Real Talk Part 3

Yay! Last part! (After this y’all get to wait a couple of months before my next post again, probably :P)

Here’s something else I’ve been struggling with. I have a very active, very powerful imagination. I can make myself cry for two hours over something that hasn’t even happened. I can also send myself into fits of giggles over something equally fictional. I firmly believe that this is a blessing from God, but it also presents some challenges. All of the things listed above can be, and sometimes are, exacerbated by my imagination (I also struggle with pride, which I won’t go into but is also affected by this). I imagine a boyfriend to hug me, I imagine people awkwardly talking to me out of pity, I imagine stuff I really shouldn’t be imagining. It all gets thrown into the pot. And all of this? I can make this about my future too. I never get a boyfriend…I feel lonely my whole life…etc. etc. (This, by the way, speaks to my pride as well). This separates me from God. I won’t go on, because as I write this I’m getting as tired of myself as you all probably are. But guess what? I need to surrender this to God. I need to give my gift to Him for His uses and His purposes.
Almost done! This struggle is purely between me, myself, and I. All of these are, to an extent, but this one is extra personal. I have a God-given gift to spot problems, and then to problem-solve. Sounds good, right? Except…that means that I very easily spot all of MY problems (hello – this is the third post about a number of my problems). And unfortunately, heart problems (which all of these have been) aren’t good for problem-solving. I can’t find a way around them, I just have to deal with them. And this can become very negative when directed towards myself. I see the problem, and I recognize that it’s a problem, but I can’t just magically fix it. And then, every time I act on a problem, I get frustrated with myself and experience shame. Now, don’t get me wrong. Shame is a tool, and it’s used to draw attention to problems that exist. It’s one of the ways the Holy Spirit communicates. However, like any tool, it can also be turned away from it’s original purpose. Satan would like nothing more than to see us wallowing in our shame, and unfortunately I oblige him far too often. Think about this for a moment though – when we talk about sin and various struggles, how often do we hear the mantra that God has already won the war? I don’t know about you, but most of the time I ignore it. I’ve heard it far too often. But, if you’ll follow this line of thought with me for a moment – if God has already won the war, what does that mean? What does winning a war here on Earth mean? I can’t help but be reminded of David, returning from the battlefield. What did the people do? They cheered for him! This made Saul jealous, but why was he jealous? What did he really want, and what was he really feeling? Saul felt shame, and he wanted the pride that David had. He wanted to be able to lift his head and smile. He wanted to be the victor! Now, he could have done that. He was not not a victor. He’d won too! His shame is a whole ‘nother issue. But, you ask, how does this contribute to your point? God made us to hold our heads high with pride as his sons and daughters, and as coheirs with Christ. Think about that for a moment. Shame is used to warn us when we depart from the behavior we should have and do something that, ultimately, is dangerous. But we were made to hold our heads high with pride! So, then, this results is something else I struggle with, and yet another thing that I need to turn over to God.
Now. Finally, we’re done. I have one last thought I want to leave you with, however. I’ve been talking and talking about surrendering all these things to God, but there’s something important to remember. Surrendering all of these to God is not a one-time deal. I don’t get to say, “Oh, I surrendered my lust to God! Guess I never have to deal with that again!” (Believe me, if I could do that I would have a long time ago). This is a continual process. I mentioned at the beginning of part 1 that I met with my Life Group today (all 3 parts were written on Nov. 9, they’re just getting published at different times because of the length). One member of my Life Group mentioned something she’d been told recently: “The more you stand for what you believe, the less you’ll feel like you’re falling” (that may or may not be verbatim, I’ve been writing for about 2 hours now). This reminds me of something we all know: the more you practice something the better you get at it. This works for sports, or learning a language, or learning a skill, or other exercise. The more you do it the easier it gets. It works the same way for this too. The more I surrender to God, the easier it’ll get. The challenge is in making myself surrender and not giving myself a break. If I surrender once, and then don’t surrender the next time because I DID surrender last time, that’s probably not going to work. I have to surrender…and surrender…and surrender again. I’ll have to keep surrendering throughout my life. Thankfully, God is willing to help me with that. And before I go, here’s another couple verses that are taped up around my room:

“So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” Hebrews 12:12-13

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:5

“…for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13

“And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.” Romans 5:3-4

 

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Real Talk Part 2

Woohoo! Part 2 is out! (So exciting, right? Now you get to hear more about my problems!)

The next one in one you’ll know about if you’ve read any previous posts. I struggle with masturbation. Now, several things have been happening here. Number one, I’ve been growing better at fighting this (yay!). Quite a bit of this has been because of God. I get some pretty annoying cramps for multiple days after performing the act, and I’m pretty sure it gives me less pleasure than it used to. Which is good – I do it less – but that leaves me with another problem. Because masturbation is a physical problem, but cramps and less pleasure don’t fix the heart problem behind it.
Let me share with you something that happened just today (November 9, I wrote this all in one sitting but am publishing it in pieces because it was super long). I was trying to write a post (which was taking a COMPLETELY different path that this one) and I started talking about my masturbation. Unfortunately, this left me with some sinful desires. I have a certain type of material that I like to read when I have these, and I struggled for a few minutes not to look them up. Thanks to some bible verses written on notecards I’ve taped all over my half of the dorm room, I reluctantly (and frustratedly) sighed at God (which reveals a completely different heart problem, by the way) and gave in. I still needed a distraction, though, so I went to a site that has quite a few comic-like stories on it. Except for one thing – this site has a mobile app that I used to have but deleted. Why did I delete it? Because it had certain stories that were giving me issues with this particular sin. I’m sure you can see the problem here. Anyways, I’m scrolling through selecting safe stories to read and successfully (barely) avoiding the unsafe ones. Until, wham! I see the picture for a story I know from when I had the app. A story that I know has gorgeous illustrations, very good grammar (although not quite perfect), and an amazing energy (think of stories that completely suck you in to the world; that kind of energy). It’s also hilarious! And sinful. So what’d I do, having just “successfully” resisted my urges? I opened up the story, of course! For your information, I did not masturbate. I did enjoy the story. And that reveals my “new” problem: lust. Masturbation was the action attached to the heart problem. And I am having issues with the heart problem.
Why, you ask? Why are these becoming separated, and why is the heart problem becoming more problematic? It’s simple. I don’t like saying it, but I don’t hate my sin like God does. Lust is my guilty pleasure, only instead of a relatively harmless piece of chocolate I like gorging on a sin. Let me repeat this another way: I like gorging on something God abhors. Doesn’t that make you want to cringe? God – the perfect creator of the universe and my loving heavenly Father – absolutely despises sin. He can’t stand to be in the presence of it, and I like gorging on it!? It hurts. I’m trying to be more like God, but I enjoy something He hates. I don’t want to stop! When it came today, I didn’t want to resist! Guess what? I need to turn it over to God. I need to repent – not just say sorry, but truly repent – and ask God to take over my heart and change my desires. I need to surrender this sin to Him, and then I need to turn and run away from it. And not just run away from it, but also run towards Him.

 

I’ll end this part of the post here, but let me share some more verses I have taped up in my room (they relate to this struggle).

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?” Hebrews 12:3-5

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galations 2:20

Real Talk Part 1

Okay y’all. I’m just gonna jump  right in ’cause I need to get some stuff off my chest.

Also this is becoming a really long post so I’m going to split this into sections.

I met up with my Life Group today. That’s what my bible study small group is called. We talked about the book of Ruth, specifically chapter 2 verses 15-23, and at some point my Life Group leader asked us: How do we feel called to take the heart knowledge we’d been talking about and apply it – make it become hand knowledge, so to speak. I thought about it, but there have been so many things I’ve been struggling with! As I thought about all of these things, however, I boiled it down to one overall theme.

I need to surrender everything.

Let me explain, and I’m going to go through these things I’ve been struggling with one by one to do so.

First, I’ve been wrestling with my desire to have a boyfriend. I haven’t “dated” since 5th grade (if you could call that dating), I’ve never been asked on a date, and the last time I was asked out was in 8th grade – by the same guy who’d been asking me out since 6th and told me once when I turned him down that he had multiple girlfriends. So not the greatest track record! And recently, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this (and my imagination isn’t helping – I’ll get into that later). I’ve doubted my desirability (hello, self-pity) and worried about whether or I’ll ever get a boyfriend and, eventually, get married. Logically, I know that I’d be a horrible girlfriend right now (see this entire list of doubts, insecurities, and immaturities), but that hasn’t helped and sometimes makes it all worse. Can I share with you? There was a moment two years ago where I felt like God had showed me a feeling, if you will, of his plan for a guy in my life sometime in the future and how great it would be. Me, with my tendency to doubt myself and my logical thinking and etc. etc. now wonders if I wasn’t imagining it (did I mention I have a very strong imagination?). I don’t know. Here’s what I do know; this dream may (or may not) have come from God. But right now, it’s turned into something completely different. Right now, I don’t want a significant other because it’s in God’s plan. Right now, I want a significant other because the world tells me I should have one. Because I’ve just entered college and I know of several couples who are engaged, and a few of those are getting married this spring/summer. Because everywhere I turn I see couples on Facebook and on the street and literally everywhere. So, I’ve become stuck worrying if I’m “doomed” to spend my life without a significant other. You know what? Even if God did plan for me to never have a significant other, or for me to never get married, that would still be okay. In fact, it would be better than okay! It would be perfect, because God is perfect and his plans are perfect. And if that’s his will for me, then I should be rejoicing! Because his plans always turn out 100x better than I could ever imagine, and 1000x better than my plans would have turned out. So. I understand this, but how do I apply it? It boils down to this: I need to surrender this dream to God. I need to not only be able to say, but actually say “Lord, it’s okay if this doesn’t happen. I trust you. If singleness is what you have planned, then that plan is so perfect and so much better than whatever I could imagine, dream about, or wish for that I should be rejoicing and eager to be single because that’s your plan.” I need to completely, 100% surrender this desire that’s been taking my attention from the Lord and his Will and I need to turn it over and let it go.

 

Next. Just a bit of backstory: I’ve always been the shy awkward girl who’s left out. Much of that is my own fault for pushing people away. I’ve gotten better some, but I still struggle with it a lot. It’s super difficult for me to talk with my peers. My brain kicks into overdrive and begins to hyperanalyze EVERYTHING. What’s this person’s tone saying? What is their body language? What is their facial expression? What does this sentence structure imply? What is MY facial expression doing? What about my tone of voice and my body language? What about my sentence structure? What about my content? Am I being too loud? Am I talking too much? Am I interrupting? Are my pauses too short? Are they too long? Am I sharing too little or too much? What is their response to this? Pay attention to every word, every glance, every gesture. What’s it say? What’s it say? What’s it say? Then – no surprise – I have a hard time processing. I make mistakes, and even the small ones will nag at my overactive brain for far too long. Oh no! That pause was a hair too long! That’s so awkward! or Shoot! I froze for a split second! What was that look on my face? Crud, I missed my chance to laugh it off and make fun of it! Can I apologize? No, I’ve already apologized three times in the last five minutes! You get the idea. This used to define me. This was the majority of who I was. A couple of months ago, thankfully, that was removed from me. I can’t describe it well, but one second that was my identity and the next my identity was in the Lord (I know it had been before, but I had created another identity for myself over the years without realizing it. Or at least I had allowed myself to be defined by that). It was very peaceful and surprisingly matter-of-fact. However, that didn’t permanently destroy these thoughts. It quieted them for a couple blessed weeks, and now they’re back. That does NOT mean that they are my identity again – they’re not. They don’t dictate my every move like they used to. However, they are hard to control and they are often small feelings in my subconscious. It takes Truth for me to combat them, and for the past few days I have struggled with them far more than I should be. So guess what?? I need to surrender them to the Lord. Scripture says to bring our doubts and worries to the altar, and while that’s cliché that is exactly what I need to do. I need to fully surrender these to God, letting Him and his Truth come and take their place in my heart. And no, this isn’t a one-time occurrence. I’ll explain more about that later.

 

I’m going to stop here for today. I’m sure some of this sounded like whining, and I apologize for that. I’m probably going to split this whole thing into three portions, and the next two will NOT be coming out months from now, I promise. I’ll try to post them within the next week or two.

As I finish, I want to share a couple of the bible verses posted on note cards all over my half of the dorm room. Also, please remember: you guys aren’t alone. Whatever you’re going through. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you have to choose to believe what you know – that God is with you and that He loves you dearly. He’s not yelling at you for your shortcomings. He’s not frowning at you. He’s walking beside you, ready to help. He’s arranging things for your good that you will never even realize was Him until you join him in heaven. He is cradling you, and his heart hurts for you more than you will ever know. His love isn’t the only thing unfathomable; his compassion is too.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, …looking to Jesus, …who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,  and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 1-2

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20