Anxiously Chasing After Well-Being

It has happened. My mental health has caught up with my physical health.

It started a few weeks ago. If you read this blog, maybe you remember my crazy, frantic posts. That was precisely my state of mind. There was no peace, no rest in my mind. My heart was racing constantly, my brain was grinding its gears like a poorly oiled machine.

My appetite has been on the decline lately, which is weird for me. You see, I have always loved food. I was never a finicky eater. As a kid, I devoured the world. Five slices of pizza, three hotdogs, a half pound steak followed by an ice cream, nothing could faze me. A few episodes of acid relfux, however, served as a good wake-up call. When my growth spurt ended, this calmed down a little, but I was still capable of great fetes of feasting, and even took pride in this. No traumatizing event could keep me from eating for long. In fact, sometimes I would eat more in hard times to try to fill the void. 

For a while, I have had a concept of healthy eating, but didn’t follow through most of the time. I didn’t turn down the sweets, and I made no valiant effort to really change my lifestyle. 

I always thought that if I just ate real food, vegetables, and fruits (and some of the other stuff), then everything would be okay. 

So, anyway, now I’m eating about 1000 calories a day because I can’t eat any more, and even that seems like too much. Nothing seems to get along that well with my stomach. And this in it of itself may not be a problem. If I can get by on less, then why not? Many would probably love to have less appetite. Isn’t it just American culture that shuns any kind of minimalism?  

I am also experiencing diziness, lack of balance, fatigue, and some other symptoms as well that I would rather not go into.

What does it all mean? Are my efforts futile? Should I go on a cupcake diet and see if that does the trick? I do not deny that I am a little discouraged, but I wouldn’t say that it was all for nought. The reality is that I have been healthier relative to myself, but obviously I am not doing enough. I know I can do more. I know I can fight harder. Yesterday I went to Inn-n-Out (in my defense, I only had about 500 calories), and today I had a slice of homemade pizza even though I told myself I was only going to eat fruits and vegetables. So clearly I am not a total hippy-dippy, even though my body probably needs me to be. 

What I’ve learned from this is that sometimes being healthy isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you need to go to extremes, swallow your pride, and start eating tofu. I’ve learned that I need to stop being a crybaby- health problems are nothing new. I will accept this challenge from God. I will try to survive, I will try to stop worrying because anxiety is what triggered some of these problems in the first place. And I will see the doctor as soon as possible so I can stop wondering at least.

The Mystery of God… Still Very Much a Mystery (But That’s Okay)

Is God’s will simply what is before us? Or must we carve it out with His guidance?

This question is central to the turmoil that I have been experiencing all day. Turmoil because I felt that I made a decision contrary to God’s pleasure, and that I will surely be punished for it.

The decision was to continue summer school. Doesn’t that seem like the most trivial thing in the world? Isn’t worrying the real sin? And yet I couldn’t feel good about my decision, even though economy and reason were on its side. I figured that this decision could surely benefit God. I can glorify Him in all circumstances, and these seem favorable circumstances, I thought. And yet peace did not descend. The alternative to my decision is what I perceive as God’s will because it is the less attractive one. Does that make sense at all?

Nonetheless, I seem somewhat trapped in this situation. If I do drop, my family will be upset, and why upset them needlessly? Where is this all leading? Surely, God, you could bring good out of that because you can bring good out of anything… But is it the better decision?

And so, I have been entirely unable to find peace. On top of this absurdity. Satan has been at attacking with a vengeance in different ways. He’s really quite relentless. He makes me question everything- including the reason that I choose to follow God. He asks me if I’m really good enough for God, if I’m really good at all. He asked me to join him.

I found myself going along with this way too much. I found myself only distantly admiring God, if at all. Like the tragic old cynic with a face weathered by brushes with demons, who can only exhort her descendants to turn out differently.

But what’s the use in that hopelessness? Why not seek out God and make things right? I knew that I needed Him, more than ever, so I opened His word. I knew that without Him I would be worse than nothing, so I accepted His help. Once again, He was there with open arms.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭4-7‬ NKJV)

Philippians 4 is awesome, please read the whole thing if you get the chance. I believe this. Yes, Lord, I believe You and I know You are good! It doesn’t matter what I’ve done, You are still the same, You are always the same wonderful God! You are peace, You are joy, You are the antidote to this toxic existence! Oh, please give me the strength to love You! Give me the strength to care! Give me the strength that I don’t have to keep on going! Lord, for some reason I still don’t feel right about my decision; but let me at least stop focusing so much on my own salvation and start focusing on the salvation of others who deserve it so much more than I do. You, in Your gentle way, Lord, win their hearts!

To All Who Suffer From Social Anxiety

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There was a time when people didn’t get drugs for what we now know as SAD. Their families and peers likely brushed it off as shyness, introversion, or plain weirdness. There was also a time when drunk driving wasn’t illegal and you could buy a candy bar for a nickel.

What I’m saying is that times have changed, and so have attitudes about many things, including mental illness, for better and for worse. It is good that nowadays we tend not to trivialize things so much. Like, “Oh, that’s just a flesh wound… Oh that’s just mercury… Oh, he’s just a little shy and quirky.” People tend to have a little more knowledge, sensitivity, and symapthy… Right?

But are we overreacting? Are we overmedicating? Are we overthinking?

The problem is that when we turn SAD into a disease, well, we turn it into something that is important and real… But we also turn it into a DISEASE!

I’m not saying that you necessarily need to stop taking drugs. If Prozac keeps you from spending 5 hours a day crying and if you need a little something something to keep from passing out every time you enter a crowded room, who am I to judge you? Maybe I should be on drugs myself.

I’m just saying that it is time for a new kind of victory. No more defeat, no more shame, no more stigma, no more self-loathing. It is time that we say, “No more, we are free from SAD (figuratively…)!”

Society may shun us with its well-meaning smile. Maybe our friends will leave us and our families will continue to misunderstand.

But you may know what I’m about to say. You’ve known it all along- that there is someone who cares, there is someone who gets it, and there is someone who loves us for who we really are (not that everything we do is perfection, that is actually something society tells us, and doesn’t really mean).

We don’t need to view anxiety as a tragedy. We don’t need to view it as a manifestation of all of our failures. It doesn’t need to be fully integrated into our innermost being. It can just be another struggle. It can just be another cross to bear.

Something I’m beginning to understand is Paul. People criticize him all the time for all his “boasting.” But is he really “boasting” in the way we think of the word? Look at me, I’m such a good Christian…

Well, maybe he did sometimes, he was human after all. But there is another way to look at it. Paul often “boasts” in response to his trials. He would go city to city preaching and church-building along the Mediterranean and Jews would persecute him. They would tie him up and put him on trial and it would happen over and over again. That can get a little tiring, disheartening, frustrating… But through it all, he expresses joy. He “boasts.”

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. (II Corinthians 6:3-10 NKJV)

Maybe we can do the same thing. Not that we shouldn’t be humble or that we should think that we are better than our non-anxious counterparts. There are more than enough examples of Jesus’ humility, most do not put that into question so much. Paul was also far from taking all the credit (see 1 Corinthians 3).

Nonetheless, we can have victory. Maybe you’re not so much used to the idea of victory, like me. You know, I certainly wasn’t the star of my JV tennis team in high school. I think I won 1 match in 2 seasons. And that whole teenage triumph invincibility thing… You know what I mean… Driving around town with your friends, feeling like you’re on top of the world, believe me those moments were all too fleeting and far between for me. But there is victory outside of sports, dollar signs, and conventionality. If we believe in the Lord, if we believe that all things are possible through him, if we complete his work in spite of setbacks… Then there’s no reason to not have joy.

“But tell that to my depression,” you may say, and I would understand.

But victory is still possible. Victory is always possible. Depression is a disease of the mind. It doesn’t need to be a disease of the soul and the Spirit (although keeping it from spreading is way easier said than done). I’m not saying the road will be easy. God forbid… but is victory ever easy? And would an easy victory be as sweet?

Photo-
Socialanxietytestonline.com

What Is There To Fear?

I wouldn’t say that my baptism today was like my fairytale wedding to Jesus, but it was special. I did get cold feet in the bathroom of the Cheesecake factory, where I asked myself, is there really a God? But I sorted that out in the car and was happy to get dunked into the holy waters of a jacuzzi.

A lot of people came, which made me happy even though I didn’t talk to all of them. Honestly, I was nervous, because I am usually nervous around people, especially when I am the center of attention.

Now I must once again ask myself this question: why am I afraid of people? I ask myself this every day. I have come up with answers, but not really solutions.

I wish the reason was wholly innocent, but I don’t think it is. I must be afraid of people because I secretly mistrust them. I must subconsciously worry that they will hurt me. But I don’t want them to hurt me. So I naively seek out love and acceptance.

Sometimes I feel like no one really loves me in the same way that they love other people. My family- they love me because they have to. My brothers and sisters- they try love me because God compels them to. My acquaintances- well, they don’t hate me but they’ll soon drift out of my life. God? Well, I guess he loves me.

Clearly, this is the wrong attitude, I am sure you are thinking that, and it’s true, I am ashamed to admit this. Who do I think I am that people need to love me for special reasons? My goodness, no one said that life was going to be a Hallmark movie or a fairytale. And do I always love people for special reasons? No! Do I completely accept people and gloss over their faults? Of course not! There’s a lot more wrong with this way of thinking, I don’t even think I can cover it all. It’s self indulgent and misguided for one thing. There is only so much love and sympathy circulating in the world right now. I don’t really see why I should have it all. Not everyone has a loving family and a million friends, so I don’t know why I seem to think that.

And why isn’t God’s love for me enough? Why, why, why, I find myself crying out. Why don’t I believe that He loves me? Why do I believe that I am so vastly different from everyone else? Why do I believe that I will be a reject for eternity?

And even if I will be a reject for all eternity, even if I will be the one washing God’s feet while everyone else is wearing white robes and singing hymns, my question is “Who cares?”

When did I become the center of the universe? Why does everybody need to love me? No!!! Love God. Love God. Love God. He is enough. It is enough that He is. It is more than enough that I was created to glorify Him.

So I don’t know what will happen to me. I don’t know how psychological and how physiological my problem is. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being nervous and socially awkward. But maybe I can stop being so afraid. I think there is enough fear and doubt in this world already. Maybe I should also stop it with the introspection, my worst enemy is probably my own mind.

How Do You Get Divine Love?

1 Corinthians 13
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Gift of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Okay, so I have quoted the first part of 1 Corinthians 13, but you may know what comes next, the love is patient, love is kind verse. I would recommend reading the whole chapter (if not the whole book or the whole New Testament). It is so empowering and rich!

I also find this unsettling. Why is it unsettling? Well, it seems to imply that you can have faith without love, that you can prophesy, give to the the needy, and speak in tongues without love. What?

Isn’t faith a gift from God? Isn’t love also a gift from God? Aren’t all those things gifts from God? Why would God bestow you one without giving you the whole package? It seems almost cruel to give “Christian virtues” while withholding love. Why would God withhold love? Why do we withhold love?

I constantly struggle with loving people that I don’t know or have anything in common with. I find very it hard to love people that think that they’re better than me. Sometimes I find it hard to love anyone, even the people closest to me, even God. Sometimes I want to hurt them rather than help them, judge them rather than have compassion on them, ignore them rather than value them. I ask God for help, it’s not like I don’t. I look at faces and I tell myself, “Hey, you should love them.” But the fact that I am telling myself to love must mean that I do not truly love. Love is natural, it flows from within like a river. It should not be a game or a ritual, it should be an unstoppable force of nature. Why doesn’t it feel that way at all?

Is it really so simple that one must simply open up their heart to divine love, and then simply let that love gush forth freely? Yet how is this accomplished? Where are the floodgates and how do they open? How can you ensure that they won’t simply close back up once they have opened? Where are the keys to the kingdom of heaven? Someone tell me!

Does it just take a lot of time? But I don’t have time, I am on a tight schedule, the natural life is so short, Jesus will be coming down on clouds at any minute. But now it’s been a while. Somebody tell me, where is the love? I am parched and weary. Apparently I have moved mountains for nothing.

I would like to provide a neat answer to this, I really would. I am sure that if one perseveres in humbling themself, they will eventually find it. But what can be done in the mean time? Maybe the first thing to do is calm down. Maybe peace can be found even in imperfection and struggle. No matter where we are, God is. Maybe when anxiety fades, it will be easier for love to find its way in. It is hard to love when your heart is under stress from beating so fast. There is no sin that can’t be forgiven. There is nothing God won’t do to help you. Breathe if you can (it’s actually hard, I know because i suffer from anxiety/depression/mental issues).

Love has already been discovered. The collective human population searches and searches through various mediums: art, sex, philantropy, culture, etc. But it is already found, it is already here, right under our noses, and at the same time, infinitely out of our reach.

Rising from the Underground

If you read my blog, you would know that I am not exactly known for my common sense / street smarts. Does it surprise you that I got lost looking for a restaurant today, for a very stupid reason? And yet, sometimes getting lost is the precursor to getting found.

I certainly complained about it in an effort to garner validation and sympathy (this will make sense to you if you have done it before). But God found me today. He found me when I was lost. He was there, probably laughing, as He watched me attempting to parallel park. He found me at the restaurant, talking to my friend. He found me a bunch of other times too, maybe liking what I was doing, but probably not. Do you know what’s weird? There were several times today that I didn’t even feel socially awkward. I just felt like a… person. Not an alien. 

I was so close, so close to something that I’ve been looking for for a long time. Freedom, literal and spiritual. Friendship- it seems like if I just reached out my hand a little bit I could grasp it. 

Yet something tells me that it’s all a phantom. A passing illusion. Tomorrow I’m sure it’ll all be gone. And you know what- I guess that’s okay. It’s always better to experience something, even if it gets snatched away later on. 

The world is but a blink of the eye. We can try to make sense of it. We can try to survive in it, but if that is our main goal, we have missed the point of it all, we have overlooked the very reason for survival.

So we take what we can get while we’re here. We try to work with what we have. But in the end, it doesn’t matter. If we have spiritual bonds with fellow believers, if we at the very least have God on our side, then who cares about the rest? 

Lilies of the Field

I was inspired this morning to blog about something, which, at the time, seemed very stimulating and theologically involved. But, unfortunately, life has gotten in the way. I don’t even feel that I am worthy of the noble thoughts that I planned on posting for today. So instead, I will talk about something that’s been on my mind, plaguing me and robbing me of my joy. Hopefully if I splash it out onto virtual paper it will help, or not, I suppose.

I try not to bore anyone who reads this blog with the annoying details of my life, but it may be inevitable as I am explaining myself. I apologize in advance.

I feel that my career has already gotten off to a rocky start, even though it has not even started. If I were to phrase it a little more melodramatically, I would say, “My life is ruined!” That’s kind of how I feel right now.

Let me go back in time so you can understand. This will be brief. The first midterm for my financial accounting class (which “assumes no prior knowledge of accounting”), I… Well, I’ll say what I didn’t do instead. I didn’t write all the answers on my hand or my water bottle. It was an open-book partnered test after all. Sounds easy right? It actually wasn’t. I have never been a believer in cheating, but let’s put it this way, I didn’t follow the directions of the test to the tee. It just sort of happened, but I felt really bad about it afterward. The funny thing is, I would consider myself an honest person. By nature, not by choice necessarily. I couldn’t lie straight to save my life.

But apparently, during accounting tests, I lose my mind a little. Especially the final, which was so hard and stressful that I wanted to cry. And I usually don’t get test anxiety.You’ll have to take my word for it.

It was in this frenzy that I may have bent the test rules again. Let the judgment begin.

This accounting class has been the weirdest academic experience of my life. Here’s another interesting thing. The TA’s didn’t even give me a score for one of my midterms. The other midterm, not the questionable one. So I emailed the professor. Long story short, this has become a real headache. An annoying misunderstanding, but I wonder if it was meant to be. Is this my just desserts for technically cheating? I am afraid so. WIth the D on my transcript and some weirdness between me and this professor, who I highly doubt is ever going to help me get internships now, some questions come up. Do I deserve the D? Should I insist upon the D? Should I try to explain myself to the professor and fess up to my seemingly inconsequential missteps? Should I be an accountant at all? Surely this is a sign from God that it was not meant to be. Though I may have thought my intentions were pure going into those tests, well, maybe they weren’t. Perhaps I was doing it for the financial security in uncertain times, or the legendary accounting party/conferences where scotch and Coca Cola flow like water.
I’m in kind of a rough spot. If they raise my grade, I’ll feel like I don’t deserve it. If they don’t raise my grade, I imagine that I can pretty much say goodbye to any internship possibilities that may have existed. And do I really deserve a D?

I prayed that the fair thing would happen. But I still have an uneasy feeling inside. I’m kind of hoping at this point that they won’t raise my grade.

I thought I knew myself. I thought that I was smart. I thought that I was honest. I thought I had a bright future ahead. And now, thinking ahead makes me cringe. It’s all so muddled out there. Maybe it’s better that way.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. But I think I’ll take it one step at a time. Maybe I will try to explain myself to my professor. What’s the worst that can happen? He already thinks I’m incompetent, and I already have a D. Though I suppose I could get an F, or an expulsion. But isn’t it better to burn earthly bridges than spiritual ones? In fact, I just emailed the professor. Thank you blogging for leading me to a decision. Lord, please bring peace to my heart.

To close, here is a very relevant Bible verse:
Matthew 6:28-30
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

To Be Perfectly Honest

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know the first thing about life. It’s easy sometimes to pretend that I know what I’m talking about in my writing. Maybe some of it comes from God. I hope so. 

I haven’t exactly been around the block. I’ve barely left my doorstep. A lot of my life has been spent studying, reading, and writing in my  secluded safe-zone. I’ve lived a comfortable life- maybe that’s why everything makes me uncomfortable. I’m tired of being pitied, ignored, and rejected. But I’m afraid of love. 

So I haven’t had all that much life experience for someone my age. Maybe that’s why my writing has been suffering. Sometimes, I am afraid that I’ve learned absolutely nothing over the years. I find myself making the same mistakes over and over. I find myself overcompensating for other past mistakes. And, worse off, I find myself just as anxious or even more anxious than ever, which makes it difficult to go through life. I’m terrified of myself, the world around me, and the people who inhabit it. But mostly, I’m terrified of myself because I don’t know who I am. 

Why am I telling you all this? Well, why not? If you met me, maybe my eyes would tell the whole story anyway. I’ve never been good at hiding things. The only thing I can do is tell jokes and make the tone of my voice sound normal. But you see, that doesn’t help when people can see your body language. 

I don’t know anything. I don’t know about life. I couldn’t tell you how to change a tire to save my life. I don’t know much about the global economy, or literature, or science. I don’t even know how to make myself appear normal. The only thing I do know is that I don’t know much of anything. And the only valuable things I’ve learned have to do with God. To be perfectly honest, right now I’m pretty fed up with it all. 

I’ll try not to put on airs. I’ll try to be honest with you. I hope it helps, or maybe it just made you feel uncomfortable and depressed. I’ll tell you what I think about the Bible, but I would encourage you to read it yourself. It’s the only knowledge in this world that you can’t put a price tag on (although that happens in practice). You’ll never write anything better than the Bible, and neither will I, that much I know. 

 

 

 

 

If you didn’t do it for God, you didn’t do it for anything

I did a lot of things today. But in a sense, I did very little. I followed through with almost everything that I’d set out to do. But when the sun set, and I was alone in my room, I realized just how depressed I really was.

I followed my schedule. I hurried around, trying not to be late, showing up to places, yet my mind was no where. I drank coffee, but it did not improve my mood like it sometimes seems to do. It only made me more restless. I ate food I liked, but it did not fill the void. I ate a Chinese pastry, and I got a stomachache. I passed out flyers, but the whole time I was self conscious and embarrassed. I jacked up my voice and I moved my muscles into something like a smile, but on the inside I just felt weird.

In my effort, in my planning, the goal was to succeed, but I only succeeded in stumbling and bumbling my way through hallways, social situations. Worrying, needlessly worrying about nothing, driving myself crazy, then sensing that people could tell I was worried, which made me even more worried. Then I tried to calculate the extent to which they actually cared. It sounds so stupid when I type it out. So I was dwelling on utter nonsense, seeking approval from the world.

Doubting, mistrusting, self-depricating, dying. That is what the world has taught me to do.

What did I do wrong? I don’t understand it. I tell myself to let Christ live in me, but I don’t feel it happening. I feel like I’m still driving the car, and He’s just screaming at me to make a U-turn before I wind up in Hell. Sorry for the really bad metaphor.

Life is so funny. You can tell yourself to do things for so long, and never end up doing them. And by that I mean, I have such a hard time opening up my heart for God. 

I’m sorry this post was so negative. I was going for Ecclesiastical. My point was that nothing matters without God, and we are bound to fail one way or another without Him.

 

My Testimonial For God

I won’t say that my story is exceptionally well-written. I won’t say that you will completely relate to it. I won’t say that you’ll like it. But I will make my every effort to put meaning into the events that have made me into who I am today.

Everyone has a life story. A life story well-told is often made up or made into a movie. It often takes the form of a good book. Not everyone’s life story becomes a literary masterpiece- but God knows them all by heart. Everyone’s life story is different, though they have the same themes intertwined in them. A testimony is also a story, a life story with a Christian spin on it. I suppose I haven’t really shared my testimony before. I suppose now is as good a time as any. 

If you read my blog avidly (I don’t think anyone falls into that category), then you would know that I am pretty nostalgic. I miss my early childhood. I may even carelessly refer to those years as “the best of my life.” I came into this world floating on a pleasant, idyllic cloud of bliss. Everything seemed so beautiful back then. Everything was so magical. Just remembering now almost brings tears to my eyes. 

I don’t think I could be more nostalgic.

I had loving parents and a stable home. I lived in a safe neighborhood. I went to school and did nothing but play. My teachers believed in learning through play. They were hippies.

I had lots of friends. I had my imagination. I had lots of good times. But God was not in the picture.

Then, something changed. I was eight years old at the time. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who can understand this part. If I tell people, they think I’m just crazy, if not worse. And they’re right.

I lost my innocence. I don’t know exactly how it happened. No one beat me. No one raped me. No one humiliated me on Facebook. No one stuffed me in a trashcan. No one told me where babies came from. No one offered me a drink or a hit of a joint. Do you get the picture? Nothing major happened. Except this- my family moved to a new state.

That’s all. It was hard to make friends. It was a  different culture. I missed my birth-state, California. And somehow, I learned that the world was something very different from what I’d always thought it was. It became harder to see the beauty in every little thing. I became depressed, borderline suicidal, and confused in every possible way. But I didn’t go to a shrink, I just held on. 

A year later, I moved back to California. Slowly, I started to feel better. And then I started going to a Christian school. They told me that Jesus forgave my sins. And I believed them. But what the next step was, I couldn’t imagine.

Middle school was a roller coaster for me. Once again, it was hard to make friends. And I was having some troubles at home too. No, no one beat me. But I’m pretty sure that there was one week of my life that everyone hated me. Or at least, it really, really seemed that way. But suicide was out of the question. I’d learned in Bible class that suicide was a sin. I learned many other things too. Slowly, gradually, I accepted Christ into my heart. Things were never quite the same after that. From then on, I knew I had a purpose. I knew that I wasn’t a mistake of evolution. I knew that I had to keep going. 

But, as you can imagine, it’s not like things got way better for me. It’s not like I was really a much better person. I remember doing and saying some pretty awful and mean things. I probably stopped doing this a little by junior year, when I finally realized that I was supposed to be loving my neighbor, as well as my enemies.

There were good times. There were moments that I felt like I fit in. But a lot of what I remember is pain, pain that I largely inflicted on myself. 

“Look at everyone else. Everyone else is having fun. Everyone else has friends. No one is awkward like you. There’s something wrong with you. No one likes you. No- that’s not true. People like you. But in spite of the fact that you’re strange and awkward. That’s right, you’re awkward. And you’re strange. You might as well be from another planet. Just look at you. But look, you can change. You need to get a life, go out, stop being so pathetic. You’ve got to have your time in the sun.”

That’s how I thought. I’m not proud of it, but that’s how I thought. I think jealousy is a terrible, ugly thing. I don’t know why I expend energy indulging in it. I should have been thinking more along these lines:

“Good for everyone else! But what’s there to complain about? I have everything I need. If God thought I really needed a social life now, he would have given it to me. I guess He is building my character. You can’t have it all, anyway. And I have some pretty important things to be doing, like writing. So I just don’t have much time.”

And to be honest, I had some good thoughts like that, even though I forced them on myself. And yet the negative ones kept reappearing.

And that’s not all. I wanted a car too. I thought a car would lead to a social life. I remember when getting my license seemed like the most important and coveted thing in the world. Man, it seems so stupid now. By the end of senior year, I was cruising along in one. It got me from point A to point B just fine. But it didn’t get me to cloud 9. I can’t believe I had such high expectations anyway.

Senior year especially, I started to get serious about my faith. I realized by then that I needed to really dedicate my life to Christ. But at the same time, as you can see, my “heart was not pure.” I was chasing after worldly pursuits, and I was trying to follow God too. I was trying to achieve the impossible. To be honest, I wanted it all. I wanted the status symbols, I wanted the friends, the grades, the writing career, another career. I think I even wanted to be an actor at one time. I wanted these things, at least in part, just for my own glorification. Can you imagine that? And I also wanted to be one of those Christians who would renounce all their possessions. I wanted to be fired up for Christ, not indifferent, not merely a kid from a Christian school who follows the crowd. I wanted to be different. I wanted to deny myself. But another part of me wanted to indulge myself. So I was- and still am- being pulled in all these different directions.

Then college came around. I thought my life was really going to get better. I thought a fresh start was just what I needed. I thought I would stop doing and saying stupid things.

I didn’t make tons of friends like everyone assured me I would. I am still feeling out of place. At times, the secular spin does make me question my faith. 

I wish that I have a tidy ending to put here. I wish I could say, “And I lived happily ever after. I was never discontent or unfaithful ever again.”

Or, better yet, “Even though my priorities were straight, and I really just wanted to just love on others and make disciples rather than party-buddies and a place for myself in society, God blessed me with a tight-knit group of friends anyway who continually encourage me to stand up for my faith. Oh, and by the way, I have a fantastic boyfriend too. I know, I never thought it would happen to me! Well, I couldn’t be happier. Thank you Jesus, for all the incredible blessings you have bestowed me. I will do all I can to use them according to Your will and do everything you have preordained for me. Well, see you in heaven, until then, everything is just dandy!”

But even though my journey is still in progress, even though I constantly fall back into sin, even though I still crave things that are not good for me, even though I still have bad thoughts and sin constantly… I have hope. I have hope for an abundant life. I have hope that one day, I will seize my opportunity to serve Christ wholeheartedly and never look back. I have hope that, if not on earth, at least in heaven I will be given a new body and new mind, cleared of all mental illness/anxiety. I have hope that someday I will connect with someone. Maybe I’ll never even be someone’s bridesmaid, let alone get married myself- but I pray that one day I will lead a fellow human being to Christ. And that would be the greatest honor of all. I have hope that someday I will help someone, make a difference in their life. I have hope that maybe I will write something worth reading and believing. If it is in God’s will. The all-important caveat to most of what I just said.

So maybe my life story will never be turned into a movie. It would be foolish and prideful to imagine myself being famous (although, embarrassing as it is to admit, I do it all the time because it makes me feel better about present circumstances). But the good news is that I am alive right now, and that Christ is willing to live in me. He is willing to retake the soul that I defiled and purify it, filling it with good and helpful things. He is willing to dwell in me. He is willing to dwell in you. And I think that is a beautiful thought. I think that was missing from my childhood.

So the journey continues. Thanks God, it’s been an interesting ride. I guess I wouldn’t change a thing.

Well, maybe I could have done without some of that sin.

But we can’t go back in time anyway, can we?

We only have today.