house twice in three days. I spent a night in the ER. I was spiraling and struggling to keep my thoughts in check and captive in Christ. Lies from the enemy were swirling around me.
BUT God showed up. He continued to speak the words “DO NOT FEAR” over me.
Specifically, He stretched my money (which is really His money anyway). He provided money through others who listened to His prompting to bless me – I didn’t even have to humble myself and ask. He extravagantly lavished me with love and support and I survived that six months – and was still able to treat myself to a few luxuries like decaf coffee and cookie cutters. [More on those two things later, because those are new additions to my life since the last time I posted a blog.]
At the end of June I felt a sigh of relief.
Once I had paid my final rent payment at my old house I felt like things would be on the upswing finaicially and with anxiety. By then, the medications I started taking in April were nearing the end of the 2 month prescription and I truly felt significant relief from the manifestations of anxiety. I felt more like myself again. I knew I didn’t need the meds anymore and was gratefult that they helped reset me in a way – it felt like a fresh start in that area.
And then in early July, I got laid off.
I was let go from a company that I had been at for almost 9.5 years – almost a decade of my professional life! Let’s be honest, not just my professional life, but my personal life too. Some of my dearest friendships, experiences and memories were attached to my job.
I was stunned. Though I had been unhappy at my job for sometime, I had resolved to make it work and continue to be loyal, to learn and grow through the challenges of being unhappy. But I thought I had job security – which is a false sense of security. I’m sure I was in shock for at least 3 days after I got the phone call.
BUT GOD gently reminded me that He had told me to find a new job at least a year before that and I wasn’t treating that as an urgent call, more like a suggestion. He also reminded me that, though I had many years of great experiences at that company, it was time for us to part ways and He made it happen. He also sweetly spoke to me about the freedom He was providing through the pain of severing my attachment to my career and what had become a source of extreme stress for me. He burdened me to finish well and equipped me emotionally to do that to the best of my ability. I wish I could say it wasn’t difficult, awkward and heart breaking to navigate – but it was and I still have days where I have to bring my thoughts captive in Christ about the whole situation.
I took some much-needed time off for the end of July and a portion of August. It was such a SWEET time. I felt so free and so alive. I felt a renewed sense of discovering who I could be and what would come in the next stage of my life and my career. I used frequent flier miles to visit friends in other states and just took time to breathe, not allowing myself to be consumed with what was next for my job.
I wouldn’t take back those travels or experiences at all.
Five months later, though, and I’m still unemployed. I’ve been seriously looking for a job since August and I must admit it’s been really discouraging. I’ve battled lies that creep in and say I’m not experienced enough for the jobs I’m pursing or that I don’t offer much value. I’ve battled with feeling that I must be ill-equipped at this resume stuff because no one is reaching out to me when I apply. I’ve wondered if I don’t interview well or what is wrong with me that I’m not making an impression on paper or over the phone.
BUT GOD continues to speak life over me through others and He says this each time: DO NOT BE DISMAYED OR DISCOURAGED. Trust that your heavenly Father has got you and is working all things together for your good and His glory. He has the right position for you – and He is preparing you for that time. I can’t begin to tell you how many times He has spoken this message over me through others and in prayer. He’s spoken it through Uber drivers, people conducting phone interviews, strangers, new friends, old friends and family. I believe it’s true and I know He’s cared enough to lead others to repetitively speak it over me – because I am a sheep whose mind goes astray and I need to hear it over and over and over again to rest in it.
In August, I met someone. Honestly, it felt like horrible timing for both of us, but I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to get to know him. He was (is) special.
Why was he so special?
Have you ever met someone who just feels like home? Had that moment where you think – wait, what? Is this my person?! Who you feel an instant connection with on such a deep level that you almost want to convince yourself you’re making it up – that the connection isn’t as intense as you’re making it out to be? Have you ever gotten to know someone and thought “now that I know you, how could I not have you in my life?”
Yeah, that’s how I felt (and in keeping with the vulnerability in sharing, that’s how I still feel) about this guy.
But the timing thing came back up and shook things up.
We aren’t together and it broke my heart. Of course, my “miss independent” side has thought it was silly that I was so emotionally impacted by everything – I still battle those thoughts. I’ve sifted through so many feelings about it that I’m exhausted.
BUT, God is teaching me so much through a relationship that barely got off the ground – it has significantly impacted me for the better. He’s uprooting things in me that I didn’t realize were expectations I had for a relationship – unrealistic expectations I might add. He’s calling me to prayer for others in a mighty way. While He’s at work, He’s gently reminded me of the sweetness it is to be created with the ability to feel so deeply and to experience emotions like this in relationship with someone. He’s teaching me how to communicate better – oh my gosh the lessons on communication! He’s calling me to trust Him, to wait on Him and to sit with Him through it – not to run from the emotions.
I have no idea what’s in store for that portion of this season in life. I know what my hopes are, but I also know that God’s plans are better than mine – even when it comes to a significant other.
On top of all of that, I had to make a big decision about my living situation. At 33 years old, I didn’t imagine I’d be saying what I’m about to say. But it’s happening and with the strength of Christ I’m at peace about it and embracing the love and support of others as I navigate this decision.
I’m going to be “homeless” at the end of January. I say that in quotations because, PRAISE GOD I’m actually not going to be homeless on the street.
I have AMAZING people in my life; those who have offered to take me into their homes – rent free – until I find a job and can get my own place again. HOW is it that God has seen fit to bless me with such kind and generous people?! He is good.
So I am starting over – in a way. I’m selling most of my belongings or putting the rest in storage. I’m moving out at the end of my lease because it’s the wisest next step financially and because God is prompting me to accept the help and support others have offered me in their spare rooms and in welcoming me into their homes.
Is it humbling? ABSOLUTELY. Is it humiliating? NOT AT ALL. I’m still hustling to find a new job and God’s got me. I’m actually excited about what this might mean for my ability to connect with the friends and family I’ll be staying with for the next couple of months.
If you’ve made it this far – I’m honored. I’m proud of you and I feel like you must have read something that either encouraged you, piqued your interest or you just love a good story of challenges. I’ve tried to be open about this year because it is NEVER too late to start over and that’s what I see God setting me up to do in so many areas of my life.
He’s doing it through the pain of loss, the confusion of why things happen when they do and how they do, and through the weight of fears surrounding it all.
I pray that you find strength in Him to be open and honest about what He’s doing in your life. May the end of 2018 actually be a sweet closing of one door and an ushering in of a hopeful beginning to 2019 for you and for me.