loss and gain.

It’s been hard to blog because my heart is on a roller coaster this week. One that I don’t think comes with safety harnesses. I’m alive in the euphoric highs of road trips with my little family and the prospect of new opportunities but, at the same time, a little bit too close to the plunging lows of death, destruction, and hatred.

This is one of those weeks I question my choice to bring a little boy into this world. 

I think he can sense it, too. The past few days he’s been exceptionally clingy to me. Last night, for the first time in a long time, his cries from his crib could only be quelled by me holding him close. It was one of those nights he sprang out of slumber with shrieks of fear or sadness or pain or something, and would basically fall back into lifeless dreams only once he was lifted into my arms and against my chest.

The first time I got him out, I just held him and looked at him. I could only hear the sweet sounds of his sleepy breaths and the fast drumbeats of my heart against my ribs, and I thought to myself, How am I going to protect him from the pain of loss — like that of the Boston marathon explosion, or that of losing the closeness of a family-like community because of relocating for a job, or that of being rejected by another person or organization — if I can’t hold him this close all the time?

Many of my dear friends are also experiencing their own losses — rejections from PhD programs, breakups, miscarriages, divorces, deaths of loved ones — and the pain is a heavy burden for all of us to bear sometimes. And I’m definitely feeling that this week, the reality of pain and loss, as well as the overwhelming desire to protect my little boy from ever experiencing it.

One thing that a lot of people have been doing in order to find comfort in the sadness this week is echoing a quote by Mister Rogers:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

I’ve been trying to focus on this in a more abstract view. Finding the good in the evil. The joy in the sadness. The healing in the pain. And when I look into my little boy’s sweet eyes, I just have to cling to this. Because later, when he comes to me in pain, wishing something wasn’t a certain way, I have tell him something that I need to learn to believe myself. That is, only in hurting can we really learn to heal. Only in darkness do we feel the need to search for the light.

Only when we lose something do we have room in our lives to gain something. And, right now, when everything hurts and doesn’t make sense, that’s all I really know for sure.

words to live by: franz kafka

Today’s WTLB is actually about writing (squeeee) but I think it can apply to most things. If you are passionate about anything — that is, if you have a soul — I think this quote should resonate with you.

venetian_kiss

 

(Image Source)

 

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.

— Franz Kafka

Have an intense, obsession-driven weekend.

what i learned from a social media fast.

It’s as if I’m waking up from a long nap. I’m rubbing my eyes and stretching and grunting, recoiling from the blinding sunlight that’s screaming through my window.

But that’s not what I’m doing at all. I’ve been awake this whole time. The sun has risen. It has set. Numerous times, in fact. But I just haven’t tweeted about it.

My social media fast is officially over. 

As I’m slowly starting to ease back in to the world of status updates, tweets, and likes, I am also carefully redefining what it means for me to live in an over-connected yet under-personal world.  And, like any good blogger, I’d like to thrust upon you my new-found knowledge.

Free of charge, of course.

four things i learned from my social media fast:

1. posting on the internet is like getting a virtual tattoo.

I know you can technically “delete” posts and photos and tweets and whatnot, but honestly, nothing is ever really gone once it’s on the internet. It’s as forever as a butterfly tramp stamp, so it’s important to be really intentional and (gasp) think before you post/tweet/Instagram. (This was really convicting for me to learn, actually. I still haven’t re-downloaded the Twitter app for this reason. I’m pretty sure that 90% of my tweets were like bad tattoos I can’t get removed. I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to go under that needle again just yet.)

2. boundaries are important.

Social media is built on relationships. In IRL relationships (oh yeah, busting out the internet lingo) it’s important to have boundaries, so why would social media be any different? Before, I had absolutely zero boundaries regarding social media. People I hadn’t talked to in ages could post something that would ruin my entire day. That’s not fair to the people with whom I actually do maintain real relationships. Coming back into the world of social media I’ve set my own personal boundaries to make sure I’m in control of the consumption and not the other way around. (For example, I have disabled push notifications on my iPhone. I found that if my phone told me I had notifications on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, I would put everything on hold until I checked and cleared them. With push notifications off, I can check my social media at designated times during the day, when I’m not doing anything else that is more important, to make sure I’m intentional, timely, and still engaged with what’s going on around me. This also discourages mindless scrolling through updates, which is important because…)

3. i don’t really care.

Yep. I don’t. This is probably the most valuable lesson I learned on my fast. The truth, no matter how harsh it may sound, is that I really don’t care if one of my 900-some Facebook friends posts a status about doing laundry or making dinner. I just don’t care. I have better things to do with my time than scroll through countless empty updates of the mundane. The people with whom I have real relationships? I know what’s going on in their lives because we intentionally seek each other out through phone calls, texts, and (wait for it) coffee dates and lunches.

4. real life is so much better.

It seems like this should go without saying, but life is so much more fun to live when you don’t have to worry about whether or not you need to post about it. A few weeks ago, my phone fell behind the couch a few minutes before I was to leave for bible study. I almost left it there because I really felt like I didn’t need it. But I did retrieve it in the event that I were to get in a horribly debilitating car accident on the way across town. I also intentionally left my phone at home last night when Dan, Dax, and I went out to dinner. It was so liberating to know I really, truly, didn’t need it because the only people with whom I needed and wanted to engage were right there with me.

I feel really good now. Really good. I feel refreshed, renewed, and like I have a handle on this again.

Have you ever done a social media fast? Are you considering it? Why or why not?

to be known and, yet, LIKED.

A while back I wrote this post on being fully known and also loved at the same time. There is something so beautifully freeing about being able to let your hair down and let out an exhale and just be in the company of those who, even in your darkest moments, love you.

But what about being liked? That’s a completely different ball game.

This week, as we’ve finally let the craziness of Holy Week and Easter pass us by, three different sources in just as many days have all independently of each other communicated the same message to me: Jesus knows me. And of course he loves me. But maybe he even likes me, too.

That notion is worth celebrating, no doubt. Even outside of the context of my faith, the idea that I’m known by people and also liked is definitely a good thing. But it’s hard for me to believe right now, so I don’t really want to hear it. I don’t want to hear that anyone (let alone the savior of the world) knows me because, the way I see it, if you DO know me, you probably know that there isn’t much to like about me right now.

I can already see the stream of comments I’m going to get for this post. Relax. I’m fine. No need to talk me off the bridge (unless chocolate rivers are involved).

The thing is, though, my situation isn’t fine. In a little less (!!!) than a month, my family will be somewhere new. Somewhere foreign. We might have jobs or we might not. We might move back in with my mom or we might not. Whatever is on the other side of this is completely unknown to me. The only thing I do know right now is what I’m losing.

My faith community.

My friends.

My comfort zone. 

I am still Jonah. Through and through. I want to hide out on a boat and hope I’m not found out.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that three independent sources have all sought me out to convey the message that I am known and also loved. It’s the thing I need to hear right now. But I hate hearing it because if I do, I can’t spend my days like this. Hanging out with me must be the pits lately. Sorry, guys.

Have you ever felt this way? Like, you might be loved but aren’t exactly likable at the moment? 

 

words to live by: beth stoddard.

Oh, snap. A WTLB by a good friend.

sunrise

I want to release this ridiculous notion that to be a successful feminist – or woman – or pastor – or friend – I must fix what is broken. I want my first response to be respect, born of love and listening and honor of every person’s journey. Learn to live in the midst of the mess. See the beauty in the broken…

Beth Stoddard

Embrace the mess, friends. Only in the midst of brokenness can we find true healing.  I can say that because I’ve seen it.

Have a messy weekend.

three things i learned from counseling.

I just left my last counseling appointment.

Mind you, this is only my last counseling appointment in this season of life with this particular counselor. My counseling journey isn’t over, by any means. But for now, as of 5PM today, this chapter of my journey has come to a close.

So. What did I glean from the past few months of counseling? A couple things. Let me share them with you! Sharing is caring, after all… especially when mental health is at stake.

1. I am not broken.

I’ve written about this before, but it deserves a second mention because it is so important. A lot of people associate counseling or therapy with the notion that you are in need of “fixing”. Sometimes, I guess that could be the case. But for me, it isn’t. And hasn’t been. I am not broken. I just need help processing things in a constructive and objective way.

2. I’m pretty well adjusted even though, by all accounts, I shouldn’t be.

According to my counselor, my upbringing should have yielded me a permanent residence within an insane asylum with my very own padded room and straight-jacket wardrobe. However, in the words of Dr. Maki, I’m “really put together”. Holla at your healthy boo.

3. Being open and honest about what struggles I have has been a huge asset.

I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it again — no one, including you, benefits from you hiding your hurts. Opening up about the things I’ve dealt with, to not only counselors but also mentors and friends, has been more effective in my growth and health than anything else. And yes, that includes medicinal treatment.

So. I’ll say it again. If you are considering counseling but are afraid of any stigmas attached, take it from me: do it. See a counselor. Invite an unbiased professional into your life to help walk you through what you’re going through. See how it changes you for the better!

Have you ever gone to see a counselor? How did it work out for you?

a clarification.

Yo. Readers. Sup.

I get a lot of comments on my blog, both in the actual comments section and on Facebook, that are really encouraging. Stuff like, “OMG don’t feel bad about yourself! You are great! You are lovely! Don’t worry about pleasing other people!” And so on and so forth. Very uplifting, very sweet, and very much what I need to hear sometimes.

But I need you all to know something.

I don’t write this blog to fish for encouragement. That is not my intention at all.

At this point in my self-love journey, I get all the encouragement I need from my own self-talk, the people closest to me, mentors, my faith and prayer time, and all the bags of salt and vinegar chips I can get my hands on. Fear not! I am not lacking in that department at all. I write this blog because I want to normalize and talk about the very real insecurities a lot of us women have that, for whatever reason, we feel the need to cover up most of the time. I write to point out what is real and what is true so that everyone who stumbles across my little corner of the internet can heavily EXHALE and think, “Thank goodness I’m not the only one.”

That’s really it.

Don’t get me wrong — this is not to say that I don’t enjoy your comments. I really really do. They bring me life and joy and peace. So keep them coming if you so wish. I just don’t want you to think that if you don’t comment on my blog a rebuttal to every satirical self-deprecating post I write, I’ll jump off the nearest bridge. Don’t worry. I won’t.

Unless the nearest bridge crosses over a river of chocolate. In which case, well… I can’t make any promises.

creep

Mmmm. River of chocolateeeee…