Sometimes you just need a reminder that your life is not as hard as you think.


I complain, a lot.

Just yesterday I was driving in my car, that I did not pay for, thinking about how irritating it is that I haven’t been able to fix the big dent in the front of the bumper.

As the day went on I found myself trying to decide what to do for dinner. Irritated that I have nobody at home to cook for me since my mom is out-of-town on business I decided to get some fast food. I sat in my car legitimately frustrated because I really wanted Panera but did not want to get out of the car to go in and order it.

Today I went grocery shopping, frustrated that my brother spent $20 of the $100 my Mom left us for groceries I did not think I would be able to get a weeks worth of groceries with $80.

“Why does my life have to be so complicated?!” I thought to myself. Angry at the fact that my life is as difficult as it is.

Then, as I was driving home tonight, I noticed a women. She was clearly homeless with a blue beaten up pillow in her left arm and her hands full with the bags that carried her few belongings. She was walking alone in the middle of the night. She was not smiling but she was not crying either, she was just being. I noticed as the light turned green that she was simply paying fine attention to her surrounding. Reading all the signs on the buildings around her.

She did not seem happy, but she did not seem sad. She was just there.

As I continued my journey home I prayed. It was a simple prayer, asking God to cleanse me of my lack of greatfulness.

I have not had the easiest of lives, but I have it pretty good off.

No, I have it really well off.

I have a Mom that loves me with all her heart. I have a roof over my head and clean clothes on my back.

I have a warm bed to sleep in and food on my plate. I have family and friends that I know care for me more than I can explain.

But greater than all of that I know God.

I thank God for putting that women in my life, even if we did not exchange words she taught me too appreciate every little thing that I have because my life, it isn’t too bad at all.

I can only pray that that women comes to know and love the God that loves her with all His heart.

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Every Christian has experienced a spiritual high. My goal is to experience a spiritual life.


Ahh yes.

That spiritual high.

I am confident when I say I think every Christian has struggled with this at one point or another. You go on that church retreat, that church summer camp, or even a missions trip. Your last day arrives and you find yourself changed. A new person with a new perspective on their faith. You find yourself stronger than ever in your faith!

A spiritual high.

Then you go home. Your friend says something that upsets you and you lash out at them. Or your parent asks you to do a chore and you moan and groan only to never complete the task. You go back to the real world where you aren’t being spoon fed Gods word. And you come down from that high. Disappointed that all that work was for nothing, but excited for the next trip so you can reconnect with Christ again. You tell yourself that the next time is for real, that this next trip is the one that will really change you forever.

I get it, I am on that high right now, only I am praying to never come down.

After recently having an amazing opportunity and growing much closer to God as well as those whom I spend my church time with I found myself in a new position. I spent a whole week in the middle of a forest with 10 other people.

No phone.

No flushing toilets.

No escape.

I was being fed the word of God daily. With fourth five minutes of devotional time and then a whole day centered around learning how to grow as a team that serves the Lord I left that camp ready for whatever God was going to throw my way.

I got home and I got my phone back. I got to take a nice long shower and a long nights sleep in my own bed. I got the hundreds of text messages that I had missed that week.

I got the latest scoop on who was dating who and what girls got in a fight, the group chats seemed to be never-ending pits of drama and bullying.

Hate.

Sin.

I scrolled through my Instagram feed only to see pictures of my friends half-naked on the beach with some guy they didn’t even know. I saw pictures of my classmates son. I saw everything I had been sheltered from for a week. And I felt weak.

Suddenly I realized that if I wanted to keep my “spiritual high” I was going to have to make it my life.

I realized that serving God means that I need to start serving Him in everything I do. In the songs I listen to and the words I speak. The friends I surround myself with and the choices I make.

I have been home for three days now and I have already sinned more times than I’d like to admit but I am still high up in the clouds. With a new point of view on my faith I have a newfound excitement towards the idea of teaching others about God. There is only one thing I am more excited about.

And that, is seeing His plan.

Accept that you can not do life alone and you are half way there.

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Probably my favorite thing about being a babysitter is that I get the privilege of seeing the kids that I watch grow.

I get to see them through their temper tantrums and their shining moments.

I don’t think there is a single emotion I have not seen a child experience. With everything I see the one thing I do not see very often in young children feel completely and totally defeated.

Yesterday I sat one the floor of a play room covered from left to right in train tracks. The three-year old girl I was watching was determined to build a train track. She even said she would clean EVERYTHING up when she was done, an extraordinarily large commitment for a three year old to make.

As I helped her claw her way through the piles of tracks I encouraged her to try to put the pieces together herself.

The idea of putting a train track together by herself excited her, she wanted to show me that she was a big girl.

That she could do it on her own.

No more than ten seconds into her attempt she looked at me with a face of distress.

“I can’t do it, Sarah.”

I looked at her with a fire in my eyes that screamed “yes you can!!!!”.

I was a tad shocked that she had given up defeat so quickly on something she was so determined to accomplish.

A scenario all too familiar.

That test that I was determined to get an A on until I realized it would require me going in for extra help after school.

That relationship I whisked away after an arguement that lived on a day longer than the usual bickering.

I did not give up on that little girl. I plopped her in my lap and guided her hand to help her understand how the pieces should fit. After a litle guidence and encouragement she did it. She made a train track. And with an exuburant smile on her face she watched Thomas chug down the tracks.

Far too many times I have found myself slumped in the corner, frustrated because things did not go as planned the first time.

Sometimes I have somebody physically there to hold my hand and help me build this track called life.

But more often I find that the Lord has picked me up, plopped me in His lap. And guided my hands to make the pieces fit.

And I will do it and I will thank Him with an exuberant smile on my face. And then the track will start to go downhil, but this time instead of giving up entirely I will turn to my Father and simply bow down on my hands and knees.

I can not do it on my own.

Nobody can.

Today was a day my depression spiked up. But you would never know it.

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Today was an awful day.

I mean terrible.

But you wouldn’t guess it. Not by looking at me. Not by even talking to me.

Today I woke up to the same alarm as I do everyday. But the moment I opened my eyes I knew what kind of day it was going to be.

I rolled out of bed after five minutes of encouraging myself. I mustered up the energy to go into the bathroom and brush my teeth. I even took the time to take a morning shower in hopes of refreshing myself for what the day had ahead.

It did not help. Not at all.

I got of the shower feeling even more exhausted than I did when I woke up. But I put on a nice often. They tell you to dress how you want to feel. I wanted to feel happy so I put on a nice dress and did my makeup. I put in effort.

Still. Nothing.

I went to school and sat through all my classes. I participated in the class discussion. I laughed at all the jokes. I talked to my peers in the hallways.

But inside I was crumbling.

I came home and went to my tasks. I went to babysit and I laughed and played with the kids. Soaking in every moment, because to me the most joyful thing here on earth is the sound of a happy child.

Nothing.

I went to church and I sang all the songs and listened intently. I prayed asking God to just give me one moment of genuine happiness in that awful day.

Nothing.

You see the thing about depression is that some days just stink. Some days you really do just have to put on your big girl pants and fake it until your head hits the pillow. But that is hard to accept as a Christian. As a Christian I want to just be able to say that it is all in my attitude. That the day is only as good as I make it. That God is by my side so I will be fine.

I think that it is thanks to God that I am able to go through my day without a single soul knowing my world is crumbling around me. Because I know that it is by Gods grace that through all the thoughts in my head telling me I am worthless I am still able to function as an active member of my community.

That, right there, is how you know you have beat depression.

What is the real reason we don’t talk about mental health in the church community?

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Why is it that mental health in the church is something that is kept so quiet?

Are people afraid to speak up about it? 

Afraid to trigger or offend somebody?

Or do people simply not know what to say on the topic due to lack of information?

A few days ago while having a conversation with my youth pastor he told me that mental illness isn’t something that they are taught about in “pastor school”. I was shocked, but it made sense. In my few seventeen years I have never heard a sermon on mental health, and I have been to my fair share of churches.

Nothing against pastors, at all. In fact, my pastor is the reason I have freedom in Christ today.

I don’t know why the conversation of mental illness is swept under the rug in the church community, but I do know that as somebody who battles anxiety and depression, it is something that people with mental illness want to be discuss.

Are pastors and leaders afraid to speak up on this topic? Or do they simply not know how to go about the sermon due to lack of information?

I am a wild advocated for mental health. I believe that people need to be informed about the realities of mental health, but beyond that I believe that people need to know the reality of being a person the battles mental illness all the while clinging onto God every minute of every day.

My mental illness isn’t a sin, I am not unholy because of it. My mental illness is a chemical imbalance, that therefore causes me to over think little things, obsess over things I have no control over, and worry about the unimaginable.

Here is the thing, mental illness isn’t something that is cured. It isn’t a paper cut that heals with a band-aid and some neosporin. It is incurable, but it can be managed. You see the day my depression stopped controlling me was one, about a month after I was prescribed the correct amount of medication for the severity of my illness. And two, the day that I stopped letting the devil use my mental illness as an excuse for him to torture me.

Mental illness is really scary, for somebody that doesn’t have a relationship with Christ. I know because I have been there. I have woken up morning after morning with a pounding headache from the tears I had cried the night before. I have had more than one anxiety attack in the middle of a big exam. I know that it is not “fun” or “cute” to have depression and anxiety, contrary to what a large majority of society thinks. I also now know that none of my battles were or are from my mental illness, but from satan himself. He saw my illness and he knew that he could use it as a way to grab a hold of me. Now, It took me two books and months and months of guidance to realize that. But eventually I realized it and I got all the right balances of everything I needed. Now I look forward to tests, because they are a day when I don’t have to sit and listen to a 30 minute lecture. I love going to bed because I am able to reflect on the day and relax my body, spend some time with God.

I understand why it is a touchy subject. Even just writing this post I have fear of offending people who struggle with mental illness and don’t know Christ because I know what it is like to be on the other side. I sat and listened to my religious role models tell me that my mental illness was satan controlling me, and I thought it was crap. In fact it angered me that somebody that didn’t know what it was like to live my life was telling me that cause of my struggles. But I also know what it is like to have freedom in Christ. Not to say I don’t still have depression and anxiety, I do, and it will always be a constant fight.

But I also will ALWAYS have an astonishing God that loves me more than I could ever even begin to imagine.

And guess what? So do you.

The Most Important Lesson of my Life. Breathing.

 

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Trying to plan out your life is like trying to find a pen in a pitch black room. You can always do it, but you most likely won’t be very successful.

One of the most important and most helpful things I have learned in my seventeen short years of life is how to breathe. 

I know, sounds kind of dumb. But I’m not talking about the type of breathing that your body does naturally. I’m talking about the breathing that you have to teach yourself to do when everything around you is falling apart. When there isn’t a single other thing in your life that you can control you can always control your breathing.

As somebody that battles anxiety, and with that panic attacks, learning breathing techniques has been a big part of my therapy.

In through your nose, out through your mouth.

Breathe in the good vibes, breathe out the bad vibes.

Breathe in, hold 1…2…3… breathe out. 

I have learned it all. And yes, it does feel silly when you are sitting in class breathing along with your fitbit, But it helps to focus on the things that you can control when everything is falling apart.

Nobody likes to feel like their world is caving in around them, but everybody has felt it. And often there isn’t a single thing you can do about it.

I tried to plan out my life once, I did not get very far. 

Because you try to control everything around you when really all you need to do is sit down, breathe, and bring yourself to the feet of the one who is all powerful. God knows what I am going to be doing exactly at this time two years from now. I don’t even know what I am going to be doing 24 hours from now!

A few weeks ago I found myself in the car just driving to get gas. A simple errand, I didn’t think a single thing of it. My plan was to go to the north side of town (where gas is a solid 10 cent cheaper), drive home, and go to bed. I even told myself I was going to fight the temptation to make a pit stop at the drive thru Starbucks.

I got the gas but as I was driving home I started to get that sick to my stomach feeling. I knew exactly what was about to happen, and I did not like it one bit.

“Not now, I can’t have an anxiety attack, not while I am driving. This can not be happening…focus…on your breathing…breathe in, out. No you need to be focusing on driving. You shouldn’t be driving, this is not safe.”

I found myself sitting in my car on a street right off of Main. I give myself a pat on the back for pulling over. But that did not fix anything. The attack escalated faster than usual, everything was blurry, I was lightheaded, and not breathing right. Being alone during an anxiety attack is extremely scary. Because if you are alone and decide to go get water you may faint and nobody be there to help. Not ideal. The situation was more than I could handle.

My night had not gone as planned. 

But God was watching over me saying to himself ‘right on schedule’.

I found myself at the house of a family that lived nearby that I am very close with. Sitting on the couch of two extremely wonderful people with one wrapping her arms around me and another literally holding my hand through the attack and as I was sitting there, bawling like a baby, I started to breathe right. In my mind nothing was right. I was intruding on somebodies evening, I was bothering people. But that couple could have not been home. They could have said no and turned me away. But they didn’t. That panic attack (which was awful) is what gave me the motivation to get throughout the rest of the week. The attack was terrible but God gave it to me anyway because he knew that I just needed somebody to hug me tighter than I had been held in years, somebody to cover me with a blanket and let me know that I am loved. He knew that I just needed some TLC that I would not have been willing to ask for had that situation not arose.

It is mind boggling how every single situation in our lives plays out just right. Literally everything. I can’t even begin to comprehend how astonishing God is.