Faith Over Fear

This past May, I boarded a plane to Disney World with the attempt to leave behind the stress and turmoil of reality and escape into a magical fantasy land. I checked my bag and waited for the plane to take off to my happy place. I was delighted to have the opportunity to dive into a book I am reading called, “Brave Enough,” a story about the author’s faith journey and advice with helping women get over their fears and flaws to live bold and free. While I picked this book off the shelf from my favorite used bookstore expecting another typical self help book, I was pleasantly surprised how the author discusses faith so intently weaved throughout each chapter.

That being said, I don’t know if it was the high altitude or the waking up at the crack of dawn that drew me into a foggy haze, but I sat on the plane and needed a minute to gather my thoughts as I read deeper into this book. The author mentioned that God’s love is the source of our bravery and strength, not our own abilities or goodness. She called it “Jesus courage” when we could tackle our challenges with our faith spearheading our actions.

As the author mentioned how God’s love was so full and abundant, I was a bit skeptical. What does it mean to love God in a way that I can accept and embrace the love he has for me? As someone who used to constantly question my own worthiness, I instantly took a step back with this concept. The author argued that the love God has for us overpowers what we think of ourselves. What a freeing notion that we are worthy and loved, exactly as we are!

I closed the book. My head was spinning and I couldn’t put the words together to describe how it felt to have my faith once again rattled into realizing that God’s love is something bigger than I could wrap my head around. I shut my eyes and listened to the family in the row behind me. The young girl was asking her mom where they were going and was trying to guess the answer. Now I will admit, I thought it was strange at first. Did the mother not tell her child where they were headed? Did the child not think to ask why the suitcases were packed? How could she get on a plane and not know the destination?

And then it crashed over me as if the plane had all of a sudden dropped down from the sky and landed on my heart. That is how you love God. You don’t need to know where He is taking you. It’s not a requirement for Him to tell you every life plan He has for you. Sometimes you need to let Him pack the bags and put you on a plane, knowing that He is the pilot and you will land where you need to be.

I picked up the book again, still in disbelief that God was communicating to me in a way that He know I would understand. The author continues to talk about reading the Bible and the practice of prayer. She mentioned how it takes courage to approach the Bible with the belief that God has something to say to you, and that we first must admit our prayer with confession. If we cannot confess what is standing in the way of becoming closer to Him, we will not be able to achieve that intimate relationship.

I was long overdue for some prayer time. After the encouragement from this book, I put my prayer together and I prayed for two things. One, that I would have a sign for God that loving Him and following His word was a path I needed to pursue. I confessed that I started this faith journey as something to explore and to prove a point to myself that I could hand over the reigns. I prayed that God would see my honest attempt to connect with Him in a meaningful way.

And the second prayer was that I made the right decision in looking for other jobs. I was scared to move beyond where I was comfortable, and I confessed that comfort was something I was definitely okay with. I took pride in my job and didn’t want to lose that by going somewhere else. I prayed that God would offer me a light in this tunnel and comfort me in this difficult decision making time.

So I got off the plane and headed towards the bus that would bring us to our hotel. I peered out the window as the bus took off, and I gasped when I looked at the sky. A plane had written “Love God” in the sky. I was in complete awe that I had prayed God would see my feeble attempt to follow His word, and my prayer for a sign I was on the right path was answered. Clear as day, God revealed to me that I am His child and I am doing exactly what He has guided me to do.

A few weeks after my trip, my sister sent me a job posting in D.C. that looked like something I might be interested in. I was hesitant to apply for anything out of my comfort zone, and I was afraid to apply for something in a different location than where I was currently living. But this job was working with volunteers, something I really enjoyed doing, and I was encouraged by my family to apply. After several various types of interviews, the manager said to me that I seemed very calm about the whole application and interview process. While of course I wanted to make a good impression and present my best self, I was surprised at how calm I actually felt. It was a peaceful feeling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

I was putting groceries away in my fridge one day and I saw my star word from my church. A word printed on a cut out star is given to each person in the congregation on Epiphany Sunday to celebrate the wise men who followed the North Star to Jesus. The word is supposed to be a guiding light for the year ahead. My word was “childlike” and I will fully admit I was disappointed. I had absolutely no idea what it meant and I liked to think I was a mature person, so this word didn’t identify with me. But I stuck it on my fridge and figured I would make meaning of it one day.

After I was offered the position and accepted, I made the connection that the job was located at a children’s hospital, and my star word was childlike. A word that was given to me at the beginning of the year finally made sense. God’s plan for me was already made back in January, and I just hadn’t known it yet. This was the answer to my second prayer, the light in the tunnel that I needed. The calm I was feeling was actually God’s presence, I just didn’t know how to identify it.

God is here, and I am a believer. I am His child, and His love knows no bounds. What a blessing it is to receive His unconditional love! May you feel the joy of being loved and the grace of his presence.

Worthy of a Dream

I love writing because it’s an opportunity for me to connect to people through my words. As I began writing on this blog and continued to write posts, I enjoyed hearing that people felt moved by my stories and felt touched by my writing. I became eager to write and wanted to work on my craft. My goal became to write on this blog so I could express myself while reaching the hearts of others.

And so, the research began. I started participating in writing webinars and reading up on the art of writing. I compiled lists of my favorite authors and writers so I could study their process. I took out books at the library and signed up for online courses so I could learn as much as I could about the industry. While these tasks were meant to inspire me, it actually did the opposite. I started comparing myself to other writers and how well spoken they were, how quickly they got published, how many followers they attracted, how often they wrote a compelling piece, and the list goes on.

I started doubting myself as a writer. I didn’t think I was a good enough writer to even be called a writer. I felt like I shouldn’t even think of myself as a writer because that was a title for people who were real writers. The doubt spiraled and I decided to cut back on writing. I told myself that I would pick up writing once I felt more comfortable. Days, weeks, months passed. I jotted notes down here and there, but told myself I wasn’t ready to write again.

As I look back on this, I realize that I was the one who decided that I was unworthy of being a writer. I didn’t do something I enjoyed for months because I told myself I wasn’t good enough. And I robbed myself of the joy writing brings me because I compared myself to others instead of focusing on myself. I wanted to be a writer and I took that away from myself, simply by believing that I wasn’t worthy of that title.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in knowing what we want but fear traps us into thinking that it won’t happen for us. I had convinced myself that I was unworthy, when in reality, our worth is defined well beyond the things we are good at. I told myself not to write, that my voice wasn’t loud enough or my tone wasn’t clear enough. But those things don’t matter if I don’t even put the words out there at all. What matters is that I enjoy what I am doing, and people feel connected to the stories that I share.

It’s so easy to believe that we aren’t worthy of all the amazing things this life has to offer. Sometimes it makes more sense to think that we are destined to only do what our to do list tells us to, but I promise you that there is a much bigger world out there when we allow ourselves to unapologetically go after what we want. Life becomes that much more grand and colorful when we know that we are worth all the joy and happiness that comes our way!

So whatever goals you have, whatever journey you want to take, know that you are worthy of making all those dreams come true. If you have a dream you want to revisit, write it down and say it out loud. Share it with those close to you so you may be reminded to continue to pursue it. And above all else, remember that you are worth all those dreams coming true.

Real Life and Raw Words

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As I have learned over the past few years of writing and sharing my stories, I have come to find that my style is to write with emotion, connect it to a bigger picture, and tie it together with a bow of hope and inspiration. I began writing for myself but saw that other people resonated with my words, and that was one of the motivating factors in continuing to write these posts.

So, what happens when life gets messy and words get jumbled? What do I do when I want to share positive thoughts and meaningful insights, but feel at a loss for keeping that bow neatly tied, holding my words together in my heart? As my sister suggested, I should write about this too. The experiences I’ve had recently should also be highlighted, because it’s real life too. And if someone else out there can connect to these words, then it is well worth the fear to write it.  

I pause here, as it is hard to put words to pain sometimes, especially when the pain is numbing. While this may seem contradictory, I think it accurately describes these past few weeks. It starts slow, with extra sleeping and a dose of heavy crying, and then it morphs into panic attacks and fast heartbeats. Loading the laundry machine one day, I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. Starting my car one morning, I felt sick to my stomach. The “resting anxiety” was seeping into my skin and choking the air I breathed. It calculated my every move and kept me filled with panic and fear of the unknown.

I became really depressed, not knowing when or where my anxiety would strike. Some people go on high alert, whereas for myself, I shut down. I cancelled plans with people I enjoy spending time with. I skipped meetings I knew I would like to attend. I was paralyzed with fear that my anxiety was a weight too heavy to bear in public, and my depression fed me lies that I couldn’t be helped. I couldn’t taste food or see sunshine or hear laughter. I felt like a walking zombie with no destination.

I wish I could say that something happened and I could point fingers at what triggered these episodes, but I am learning that it doesn’t make these moments any less real. It’s as if I had a reason for the chaos, then it would make sense that it was happening, therefore being acceptable. Unfortunately, the formula isn’t that simple.

I kept telling my family that I was scared. It felt like my medications were failing me and I didn’t recognize myself. I kept trying to grasp onto a thread of trust that I would get through this, but the line kept getting thinner and the boundaries were blurred. I got frustrated with people who didn’t understand my pain and I was furious with myself because I couldn’t explain it. I took the anger out on myself, beating myself up for losing the words that carried my voice. Here I was, writing about being your own mental health advocate, and I couldn’t even identify the body I was living in.

Tears are falling down my face as I write this, feeling the burden of trying to keep up the act that I’ve got it together. I felt selfish for wanting more out of my life than being dictated by the bullies of anxiety and depression. I thought I was crazy for suddenly plummeting to a dark place that was cold and unfamiliar. It seemed like everything I had worked so hard to overcome has come crashing down to the harsh reality of the life I was living.

I don’t want to believe that this is all we are meant to be. I don’t want to accept that the way things are is the way they will always be. I have faith that life changes and we continue to grow, despite all the challenges and setbacks. Just as the sun sets and rises on a new day, there will be another opportunity to revive our heartbeat and begin again. So I sit at my computer, with just my words and my heart, praying we can see that our soul’s journey isn’t finished here, and the light we shine beams on this precious and fragile world.