In 2019, I learned the importance of rest. In 2020, I’m learning the importance of stillness & silence. I’m a worrier by nature. I like things to be safe & secure. I don’t like change or new things. Everywhere I go I have a place where I sit or stand & a person I sit or stand next to. At grocery stores I always park in the same one or two rows & I typically go at about the same time every time—when there are the fewest people. I thrive in routine & predictablity. 2020 has clearly thrown a wrench in my survival. Except, in 2019 I learned the importance of rest. From 2017-2019, God was preparing for 2020. 2017-2018 was a long succession of fairly minor inconveniences one after another feeling like one big pile of ick! 💩 2019 was a year of learning to rest so the little things wouldn’t turn into a big thing. Now, 2020 is a year of personal growth. A lot of things have happened for all of us & I haven’t freaked out. 2017 & 2018 me would’ve freaked out. Early 2019 me would’ve freaked out too! 2020 me has almost freaked out a few times, but then I rest & I’m okay. So, now I’m practicing not only rest, but also stillness & silence. As a Christian, in the stillness & silence I hear God. As an introvert, in the stillness & silence I recharge. As an Enneagram 6, in the the stillness & silence I feel safe. There’s no noise or chaos in stillness & silence. There are no people in the stillness & silence. God whispers in the stillness & silence. And let me tell you, there’s been a lot of personal growth in the stillness & quiet. And this is still a new practice for me! This is where I get to practice stillness & silence in the morning. I’ve also been practicing during the day. I’ve kept my phone put away while waiting in line or at a stoplight (we all do it) & I drive in silence sometimes. How are you practicing stillness & silence? How could you if you’re not already? 😊
Irrational Fear – Unreasonable Fear
Panic – Sudden Unreasonable terror
Technically speaking, I’m not afraid of heights. As a child, I was known to climb as high as I possibly could in any tree the adults around me would let me climb. Sometimes, my brother, sister, and I would climb to the top of our roof or treehouse and try to jump off without getting caught. So, no, I’m not afraid of heights. I am, however, afraid of falling or more specifically failing. I can’t go on rollercoasters because I’m afraid I’ll fall to my death. And sometimes, I can’t even climb stairs without a sudden panic overwhelming me for fear that I’ll manage to fall and hurt/kill myself. It’s irrational. I know. But as with my arachnophobia the logic of knowing it COULD happen is often far more convincing than the logic of knowing the odds of the bad thing not happening are in my favor.
I stood at the top of this 3-story rickety staircase for what felt like 5 minutes trying to slow my breathing and calm down enough to go back down the steps I had just climbed up. I wish I could say this doesn’t happen often, but it does. This happens all the time, not always with staircases, but often with life in general. I’m irrationally afraid of falling and failing. I regularly experience moments of rapid heartbeats & shallow breathing because of an irrational anxiety I can’t seem to shake.
Are you like this? Do you have irrational fears? It’s okay. You’ll get through it. Take a deep breath and remember 2 Timothy 1:7. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (NIV)
In 2017, I moved into a brand new apartment complex that caused me problems from the moment I applied to move in. Every month if not every week my sister and I faced one issue after another. For the first 5 months, it was delayed move-in dates. Then it was a messy apartment, bad electricity, five different management groups (including an aggressive male manager and an embezzling female manager), and finally the inability to pay rent at all so we had to sign an agreement to hold off on our eviction so we could pay. We broke our lease two months early so we wouldn’t be evicted the next month. I don’t regret moving into the apartment. I still think God asked me to live there. The whole experience, however horrible, has taught me a lot.
In 2016, I started to let myself get into more credit card debt than I could pay off in a month. In 2017, I went through four job changes. In January 2018, I quit working until April 2018. That’s when I started driving for Uber Eats and Doordash. Now, I’m waiting for a reply to an application and interview to be a bus driver for the school district in my hometown. I have no regrets about any of these decisions, except the debt, and I feel like most of it was God-led or at least God-blessed. I’ve learned a lot since leaving my high-paying job in 2017 and I’ve grown closer to God. That said, I’m currently caught somewhere in between broken and healthy.
Everyone seems to think I’m this hopeful person. Many have even said as much. But, I’m not. I’m not a hopeful person. I have Hope, but I’m not hopeful. I put on a good face and talk about the good that might come of a situation, but inside I’m expecting the worse to happen. I look for the bright side, but I live in the shadows. Every hopeful comment I make is fueled by fear. Fear that things won’t work out. Fear that I’ll mess things up. Fear that I’ll fall into the darkness again. I think about it sometimes. The temptation is there. “Just this once,” I think. “If I hurt myself just this once, then maybe the fear, the stress, the anxiety, and the pain will go away.” I don’t do it, but I think about it. Science says it works. It says physical pain releases the “happy hormone” that makes the internal pain go away for a little while. Why not do it? Just this once? It’s not healthy. It’s an addiction. Every time I see alcoholics, drug addicts, and even those “good vampires” on TV trying to keep themselves from giving in and going over the edge, I get it, because I have my own addiction. “The happy hormone.”
I try so hard to be hopeful, to put on a happy face, and to pretend everything is or will be okay, but I don’t really believe it. Because I know the Lord, I know in the end everything will be okay, but I often don’t believe it will be. Or maybe it’s not that I don’t believe it, but that I doubt it? Yes, God has provided for me many times in the past. Yes, He’s already pulled me out of a dark abyss in the past. Yes, I know He will work out all things for my good, but when? I’ve been in these shadows for almost two years now, longer if I take it back to when I started to let myself get into credit card debt which is really what created this mess in the first place. God has provided everything I’ve needed up to this point. I haven’t gone in want or need, but I’m still here in these shadows that are threatening to become another abyss.
Every day I’m toddling on a thin line between breaking and growing. Every day I fear this is it. This is what’s going to throw me over the edge. Every day I pray for deliverance and it doesn’t come, not in the way I want it to come. I know He delivers me from temptation, if He didn’t, then I would have already given in by now. I know He delivers me from depression, if He didn’t, then I’d be well into the abyss and not just on the edge dangling over it. Why won’t He deliver me from this altogether though? Why does He let me live in these shadows when I so desperately want to get out. Why does He allow me to live with my consequences when I’m so desperately trying and praying to fix things?
I assume it’s because He loves me. I assume it’s because He’s teaching me things. I assume it’s because He’s a just God who sometimes delivers us from the consequences, like Hell, but most often lets us learn from the consequences for next time. Shouldn’t that leave me feeling hopeful? God loves me enough to teach me why I shouldn’t make foolish decisions. He loves me enough to show me through these circumstances that I’m stronger now than I used to be. I wouldn’t have been able to live in this circumstance a couple years ago. I would have drowned in fear and anxiety. I would have thrown myself over the edge into depression and self-harm. So far I haven’t done that this time though. He’s strengthened me and He’s showing me that through the struggle. And He loves me enough to strengthen me as I learn to fight for myself with Him by my side. He could deliver me completely. He could make my credit card debt disappear, give me a car that never deteriorates, and a home that is mine, but He isn’t and He likely won’t, not now at least. God loves me, He teaches me, and He strengthens me. This knowledge should leave me hopeful, but if I’m honest, then I have to admit it doesn’t leave me hopeful.
I know and trust He will protect me, love me, and provide for me. But it’s so hard to live by faith alone. It’s so hard to live remembering His past provision and looking forward to His future provision when I’m living in a present ocean of uncertainty. When I have so much debt and so many bills that I can hardly see straight. When I don’t know where the line is between working to prove my faith and resting in my faith. When I don’t know where the balance is between healthy stress and unhealthy anxiety. It’s hard. Being a Christian is hard, especially when you’re a Christian who battles mental health issues.
Most days, I’m not hopeful because I don’t know how to hope. I’m constantly fighting a battle between anxiety and rest, fear and hope, depression and joy, doubt and faith. I know everyone is fighting this battle, and some seem to be doing better than others. Many seem to be doing better than me, but I can’t think about others fighting this battle right now. I already feel for everyone all the time as it is and that’s part of the problem. What problems are mine and something to worry about? Which problems are someone else’s that I need to let go of at least for now? Which of my problems do I need to work on and which ones should I let go of? I don’t know. That’s the problem. That’s why I’m somewhere between broken and healthy. I know in my head that God is good and He provides but in my heart and soul, I’m not sure about anything.
Most of the time I end my posts with something hopeful and positive. I’m not going to do that this time. I don’t know how to do that this time. I don’t know if I’d believe it if I did. I started the “D.A.R.E to Hope” part of this blog for one reason. I was broken and looking for truth so I could dare myself and others to hope. You’ll see on the page About D.A.R.E. to HOPE that D.A.R.E. stands for “Desolate, Accepted, Renewed, and Encouraged.” I’m somewhere between these places of identity right now. I’ve been accepted, renewed, and encouraged by God and others, but I’ve really been feeling desolate lately. I wish I could say I haven’t been, that once I felt accepted, renewed, and encouraged I never felt desolate again, but that would be a lie. It would make a hypocrite. I wrote The Mask; Her Aid and created this blog so I wouldn’t be that girl anymore, the girl who pretended everything was okay when it wasn’t. So, I’m not going to pretend right now. Everything’s not okay. I’m not in a good place right now. I’m not necessarily in a bad place either. I’m just kind of somewhere in between.
I’m the kind of girl who spends a lot of time studying what type I am in various tests. For the Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator, I’m an INFJ-T. For the four temperaments, I go back and forth between Sanguine and Melancholy. And for spiritual gifts, I have discernment and mercy. While MBTI, temperaments, and spiritual gifts are completely different types of tests, my results all say the same thing—I’m a feeler. I feel deeply and intensely, so much so that I get attached to every person to come into my life and every character too. I’m sure you can tell that from my obsessive girl blog, but if you can’t, then you can look at the Facebook messages sent between me and my friend Kelli or the text messages I’ve sent to my best friend Shelby, and my brother and sister, Jacob and Lydia. Most of my messages to these four are related to my deep feelings related to TV characters. I’ve tried to rein it in, since they are just fictional characters, but I can’t help it. I’m the girl who gets emotionally attached to anything that breathes, even if the breathing is fictional.
Recently, I’ve started to think about which characters I’m most like. I’ve been watching the Canadian TV show, “Heartland,” since I was halfway through high school, so about the 4th or 5th of going on 11 seasons. Only during this time around though, have I realized just how much the main character, Amy Fleming, and I are alike—like, enough that Lydia, Jacob, and our sister Naomi have each come to me on their own to say she reminds them of me.
I’m also a lot like one of the main characters from the American teen drama, “One Tree Hill.” Talk about being a lot like a character, if there were a way to take the hater of change, ‘slightly’ stubborn, and sometimes bossy cowgirl Amy from “Heartland” and the music loving, true love believing Haley James from “One Tree Hill” and fuse them together, then you’d pretty much have a fictional copy of me.
For all our differences, which seriously aren’t many, Amy, Haley, and I have two major things in common, we’ve got hearts full of hope and heads full of nope. What I mean by that is we’ve seen some pretty crappy things happen in the world, so we don’t exactly trust people very easily. Despite it all though, we give people the chance to break our hearts anyway. And at least as often as our hearts are broken because of someone else, they’re broken just as often because of our own foolish mistakes. So, yeah, we know a thing or two about second chances, because we give them and we get them a lot more than we feel we should.
My best friend and I were talking recently with our friends at church about the varying levels of trust that we give to people. I hadn’t thought about it much before our conversation, but I’ve realized since then that trust is a lot like love—there are varying levels. Love can be broken down by using the Greek words, “Agape—unconditional, selfless love,” “Eros—romantic or sexual love,” “Phileo—love between friends,” and “Storge—natural, effortless love (like parents).” Try as I might, I couldn’t find a way to decipher the different types of trust so easily though, and I think it’s because it all comes back to having a “heart full of hope, and a head full of nope.” The thing about trust is that, unlike love, we kind of have different words for trust in English, and I think those words are confidence, faith, trust, and reliance.
Because Amy, Haley, and I have broken our own hearts so many times, we don’t always have the strongest confidence in ourselves. Sure, if you watch the shows, then you’ll see that Amy and Haley are both strong, independent women who don’t need a man, but choose to stand by their man’s side—most of the time—no matter what anyway, but being strong and independent doesn’t translate into being confident. I’m 23 years old and I’ve been single my whole life, I’ve taken care of myself and most of my expenses for about 5 years now, and I’ve lived on my own for about 3 years now—I am strong and independent. I don’t need no man to take care of me (though, I still think it’d be nice, but that’s neither here nor there). I still struggle with being confident from time to time though. And most of the time, it all comes back to caring so much and so deeply.
Amy has a lot of relationship drama throughout the series, because she lacks the confidence of being able to handle change and because not only did she lose her mother when she needed her most, but two of the three most important men in her life have left her. So, even though both men are back now, she’s always afraid they’ll leave her again…because something must be wrong with her. Haley has a lot of various types of drama because she lacks the confidence to follow her dreams and then when she finally does, she goes about in all the wrong ways, so she screws up her relationships with everyone, and then spends the rest of the series worrying about the strength of her relationships, because of her own stupid mistakes. I face a lot of problems in my life too, because on top of not handling change very well, I am also way too concerned about what people think of me being so emotionally attached to everyone and everything, so instead of embracing who I am, I apologize a lot and curl up into myself in an attempt to hide how attached I am to things—like the fact that I’m currently in the middle of re-watching “Heartland” for at least the fifth time.
Our strong and independent confidence issues tend to help and hinder Amy, Haley, and I in the faith department too. As I mentioned earlier, no matter how many times we have our hearts broken, we still give people the chance to break us. Why? Because we have faith in people. We’ve seen the dark side of the moon, but we still know that if we look at the other side, we’ll find the light. The depth of our hearts is great for those whom tread lightly, but it’s not so great for those whom take advantage of our faith in humanity. You can break our hearts a million times, but as long as we know you’re trying, then you pretty much have a free ride on the rollercoaster of our hearts. If you cross the line though and make no effort to make things better, then you just burned the bridge that has undoubtedly helped you get past the problems of your past. There aren’t very many people in our worlds whom Amy, Haley, and I don’t like or trust, but they’re there, and it takes a long time for them to make things right, if they ever can at all.
Take Tim Fleming, Kit Bailey, and Chase Powers for Amy; they’re all kind of jerks to her most of the time, but they do try at times to be on Amy’s good side, so she gives them chances—to her own detriment at times. The same is true for Chris Keller and Haley James, he’s a jerk, but he tries, so Haley gives him chance after chance to get in her good graces. I’ve got my fair share of people who keep digging themselves into a hole in my life too, but they shall remain nameless and undescribed, because the thing about having faith in everyone, is that we don’t intentionally speak negatively of anyone, because we want them to prove our doubts wrong—note how I said intentionally, because it does happen, but we’re human (yes, even fictional humans) so negativity does come out sometimes.
After faith, there is trust. While Amy, Haley, and I have faith in everyone, we trust very few people. Amy trusts Jack, Lou, Mallory, Tim, and Ty. Haley trusts Lucas, Peyton, Brooke, Clay, Quinn, and Nathan. I trust my best friends, that I speak of often on this blog, Stephanie, Shelby, Allie, Holly, my siblings, parents, and grandparents.
We trust, because even though we’ve been hurt and broken, sometimes by the people we trust most, we know that—no matter how it may feel in the moment—these people would never intentionally hurt us. Amy and Ty have had more than their fair share of break ups and fights, but they’re always there for each other. Tim left Amy, Lou, and their mom when Amy was only five years old and didn’t return until she was fifteen, but she knows that had far more to do with him and his problems than it did with anything else and once he came back, even in his own misguided steps, he has always been there for her. Haley and Nathan came close to divorce a couple of times, but they fought through it, and even when it was his fault, Haley knew that Nathan loved her with his whole heart. My siblings and I have fought like cats and dogs, my mom and I have had fights and arguments that people would eat up if we were on reality TV, and my dad and I have had a rocky relationship at best for a large majority of my life. Despite it all though, I trust my family with all that I am, because even when we’re spiteful, I know that we’re always there for each other.
Finally, even though we trust a select few, Amy, Haley, and I rely on next to no one. After a while, Amy and Haley both realized that if they want successful, happy relationships, then they have to realize that they not only have to have faith in and trust Ty and Nathan, but that they also have to rely on them to be their rock. Other than Ty and Nathan though, Amy and Haley really don’t rely on anyone. They trust their family and friends enough to go to them for advice and support, but at the end of the day, they fall back on being strong and independent women with 99% reliable relationships—even then though, they sometimes fall back on relying on themselves instead of trusting Ty or Nathan.
Like I said, I don’t have a boyfriend, so I don’t have the security of a promise to love and rely on someone through the good and the bad of life. I trust my best friends with everything in me, but I’ve had too many people fail me to really rely on the fact that they’re here to stay. Even if I did rely on that belief, I still wouldn’t rely on them when making decisions. I mean, I talk things out with them and ask for advice, but at the end of the day, it’s me I rely on. It’s just not who I am. I’ve got a heart full of hope and a head full of nope. I know in my heart that at this point in my life, I’m kind of stuck with the best friends I have, mostly because they’re stuck with me, but in my head, I can’t bring myself to rely on anyone. Why should I? After all, the main reason I hate change is because I hate uncertainty and there’s no better way to live in uncertainty than to rely on someone else to do or be something for you.
So, that’s what I’ve been thinking about the past few weeks. Trust comes in different levels–confidence, faith, trust, and reliance. Most of the time, I have confidence in myself now, but because I’ve failed myself so many times, I find it hard to trust and rely on other people not to fail me. Still though, because I believe in the light, I give them the chance to fail me anyway. I only trust a few people enough to let them into my heart though, and I haven’t found the one person I’ll let myself rely on as much as humanly possible. That’s okay though, because at the end of the day, my confidence comes from the Lord, because He has proved that He is faithful, even when people aren’t, He has proved that I can trust in Him more than I trust in my select few trustworthy humans, and He has proved that even more than my “Ty” or “Nathan,” I can rely on Him without fear of Him failing me, because He will never leave, nor forsake me!