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Wait, What? Oh, Yeah. It’s Valentine’s Day.

This post actually makes no sense. But neither does my life right now. And it actually has not really anything to do with Valentine’s Day. But neither does my life. So, Happy Valentine’s Day.

It’s Valentine’s Day again. *insert whatever reaction here*  And I could write another post about my thoughts on Valentine’s Day, but that’s been done before. Not just by me– by literally everyone. So, I’m not going to do that. Because let’s face it– we’re all tired of that type of thing. We’re all tired of singles posting statuses or photos or whatever else on the internet on Valentine’s Day claiming they don’t care or complaining because they do. We’re almost as tired of that as we are of all the couples posting their seemingly perfect adventures. And guys, to be honest, I’m not a brokenhearted jealous single who’s just trying to validate my feelings. But, to be fair, I’m not a perfectly content single who’s trying to encourage others either. I fall somewhere between those two lines– some days, like today, closer to one end than the other. But, that’s okay. And this post isn’t really about that. It’s not really about Valentine’s Day either. It’s mostly about life.

I’ve been having a rough time recently. I am not sure how to describe exactly everything I’ve been feeling and thinking, mostly because I don’t know. But, I am trying to write a post(s) explaining it all– it’s just a slow process because I’m trying to sort through all my thoughts. And my ADHD (surprise?! A post I’m planning to finish soon) makes that incredibly difficult because I am trying to figure out what’s important and trying to not hyper-focus on what’s not. (Like, I probably should be doing homework right now, but I can’t focus on that until I write this, but this isn’t that important to write, but my brain refuses to acknowledge that so I’m basically not going to sleep at all tonight, but it’s fine because I’ll drink like 4 cups of coffee tomorrow which is fine because the caffeine helps my brain focus which is good because then I’ll be able to do what’s important, and wait, what was I talking about again? Right, my life. So, I am feeling a bunch of things and thinking a bunch of things and I’m an introvert who didn’t have enough introvert time this past week, so I’m kind of a wreck. Yesterday, in an attempt to change the scenery and hopefully convince my mind to focus on the tasks at hand, I ventured from my usual study spot to the library– mind racing and thoughts darting back and forth.

After getting settled and beginning to start my many tasks at hand, I ran into a friend. I said hi, with the intention of just being a nuisance for a brief moment. However, somehow the conversation progressed to a not terribly annoying one (it happens…occasionally). He gave me some unoriginal advice (sorry, dude, if you’re reading this. But, like, I told myself all that already in order to convince myself I wasn’t actually a failure when I switched my major) and asked why I don’t switch my major (Little behind the eight ball, aren’t we?). And then, somehow, it transitioned to mutual friends of ours’– both of whom are in relationships. And I made some joke about them not hanging out with me because they were too busy spending time with their girlfriends (which is, in fact, a joke. We didn’t spend that much time together before they had girlfriends, so it really is no different now). To which he responded, “Does that bother you?”  (welcome to the mind of an overthinking, emotionally unstable, completely confused, physically exhausted, young single woman with ADHD on Valentine’s Day. You’re welcome.)

“Does that bother you?” Well no. But also yes. I’m annoyed but I don’t know what to tell you because it bothers me for reasons you wouldn’t think or understand. And you’d probably say they’re dumb anyway. Which, they are. Because he and I-we- there’s a- history- thing– it’s complicated. And him? I don’t really know. That’s just a thing I can’t really explain. And I don’t want to talk to you about this. Because you know. But also you don’t. And also, you don’t really know me super well. And, you’re like their brother. But you’re also like mine. My super annoying brother, but brother nonetheless. And you’re also like a 12 year old. Sometimes I wish I were 12. I act like it all the time, which is probably why they all love me and I get along with them so well, but, wait, I’m an adult, when did that happen? Wait, what’s happening to my life? Where’s it going? Wait, what’s going on? Oh yeah– no, it doesn’t bother me. Yes, it does. I don’t actually know.

But “no, it’s not much different than before, you know. Good for them.” But also, I don’t want to do this– not here, not now, not with you. I can’t do this with you now. I’ve got homework and thoughts and emotions to think through. And honestly, I kind of think I’m about to cry. But like, that’s not really your fault– and I’ve kind of been feeling that way a lot these past few days. My medicine that is supposed to help me control and clarify all my emotions is wearing off so I’ll have very little control over my emotions for the next half hour or so until, coincidentally, it wears off completely. And also I’m stressed and confused about life. And I kind of just want to sit around and contemplate Ezekiel or whatever other book because I’m kind of mad at the church right now for whatever. And God’s kind of been making me feel Him too much and also not enough recently. He’s been leaving me awestruck but also feeling unable to do anything about anything. And I’m exhausted and I don’t know what to say when people ask what’s wrong. And I’m an introvert who hasn’t had enough introvert time recently and I’ve got way too much work to plausibly get done before break. Because I did nothing yesterday because my friends were having crises. And I had to help them figure out what the heck was going on. And I am really just super confused about everything. And freaking feelings, hormones, and medication keeps screwing with my mind. And tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day, and two days ago was Sunday. And my one pastor wasn’t there Sunday. And oh my goodness, I thought about maybe being a pastor. But I also definitely cannot do that. My pastor told me he figured my life out for me. And, oh yeah, my pastor joked about talking about a passage on love during Valentine’s week. But like, Valentine’s Day is stupid except for the chocolate. But I always buy that the day after anyway because it’s cheaper. And my brain can’t shut up. And I really don’t want to cry in front of you. I really don’t know you that well. But I might. Or I might punch you in the face– I’m not entirely sure.

“You know, I know it can be hard seeing people you’re close to get in relationships.” Well yeah, but also not at all. Like they’re happy and all that crap which is cool. And I’m happy, I think, which is good. And like, relationships are great. I know lots of people whose relationships are doing great things for the Kingdom. Oh, crap, I used to write KOH on my paper in New Testament and always tried to figure out why I was writing about potassium hydroxide in Bible class. Ah man, I miss that class. That professor is my favorite human being. She’s married, and her and her husband are pretty chill. They’d be like relationship goals, if I believed in that type of thing. She’s one of the reasons I switched my major. Why’d I not completely switch again? How’d you not know I switched? Have you been living under a rock? What am I doing with my life? How old am I? I have no idea what I’m doing. You’re older than I am and you just said you have no clue either. But also I didn’t remember you were that much older than I am. Didn’t you graduate with my sister? Oh yeah, I can’t believe she doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life either. Why is everyone clueless and having crises? And wait, dude, why are you giving me relationship advice for my non-existent relationship if you have a non-existent one too? No, it doesn’t bother me because I’d have to be close to a person for it to be hard to see. But I’m not that close to them anymore. And all the closeness I thought we had seems now like a lie. Oh shoot, did anyone notice how unnecessarily close that dude was sitting to me? Because that was weird. And a weird place to do that. But also, why was he sitting so close? Like go away. Crap, I still feel like I’m about to cry again. Shut up

“Shut up”

And so, after trying my hardest to finish my assignment due at 10 while simultaneously thinking about– well, everything– I re-read old Valentine’s Day posts I wrote. Because today is Valentine’s Day. And I read old letters to people I’d written that they’d never read, and some I hope they will. Because Facebook reminded me of a status I posted on Valentine’s Day last year about one of those letters. And now, here I am. Writing this post at 2 am on Valentine’s Day. Procrastinating homework that I definitely should not be procrastinating. Because my life has been weird recently and my mind has been unfocused, despite being on medication to help it do the exact opposite of that. And words are hard to find to express anything. But, today is Valentine’s Day. And love has a lot of meanings, and my brain thinks a lot of thoughts, and I’ve had a lot of different conversations about Valentine’s Day these past few days. And I’ve been writing something on Valentine’s Day these past few years but I kind of don’t feel like it this year. Because I don’t want to write an encouraging letter to singles because even if I believe it, those are so cliche and overdone. And one of the reasons I hate Valentine’s Day is the cliches. And I don’t want to write a post about the jealousy singles can feel on Valentine’s Day. Because I don’t really feel that super deeply. I’m somewhere between two points, and while I may be closer to that side today, y’all have heard that before too. And I’m kind of sick of hearing it. So instead I wrote this. Because there is a lot in my life happening right now. And the fact that it’s Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday and three days before break makes everything more confusing. And this, in a way, helps to begin to explain some of it. But also leaves everyone, including myself, a lot more confused. Which is what Valentine’s Day kind of does to me. So, instead of rewording posts you’ve all read a billion times, I’ll leave you with these words from my past self:

“I live a love story of death and eternity, and unconditional, always present love. My life is a love story and my love is the Creator of Love itself– Himself” -Why I”m Choosing to Reject Valentine’s Day

“So, maybe I am that stereotypical girl I never wanted to be. Maybe I don’t actually hate Valentine’s Day. Maybe I still do. Or maybe just this time around I do… I’m sitting here filled with this overwhelming feeling of something indescribable. Something somewhere between sadness, anger, confusion, love, and hope…  I miss you, as much as it is possible for someone to miss a person they have never actually met and have no concept of. But tonight, I’m confused and broken and inexplicably sad. “-excerpt from a letter to you that one day you’ll read

So yes, I hate Valentine’s Day. But no, I don’t really. Really I just can’t make up my mind about anything and everything makes it more confusing.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day. Enjoy your chocolate, your significant other, and/or your adorable pet. Or enjoy none of those and sulk like Scrooge on Christmas. But whatever you do, please don’t ruin other’s day. And please don’t tell anyone how they should feel. Because, if it were me, I’d probably cry. Or punch you. Who knows? I can’t make up my mind about anything:

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The Christ of the Church

This was not the blog post I wanted to write. It’s not the one I had half finished and was going to post today, but I think that this is the one I had to post. I had to write this because, right now, I have to say some things. This may be risky, and it may ruffle some feathers, but I’m sorry– it’s too important (and I’m too mad about it) not to post.

Actually, you know what? I take that back– I’m not sorry and I don’t apologize. So, here I am, speaking my heart, despite the repercussions. Because we need to talk about the church for a minute.

Recently, I thought about walking away– not from church altogether, just from my church– the place I had grown up. Something was missing, and I didn’t know what it was, but I could tell it was something I wanted. I have since discovered that it was passion, vision, and most importantly, truth. My church has recently undergone changes, and now, I have seen this passion, vision, and truth more than ever.

Recently, my sister wrote a post similar to the one I’m about to write. For those who are unaware, my sister has a powerful testimony. (which you should read about by reading her other posts). It’s filled with tragedy, bumpy roads, thunderstorms, and dark tunnels, but it’s also filled with hope, light, and strength. But throughout all of this, the place she felt the least welcome was the place that she should have felt the most welcome– church. She didn’t feel at home at the place where she met Jesus for the first time.

Because this Jesus she met here, and the Jesus a lot of people meet at church, is not the real Jesus. It is not the Jesus found in the pages of the Bible that our pastors preach on. It’s not the one whose words we read (or memorize). It’s a Jesus that’s sugarcoated, misquoted, and misunderstood.

Because here’s the truth. Here is the thing I commented on my sister’s recent Facebook status about her anxiety and recent struggles and about how thankful she is that God meets her where she is– brokenness and all.

My favorite Bible stories (besides all the other ones) are the ones where Christ, once made human form to meet us, ate with tax collectors, sinners, and broken people. Because that’s who He came for. The Pharisees (or, comparatively the church), thought He was crazy and shouldn’t associate with those people because they weren’t perfect. But, Christ actually wants our brokenness and not our perfection. He doesn’t want the whitewashed walls— He wants the sinful woman pouring perfume on His feet and the criminal hanging next to Him on the cross. He wants the doubter who says “God, are you even real?” Because He wants to say, “Yeah. Here are My hands that were pierced for you,” as He stretches out His hands so you can feel His wrists. And if you still don’t believe Him, He wants to walk on the waves toward you and say “come to me”. And once you do, and you start to sink, He says “Why do you doubt?” as He reaches out His hands to save you– even if you continue to sink over and over and over and over again. Because Christ can calm the storm, but only if you ask Him. He’ll raise His hands, pierced for you, and say “Be still!” But, He never once says “heal yourself,” because those who are already perfect have no need for Him. Let’s be honest, anyone who says “I’m too good for Jesus and I don’t need Him,” is lying. And anyone who says that anyone else is “too broken” for Christ doesn’t understand the true nature of Christ.”

And so, here is my thing, the whole reason I’m even writing this post. Too often, our churches claim to be Jesus’ disciples, and yet act like the Pharisees. We claim to know it all and don’t let the outside world see our brokenness for fear that it will somehow make our Jesus less attractive. But, if we really want to be Jesus’ disciples, we would be doing exactly what Jesus Himself did and associating with the broken, sinful, “messed up” people, while admitting that we ourselves are broken, sinful, and messed up. If we want to make Jesus attractive, we would preach a Jesus who meets us where we’re at– brokenness and all. We would claim that we need Jesus as much as everyone else. Church should be a place where people can show up with their messy lives and find a place where that mess can be embraced and peace can be found.

And here is where I ruffle some feathers (if I haven’t already), and where I also share a little bit of a personal update.

I don’t have any idea what the heck I want to do with my life (as anyone who knows me or has read any of my recent posts could easily tell you). But, recently, I’ve had a lot of people tell me the same thing. I’ve had my parents, my sister, my pastors, my fellow Quiz coaches, and my friends tell me that I’m going to be a youth pastor. And, in all honesty, the idea of that has grown on me, and it is something I have seriously considered. But, the more I think about, the more I’m torn, because the more I don’t think I can do that. I can’t do that.

I’m not saying I can’t do that because I’m not able to, or because I don’t have the gifts or the passion or the desire to. I mean, there are definitely some things I could say to convince myself, and others, that those things are true. But, that’s not the real reason I can’t do it.

I can’t do it because I can’t stand up and teach a generation of people who don’t feel the church accepts, values, or wants to listen to them because they are too young, messed up, broken, confused, doubtful, or whatever. I can’t teach them how much God loves them just to see them struggling but too scared to say it because they feel they are “too broken” to accept God’s love– too broken for Christ to even want them. I can’t watch them be afraid to be honest because they feel that church is not the place for doubts and that if they don’t answer the questions with the “right” answers they are somehow failing at being a Christian. I can’t help them learn that they are not failing, nor are they “too broken” for Christ and help them accept Him and come to Him as they are, just to watch them graduate and get forgotten about. Just to watch them enter a church that is so focused on helping children and teens find Christ and helping adults continue to live like Him, that they forget that college students and young adults need Him too, but they feel too out of place to know where to go to keep finding Him. They aren’t children, but they aren’t really treated like adults, so they are forgotten about in the most critical time of their life simply because the church doesn’t know what to do with them. I can’t watch them enter that church, then walk away because they feel lost and abandoned, like everything they were taught was a lie since they no longer feel that they have a place. I can’t work for a place that acts like we have it all figured out. I can’t stand up and pretend I have my life figured out and nothing is wrong while I know that not a single person leads a life like that. I can’t work for a place that, once I do admit my life is not figured out, has the tendency to say “you can’t be a leader if you have flaws because you’re supposed to have it all together if you want to lead– especially if you want to lead our young, vulnerable members.” I can’t be a youth pastor because so often our youth pastors are not taken seriously enough. Too often, they are viewed as “Junior pastors,” people who took that job so that they could get their foot in the door and hopefully, eventually get a job as a “real,” “adult” pastor. Their ideas are brushed aside and their passions are stepped on, because we trust them to lead our youth, but only if they do it within the system that has been in place for so long but has stopped working years ago. I can’t enter a system like that– a system that, at times, can be so messed up it misses the point of the gospel it preaches. A system that embraces change until it goes against their traditions and then they resist it and allow it to cause drama and tension and awkwardness. I don’t want to continue to encourage that atmosphere and I can’t help young people who love God so much love Him more just to enter a church as an adult and have to deal with all that. Quite honestly, I don’t want to watch them get the same shock I had with all this change going on and discover that there is more tension in the church than love and acceptance. I don’t want them to grow up and find out that the Jesus of the Bible, the Jesus that is preached, is not the Jesus that is practiced.

Today in Sunday school, we asked the teens what Paul would say if he were to write a letter to our church. We were speaking specifically of our one church, but I think the answer works for the entire church body as a whole. Some of the things they said were honest and difficult, but I compiled them, and added a few words of my own:

Dear church,

Can you stop being so stubborn? Stop being so stuck in your own traditions and ideas that you neglect to recognize that not all change is bad, and sometimes, it is necessary. Stop treating kids like they are “too young” to be important, teenagers like they are “not mature enough” to make an impact, young adults and college students that they are “not old enough” or “properly educated” to have any good ideas or wisdom to impart. Don’t forget about your “young” members just because they are young. You don’t like the direction the future generations are going, and yet, you don’t let them find direction in the church. Stop being so judgmental and self-centered. Allow people to bring their brokenness, messiness, and sin inside your doors and be a place where they are free to talk about it without judgement and with love. Go back to the Word and find out what it really says and follow it– even if it doesn’t say what you want it to. You can’t change the gospel to meet your needs and justify your actions. You have to learn what it says so you can better imitate the Christ within its pages. Because the Christ you preach is not the Christ you practice.

And I’m glad that my church has people with a passion. A Pastor who isn’t afraid to share hard truths and call us all, including himself, on our crap. And I’m glad we have a pastor whose passion is for those of us who are “in between.” Who are old enough to make decisions about their own life but not old enough to have others we need to make decisions for. I’m glad we have pastors who are willing to fight for the truth regardless of the tensions or anger it may cause. I’m glad we have pastors who try their hardest to practice the Christ they preach. I’m not sure about the other churches, but I hope they do too. Because look, if you ever even want a chance of me entering into that system then the church as a whole has got to stop being hypocrites and resisting all the hard truths because they are uncomfortable. Because quite honestly, I’m tired of it, and it makes me a little angry. And if we ever want to reach those who are unreached, we have to start preaching, and most importantly, practicing, the Christ of the Bible.

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Life’s Feeling 

Guys, I’ve been honest on here before. I haven’t hesitated to talk about my heartbreak, my feelings of inadequacy, my fear of not knowing what I want to do with my life, and anything and everything in between. But, this post may be my most vulnerable yet. It may be one that I regret writing, but, it’s on my mind and in my fingers so, here goes nothing.

I’ve been trying so hard recently to be happy. In a way, I’m the happiest I’ve been since I started college. Switching my major gave me a feeling of happiness I haven’t had since I stepped foot into my intro Old Testament class day one of freshmen year. But, I’m also not happy. Because guys, if I’m being one hundred percent honest, I’m not really anything. And I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but, right now, my world doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I’m exhausted. I’m physically exhausted. The short nights and long days are finally starting to wear me out. The 5 hours of nonstop work every other day piled on top of classes and homework is finally starting to physically drain me. I have knots the size of boulders in my neck and shoulders and back. My feet constantly feel like I’m walking on rocks, like they are permanently bruised inside my shoes. My lungs sometimes get tired of taking in air, and, as an asthmatic who already struggles enough to take in air, that proves to be an issue. More often than not, my brain gets foggy and is no longer able to function properly. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even want to think about drinking coffee. Not that I’m going to stop, because it’s my life source, but I would just so much rather have real sleep, consistently, for days in a row, that the thought of drinking coffee is, quite honestly, a bit repulsive. I’ve had migraines that my usual tricks don’t cure– worse migraines than I’ve ever had before in my entire life. Migraines so bad that I literally cannot think. Like my own thoughts hurt my head. And, I can’t study because every time I try to read, I’ll see the letters on the page in an arrangement that makes something that should be a word, but my brain will literally not understand what the word is or recognize it. A few days ago, I came back to my room before chapel, sat on my bed, told myself I should get up for chapel, and then just sat there. For an hour. And then, I closed my eyes and decided I’d try to sleep. Because I was so tired, but I couldn’t actually sleep. When my roommate came in, I couldn’t even open my eyes it hurt so much. And her voice hurt but I didn’t have the energy to say anything. But, I’ve got things to do so I take my vitamins, take some pain relievers, drink a lot of water, eat well, and sleep when I can.

I’m emotionally exhausted. I’ve always been an extroverted introvert who loves time to herself but also doesn’t mind hanging out with other friends, in small capacities. However, recently, it’s taken a lot of emotional energy for me to do anything. Sometimes, I have to leave class to go to the bathroom just so I can be alone for a minute. I lock myself in, with just my thoughts, and stay there for a few minutes–until it gets to be a length of time that seems unreasonable for a bathroom trip–when I force myself to snap out of it and return to civilization. I do the same thing with my roommate. We’ll be sitting in the room, not talking, just enjoying our own thoughts, doing our own thing, and I’ll leave to go to the bathroom–just to be alone. Getting out of bed for class is a daily struggle (when is it not?) It’s not aided by the fact that the professor of my 8am gives us no reason to show up at all– attendance has no bearing on our grade, and the way he grades makes it possible to show up to very few classes and still pass. Just this morning I got out of bed and got back in it 3 times before finally deciding I should go to class. I’ll sit in the lounge at the end of my hallway and do my homework, so I can say hi to people and chat a little– be present– but I’m never actually present. Even Quizzing, the one thing that has always emotionally stimulated me– the one place I’ve always been an extrovert and not felt emotionally drained by the end– has taken so much of my energy. I have come so close to actually getting mad at the Quizzers. And I love Quizzing and the Quizzers– I rarely get to a point where I’m angry at them, or at least angry enough to get mad And I know they can tell there’s been a change in my personality. I am normally the fun, patient, excitable Quizmaster, and suddenly I’ve become the exhausted, annoyed, “no fun allowed” Quizmaster– and I don’t like it, but I don’t have the energy to pretend I have the energy. I was playing a game with my family, and about 2 or 3 turns in, I was just tired of being there and playing the game– a game I’ve always loved with people I love even more. But, I go to class, talk to my friends, and fight my way through my non desire to be around people– faking it until I make it.

I have even begun to feel a little bit spiritually exhausted too. I go to church, I help teach the 7th grade girls’ Sunday school ( I even bring up some great points and say some cool things), I coach Quizzing, I pray, I read my Bible. And yet, I feel like God is further away now then He has ever been. It’s not because He is, or because I’ve stopped trying to seek Him. It’s because I’m exhausted and I feel like He’s unreachable. He’s always felt close– like I could reach out at any time and touch Him. And now, every time I reach out, I know He’s there, but I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel any different. It kind of hurts to try because I feel like it’s taking so much of my energy to reach out to Him for me not to feel Him. He might as well be a photon of light because I know He’s there, I can see Him, I can feel Him, but every time I reach out to touch Him, it’s like He isn’t as close and as tangible as I thought. But, I read my Bible, reach out, pray, and practically beg God to take whatever burdens I have that are keeping me from seeking Him so that I can seek Him.

I have lost what little motivation I had just a week ago. I have a huge Organic Chemistry test coming up tomorrow and I haven’t really started studying. But, I also don’t really care. I know nothing, but I don’t feel stressed or motivated to learn anything. I have an 8 page paper for a class that, just a week ago, I was beyond excited to write. And now, it just seems like another paper I’m going to force my way through and probably start two days before it’s due– miserably writing every word. I’ve never loved going to work or really looked forward to it, but recently, I’ve been dreading it. I’ve been trying to come up with reasons why I just can’t show up that day. And, on days when I have a legitimate reason I can’t show up, I still feel guilty when I call in, but yet, on every other day I try to find reasons I can’t come in. But, nonetheless, I do my homework, albeit rather miserably, and, for the most part, show up to work and do my job– at least trying to have a positive attitude.

Even now, it’s 1 am while I’m writing this, and I have homework I should be doing, but I don’t really care. I’m just sitting here, typing two or three words a minute between staring out the dark window and scrolling through social media– mindlessly liking random Instagram pictures because it’s been a few posts since I’ve hit the like button. I haven’t really felt anything but nothing recently. Not the stress I know I should be feeling due to the next 2 weeks being the most stressful of my life. Not the excitement and anticipation I usually feel days before an upcoming Quiz meet. Nothing. Just some physical aches and pains and some overall fogginess. It’s weird, and I can’t explain it.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t hugged any adorable little kids in a while or pet any cute little puppies. Maybe it’s because I have a strange case of senioritis that only affects non-seniors. Maybe I’m dying from some incurable, deadly disease. I don’t really know. But I know that I’m trying my best. And that’s the best I can do.

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