Not all who wonder are lost…
It might seem like another cliché saying and to be fair enough, I used to think of it that way until summer 2k17 hit me harder than I’ve ever been hit before. Those who know me might say I am independent or even at times a little stubborn. But being independent was and is my way of survival, not because I had to claw hard at life – thank God, my parents have always been there for me and the battles that they’ve fought are ones my siblings and I will never have to fight. But being independent was my way of building my confidence and shaking things off when they got a little too close to home. It was my way of getting back up after every disappointment/failure in life. I didn’t have to depend on much. If I didn’t expect much from others, I wouldn’t be disappointed when they didn’t or couldn’t do what I needed them to do at my point of weakness. If I failed, I couldn’t cheap out and blame anyone else because it was me. As a Christian, that’s a lonely life to live and one that involuntarily shut a lot of people out of my life. For which, I apologize.
We are taught to depend of Christ for everything, whether it’s good or bad, whether our prayers are answered or not. I contained my faith in a little box because I was scared of the disappointment that I would feel when God didn’t answer my prayers or when He didn’t answer them the way I had imagined it in my head. I’ve spent the last 3 years or so, scared to pray for what I really want or need because I was scared that God would turn that around into a punching lesson cause what I want isn’t what He wants for me so all my desires where deemed wrong. I prayed for jobs that I didn’t get, I prayed for relationships that I didn’t get, I prayed for exams that I didn’t pass, I prayed for healing for friends and family that aren’t here anymore – the typical Christian response would be “God had a reason” but for that period in my life, it seemed like I had to hang on to a ledge and wait for the negative response because that’s probably what I was going to get. I’ve heard about grace and mercy and unconditional love but there are times that those concepts don’t speak to me as loud and as clear as they do after a Sunday service or a good conversation with a friend over coffee. The worst thing was in between this negative waves, there was no one to talk to that would make things better because I felt like no one could understand that didn’t already have a preprogramed response in their head (Christian or not). This closed my heart so much, it tightened it to the extent that there were times when I would have anxiety attacks and I would hide it behind beautiful pictures because they would take my mind away from the noose that was tightening around my neck.
Summer 2k17 showed me that as much as I tried not to depend a lot of others, I had laid my foundation on pillars unbeknownst to me that came crushing down one after another. I depended on the fact that I had a job that would motivate me when I woke up in the morning but would still give me the flexibility to be creative and I loved my coworkers. They became an extended part of me and I could not imagine my life without them. I made friends that came to mean the world to me and even though I am a person who doesn’t open up, I brought down my walls and they made me feel safe and welcome, I knew beyond a doubt what I wanted to do in the world – what my calling was and for the first time, I thought I could see it. One by one, they all fell apart and when I would try to cling on to the others for support, they came crushing down as well, a real life little practical example of the parable of the man who built his house on sand. I had said before this year started that I felt lost but I do not think I completely understood the extent of that word until this year. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and my world was crumbling. I felt scared to pray because as much as God loved me, surely He would have a bit to say about how He told me so. Also, I wanted to skip to 5 years down the road when the pain wouldn’t be as fresh as it was right now and that is certainly not the case. The anxiety attacks came back full force; the mental breakdowns that I hadn’t dealt with since my athletic therapy year were back. My skin never breaks but it went through a rough patch in May/June. I couldn’t sleep – I felt tired all the time. I wasn’t hungry, I just wanted to escape. Then enough was enough and I realized that I had to do something otherwise I would hate myself for the rest of my life.
One, I realized that I was burnt out. Being that person that everyone seems to rely on but not relying on anyone can be exhausting. There are things in my life that I am going to have to drop whether I like it or not. It’s like I’ve reached a fork in the road and one road leads to a life where I can be someone I can only dream to be and the other is a road where there is some security but I know it doesn’t fulfill me. I hate failure to the point that I will not try new things and that fear is what has been holding me behind.
Two, failure is ok. As terrifying as it might seem to a perfectionist, you’ll survive. The tears will flow, the pain will be unbearable but you’ll survive because the alternative is not one you could live with.
Three, dreaming is nothing if you don’t step out of your comfort zone. I love my comfort zone. I stepped out of it a little this year but now that extension became part of my comfort zone as well. Now, I need to step out even more. I need to actually reach out and get things done instead of just sitting in a corner wishing because that will not get me anywhere.
Four, it’s not about how you feel, it’s a decision. Every day with Christ is not a walk in the park, they’ll be hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslide, nuclear bombs, and any other disaster this world has to offer to disrupt the relationship but it’s about standing by that decision that I believe in Christ and even though it might not seem like it, I am doing this for something bigger and the popular checkmarks on this earth. God still loves me and as much as I like to give him human attributes, He is above it all. His love is not conditional, its not earned, it just is and even in the storms that shape my life, I might feel like I’m a punching bag but it doesn’t change His love for me.
Five, take care of yourself. You’re no use to anyone if you’re cranky, unmotivated, bitter, or just simply exhausted. If you need to take a break, take it. If you need to scream, scream. If you need to talk, talk – you can send me an email if you like but talk. If you need to cry and just have someone hold you without any questions, do that. Just don’t ignore yourself because you are trying to be so much for everyone else.
I’m not saying that I won’t struggle with opening up my heart and loving unconditionally or showing those around me my vulnerability – God knows that it’s a self-defense mechanism now, but I’ll put my identity in the fact that I was created to be in this world and a lot of things had to work exactly the way they did for me to be here today and that can’t be taken for granted.
So now, I’m not lost. I wander because I know where the road is but I’m just looking for the starting line.
P.S. If you can travel, travel – blog post coming up soon about Mexico! 🙂 🙂