SLAVE.

I have become a slave.

I am a slave to systems, to cultural norms, to the expectations and biases of others.

A slave to the life I’ve create for myself because society told me in the first place it was what I needed.

A society that tells me to “achieve, achieve, achieve” and never stop.

That tells me I am a failure if I do not have money, friends, or a job.

A society that tells me technology is everything – and proceeds to consume me with its ferocious grip, stealing my time, money, and friendships away –

Into a vast vacuum where I begin to feel the need to present myself perfectly so more people will like me.

 

… Why is this the way things are?

Why do I feel pressure closing in on me from all sides?

Even now, I question myself: am I writing this poem to get your agreement or approval? Or am I writing it from the deep root of the thoughts bound to my caged hurting heart?

Sometimes I don’t know why I do what I do anymore.

 

And I do think it is because this is what our society has done to us.

They tell you as a child, “You can be anything you want to be” as you get a sparkle in your eye.

Then, as soon as they see the sparkle emerge and spark, they throw mud over your sparkle.

You try to wipe the mud away, but all that does is spread it around more and more.

And before you know it, your sparkle is gone, never to shine like it once did again.

 

As they tell you what to believe, how to think, and what to feel.

Quickly making you forget that your sparkle was anything more than a mud-smudged mess in years past.

And just like that, you become a slave.

 

You and me both, pal.

 

 

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The Final Year

Being a senior in college is a weird thing.  A weird year.  I can’t figure myself out, or anything around me, or the future, for that matter.

Up until this point, every single year of my life has been pre-planned out for me. Each year is the same… school begins in August, takes a break in December, resumes in January, and continues until May or June.  Then, during the summer, I spend it looking expectantly towards the next new school year that would follow.

But now here I am, following this cycle for the last seventeen years, finally reaching the end of that cyle: the final year, where I have absolutely nothing already laying ahead for me.  Whatever happens from here on out is only up to me.  Of course there are people that can help me along this path and deciding what steps to take, what turns to make, and where trails may lead, but ultimately, I’m the one making my own choices for the future at this point.  I’m the one listening to the Lord’s voice and leading, and choosing whether or not to listen and follow (though I desire nothing more than to follow – I just want to hear His voice clearly enough so I know exactly where to go and don’t need to second guess whether a path I want to follow is my desire, or His, or both).  And that’s a weird and amazing feeling. Because I’ve never, ever been given this much freedom over my own life. Like I said, up until now my life has been pre-planned every single year.  Now, of course, there are going to be quite a few different things to balance that I am going to have to figure out, such as finances, where to live, how to follow where the Lord is leading, what friendships to maintain and how to find a sense of community wherever I end up. Those are the things that scare me – is getting those figured out.

In particular, the friend thing and the community thing scares me.  I know that next year is going to look so different in terms of friendships and in term of the community around me.  Who will I decide to stay in touch with? Who will choose to stay in touch with me?  Will I lose friendships that mean so much to me now? What new friendships will I make?

This year has already been weird in terms of friendships.  After last year, quite a bit of my friendships slowly dwindled away as people graduated and moved on with their own lives.  I’ve made a friendship that almost turned into a relationship a little too quickly and has gotten messy and muddled.  I’ve got another friendship I know I need to end because of its toxicity, but I haven’t done it yet out of fear and doubt it’s the right choice.  I’ve got yet another friendship that means so much to me but seems to be one-sided whenever we’re apart for longer than a few weeks at a time.  My best friend who means the world to me lives nearly 200 miles away from me.  My life is messy.  And despite all of this, these people mean a lot to me and the thought of losing them (even the ones that my life may be better off without) is not an easy one for me.  But I know that it’s bound to happen, because that’s just life.  That’s not be throwing in the towel and saying I won’t make any effort in the ones I think should last, but I know it’s going to take mutual effort to work and I’m not sure how much the effort will be mutual.  And that change is just one of the few that scares me.

I just really love my life here in my town, around these people, but I know things are going to change soon, and that’s what scares me. As much as I once thought I liked change, I’m not actually sure I do.  This school, these people, and this town have become my entire life the past few years.  MY ENTIRE LIFE. Every single stinking opportunity I have had is because of the resources this place has provided me.  Every amazing friendship I have encountered has some tie or another to this college. And holy cow. Thank you Jesus for that.  What an incredible four years it has been.  I can never stop ranting and raving over the goodness that has come from it.  But that gratefulness doesn’t come without some fear and some sadness.

Lord, take away my fear, and replace it with trust and rejoicing for the big things You’re going to do in my life if I follow your leading.  Remind me that You’ve provided from me before, and You’ll do it again.  Finances, friends, opportunities, You will provide what I need if I trust you. Teach me to trust you in this season of jumping into the unknown. You are so good, and don’t ever let me forget it.  Amen.

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Infinitely infatuated.

For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with the idea of love.

I had a teacher in high school that used those exact words to define the word “infatuation”.  Being in love with love.  So there it is, a word for it: infatuation.

I have wanted to fall in love since I was a little girl. I have been experiencing infatuation all of these years.  I was convinced I was in love with my male best friend when he moved out of my neighborhood when I was eight years old.  And my first heartbreak was the day he left.  Then there was the boy I sat next to in middle school who was transferring to a different high school.  My second big heartbreak was the day we graduated middle school.  Then there was a few boys in high school who I never got quite as serious about, but I definitely had a few crushes that came and went.  I grew and matured in my understanding of love and what it entailed all throughout those various years, but it doesn’t mean I ever fully let go of the desire to experience it.

After all of that came college.  College was a whole different ballfield when it came to love and dating.  I began college with a friendship with a guy who I considered to be best friends with (and who I was not-so-secretly in love with – he actually asked me how I felt about him one day then told me he wasn’t interested).  That relationship was a mess to begin with, one of the most emotionally abusive situations I’ve ever been in (it’s a long story, but he was verbally abusive).  After years of fighting against both him and myself to get out of that relationship, I finally ripped out of it, but not without a broken heart I kept trying to mend and having shattered multiple times over again.  I then tried to fill that gaping hole in my heart by becoming very close with another guy friend my second year of college, also falling much more head over heels for him than I would like to admit.  When that entire friendship crashed and burned less than a year after it began because he wasn’t interested in me the same way, my heart was yet again destroyed.  Then, in my final year of college, after finally coming to a place of desperation, I downloaded a few dating apps, on the surface telling myself I didn’t need love but that I was just curious if the apps had anything to offer me.  Christian ones at first, but after those got me nowhere, I eventually downloaded Tinder.  A few failed date plans, dates that went great but never continued past the first, and a mess of other issues later, here I am, twenty-one years old, never having been in a relationship or even have been asked out on a real date (on the one date I’ve ever been on – which was a Tinder date – I was the one who asked if it could happen, NOT him).

For years while I was falling in love with men who I’d later find out weren’t interested, I started to believe that it was something that was inherently wrong with me that was causing them to reject me.  That I wasn’t pretty or skinny enough.  That I came off too strong and bold and loud.  That I wasn’t good enough for them.  That all of these things would keep me from finding the love I wanted more than anything else in the whole wide world.

Yet – despite all of this and how much I feel like on the surface I can say I want to give up on love after all these years, these failed attempts, and these hurts – I still very much struggle with how stinkin’ badly I want it.

I want to fall in love with a man who loves Jesus more with every breathe He takes.  Who wants to see the bareness of my soul and will still love me even after seeing the darkest parts.  Who will teach me to fall more in love with the Lord each day.  Who can teach me to be a better person, friend, woman of God.  Whom I can serve with and grow with and learn from and laugh beside and walk through life with.  That’s really all I’ve wanted more than anything for as long as I can remember.  And I don’t have a clue when I’ll find it, but my goodness, how terribly, utterly, miserably badly I WANT THAT.

Where is that love for me?  Where, God, WHERE? At this point in my life, I find myself looking in all the wrong places for it – and looking for it in anyone who walks into my life who seems like a generally positive candidate.  I find myself going so far as to think about what a very distant future together could look like with someone I have only had one meeting with.  And quite honestly, I don’t know how to stop doing this.  Everytime I think I make it to a good point where I’ll have good self-control about a relationship, I end up falling head-over-heels and getting way more hurt than I ever wanted to.  And it’s a cycle I just don’t know how to stop, because all I want is to feel wanted.

This literally happened today.  I had lunch with a really cute guy who has a huge heart for Jesus and a handful of likes in common with me.  And I started making him and my meeting a way bigger deal in my head than I should have on the surface as soon as we were no longer together this afternoon.  I blew it up in my mind, making myself yet again too excited about even the slight potential of falling in love with this person.  And now I sit here hours later, wanting to bang my head against a wall, telling myself that I need to be careful, because I don’t need another tally on my track record of friendships-turned-crushes-turned-rejection-turned-heartbreaks.

I really hate that my whole habit of blowing love up in my mind to this big, huge, extravagant thing has become such an idol.  And pray about it as I may, I think it will always be my own “thorn in my flesh”, as Paul discusses in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  This thorn, this desire that often becomes bigger than God to fall in love with a man, is an idol and a weakness if mine.  And despite how hard it is to push back against it, especially when I want nothing more to receive that love and attention from men, I think that maybe this thorn is here to remind me that people are not to be worshipping, but God is.  That He says, “My grace is SUFFICIENT for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.  Yet again, God, You blow my mind.  Sufficiency cannot come from man alone or from anything on this earth except You, and my attempt to find sufficiency in anything else is an idol and therefore, an area of weakness for me.  Thus, through this battle against the thorn, Your perfect power will shine through.  Now, I just ask you, please oh please give me the strength to not dive completely and utterly headfirst into the first glimpse of marital love You decide to give me, whenever you choose to do so. Please teach me how to guard this fragile, fluttery, lie-believing heart of mine.

Gah. Wow.  That felt good to write out and process.  Isn’t it cool when God reveals truths to you about the deepest parts of your being the second your writing about those things?  Thank ya, Jesus.

Now please just help me tolerate this thorn in my flesh and to see Your beauty shine through it, teaching me to never put anything in my life higher than Yourself.

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Anxiety sucks.

Anxiety freaking sucks.

Being a Christian with anxiety sucks even more. 

Not only does your soul feel weighted and like it is about the burst, but then you have that lingering feeling that maybe the reason you feel that way is because you aren’t relying on the Lord enough.  That you’re focusing on too many worldly things.  That you haven’t rested in the Lord.

But here’s the thing, what if I don’t understand how to rest? What if I have never been able to rest?  What if I’ve never learned how to stop and have my soul filled to the point of really feeling satisfied, content?  What then?

Though the anxiety doesn’t hit me often, it hurts when it does.  It weighs me down, making my entire body feel like I’m on a kick of adrenaline I don’t want to be on.  I feel trapped on the edge, like I’m stuck dangling over the edge of a cliff and I just have to hang there and endure it until someone can come and pull my back up onto the solid rock.  It’s exhausting.  It sucks.  And I don’t wish it on anyone.

The worst part about anxiety is there’s no way to really “fix” it.  You either ride it out, let it take its course (which usually results in a panic attack) or you spend even longer trying to suppress it.  Quite honestly, the former is the better of the two choices – it’s so much easier to come down once you’ve just ridden out the attack.  And usually after an attack, I feel better than I did before the anxiety hit in the first place.

It’s weird.  I am only writing this because anxiety is hitting me right now for the first time in a month or so.  I’m on break from college, and honestly realizing more and more each day that I don’t really know how to rest.  Each day of break, I have been running back and forth between work, errands, and friends.  I’ve tried to sit and relax in the Lord, getting to know Him and rest in Him, but try as I might, I just never feel quite as full as I would hope to.  Why is that?  Am I doing something wrong?  I don’t understand it.  And I’m not really sure how to cope with it right now, but something propelled me to open up this Word document and just start freaking typing out all the feels.

On the days that I am not struggling with anxiety, I would say that my anxiety is a gift.  And despite how much I want to disagree with that in this moment, as I sit here and wrestle this feeling of being trapped on the edge, I can’t help but continue to stand by that statement.  My anxiety reminds me that I should boast not in myself, but in my Lord.  Even though I struggle to rest in Him and figure out exactly what that looks like, He is still good.  And He is oh so strong in my weaknesses. So strong.  His power is made perfect in my weakness.  My anxiety draws me nearer to Him.  Through my anxiety, He comforts me.  He shows me He knows best.  He reminds me that I don’t need to (and can’t) carry the weight of this world on my shoulders like I want to so very often.  And what reminders those are that I need, in this moment.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

So yeah, I’ll sit here, and yeah, I’ll endure.  And it will suck and it does suck.  But despite the fact I can’t quite figure out how to rest and that is what leads to this anxiety, I trust that my God will continue to work through it, shaping me into who He wants me to be through what the world would see as an undesirable weakness.  His perfection will shine through this weakness, and I only pray I can keep that reminder in my mind the days I feel like this.  He is good, He is good, no matter how I feel or what I do; He is good.

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