Transformation Barrier

This week during Bible study we were talking about Romans 12:9-21 where Paul lists all these things that love is. The girls and I discussed what transformation would really mean if we did these things. My friend Vanessa had the idea of making two lists, one of all the things that are not demonstrative of love in the Kingdom and another corresponding list of who we really are in Christ. Then, she said, “You burn the first list.” I got really tense when she said that. I literally felt myself freeze and say internally, I could never do that. While I had always heard of (and continue to) transform my thoughts through writing, I for some reason like to visually see all the crap that I believe written out. Sometimes I just write all the negative thoughts down and forget to go back and actually write the transformed statement next to it. I like to go back and read (and reread and reread) all these thoughts. It gives me some sort of perverse pleasure.

The idea of burning my list of crap seemed revolutionary for some reason. Almost terrifying. In that moment I realized the very simple truth: My barrier to growth and true healing is that I love my crappy self too much. Or I think I do. I continue to believe that I am a more significant, interesting person being “messed up” than “healed” and “whole.” It all goes back to some weird belief that I need more love and attention in my life, and I can get that by being “sick,” “messed up” or “weak.” Even though I know for a fact this is all crap, I continue to believe it.

Why do I think I need more love? What more could I ask for? I have an amazing God who continues to pour on me blessing after blessing when I least deserve it. I have a supportive family who loves me and true friendships that will last a life time. In fact, I can’t think of one person in my life that does not continue show love and unconditional acceptance of me.

Again, it goes back to my mind. I am always striving for what’s right in front of me. Lately, I have been irritated because I am trying to recreate moments from my past. Times I have felt “high” on life. Instead of living for today. I basically abandon things I have always enjoyed like writing in my journal or playing the piano simply because I can’t get that emotional high to please me the way it used to. I do the same thing with caffeine-the bane of my existence-food and with particular types music and boos. I have experienced such extreme emotional highs on these substances or activities in the past, as if these temporary highs are eternal and significant. I have all these damned expectations for myself, expectations no one in their right mind would place on another human being. If I can’t reach some sort of inexplicable perfect feeling, I, at best, avoid the activity altogether (my black-and-white nature) or continue to “feed” myself until the day ends. Realizing, obviously, that the emptiness still remains.

But, thanks be to God, I am learning to say, “This is a new moment.” and “You are a new person.” “Accept yourself for who you are now.” And “There’s more to life than a fleeting feeling, however intense.” I am glad I am learning to tell myself the truth; I have really transformed in that area. But I am so sick of this back and forth war. I want to be done with all this childishness. Love freely from my deepest self, without wondering what my true motives are and analyzing every tiny decision I make or word I say. Will I ever be free?

Mostly, I don’t know how to live in shades of gray (but am very aware and learning to change). I am either in the past OR the present OR the future. Somehow it seems impossible to learn from my past experiences but not become obsessed with them and even more impossible to accept and cherish this moment while also anticipating and being hopeful for the next.

That’s all.

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Where wholeness can be found

I have been so intrigued by this book, I can barely put it down. It has inspired me to write my own stories. There are so many of them-too many to count, thousands a day. Sometimes I think they are too ordinary to share. I haven’t had anything miraculous or crazy happen to me. That is, nothing miraculous the way the world defines it, but I do indeed see miracles every day. And like this author, I am aching to write about them.

Probably one of the best quotes so far is in her section on “Freedom.” She writes,

We usually look outside of ourselves for heroes and teachers. It has not occurred to most people that they may already be the role model they seek. The wholeness they are looking for may be trapped within themselves by beliefs, attitudes, and self-doubt. But our wholeness exists in us now. Trapped though it may be, it can be called upon for guidance, direction, and most fundamentally, comfort. It can be remembered. Eventually we may come to live by it.

This spoke to me fiercely. I am always looking for outside help, ideas, support  and clarity. Most often, I hear the critical voice saying, “You’re stupid. You don’t know anything.” “You’re incompetent, how could you think you’d make it?” “You’re going to have break down.” and other absurd lies. But I do believe them most days. The author later, through a story, talks about how we become the real “us” and surprise ourselves. I do that a lot. I look at a lot of the things I have accomplished with God’s (and others’ at times) help and I stand back in awe. The ugly person I sometimes think I am could never have done these things: studying in Guatemala for a semester in college despite challenging physical/emotional problems, returning to college after having left for a semester due to severe depression, graduating from college, teaching inner city for 2 years with very difficult students and an unsupportive principal, radically changing my diet and lifestyle, advocating for my health in unknown situations, staying on top of loans and bills, working odd jobs to make my way (after losing my job), starting a 3rd new teaching job while also tackling grad school, supporting friends going through hard times, my commitment to my church groups, and my most recent feat of getting off of anti-depressants (after 9 years). For all these and many more things, I am so in awe and grateful. I just need to remember those things.

On the hard days, I tell myself, “I have been through worse.” And it’s true. I have gone through so much and I will no doubt go through worse things later. But the truth of the matter is, I need to use the God-given resources I have inside me already rather than searching for a solution in all the books I read or in a person I think is smarter than I. What a good reminder… hopefully you can be reminded of this too in your own life! And I highly recommend this book!

>Happy Love (and Joy) Day!

>I have not written in a while and I don’t know if it matters much, but I guess I will share a little bit of my heart. God has shown up in so many powerful ways…extremely visibly ways in my life the last couple weeks. Sometimes I just do not feel worthy of all of His blessings. Among my trillion other thoughts, I’ve been wondering, why now? After so many years of depression and now for the first time in 9 years I am Rx free…I feel like my depression is perhaps behind me. I had a rough few weeks of withdrawal because that’s really what it is… I think I am finally free of every one of those tiny white beads-it has now been three weeks! I don’t know if I can say I am depression-free. I am tempted every day to go back to the darkness, especially with all the stress I am under that always affects me emotionally. Sometimes I don’t even believe I had an illness, that it was all in my head. But I have been reading some of my old journals and I know it WAS real. I am in TOTAL AWE of our AWESOME GOD in seeing how far He has brought me! I’ve been struggling with this thought: did I contribute to my healing or is it selfish to think that? I have been working hard to stay healthy-physically, emotionally and spiritually-and I know that for many years, I was too ignorant to make quality decisions about my health. I wonder, if I had made better decisions, would I have not been struck with depression. Did the meds even do anything for me? But I guess it does not help to analyze it. Even if I did make good decisions, God has been my strength in making them and I praise him with all that I am.

There’s so much more on my heart. As I said, depression is a huge temptation in my life-my tendencies toward anxiety, negativity and a bitter, critical spirit are things I have been working on. It seems every minute I have to stop and refocus my thoughts…it’s hard to explain. I want to continue basking in the wonderful gifts God has given me…why did he allow my depression to ease among tons of other blessings? I am not a special person. Why now and not many years ago? And what about everyone in my life who is struggling. I continue to try and take on their burdens and discount every good gift I have received. Because of guilt usually. I don’t feel worthy of joy and happiness a lot of times. I somehow continue to believe that lie and the lie that if others are struggling, I don’t care about them if I am rejoicing in my blessings. Through God’s strength and truth and with my counselor’s help I am able to accept the truth: I am worthy of joy. And God wants me to be joyful! As easy as that is for some people, I have always struggled to believe that. I thought maybe He’s preferred me somber and sad, thinking of everyone in the world (including myself) who is suffering. I can think of them…but then let them go into our Savior’s hand. After all, He is the Savior not me. And He does not need me but He can use me…

I hope you have enjoyed this special day with people you are close to, and especially that you never forget how much you are loved! Thanks for listening, whoever you are.

>Lonely but at Peace

>A few weeks ago I had the deepest feelings of loneliness I remembered having in a very long time. I cried and cried my heart out to God. I did feel sad but it didn’t feel like depression as much as just this aching emptiness. I was supposed to go to this event with a friend and she backed out of it at the last minute. It was a “Wellness Picnic” hosted by the chiropractor/wellness place I go to. And it was too last minute to ask anyone else, beside the fact that not very people in my life are interested in this sort of thing. For almost nine weeks I have battled internally if I should even be going to this place. Since I started going my anxiety and OCD tendencies (obsessive thoughts) have gotten way worse. I have been extremely ambivalent and pulled in two different directions, wondering if on the one hand I am going overboard with my health concerns (that are now obsessions) but yet wanting to take care of this body God has given me and seek solace and freedom from my many maladies. I have felt utterly ALONE in this process because everyone in my life is on one side of the fence or the other (the majority thinking this place has made me more anxious and obsessed and I should stop going).

SO the Saturday of the picnic when my friend (my one “health nut” friend who lives nearby) backed out, I was torn. My parents were in town and I knew I’d see them tomorrow but felt I “should” be with them instead of going to some thing where I didn’t know anyone. I did end up going and it was okay. The talk on “Spine Fitness” was good and I picked up some tips. But I didn’t meet anyone my age in my situation as I’d hoped. In fact there weren’t very many people there at all. I quickly got over my extreme sadness after the event and during work at the group home that evening.

But I still struggle with this intense loneliness off and on. Mostly due to this health battle, depression/anxiety battle, and what faith/God has to say about it. Feel quite misunderstood and discouraged by both the people who seem to know me and care about me best AND by these new people who I feel have some hidden knowledge and I’m struggling whether or not to trust them. Also because I don’t have a significant other with which to share these intense struggles. 😦

I don’t feel lonely very often because I am an introvert. Being alone is something I love. Even when I was seriously dating I had to be alone many nights a week (this drives a boyfriend mad, I realize.) I am so dragged down when I am around lots of noise, commotion, and chaos also because I am an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) (See one of my links to right if you’re wondering what that is.)

A blog friend of mine said to talk about my birthday party. I wanted to put up pics but I am house sitting so I don’t have them handy. I had a really crazy weekend (half of the events I’d planned ended up being cancelled due to a 3-day migraine–my body’s way of telling me “too much!” I suppose). But Sunday I was feeling better and had a birthday get together at a nearby place called Chatterbox Pub (I planned the event myself). I had written to God in my journal earlier, “I am going to have caffeine and maybe a little alcohol because I want to be like my outgoing, extroverted friends.” And, being that I am extremely sensitive to caffeine because I no longer have it, my one cup of tea had me wired for the evening! We had a great time. I couldn’t believe about twenty of my friends showed up. Less than two years and a few months ago, I knew only two of these people. I am very blessed that God directed me to the church I am at now (Woodland Hills) and these wonderful people. We had yummy food, played games and of course the best part: karaoke! Only a very few people were actually interested so that was a bummer, but we still had a good time. After there was only me and few people left, we decided to leave, but I still felt insatiable like I wished I could keep singing the whole night. I knew it had to do with caffeine and my love for singing, but this energy and desire kind of scared me. That night I ended up awake until 4:30 a.m. the next day but I didn’t even have a migraine the next day. Thank you God!

During my party I didn’t have any of the obsessions about food or health and really was able to relax with my wonderful friends. Even the food I had didn’t affect me negatively (like most restaurant food does). Hallelujah!

After that night, I felt a bit of a let down. Because as always I was searching for something to fill me up. Of course it wasn’t wrong to go out and have fun…but I can’t really get into that here. I spent a few days with my parents in WI and that was good. Now I am house/dog-sitting for some friends of mine and again feel kind of lonely but at the same time glad to have it quiet and relax some.

Lots of thoughts and some neck and hand pain (from typing) but I am so glad to be at peace now.

>A New Way to Live

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As you can see I changed my blog title and “About Me.” More about that later (or maybe you will begin to understand after this entry).

I have been in a weird place lately, physically and spiritually, and consequently, emotionally. Last Saturday at church, I felt God telling me to go up and get prayer which, of course, I was very nervous about doing. After a kind man name Lawrie/Lori prayed for me, I guess I didn’t know what to expect. Sudden restoration?

You may be wondering exactly what it is that is bothering me. Well, overall I am doing pretty well. But there is one thing that I have been obsessed with lately: food. No I don’t overeat or nor am I concerned about my weight. After reading a book called The Food Allergy Cure by Dr. Ellen Cutler and talking with my friend Becca and others with food sensitivities I have determined I am doing something wrong with me eating. I have struggled my entire life with headaches, for almost 10 years with depression, and for many years with other things, so I thought, why not go gluten free? But it has turned into an obsession. (As always, whenever I want to do something potentially good it gets out of control as my thoughts/obsessions become uncontrollable).

Anyway, I am reading this book by Larry Crabb and naturally the title is appealing. My whole life is about pressure, basically due to perfectionism, with which I have a love/hate relationship. I am always trying to do things right at all times. NOw it has to do with food. Well, anyway, Crabb is not necessarily a great writer but his book is simple and to the point. His basic point is “There’s a New Way to live” in which we are not contstantly striving, trying to find all the answers, trying to find causes for everything, trying to be perfect. BUT I am still trying to figure out what the New Way is he talks about (I am little over half way through the book). He basically has said thus far that we need to make Christ our number one priority-easily said, obviously. (Ironically, Crabb seems to present the “answer” to our problems when in the first place, he says we shouldn’t be seeking the answers!)

He talks about how we are taking advantage of Christ when we have an “If/then” mindset, “If I do these things, You will then deliver me out of this problem, give me this blessing, etc.” This all is simply stated and makes sense. But my question is, God is not going to blatantly say, “Brittany, you have these food sensitivities.” I need to to use the brain he gave me to find the answers! Right? I feel this is in my power like I could possibly find the answer to my problems, particularly depression which has created all my other problems, I believe.

Maybe some people reading this might think, Why is she so concerned about all this? I do sound kind of obsessed with myself. But I have come to realize the importance of our bodies and how for me personally, everything I eat contributes to my mood, physical symptoms, etc. But maybe I have taken it too far. Should I just accept my depression as part of life? As I thought I already had. But after reading the Food Allergy book, I thought, “What if…” What if something I have been eating my whole life is causing it? In Crabb’s mind, I maybe should not be searching for the answer.

I think there is some sort of middle ground here. But I am so stuck as always in my black-and-white, all-or-nothing thoughts.

Then there’s the whole gluten-free (or low gluten) I have tried to do for the past few days. I am quite irritated because nothing has really changed. In fact, it may have gotten worse. Yesterday and today I experienced INTENSE sudden fatigue after having gotten good rest the night before. And have been having headaches almost every day for two weeks now. Anyway, I am sure nothing’s wrong, but the GF has not improved anything, plus I can’t afford this diet and I miss bread too much.

>Random Post

>I have been sick for over a week now. So today I decided to take another day off work. (Was in bed all day yesterday.) I didn’t have the energy to try and sub today. I worked last weekend, a long day on Monday, and will be working this weekend too. So I am sitting here trying not to feel guilty for trying to heal myself. I have a bad virus, but a weird one. I remember going to work last year when I felt a TON worse than this. That’s why the guilt is eating away at me. I keep telling myself, now is different. I had two really hard years of teaching, so I try to see my life as a gift right now. Since I have the chance as a sub to simply not answer the phone, which might actually help me in the long run, why not?

I have been working really hard to take care of myself. Got some nice organic herbal tea, been drinking lots of water, and Emergen-C, and trying to rest. But I still hear myself worrying. About money mostly. What’s the point of worrying about money when I don’t even know why I am trying to make money? I don’t want to simply live my life to pay off my loans. That’s what I feel like my point of life is sometimes, though. Since I have no desire to teach (right now) nor anything else.

My passion for a career has suddenly died, but somehow my depression has lessened if that makes any sense. Well, thinking about not knowing what my future holds makes me freak out a bit. Overwhelmed is a good word to describe it. But not totally down to the point of incapacity like I was a little over a month ago (I only shared this with a few close people in my life…maybe hinted a little bit one here).

And another weird thing, my depression usually gets really severe when I am physically ill, like now. But I have stayed overall pretty positive. I think it has to do with the sun being out, longer days, and taking care of myself by eating well and exercising.

Life has been kind of blah, though. Every so often I get excited. Usually it’s when I am at the store and buying all kinds of yummy, healthy things, and then at home when I put together a creative colorful meal, that I know will help me feel better. But that’s about it.

So I am not really up, not really down. I am okay with that for now. What can I say? I am going to try to embrace who I am right now; not try to force anything. Certainly, feeling guilty is not going to help. So plans for today are drink a lot, eat well, and rest much. Maybe do some mindfulness activities through journaling. Just being is enough for today.