In case you haven’t been told yet today. You are loved.

“Three words exist that you must hear from God today. NO matter what your circumstance, this trio of syllables breathes life, imbues hope, infused joy.

I.

Love.

You.”

-Margaret Feinberg

Think about all the words you hear each day. All the words your read each day. You wake up in the morning to hear your family talking about their day, you drive to work or school and hear the words from your favorite song or the heart wrenching update of the tragity that took place over night. You go about you day listen to people tell you what to do or where to go. You come home and listen to your family talk about their day, the new job opening at work or the snobby classmate your sibling has to sit next to in science class.

We go about our days hearing thousands of words and yet there are three that have the potential to change a whole day, or even week, or month.

I recently purchased a news devotional called Flourish by Margaret Feinberg. I will admit that I am one to judge a book by its covers in a very literal sense. When my friend picked out the book I was automatically attracted to it by its appealing cover. When I saw that it had coloring pages in it I was sold.

I read the introduction my first night, the second night when I flipped to the first day devotional I was instantly hooked when I saw the title. “The three words you need to hear, I love you.”

In those three short pages I was reminded that even though I am critically broken, I am also extraordinarily loved by God.

We are all guilty of sin. And my guess is that at some point or another we have all felt unloved. We have made choices that made us think that we are unworthy of love. Or we have lost that main relationship that we leant on for a reminder of how we are loved.

Personally, while I know I am loved by many people here on earth I also know that I have hurt many people that I love. I know that I have caused concern for people and have broken trust. And at times knowing that I have hurt people overrides knowing that I am loved. And it is a hard pill to swallow.

But the Lord is my water.

It is overwhelming how much the Bible talks about Gods love for his children. Just read the New Testiment.

Jeremiah 31:3 says “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

Psalms 33:5 says “The earth is full of his unfailing love.”

John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world He sent His one and only son so that whoever believes in him will not parish but have everlasting life.”

Talk about love. He sent His one and only son to die on the cross so that we may be free if we know and love Him.

I truly believe that I have no reason to feel as though I am unloved. Not when I know the Lords words. That I am loved. Here is the even better news!

So are you.

 

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We live in a world full of sin. Every direction you look now a days someone is dying from cancer, or loosing their job. Look left and you see a family of five living on the side of the streets. You turn right and their are women being abducted and sold into a life of slavery. A life they will most likely never get out of.

It is saddening.

A few days ago I was sitting down with a younger friend. She is at the young age of fourteen. For the sake of her privacy we will call her Aly. She sat down with me and informed me that for the past six months she has been talking to a twenty-three year old man. Twenty-three.

I asked Aly why she was talking to a grown man when she knew it was inappropriate. The minute I asked that question I automatically regretted it. For just a few short years ago I was in her position. I was a thirteen year old girl talking to a seventeen year old guy. And when people dared to ask me why I was talking to him I would simply reply with five words.

"He makes me feel loved."

That relationship turned south extremely quickly, to say the least. Now, when I look back on that relationship, I realize that it wasn't a matter of why was talking to him. It was all a matter of why was HE talking to me. What buisiness did a high school senior have talking to a eighth grader. What buisiness does a twenty-three year old man have talking to a fourteen year old girl.

We live in a sinful world. Where young girls are warped into thinking that being hit and yelled at is normal. A world where women cant walk to their cars at twelve at night without fearing that they are going to be raped.

At yet, there I sat, five minutes later, telling Aly that while she needed to stop talking to him, she also needed to show him grace.

A very wise women once told me, "The only thing worse than being abused is being the abuser." That simple sentence has changed the way I view this world. You see, I am not exactly a fan of the man that abused me. And I am most curtainly not a fan of this twenty-three year old man that is munipulating his way into my friends life, but my heart goes out to them, because they must be going through some really tough stuff to get to the point where this was the only way they know how to cope.

This world is broken, it is shattered, and from the outside looking in it doesn't seem like it is getting any better. But God has a plan. He knew exactly what he was doing when he put the guy in my life. I can imagine God sitting up in heaven the day I met my abuser, with his plan book right in front of him.

"Right on track."

Not all realizations are fun, but they can move mountains.

Recently I have come to the painful realization that my mental illness does not only impact me, but those that love and care for me as well.

I've always known that my mental illness impacts others I just didn't know that people actually cared about me. It wasn't until this past week that I truly realized, in the bottom of my heart, that I am loved.

I know I am loved and cared for, I always have. In a sense of I have never doubted that my family loves me. I haven't even every doubted that God loves me. But what I did not know was that my best friend cares enough about me to text me multiple times when I don't reply within a few hours. Or that the one man that I look up to more than I can even try to form into words cared about me enough to drop everything and drive across town to make sure I was okay.

Realizing that I am loved was a wonderful feeling.

Realizing, not long after, that therefore my illness impacts those people greatly?

Well that was a much harder pill to swallow.

Ever since I have been diagnosed with depression I have become selfish.

I, for the longest time, didn't care if I bailed on my friends, making them feel unloved and betrayed. It didn't cross my mind as a big deal when I ruined family events because I was sitting in a corner crying.

It had nothing to do with any of them. It was a me issue, and so it shouldn't impact them. Right?

Wrong.

I was on the phone a few days ago with a family member who I care about greatly. They said to me that they simply did not understand depression. That the whole depression and anxiety bit didn't make any sense to them. They seemed angry at me for being mentally ill. Like I let them down in some way.

When I hung up the phone I was angry, how could you possibly be angry at me for something that I have very litte control over? It is not my fault. It is not something I asked for.

Then I sat back and thought about it. That family member never said he was angry at me for being mentally ill. He simply said he didn't understand. He said he was at loss for words. But then he said that he loves me.

I realized that maybe, just maybe I needed to stop making assumptions about how people are feeling.

I remembered that the first time I talked to my best friend about her mental illness I didn't understand. I hadn't yet been diagnosed so all her struggles simply confused me. I wasn't mad at her, I just care about her. I didn't know what to say so I told her exactly what that concerned family member told me. I told her that I didn't understand, but that I loved her.

And after I told her that we sat in her room in dead silence. Because was at a loss of words.

Does it stink that my own personal struggles impact others so deeply? Yes. But I choose to see that as not only proof that I am loved but as my motivation to get better.

After all, the Sears Tower wasn't built with only one person that cared. It took a village.

And I, I am a skyscraper in the making.

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.

 

An Open Letter to the People That Care About Me.

 

Everybody, no matter who you are, has at least one person that cares about them. Just today I was talking to my therapist about how it is both a blessing and a curse that I care about everyone so very deeply. Because, you see, I care about everybody a tad bit more than I care about myself. And that can cause trouble.

I am extremely blessed. I have people every where I turn that care about me. Some people care about me a little more than they should, given the role they play in my life. To the people in my life that care about me. Here is what I want you to know.

I don’t believe that a single soul cares about me. I know, logically, that people care greatly for me but on this one subject my heart and my head just don’t agree.

I could sit here for hours and tell you about specific times when it was made plain as day that I am loved. And in those moments, I felt flooded with love. But the moments fade and at the end of the night when my head hit the pillow I was left feeling lonely.

So, to you, the one that hasn’t given up on me yet. Know this.

Know that I thank God for putting you in my life.

Know that when I send you a text at 11 at night asking how you are it is probably because I am lonely and need some company but don’t want to be a burden.

Know that when you send me texts saying that you are thinking of me it gives me the courage to get through the day.

Know that I will cling to anybody that shows me they care. Because for me to truly feel genuinely loved is a rare occurrence.

Know that even when I am sitting in a room full of hundreds of people I feel like I am in a soundproof room, screaming for somebody to open the door and rescue me.

Know that I care about you. A lot.

And above all. Know that I am grateful for you. Because all though I may not always know in my heart that I have people that care about me it has been ingrained into my brain as fact that I am surrounded by people that have my best interest at heart.

To my friends, thank you for going on random drives with me to nowhere. Thank you for always playing all the right songs. And thank you being somebody I can be serious with and then dance with five minutes later.

To my adult role models and my non-biological family, thank you for always being just a phone call and a drive away from a pair of loving arms. Thank you for taking me in as if I was one of your own without even blinking an eye.

And to my family, thank you for loving me uncontrollably but never failing to make me laugh. Thank you loving on me when everybody else turned their backs. Thank you for understanding my crazy family in ways nobody else can. You make the holidays merrier and the sad days bearable.