Friday, May 3, 2013

Saying Goodbye For Now

I sort of feel like I've been standing far off watching my life lately. Like an out of body experience, I'm just standing there (or floating there?) watching myself do and say and live in the way I've done it for years. My life has been busy and I don't really mean physically, although that is certainly part of it. You can't really expect less with a family, but what I mean is I can't really remember what it was like for my mind and my mental and emotional state to not always be going and moving and doing. I remember life without the internet and kids, but when I try to think back I start to wonder, what on earth did I do before? The internet and having children  definitely has the capacity to keep you moving, in one way or another. Do you like how I clumped the internet in with my family? Sad, isn't it?
 For as long as I can remember I have always been a people pleaser. I do and I give and I  love, hoping desperately for people to like me and approve of me in return. Part of this is human nature, and I think part of this is having been raised in a preachers home and always wanting to be sure I didn't say or do anything to present a bad image for my parents. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing and I am certainly very loyal, but what I am saying is that is all I've ever known was to try to do things for other people, so in turn people would approve of me.

This drive turned insecurity has most definitely carried me through my adult life. There is a part of me that has always wanted to prove to people I am good and honest and genuine, somehow guessing that if I didn't keeping talking and trying to prove myself, they would think less of me (see? insecure). There is a part of me that is always subtly trying to find ways to get people to just like the person I am...either by being the happy one, funny one, the encouraging one, the helpful one, the selfless one, the smiley one, the friendly one, maybe even the helpless  or needy one, etc  It's not so much a cry for attention, but a fear of loneliness and being rejected.  And I think these qualities are all  parts of who I am, yet most times subconsciously I needed that love and acceptance in exchange. I needed to be needed.  My inward desperate plea is for people to validate me in one form or another.
 I see that as a weakness in myself.  Pure honesty here, folks.
And with that, I have spent the majority of my life being busy, mentally trying so hard...and I absolutely hate the feeling of wondering if people are thinking negatively of me in any way.
It literally scares me.
 I've sort of been watching myself, the things I've said, written and acted upon over time...the extremely uncomfortable lengths I have tried at times to avoid rejection...and I start wondering why I do that. What is this obsessive need for people to approve? Yes it's human, but mostly it's fear. And spending every moment of your life trying so hard to say or give or fix or do or beg or please or help so that you can feel love in return,
it gets exhausting. And I am sure it's unnecessary.

This blog...sigh, oh this little blog of mine has been on sort of teeter totter the past few months. I've sort of been on auto pilot mode with it so that my numbers didn't drop (see what I mean? fear), but not really having a lot to say.  I was talking to (actually crying to) my husband about this and how I am grateful I started this blog. Not only did I somehow find myself again in my love for creativity and art and writing, but it helped me sort of navigate my way through  an extremely sad part of my life.  And as wonderful as the blog community is and the friends are that I have met and love, blogging so far has been sort of a temporary fix for this frightened existence I've unknowingly lived. And it's kept me busy, so I don't have to think about it.  In the beginning I thought it was healing, but now  I 'm seeing  it's kept my mind off the fear of loneliness I didn't want to face.  I kept so busy in my writing trying to help, relate to and be there for people so I wouldn't have to think about myself and what could happen to me if I stop moving and thinking  and talking for a minute.
It's an unhealthy pattern for me, and I feel crushed if it doesn't work like I hoped. My heart is let down.
And I allow it to make me feel smaller than I should, I think.

 Not being busy is what scares me. Because that means life will be too quiet and I will have nothing to drown out that silence, which to me, embodies loneliness.  I realize that although I've tried,  I cannot change or control what others do or the way they see me, but what I can do is change and control the way I live and see myself and the rest will fall in place.  And I've never taken the time to just sit still, to let my mind rest and not always frustrate myself in my efforts and pleas.  I am convinced that I just need to be quiet for once and find a way to really love myself and believe in myself....and let God love me.

The internet in general has been a huge distraction for me over the past decade. Mainly the social media aspect of it. It has added a level of drama and excitement and  anticipation and torment to life that sort of blankets that fear of being bored  or unloved. It has covered it so eloquently that I forgot it was there. Just like a workaholic or alcoholic or drug addict or sports addict, social media and all the relationships I have managed to build within it have kept me preoccupied  in various ways. If you're a blogger or really anyone that has a relationship with technology, I'm sure you know what I mean. Especially in this smart phone era where the clamor is constantly begging our attention and it very literally makes my head spin some days.  It has been a band-aid and I have used it to an extent to hide behind. I think it's a good thing that I realize this and that I know now that I need to just hush the buzz of this techno paced world for awhile. Silence may the solace I need to recover from this disease of insecurity and to discover who I am without all the noise I've been constantly carrying in my mind. I want to know what it is like to live a quiet life and not be afraid of it. I want simply to embrace the sweetness of it.
Like any habit, I am aware of the pain and withdrawal it may first seem to cause , this quiet, but in the end it will help me be stronger and believe in myself and do more for myself, which in turn will help me love for bigger reasons than me.  I believe this is just one step of my 'big picture' and it will help my writing in the future... which I never plan to give up, even if it's just for me.

And it will give God one more opportunity each day to show me who He is to me.
My source of strength, comfort, confidence and peace will be in Him alone. It has to be.

Thank you to all of you who have read through my tumulus and thought processing blog and facebook posts and offered your generous words these past 16 months. Really, you are all very precious to me because you make up a part of my story, some in a little way, others in a bigger way. But either way,  you were there.... And if you were one of those who sort of stumbled across my scattered path of wanderings (and this may only make sense if you actually know me), either blindly or on purpose, I am sorry.  I think some people in my life understood me more than I understood myself at times.  This blog means a lot to me and it hasn't been an easy decision to sort of "officially" state that this particular season of this blog is over for me and I'm not sure how long this lull will last. Because of course it scared me to maybe lose readers and friends. But it is the best thing for me in this moment. I need for my confidence to be outside of people. A season of growth...
  I'm not sure right now what the future holds. I really can't say when I will be back here on From Awkward To Art, but I hope you are still here if/when I do make my way back. I suppose it will be at least as long as it takes for me to get used to my thoughts in silence and realize nothing has to be said of them. I don't always have to talk and do. I hope that's ok.

To hear only the voice of God and His assurance of who I am, no strings attached,
is what I am longing for.

So for now, I am saying goodbye.

Psalm 46:10-Be still and know that I am God...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Not The First Time I Denied Jesus

Last fall, I remember sitting in my bedroom at the headboard of my cozy bed while my husband laid at the foot. Tears streaming down my face as I barely sputtered out the words, "I feel like Peter." Yes Peter, the disciple of Jesus, that Peter. Just hours before Peter denied Jesus three times as Jesus was being directed to the cross, he self assuredly announced to Jesus face that he would never deny Jesus. But Jesus knew better. Before it was even done, Jesus told his disciples "One of you will deny me three times" as he indicated Peter would be that one.

Denying Jesus is an easy thing to sort of accidentally do. In just minutes, I'm sure I can give dozens of  detailed moments in life where I said nothing of Him when there was an obvious open door to share Him, where I willingly sinned, not even remotely being "tricked" into it, where my faith laid low because that's what "they do" and they claim to be Christians. These are all forms of denial.  
But not this time, this time stood out among the others. This time, I wrote a blog post and I took it back. And I have been meaning to talk about it for months, but haven't been able to bring myself to it.
Mostly when I write, I either write from the deepest parts of me, yearning and searching for this LOVE of Jesus to overcome all failures and hurts and chaos in my life OR I write letters of hope of His love to you, my reader. Either way, I have never made any pretenses that I was not a follower of Jesus. I hope that this is obvious.

However, this time was different. This time I spoke up for righteousness. I spoke up in defense of not only the love of our God (which is easy to do because 'love' is accepted by most kinds of people), but instead I stood up for the holiness & the jealousy of our God that so many people want to pretend isn't a factor. I'm not a confrontational person, I hate rejection, but this is one time it was stirring inside me to say something bold. And I admit, I was scared.

Guess what happened? It won't shock you. It shouldn't have shocked me. But I lost readers. Several. Not hundreds.  Less than ten, even. But I watched throughout the day, my "followers" drop. 

And then I did it. I unpublished the post. I let them get to me. I let the people control my faith in God and who He is. People I don't even know.

I remember telling my dad about it and his response was "How many did you lose? Like 400?" 9 or 10. My cheeks flushed bright red.

And this is where the tears brimmed in my eyeballs. What had I done? I actually denied Jesus. Like really.
I wasn't faced with torture. I wasn't faced with a guillotine. I wasn't a marter. Just a blogger who had lost a few readers. And yet, I let people control me. I didn't even know who these people were. Yet they had power over me that day.

Since that day, I realize that now every time I convey God on this blog, my numbers drop one or two more. I don't let it get to me like I did that day. But I have realized how much people have an influence on me. As badly as I want to influence others, there are those painfully weak moments where they win. The people win.
My confidence in myself fails and I let my influence on others be shaken.

But then I am reminded of what Peter went on to accomplish, the example he set...even after He denied Jesus.

I have been hinting towards this throughout the past week or two. That I too often, let others have control over who I am. What I do and don't do. But I also said here, that it's after times like these, that I see there is room to adjust my sails and point myself in a new direction. I don't condemn myself, because I am confident in God's mercy,  but I judge myself and I look for opportunity to stretch...

To Be Continued...

Matthew 10:33 But whoever denies me before people, I too will deny before my father in Heaven.

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