taking care of myself.

Aside

its only been in the past several years that I have learned to take some time for me. Since i am a very odd combination of extrovert and introvert it requires alot of self regulation to make sure that I can handle life. I love people and in most cases love to interact with them, but if I’m around people all day with no break from them…I quickly become emotionally exhausted and can feel myself pulling inwards in an attempt to create a quiet space to hide and refresh.

i have always required more sleep than others and i’m not sure if its because I am anemic and don’t often keep on top of my iron content, I’m depressed and just really love my bed or i find it a way to escape when i feel overwhelmed. I am not sure which one of these three it is, but its something that bears pondering.

this week I had three eight hour shifts in a row. On Tuesdays and Wednesday’s I also have two separate bible studies that I attend. The Tuesday night group is full of beautiful ladies who have become dear heart friends to me. It is exhausting for me to be in the midst of a group of people, even if i love them, i am willing to surrender to that group and share my heart. My Wednesday group is one that i continue to have up and down relationship with. I know that sometimes you are put in a group of people to help perhaps make me think about things or realize how incredibly different people are from me. sometimes though i internalize so much that my heart just gets stuck on the discord and i’m not sure that i’m feeling up to wading through that these days.

tonight i chose to bypass small group 2. next week i will again, because i’ll hopefully be sleeping because i am going to be leaving at 4am in the morning for the Detroit airport and get to Omaha a day early for Jumping Tandem: The Retreat. i decided to make a long day of it. i was going to do it on monday but decided i’d have learned so much and been so exhausted by everything that it would be better to head home. so i’m excited to see what i might end up doing in Omaha.

this morning when i woke up, i felt exhausted and near tears. that is usually a sign to me that I need to tread carefully and be very cogniscent of where i’m at physically, mentally and emotionally. sometimes this is a difficult road to travel or a difficult series of events to try to figure out. I’m glad though that God has given me the wisdom to see these things beginning and to know what I need to do to remedy the situation.

sometimes i find myself committing to things to help someone else out…but then i realize that i’m getting in way over my head. its difficult for me to tell the truth and say i’m sorry but i don’t think it would be wise for me to do that. I’m still learning boundaries and what i can do to respect who i have been crafted by God to be and what he has called me to do. I don’t have to do everything that comes my way. I don’t have to be anyone other than who he’s called me to be. those are hard things to learn.

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After – FMF

joining up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday

The word today is After

Go

I love the blogging world. I try to keep track of so many beautiful people who are writing their lives out on these pages, but its hard to remember them all and my reader would just be a blur.

there are several things that usually jump out at me when i read a blog and one is the way in which they write and two the manner in which they share of themselves. Both of those are things that draw me in and keep me reading. It is especially meaningful if i see myself in what they are writing or if God causes something to jump off the page and catch my attention.

I have written a blog for many years. Lately that particular writing place has gone on hiatus as I moved over here to kind of ‘get a new start’. I have to admit in the past that i’ve struggled between writing for an audience (for comments or interaction) or for myself, to work things through. I have found several of my friends expressing that they are sometimes in that same place.

the one thing though that i haven’t really experienced is rebuke, because my original blog was limited to a few readers and while this one is open, I don’t usually write much that might be considered controversial. However, in the past couple months I have seen several times a comment or thread that does not only attack the blog post but the individual writing itself.

I have to be honest that i have been reading some different blogs that have differing ideas from those i’ve grown up with, some of them have stretched me to think differently and be a Berean and search the scriptures. and some of them have just left me shaking my head with my mouth hanging open as their beliefs astound me. This week I was very saddened to see a friend face retaliation  for a post that she put out in truth and good faith. perhaps she could have written it differently, perhaps her direct questioning of a very strong group of individuals is what warrented the attack, but it was incredibly disheartening for me.

perhaps i’ve been living in a bubble. i’ve been reading many stories lately of people experiencing awful abuse at the hands of the church and fellow Christians. I haven’t experienced that myself and it was awful to see that it does happen. At the same time, it has been very hard for me to understand when people are so vehemently opposed to one another that instead of having a discussion they attack instead. Perhaps we know longer know how to communicate since the internet is a great way of ‘being whoever you want to be’ and much is lost in the written word, verses saying things ‘in person’.

but my eyes were opened to the ‘after’…the after the publish button is hit, the after of a willingness to share so openly from your own life, the after of being strewn through the mud, the after of heart boggling attack that seems so not reflective of the God that i know and even though we as mere humans are so not a good representation of Him, it disheartens me to know that this is happening over and over every day.

a very disheartening after…especially when people are sharing such vulnerable ‘afters’.

Five Minute Friday

its a vicious cycle

Illustrator Matt Kenyon

It has only come to me recently that I would like to know what being a woman really means. How that impacts my world. And how to embrace the fact that I AM a woman. As I reflect on some of the ways that I’ve been interacting in life in that past several years it has become clear to me, that I have rejected some very key elements of who I am.

Its hard to determine some days if my not caring about myself too much comes from a bit of the depression I struggle with or if its just a position I have adopted over the years as a cautionary step. I have struggled with my view of self for many years, and still don’t have a handle on it. I used to be much more vocal about how much I disliked who I am and what I thought my flaws were, but somewhere that became an internalized struggle.

When I originally cut my hair short, it was because I realized that 1) my hair was so thick and long that it was sooo hard to take care of consistently (i’m pretty low maintenance) and 2) it hurt every time i put it up, and I couldn’t stand it in my face, so it was up alot. When i sat in the hairdresser’s chair, I told her that I would close my eyes, she would cut and I wouldn’t open my eyes till she was finished. She didn’t believe me. I did it. I have to admit that when I saw all my hair gone I freaked out…but said I was fine. i then promptly went to the local drug store and bought approximately 100$ worth of makeup to help make me feel more feminine.

within a couple weeks a boy of 8 years of age completely devastated me when he told me that I looked like a man and that I was ugly. And yes, he was only 8, but I was particularly fragile at that point and so it went deep. I have had my hair different lengths since then but never too long again. Lately its been all I can do to last a month before I have it chopped off again.

there are days when I look in the mirror and am glad that I can carry the look off, and sometimes i just think that I look pretty nondescript. those are the days that i struggle most with embracing who I am as a woman. I rarely wear makeup anymore and most days I just dress comfortably. There is nothing wrong with either of these things, except they reflect the fact that I just don’t care too much about the way that I present or pamper myself. I don’t really see myself as worthy of that time or attention.

I have been reading some interesting feminist articles (that sometimes seem way too out there for me) but it has made me consider what it means to be a woman in the society of today. it has also made me realize that we have been called by God to BE women…i’m still trying to figure out what that looks like. But most of all i’m attempting to come to understand my femininity and how that will be used by Him in my journey.

This week in woman’s Bible study we started a course called True Woman 101: Divine Design. I was a little wary about some of the things that were said, and i’m still pondering them in my heart. I don’t think they were wrong, I just don’t think that I see things the same as some of what has been mentioned. However, in understanding who we are as women its important to attempt to understand men in part and their role in our lives as well.

This was fascinating for me. it was also very difficult for me, because I found myself being severely convicted of the manner in which I treat and interact with men. I realized that respect has not been a consideration in all but one of my relationships. In the past couple years I have come to realize that I have been at fault for some of the things that have gone in my relationships, but the one thing that stands out to me is that I’ve seen men as a means to an end.

I want to feel like I have a purpose as a person, perhaps even as a woman, and so having a boyfriend esteems that in my eyes. I get bored of them, for various reasons and then get heavily involved physically because there seems to be ‘nothing else to do’. This physical involvement has both grown and hindered my development as a woman. I have discovered many things that shock me about myself, but I’ve also realized how deeply tied my sense of self is to other’s finding me physically attractive. Some comments have been made that have made my heart grow stone cold in sorrow and pain, and it at first shocked me that those comments were so deeply tied to my sense of self worth.

A class I took in University was called ‘Body Image Issues’ and dealt with a whole manner of issues not usually discussed in Christ circles. The one thing that really stood out to me however was that in the raising up of woman as a result of feminism (of which I have been a beneficiary) has also resulted in the degradation of men and their role in society and the workplace. Men have been feminized and women masculinized in a sense and the dichotomy results in a suppression of men. There is a complaint that we are raising up a generation of men who are purposeless and in some sense I think that is a result of taking away some of the things that drive the very heart of man. Men need a purpose, they need something to do…and while I don’t believe that the power they are given in certain roles should be abused, I think that they need to know that leadership is still something which they have and are able to make use of. They are often problem solvers and heart warriors and when we strip them of these things, we find ourselves wondering ‘where are the REAL men out there?’ when perhaps we can say that there are those of us who have been responsible for this change.

Through my many friendships with guys growing up (and those only happened mostly in college and beyond) it seemed that more often than not I would turn into ‘one of the boys’. I could talk vulgarly like that, I knew what they liked in girls and I knew how to throw a sarcastic and cutting comment like no one else. they liked that about me and i felt ‘accepted’ and yet in the midst of it, i knew that i was giving up a very integral part of who I was/am. One day I was sitting on a boat with my ex-boyfriend and his friends and they were making comments about some girls who had come out to the lake to water-ski. I goaded them on in their sexist remarks and also commented on the girls themselves, all the while feeling a piece of me dying inside as my head screamed ‘LOOK AT ME, I’m a woman too!’

I am learning that I am worthwhile apart from the appreciation of males around me. I am learning that my brothers in Christ as well as my guy friends at work and elsewhere need and deserve my respect. I will not become a doormat, but I will build them up and esteem them in appropriate ways. I will encourage them to be who they are called to be. And I will seek to understand who I AM as a woman of God, and my role in uplifting them as men of God. I am thankful that I have come to a place where my heart is ready to HEAR this message and that it is something that I feel convicted about. The only real test now is will I actually strive to change my ways and put this all into practice.

connect with Emily at Imperfect Prose on Thursdays

Finding my dream

In 18 days or less I’m going to be in Omaha, Nebraska for Jumping Tandem: The Retreat.

My heart is slowly coming to terms with a number of things about this.

First, I’m so excited. The people who are attending this retreat are some of my favourite encouragers and also some amazing women and men. I’m so excited to learn from them and hear about their dreams.

one of my fears was that I wouldn’t find my dream in time for the retreat. But it has been reiterated several times that perhaps that dream is hidden inside you just needing a voice. God has been revealing little pieces of who he is calling me to be and the voice he desires that I speak with (one more bold and humble than my own) a moment at a time. For someone who likes to have the whole picture laid out in front of her (what are the risks, am i comfortable with that) its hard to just trust…but that is part of the shaping journey.

and this retreat is also about risk. jumping tandem refers to when you jump out of a plane for a skydive with someone more experienced than you. you get the full experience of the craziness of it all (really, jumping out of a plane?!?) but also someone who knows how to handle what is important to get you safely to the ground. I love that idea. And while our journey is full of life, so it will never be completely ‘safe’, i love the idea of sisters walking along side you as you discover what God has planted in your heart to move forward in.

so far speaking encouragement into others lives has been something that has really been shown to my eyes. I love hearing others dreams, what the Lord is doing in them, and what they are learning about themselves that so resonates in my own life as well. I have no idea where that is leading, but i’m interested to see what this weekend might shape in me.

i am also fearful that in the midst of so many ‘big names‘ of blogging that i’ll feel that i don’t have a voice, or i’ll be intimidated and wonder why I’m there at all. GOD HAS PROVIDED for me to go to this retreat, He has a PLAN and PURPOSE for me being there. I have as much right to be there as the next person, but sometimes it feels like walking the Hollywood red carpet to me 😉

there are almost 100 ladies who will be in attendance and while I know it probably won’t be possible to come to know and hug each of them, i feel my heart swelling with the knowledge that I will get to hug at least a few dear ones of my heart. I’m so excited that this opportunity was shared in passing with me by Emily and that my heart leapt in thinking about the awesomeness of being able to partcipate in this.

so all that remains is packing up my stuff and finding a hotel for the night before…since i thought I might ‘do’ a bit of Omaha while i’m there 😉 At the moment my only ‘fear’ with that is knowing which part of the city to stay out of …but God will give me wisdom and resources.