Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A rough but good beginning

School starts tomorrow, which I am not excited about. It's not the worst thing, but certainly not as good as doing all the things I love to do--writing, reading, Pilates, cooking, even working in a real accounting job. But it will be okay, as soon as I get back into the proper mindset.

When school starts, Wesley starts too. And that's a nicer thing to look forward too. We went on the leadership retreat this weekend, and I really didn't want to go at first. But as I got back into worshiping God and praying with the undivided heart that I should have had all summer, I realized that I'm just letting my personal fears get in the way of what I love--communion with God. Bob is working at Wesley this year, and I really am excited about the year. I grow so much when my heart is in it, and I have so much joy when I don't let it slip away from me.

I realized that much of the depression that I went through this past year was rooted in my being afraid to be different. But the fact is, I am different from a lot of college kids--I'm married, I study a lot, I am a vegan, I don't really wear make-up or fix my hair or anything that even my best friends spend their time on. I am comfortable with who I am, but I often feel estranged, no matter what group I am with at the moment. I feel understood very little--perhaps only by my husband sometimes. And since I am a person who values very close connections with people, it is scary to feel alone.

But I understand now that I let myself assume the worst about other people's thoughts of me. While I know that my close friends love who I am and will never judge me or condemn me, I let thoughts sneak in that tell me my friends aren't interested in me anymore, or that they think I'm making bad choices. And in the Christian community I am a part of at Wesley, though many of my values are different, I have to remind myself that they don't think I'm not good enough to be a part of them. These are the very same things that have haunted me my entire life, and I have to get over them.

I have to get over my need for validation from others. It's nice to receive encouragement, but I should not need it to feel worthy of love and friendship and acceptance. And I should not have to feel constant pressure to please my friends, please my parents (I don't even know why this is an issue anymore), please anyone. And I know that I shouldn't be under this pressure. Why do I let myself sway to it, like a feeble pine tree in a gale storm? Am I not a stronger person than that? Was I not created for more?

I was created for more than that. I was created to live in complete freedom, to have joy, to love and be loved, to be always enfolded in the arms of God. And these are the things I long for and pray for. I have a long way to go, but I am optimistic. Because every day I draw my strength from the God who knows my inmost being... the same God who knows every grain of sand on the beach... the same God who died in my stead and was powerful enough to defeat death forever. And I know He is on my side. And I know He longs to be closer to me.

There is a song that changed my life when I was in high school. It is by Michael W. Smith.

This is your time, this is your dance
Live every moment, leave nothing to chance
Swim in the sea, drink of the deep
Embrace the mystery of all you can be
This is your time

What can I be? I can be more than a broken, sad, inward-focused woman who cannot get past her own shortcomings. I can be more than a fearful girl who feels condemned by all the world. And I denounce these things in my life. And I refuse to live under their oppressive power. And I draw near to God, and I know that He will draw near to me.

I continue on... I fight the good fight. And I know that I am never alone.

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