Year for Freedom

Ah. warm, comforting, coffee in my hand. An interesting collection of music playing in the background. A laptop balancing on top of  my crossed legs as I type. Someone across the room speaking another language on the phone…Spanish, maybe?

You guessed it: I’m in a coffee shop. And I’m writing. I really missed writing and I feel like I’m meeting up with a good friend I kind of lost contact with while I was off at college. My sincerest apologies.

So, what have I been doing this whole time while I was neglecting my poor little blog? Well, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, I’ll say I’ve been growing. Yes, I’ve been writing papers, taking tests, learning new things about families and children (my major), complaining about the cafeteria food…you know, normal college stuff. But, I have to say, this was a really rough semester. I say this not to sit here and complain about how hard my year or semester was–because I could do that, but I would be completely missing the point of why God allows us to endure seasons that are harder than others. I share in the hopes of comforting others who have also walked with tired feet through a rough season this year. My goal for this is not for anyone to feel sorry for the TCK who just can’t seem to figure America out…my  goal is to be the loving voice that whispers to struggling sisters (or brothers!) and says “Hey, Me too”.

Lots of people reading this are probably wondering what made my year “so bad”. I’m not really sure exactly what made it difficult for me but I can assure you the “T” word [transition] had a lot to do with it. In the course of the last 365 days my family and I have gone through a ton of different changes that required a lot of thought and prayer–much like many of our loved ones who served overseas faced as well. After I decided to leave the University of Mobile, I had no real direction and when door after door was shut (side note: when that happens to you, it’s probably God trying to tell you something) I decided on OBU. It was kind of an impulse decision which is odd for me, considering I am the queen of overthinking. I like to just say that my impulse decision to enroll at OBU was the Holy Spirit guiding me to where I needed to be. When I got there I figured that since I was obeying God’s direction with faithfulness, despite my fears, I would be rewarded with perfect grades, a perfect living situation, and friends lining up begging to be my friend (lol ok totally joking about that one). When my expectations were smashed in the face, I blamed myself.

  • What am I doing wrong?
  • I’ve always been a good student…why am I struggling to pass classes all of a sudden?
  • What is wrong with me?
  • Why did God bring me here so I could be unhappy?

I’m absolutely positive–like without a doubt–that every single college student has faced these incredibly discouraging and degrading thoughts. I would call Dean [my loving, patient, sweet boyfriend] with a lump in my throat asking him what on earth I was doing so wrong that was making things so difficult. He would always reply with things like “stop beating yourself up”, “it’s ok, it’s going to be ok”, “there is nothing wrong with you”, and I found it so hard to believe at the time. I would look back on my time at BFA [boarding school] and wonder why I did so well there and struggled so much in college. In my head, boarding school was like a precursor to college. I would always say that if I could thrive there, why couldn’t I thrive here? I was convinced I was just going backwards in every way. Spiritually, mentally, academically. When I let comparison rule my life, I blamed myself for not being as “good”, “strong”, or “smart” as I was in high school.

Here is something I’ve learned this year: life will never ever look like Pinterest. We have to stop looking at social media and expecting our lives to be picture perfect like they may seem online and then beating ourselves up when we don’t live up to the impossible, unattainable standard we’ve allowed the internet to set for us. (I’m totally preaching to the choir right now.) Sometimes you spill your coffee all over your white shirt right before your 8am class (yep. I did that.) Sometimes you spill coffee all over your bedsheets (yep. I also did that–if nothing else, I need to chill out with spilling literal coffee all over the place. Sheesh.) But sometimes your 1 year old spills your coffee all over your laptop, papers, and desk. (If you’re confused by all the coffee analogies, read my previous blog post titled “coffee stains”). Sometimes life just happens and it is what it is. I have learned this year to cut myself some slack. Life won’t be as easy as it was in high school…and it is totally normal, and it is totally ok.

This year lie after lie made a home in my  heart. The ultimate enemy used my biggest insecurity against me to steal my joy–and I let him. I went into this semester with the quote “Bloom where you are planted” written on my heart in pencil and when things didn’t work out the way I expected them to, I hid in my room and said “I don’t even know how to bloom”. Here is the thing, friends: It’s ok to be upset. It’s ok to be insecure sometimes. Nobody on this planet is expecting perfection from you. However, Jesus did not intend for his beloved children to hide in their bed covers for fear of being hurt.

I know I am not the only one who let fear and insecurity stir in their hearts this year. If you’re reading this and that was you this year, PLEASE know this:

  • I love you–seriously
  • I would hug you if I could
  • You are never alone
  • You are not a freak of nature
  • You can overcome this

A verse I leaned on during the last few months of 2016 was 2 Corinthians 12:9. It says “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.'” Like, what’s a better way to boast about my weaknesses than to write a blog post about it? Hehe, but in all seriousness, sometimes you just have to admit that you can’t handle things on your own. Friends, let go of your fear. You cannot do it all. You cannot be all things to all people at all times. You just can’t. And that’s not even how God designed us to be. So struggling friends, remember to cut yourself some slack.

Another thing I’ve learned this year–as in I learned this in my time home for Christmas break– is that sometimes I comfortably sit in my pool of struggles. I whine and complain that nobody will ever understand me because I’m that weirdo who isn’t American but isn’t European and I’m just a big mess. Again, let me reiterate that dramatics are my go-to. But seriously guys, what good does this attitude do for anybody? It didn’t help my situation, and it didn’t ease the pain of my struggles. My parents lovingly called me out on this a few days ago and after I got over my dramatic “I’m offended!” speech, I realized that my parents are always right about this kind of stuff. I decided to take a look back at how I handled things this year and instead of saying “I’m weak, but Jesus makes me strong” I just accepted “I’m weak”. I say all of this because I don’t want anybody else to stop there. In a way, I kind of gave up and said “I don’t know how to bloom, and I’ll never know how to bloom”. Ummm, total lie alert.

So, it’s new years eve and I am totally embracing the whole “new year, new me” thing like never before. But, I’m not doing it alone. I know lots of people who are doing the same thing this new year. Lets embrace where God has us, admit when we are weak, and cling to Jesus–because He is seriously the only thing that will pull us out of hiding in our bed covers and open our eyes to what He has for us. Lovies, if you are waiting for something to happen before you can truly be happy, you will be disappointed. Don’t believe the lie that you are a freak of nature and the only one experiencing something because I promise you that you are never alone. Don’t be afraid to explore the talents that you might have that you never knew about. Don’t be afraid to share those talents with the world. Don’t let lies attach to your heart so much that you are afraid to leave your room.Don’t be so afraid of getting hurt or being let down that you refuse to bloom.

This morning as I scribbled in my journal, I found myself writing “this time last year…” over, and over, and over. Sentence after sentence left me in awe of how God had used situations that were less than perfect to continue molding me into the woman he plans for me to be. I found myself realizing that this year was hard, but it was worth it. Through my struggles here are some things I learned:

  • I am so incredibly proud to be a woman. I love who I am, and I love who God made me to be. I love that he made me to  be girly and frilly, interested in all things beauty and fashion. I love that He gave me the desire to create. I never knew I was crafty until about a year ago and I am totally embracing it. Thanks, God. I love that He gave me those interests because I full heartedly believe those will be used to lead others to Him. I love that God created be to be a sensitive, empathetic person. I am proud that God gave me the desire to listen to and love others–instead of being ashamed of my natural sensitivity, I’ve decided to embrace it and use it to love others well.
  • I am so proud of my past. I am glad I’m the weirdo who is not fully American and not really European. Instead of being embarrassed that I’m not like everybody else, I’ve decided to embrace and love my differences. I am excited to share with whoever will listen what it means to be a TCK.
  • I am excited for my future. Instead of being ashamed that I cannot perfectly undergo transition, I am embracing the fact that it is hard for everyone and I am no exception–but that I have the freedom to mess up and the hope of Jesus to lead me through it.
  • Self care is important. I cannot love others well if I am loving with an empty tank.
  • C’s get degrees–enough said.
  • Perfection is unattainable so I must stop trying to achieve it. I am very quick to tell others that they need to cut themselves some slack but never seem to take my own advice.

I’m naming 2017 my year for freedom. This year, let’s celebrate the freedom we have to mess up. Let’s celebrate the freedom we have to not be as perfect as Pinterest. Let’s celebrate the freedom we have to just be ourselves. Let’s celebrate the freedom we have to cling to the same God who designed and loves our beautiful universe–stars, skies, oceans, deserts, and every living creature that runs through each. Let’s step out of our cells full of lies and into the space where we meet Jesus. Let’s be a chain reaction of love to everyone we know. Let’s whisper words of comfort to those struggling. Let’s shout words of praise when someone we love succeeds. Let’s be there for each other, and let others be there for us when we need it.

Cheers to a new year! I wish every single person who reads this love, blessings, and growth in 2017.