When Beauty is less than Beautiful

I struggle with the idea of beauty. I honestly see myself as a beautiful person inside and out, but I get so many opposite messages from the world that I start to doubt that beauty. Who cares if I think I’m beautiful if the world doesn’t? I know God thinks I’m beautiful and that should be all that matters, but sometimes, i honestly just crave the approval of the world.  It’s something I struggle with.  I know plenty of other girls do as well.  That is why I want to talk about it,

In my depression, my darkest moments, I feel less that beautiful in the worlds eyes.  I see myself as worthless.  I see myself as someone who has to compromise themselves just to get a glance in their direction.  A harsh, but true reality.  We as humans long to be loved and approved of.  The father of lies takes this longing and uses it for his own agenda.  He fills us with those thoughts that the only thing that matters is what others think of us.  This is a lie straight from the pit of hell.  In fact, the opposite is true. THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS WHAT GOD THINKS OF US.  I could rattle of a handful of bible verses to back this up.  I also could rattle off a bunch of verses about what God does think of us. And let me tell you, he thinks some pretty awesome things, especially considering the fact that we are sinners. I mean come one, he let his only son die and take the punishment we deserve.  Now that’s love.  

Now beauty is something everyone sees differently.  As the old saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Sadly for most people, beauty is often less than beautiful.  Beauty by God’s definition is of the heart.  More specifically…

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

In today’s society however, people view beauty as that physical attraction.  The tan skin, the thin body, the ones who can afford the most expensive designer clothes.  Now if that were the box of beauty, I would not fit into it. Luckily for me God says beauty is in a gentle and quiet spirit.  Oh wait, maybe I don’t have that either.  If anyone know’s me they know I’m loud and somewhat crazy.  God couldn’t be possibly talking about me in this verse, could he?  The great news is that he is.  That’s because Jesus is covering me. And when I strive after Jesus, the fruits of the spirit tend to follow. One of which includes gentleness.  So is that it?  Have we discovered the key to beauty.  Is it striving after Jesus?  Well, I’d have to say the answer is an absolute yes.  God doesn’t think the things of this world are that beautiful.  I mean, sure they are beautiful to an extent, but they have also been corrupted by the dirty filth of sin.  Can you imagine the true beauty that will be beheld in heaven!? No, beauty is something only the ones striving after Jesus can truly posses.

So as I sit here in my Detroit Tigers shirt, my ripped jeans, with my messy hair, God is looking down at me and proclaiming “Look, my beautiful bride.” Ahhh. Now that is a refreshing thought.  With Jesus covering, I am a s while as snow. Solomon speaks of it this way,

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. SOS 4:7

So next time you look in the mirror or even at someone else, remember this.  Beauty is less than beautiful when it involves striving for earthly things, but when the blood of Jesus washes you clean, you are the most beautiful precious thing in all of God’s creation.  So when you do look in the mirror, search of Jesus and I PROMISE, your true beauty will shine through.

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Ready or not here we go.

When thinking or talking about the mission school, one of two things are said, “Are you nervous/excited?” Or “Are you ready?” The answer to the first question is always yes. Of course I’m a little nervous and I’m not just excited, I’m ecstatic. The second question I have to dig a little deeper for.

First off, am I ready for my life to radically change!? Well ready or not, it’s going to happen. My life will be intentional in every aspect of the word. I will be living life to learn about and serve the God of the universe and his people. I’ll be moving, having an intense schedule, and living in a community of believers. This is all stuff that ready or not, is happening.

The other side of this answer gets a little more personal. Am I ready? Am I ready emotionally to take this next step? Battling this depression has been my main focus for the last year or so. These last couple months have been even more intense. I’m dealing with an emotional battle. It’s hard for me sometimes to even be around people without feeling shameful and unworthy. This next step into my life to start the mission school is going to be very emotionally taxing already. Am I ready to face this with the turmoil I’m already dealing with in my brain?

The answer is Kind of. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be ready to step out of my comfort zone, but if I don’t, nothing’s ever going to change. I know this mission school won’t be a cure for me, but it will be a chance to stop focusing on myself so much and start focusing on others. Will I still have anxiety attacks, depressive, and shameful thoughts? Sure I will, and I’ll deal with them as they come. But as of right now, the focus is no longer in me, it’s on what I and 11 other young adults will be doing for the kingdom of God.

Am I ready to change lives? You bet I am. Am I ready to live intentionally? You better believe it. Am I ready to face each challenge that comes my way with the strength only The Lord can provide? I absolutely can and will.

So am I ready? I’d say yes. It will be taxing, but The Lord wants me here for a reason and I’m ready to face every challenge that comes my way.

Normally this would be where I end the blog, but I have a little more I’d like to say on a kind of unrelated topic. I’ve been feeling a lot of guilt and shame for some things I have done in the past. I hold on to it even though I should know I’m completely forgiven. I’m not a perfect person. That’s for certain. I am, however, a daughter of the King and he sent his Son to take my guilt and shame away. Before The Father’s eyes, I’m blameless. This is just wonderful news I have to keep reminding myself of daily. His mercies are new every morning.

With that said, although I’m dealing with some stuff right now, I just want the world to know, ready or not here I come. I come with a servant heart and loving Father guiding me every step of the way.

I’m Broken Inside

I was listening to the song I’m not Alright by Sanctus Real. It’s an awesome song that talks about how people are afraid to show their weakness, but once they do, they overcome. It also talks about their weakness saying how broken they are. They best part of the song however is the line that says “Yet all I go through leads me to you.” So he’s saying his brokenness and weakness leads him to The Lord and through him, he is strong.

This song can easily be the anthem to my life right now. Just like the song says, I’m broken inside. Yet all I go through leads me to Christ. He draws near to the broken hearted. He could even be using my struggles to draw me closer to him. I feel as though this battle with depression has brought out a lot of my bad qualities. It has also brought out a need for a Savior. I need a Christ to rescue me, to break my chains, and to set me free. I struggle with this sometimes. It’s not easy following Christ in the midst of suffering. The Lord will bless us, however, if we do.

Right now, as I struggle, I’m at a loss for who I am. My identity has seemed to vanish. Luckily my true identity is in Christ. I just need to remember that.

The real reason I wrote this post however is to talk honestly about one part of my brokenness. I struggle with being lonely. More specifically, I struggle with being single. I hate it. I absolutely hate it. I feel worthless. I feel as though no guy could ever love me. I feel there is something wrong with me and that’s why guys don’t like me. I know these are all lies, but they feel so much like truth to me. It hurts so much not feeling pretty enough or worthy enough to have a guy to love me.

This is a struggle I have struggled with for a long time. It started when I was in middle school maybe. I was called fat and ugly by this boy. He told me no one would ever want to kiss me. I know that sounds silly now, but back then it hit me to the core. It still haunts me to this day.

A friend of mine recently told me, however, that I can’t rely on other people to make me happy. Happiness has to come from within. I agree with that. I also think true joy has to come from God. That brings me back to my original point. Though I feel so broke. In this area of my life, God is using it to draw me near to him. It forces me to rely on him for my source of joy and comfort.

I’ll leave you with these lyrics from the song.

Burn away the pride
Bring me to my weakness
‘Til everything I hide behind is gone
And when I’m open wide with nothing left to cling to
Only you are there to lead me on.

Excitement

I’m excited. You wouldn’t believe how excited I really am. Wait, did I mention I’m excited? As you can probably tell, mission school is right around the corner. Tonight we attended an open house where we got a tour of the house we are going to live, met our fellow students, and got to ask questions about the school. Let me tell you, everyone seems great. I can already see God flowing through this group of people. I’m so excited to grow with them and become a family of believers.

The school starts on September 15. We start by going on a camping trip. It will be a great opportunity to grow closer to The Lord and each other. The first few weeks, they said, will be pretty intense. It will be a lot of growing together as a community as it sets the stage for the rest if the year.

One thing I’m amazingly excited about is our focus on prayer. Prayer is so powerful. Prayer is literally having a conversation with God. The God of the Universe! Can you believe it? Who knows what awesome things can happen when you allow yourself to be in fellowship with Him. I’m just grateful that he ALLOWS us to be in fellowship with him. Prayer can move mountains.

We also found out tonight, that a small portion of us will be headed to India instead of Guatemala. That was surprising but awesome at the same time. It’s so great that The Lord can use us young people in two very different parts of the world to accomplish the very same thing. That is, bringing the love of Christ to the darkest places on earth.

The Bridge Street House of Prayer(BSHOP) is very focused on helping the community on the west side of Grand Rapids. It’s amazing that they are allowing us to be a part of their community for 8 months. BSHOP is committed to serving the community. We will be a part of that. We will be going into schools and getting to know the students. We will be showing them the love of Christ.

Overall, I just learned a lot more about what out experience will be like tonight. I met some amazing Brother and Sisters in Christ. I also got a chance to see the place I’ll call my home for the next 8 months. I’m sure these next two weeks will fly by, but I also don’t want to ignore the things I can be doing to serve God as my summer comes to a close. I’m going to make it my goal to just be kind to everyone I encounter these next couple of weeks and pray The Lord will use me to change someone’s heart or even just give them hope on a bad day.

As I close this post, I want to leave you with something to ponder. Tonight, I met this girl who is working on staff at the school. She introduced herself and after some conversation she said she recognized me from my churches college group. I felt embarrassed because I didn’t recognize her, but she was very excited about the fact that she knew me. I was curious as to why she was so excited. Then she told me the story and it all came rushing back. That night was after I got out of the Hospital the first time for a suicide attempt. I felt alone and very far from God. My heart was hurting and I was crying. No, I was sobbing. I felt alone. I was alone. All of a sudden a girl whom I have never met comes and asks if she couldn’t pray with me. Her words filled me with a sense of peace as I felt the spirit interceding on my behalf. She then walked away and I never knew who it was. Until tonight. I gave her a huge hug and thanked her from the bottom of my heart. Knowing this, I challenge each and every one of you to step outside your comfort zone and pray for a stranger. Let them know you’re praying for them. You never know how The Lord could touch that persons life through you.

Speed Bump

Healing is a process.  It takes time and energy.  It’s slow moving and no person heals in the same way.  One thing about healing that I’m learning myself is that it’s okay to take two steps forward and one step back.  It’s okay to hit speed bumps along the way.  

I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  In layman’s terms that means I see things differently than most people.  I see things in black and white.  It also means I have a phobia of not only failure, but of success.  This makes life hard to handle sometimes, because once I start making some progress and start excelling in something, I often get too terrified to continue, so I give up. Knowing this helps me learn to cope better now.  I am able to identify my fears so I can push through them, instead of letting them win. 

That’s what makes my battle with depression so hard though. I have this epic fear of getting better.  Can you believe that? How messed up can I be to think my depression is better than, well, being better.  Apparently I’m not alone in this feeling, however.  Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation puts it this way.

“I was so scared to give up depression, fearing that somehow the worst part of me was actually all of me. ”

Also having talked to a couple others in the hospital, apparently they are afraid too.  But what are we so afraid of?  I think Wurtzel does good in saying she’s afraid the worst part of her was actually all of her.  Let me try to explain it.  (I’m only going to explain it in my situation because that’s all I know) Basically I take on this word “Depressed” and it becomes a part of my identity.  I am depressed.  It’s an “I” statement.  It’s an identity. I also know a symptom of BPD is having a loss of identity.  So, when I see am identity I cling to it and I am fearful to let go because I feel like if I let go, I would lose my identity as well.  Whew, I hope that makes at least SOME sense and you don’t just think I’m crazy.  

I don’t know how people will react to this so I also want to make something clear once again.  I can’t say this enough.  My depression is caused my chemicals being out of whack in my brain.  What I described previously is just a reason for a speed bump in my road to recovery.  It doesn’t define why I’m depressed.  It simply explains an obstacle I must overcome.

With that said, we all face speed bumps in our lives.  They cause us to go a bit slower and concentrate a bit harder.  The important thing to realize though is that a speed bump is just that.  A bump.  It has a beginning and an end.  Once you get over it, the roads are clear to continue driving.  

When I think about it, I realize that depression itself is just another speed bump on the road of life and I will overcome it.

One more thing before I go.   A lot of people don’t know how to handle depressed people.  They don’t know what to say or do.  Another quote by Wurtzel describes it fairly well.

“Some friends don’t understand this. They don’t understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and I support you just the way you are because you’re wonderful just the way you are. They don’t understand that I can’t remember anyone ever saying that to me. I am so demanding and difficult for my friends because I want to crumble and fall apart before them so that they will love me even though I am no fun, lying in bed, crying all the time, not moving. Depression is all about If you loved me you would.”

Basically we just need people to love us, brokenness and all. A great thing about that is I know I have a savior who loves me like that. Unconditionally. Agape.  

 

Some Updates

Just a quick update.  I’ve been pretty grateful this past week as I have continued with my treatment.  I finished the partial hospitalization program on Friday.  This week I just have therapy and a doctors appt. I’m on the road to healing and I could not be more grateful for that. The struggle is very real though and I still appreciate prayers.  Another excitement that happened this week is that I reached my First goal of $3,000 in fundraising.  I still have $5,500 to go, but I know God has provided so far and will continue to provide.  Remember to visit my Fundraising Page located at the top of this blog to learn how to best donate.

Another thing I wanted to bring up is that I changed my blog name.  It used to be “Journey to Mission School” now it’s “Mission School, Depression, & Grace”.  I have realized my blog has evolved since I have first started it.  I made it initially with the sole intent to blog about the Mission School and support my fundraising efforts.  As that will still be the main focus of my blog, I also wanted to include my battle with depression in there.  I realize a lot of my friends and family want to stay updated on how I am doing in that area of my life as well.  This way I don’t have to relate every post to the mission school in some way.  Although, I’m sure a majority of my posts will have to do with the school as that will be the main focus in my life.

With that said, the Mission School is coming up fast.  Just a couple more weeks to get my stuff together before we move in.  We have an open house this Thursday to check out where we are going to live.  I’m getting incredibly excited.  My heart kind of flutters every time I think about it.  Our first couple day we will be going on a camping trip.  I think this is such a great way for all of the students to get to know each other. It will also be a great opportunity to get away and truly begin our immersion into God’s word.  I’ve learned you can experience a whole different side of God out in nature. Keep me and the rest of the students in your prayers as we prepare for this next chapter in our lives.

God is moving.  Everywhere I see him.  Daily I need him.  Daily I need grace.  I’m humbled to be a part of such an extraordinary plan. Even if I’m just a little piece of God’s plan, I’m still a piece.  If the puzzle was missing a piece, it’s just not the same.  I guess what I really want to say is I’m glad I’m still alive and able serve God.  I’m glad I’m still alive to carry out God’s plan in my life.  I’m glad God saved my life multiple time when I’ve tried to end it.  He’s not finished with me yet.  I’m glad I won’t be known as the girl who killed herself and I hope instead to be know as a girl who loved the Lord and did everything she could to help others experience that same love.  Yes, I’m happy to be alive.  Praise the Lord.

I’m excited to be able to share these thoughts and experiences with people that love me.  

Stay encouraged my friends.

 

 

 

Questions

Some questions I have been asked a lot post hospitalization is “Are you still doing the mission school, now?” or “Are you well enough to do the school at all?” Let me answer both if those questions with one simple word, Yes.

One thing that has plagued me during this whole process is people’s misconception about depression. People seem to correlate being depressed with not having enough faith. Let me nip that in the bud right here. I am depressed and I still have faith! Jesus is now and forever will be my rock, my salvation, my comfort, my healer, etc. Yes, I added healer. Like I have said before, I fully believe God can and will heal me, but that doesn’t me I’m going to ignore the blessing of medication and therapy that God has given me. Even though I’m depressed, even though I have attempted suicide, even though I have hurt myself because of this hurt in my heart, I still believe in Christ and he still loves me. I also believe he has been here with me through it all. He’s holding on to me. He loves me. I love him.

With that said, the mission school is still a go. I am so passionate about this new chapter in my life that is about that is about to begin in less than a month. I’m passionate about others and that’s exactly what this school is about, serving others. If anything, I think it will be good to take my mind and focus on something other than myself for awhile. I know God will use me through my depression to help relate to others better than I would be able to had I not gone through this. I’m so in love with the idea that God is here with me in all this and that God has a plan for my life.

All I want to do with my life is serve The Lord. My depression has not and never will change this. If anything, it makes me want to serve him even more. I want to help people who are hurting and give them the same hope of Christ that I have. How awesome is it that I can do that!? God is awesome. Awesome.

Let me end with this, my God is a gracious God who draws near to the broken hearted. He can also use the broken hearted to do BIG things.