Silence

All my life I’ve hated quiet. When I was a teenager I’d sleep with headphones in and music blasting. I’d always have 1 earbud in with music playing so I’d never risk even a moment of silence. In the last few years it’s been books. I’d have an audiobook on constantly. I’d fall asleep listening to stories because I didn’t want to listen to myself thinking.6 months ago my husband and I started going to church. I hadn’t attended church regularly since I was a teenager, and quite honestly, when I was a teenager church was a social gathering for me. It was the one time a week I could see people my age. I didn’t go to learn Gods Word. I didn’t go to worship or build people up or anything. When my husband and I started attending our church we also started reading the Bible daily. We do this together and on our own. 

I’ve noticed changes in my husband more than myself over the last 6 months. I’ve seen his faith become stronger than I’d ever have believed possible. I’ve seen his calm when over his anxiety over and over again. I’ve seen him become a leader to the kids and I like never before in our relationship.

This week however we’ve taken our bible study time to a whole new level. We run a paper route which means we drive around all night throwing news papers. Yeah, some people still read actual news papers. My husband and I love our job because it gives us about 5 hours a night to just talk. Some of our deepest conversations have been had over news paper bags. The past few days we have been listening to the Bible read in audiobook while we drive. We listen to 4 hours of bible reading then we talk about what we’ve read. I ask questions about what I don’t understand. We share the things that got our attention the most. And something has started to happen to me this week.

Instead of needing a constant distraction I WANT the quiet. I want to lay in bed with my husband and just be thankful for the time to rest. Silence has become a gift, not something to be afraid of. Instead of listening to my audiobooks I want to listen to worship music. I notice the lack of God in the places he should be. I notice the wrongs in myself and I work to make them less. I miss my bible time when I don’t get it. Reading the Bible has gone from something I do out of obligation, to something I’m genuinely excited about doing. Church has become second home for my family, rather than something to be endured on sundays. My prayer life is a constant thing now instead of a last resort in emergencies. I’m beyond thankful for the changes God has been making in my heart. And I’m so excited to see what’s to come.     

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What doesn’t work, and what does.

What doesn’t work, and what does.

I’ve always been a different kind of person. I feel things deeply and I have a very hard time letting go of anything. When I was 11 and my family moved from California to a small town in Arizona what I was feeling was incredibly alone. For more than 10 years I tried to find a way to break that feeling. I tried to make myself feel anything else because the loneliness was eating me alive and I didn’t want to be entirely consumed. What I found was a lot of things that didn’t work. I found a lifestyle and an attitude that kept me from disappearing altogether, but in no way filled the empty, lonely places in my soul.CUTTING DIDN’T WORK!

For a very long time I believed slicing myself apart was the only way I could control the feelings that would rip through my head. I thought that lies and blood and secrets and pain were the best I was going to get. I wrapped myself in the identity of a depressed emotional girl and I held on to that tightly. I held my knives and my pain and my scars very close because I believed they defined me. I didn’t really want to be broken, but that was far better than being nothing at all.

STARVING DIDN’T WORK.

When I was 16 I put all the will I had into quieting the part of myself that told me I was UGLY, FAT, NASTY, WORTHLESS. I went on the diet. I pulled all my mastery at lying and hiding to the surface and I stopped eating. I lost 40 pounds within the span of 2 months and I sucked up the approval of everyone I knew. I thanked my parents and siblings and boyfriend when they told me I looked sick. I never told anyone when I passed out on the living room floor. I didn’t care when handfuls of my hair started coming out. None of it mattered. The feeling of being empty because I was starving was far better than the nameless ache for SOMETHING that I’d always had before.

LOVE DIDN’T WORK.

Falling in love with the wrong boys didn’t work. The label of being someone’s girlfriend didn’t give me the belonging I believed I needed. I still felt every bit as lost as I had before, but with the added fear that the boy would leave me. Because of course, I wasn’t good enough for them anyways. Falling in love with the RIGHT man didn’t work. Even when I found the man of my dreams, who has loved me the right way from the moment we met, I still didn’t feel like I was good enough. Why would this beautiful, smart, funny, charming man want a wreck of a girl like me?

CONTROL DIDN’T WORK.

Trying to control EVERY aspect of my life and my families life didn’t make me feel any more at peace than I had at any other point in my life. Budgeting our money, obsessively scheduling our time, and constantly worrying about absolutely everything DID NOT WORK. Those things did however drive my family crazy. I became someone I didn’t like being around. The expectations I put on myself and everyone else were nothing short of impossible to reach. So what have I learned from all of these failed attempts to make myself happy?

IT WON’T WORK.

I will never be able to make myself feel better. I will never be able to cut or starve or control the emptiness away. I can’t make my life or the lives of those I love perfect. I’ve learned that I DON’T HAVE TO. Through a faith that is growing every single day, I’ve learned that no matter what I do to mess it up, God does in fact have a plan for my life. In spite of my flaws and all of my brokenness I am loved beyond understanding. I have learned, and am still learning, that if I let go and trust I will be better than okay. Everything will work out exactly the way God means for it to work out. I’ve learned that even the things I’ve seen as bad in my life were being used for good. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect because I’m already perfectly loved. In all of this, I am finally coming to know PEACE.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/jer.29.11.niv

BETTER

Sometimes I realize how much I’ve grown as a person based on what I don’t want or need anymore. Maybe this is something Everyone experiences as they grow up and I’m just stoping to notice it in myself. Or maybe its just that I’m finally comfortable enough in who I am to admit that I no longer find peace in pain. I know there were times in my life when I craved pain, in any form I could find. There were nights with sharp things pressed into my skin, blood running down my legs. There were days upon days spent starving, shaking, aching cold from hunger because I refused to just shut the hell up and eat something. There were months of crying myself to sleep because of some nameless sadness. Anyone who knows me at all knows my favorite band is Blue October. They have been my favorite band for over 10 years now. I still listen to them most everyday. The first song I heard by them was called Hate Me. When I hear this song now, I can’t say why it called to me so strongly when I was a teenager. The song is about alcohol abuse and a relationship ending. At 13 i had never had a drink in my life. I had never shared so much as a kiss with a boy, let alone an actual breakup. Nothing about this song should have pulled me in the way it did. Over the last few weeks i’ve been trying to put my finger on whatever it was that made me love that song above all others, for years. Blue October has other songs That had much more to do with my life at that time. Songs about very real depression and loneliness, things that absolutely did touch my life at 13. Those songs aren’t the ones that I clung to for years though. It was Hate Me that I held so close for so long. This morning the answer finally hit me as i was looking for a new book to read. There is a website where you can input titles of books you enjoy and it will generate a list of suggested books based on your previous reads. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve visited this website. Because of this, the suggested books took me by surprise. There were lists entirely devoted to books about anorexia. There were lists of books all about girls who sliced their skin open over and over again. Books about sick, sad, broken girls. Reading through these book titles made something finally click into place in my head. I was drawn to the damage. I was swimming in the drama. I made myself a tight, close, cozy world of pain. I loved any story I could find that made me feel more normal. I wanted to read about people who were more broken than I was. I wanted to scream out lyrics about damage. All I wanted was more pain. Looking through those books today the difference between who I was and who I am became overwhelmingly clear. Those books full of the struggles of girls who haven’t figured it out have no pull on my mind anymore. When I hear Hate Me today, all I feel is sympathy for the little girl who needed that song so badly. I’m grateful beyond words that I’m not her anymore. I’m so blessed that pain is no longer a security blanket for me. I love that the laughter of my stepson and stepdaughter is the magnet that draws me in now. I love that quiet moments with my boyfriend are what creates my peace. I love that spending time in worship and prayer is where I feel at home now. Pain is attractive when you’re broken. It’s a safe place to go when you’re afraid to be who you really are. But pain is empty. Living in a world of pain only calls more pain. Living in a world of peace is just the same. Peace calls to more peace. Contentment pulls more contentment into your life. I’ve never felt more blessed than I do tonight that I am better.              

Reminded Yet Again

I laid down in bed this morning with a sense of dread. My boyfriend and I are working an incredibly hectic schedule that has us running nonstop from friday afternoon to sunday night. I don’t mean nonstop like we won’t have time to watch the latest episode of some show, or see the latest score of some sports game. I mean we usually don’t have time to so much as sleep between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening. This week has been one of our busier weeks, so it’s been a long time since we’ve had one of those sweet, relaxing days where there’s no where to go and nothing that needs taken care of. This morning I planned to lay down and read some of the mindless science fiction novel I’m currently wrapped up in until I fell asleep. I knew I’d be exhausted even after I woke up. because of course, I only had a few hours until I had to get up for work. I actually laid down expecting the rest of my day to pretty much suck, with maybe a couple of good moments, if I was really lucky. As I was opening my book app to start reading I had an overwhelmingly strong feeling that i should have been doing my bible study instead of reading more stories that I’m just using to waste time I don’t have to be wasting in the first place. In one of my finer moments I listened to that feeling and opened my bible study book instead. The chapter was on being refreshed. The scriptures were all about how God is there to offer strength to those who feel weak. How God is there to offer refreshment to those who are exhausted. I read this chapter and I put on a worship station on my phone. After a few minutes I was praying like I haven’t in way to long. It became one of those times I just spill my heart open to God completely. As I started to give thanks for the things in my life that are undoubtedly blessings, something in my heart opened up. Without planning to I started thanking God for the things in my life that don’t feel like blessings right now. I thanked God for those people who can drive me the craziest. I thanked God for the times I am exhausted. I thanked God for all of the things I have absolutely no control over. I thanked God that I don’t need to have that control. I thanked God that I don’t have to understand how he will use all of those things to put me exactly where I need to be, I simply asked for the faith to believe that he will. When everything in my head and heart had been spoken out loud to God and I was just laying in bed humming one of my favorite worship songs I noticed that I felt more awake than I had in days. It wasn’t physical rest and surrender I needed to find today. It was most certainly spiritual rest I was in need of. I have done versions of this exact same thing since I was a teenager. I let other, louder, more demanding things come before my need to pause and just be with God. I say a quick prayer before dinner and call that good for me and God time that day. I get all proud of myself because I managed to listen to 1 worship song in my music mix any given day. I forget that truly coming to God with my heart open isn’t another obligation I have to meet before I get to relax. Rather these moments are the most real peace there is in this life. These moments of true connection with God are a reward, not an inconvenience in my oh so busy and important schedule. In this clarity today I see that I’m remarkably blessed and I am so grateful. This is my promise today. I will put God above all else. I will put my trust in God above all else. I will put my faith in God above all else. And I will thank God for every single blessing, and every single thing I don’t yet know how to see as a blessing.     

Worship.

My boyfriend and I are studying “With My Eyes Wide Open” the latest book from Brian Welch. We’re only on chapter 5 at this point but there is one thing that has stuck in my head so far. This guy was the guitar player for KoRN, one of the number one bands at the time. He walked away from a life of drugs and rock to follow Jesus. Anyone can say that’s cool. I mean really. Who wants to be a drugged up mess? But this guy also walked away from a contract worth millions of dollars because he knew it wasn’t what God wanted for his life at that point. He said no to everything the world had to offer on faith alone. That’s what’s smacked me hardest at this moment. Has your faith ever been that strong? So strong that you looked at what the visible world had for you and you said no. That’s not enough. I want more than this for my life. I don’t think there are many people who have done something like that. This morning I started my day off with my Christian music playlist, the first time I’ve opened it in months. I heard a song that took me back to when I was a little girl and living my everyday in the most real depression. I remember standing in church absolutely alone and singing this song. I remember crying real tears, not because I was sad, but because that was the only time in the world that I didn’t feel empty. I remember I’d stop going to church, I’d stop talking to God, and I’d always feel that same feeling of peace and love when I’d finally go back. This morning in my bed, not a church, I had that feeling again. Not because of the song, but because I prayed when I started the playlist. Asked God to be here while I worshiped. At the start of this book my boyfriend made a joke that’s stuck with me. He said, “we check our bank accounts everyday. When was the last time we checked our faith accounts?” It made me laugh when he said it, but it’s completely true. I’m sure you have a million things to do today. You’ve got kids. You’ve got work. If you’re me you’ve got kids, work, a school paper, and a dog that needs food too. God easily gets bumped to the background because he isn’t going to cry for your attention like your 4 year old or your hungry dog. But I can honestly say at this moment, having started my day with worship, I’m more peaceful than I’ve been in a long time. Studying this book has gotten my boyfriend and I talking about faith more in the last 5 days than we have in the last year. If you give God your time, you’re the one who wins. I’m making a commitment here today to start my days off with God in worship. Start my day in this world right. 

You can have it all!

You can have it all!

I spent most of my life convincing myself I couldn’t have the things in this life that I wanted. When I was a teenager I told myself I couldn’t go to school because no one was helping me. I told myself I wasn’t smart. I was just a stupid little girl and I couldn’t do anything to change it. When I turned 18 I had a hysterectomy because I refuse to pass my genetic cancer on to an innocent baby. I spent the next 4 years telling myself that I’d never have a child. “Some Harmonys don’t get those things.” I believed I wasn’t worth loving, so I dated guys who were incapable of loving me. Then I cried when they didn’t love me. I told myself I couldn’t write well, so I never finished my stories. I told myself I couldn’t play piano, so I stopped practicing. I told myself no every single day. I knew moments of happiness. Laughing at jokes. Finding silliness in the kids I watched. My default mode though was sad. Dark. Down. I was an incredibly quiet and shy girl. I got away with that much longer than I should have because of my blindness. When you are blind people naturally overlook you. You have to stand up and demand to be noticed as more than an object of pity. I didn’t believe I deserved respect so I didn’t ask for it. “Some Harmonys don’t get those things.” People made me nervous. Life scared me. I didn’t know how to become more than just a character in other people’s stories. Tonight I’m sitting here with my step daughter sleeping in my arms and her daddy sleeping in our bed. I sang her to sleep with the song I wrote, and finished, for her and her daddy. On the shelf next to us is my high school diploma that I received last month. Tomorrow I will get up and go to the job I got because I didn’t quit looking when everyone I spoke to said they couldn’t have me watch their kids because I’m blind. At work tomorrow I will play with not only my work kids but the neighbor kids too. They’ll be outside waiting to play as soon as I come out, because I’m good at my job and they want to have fun with me. I’ll say hello to their mom who I know because I wasn’t to shy to have a conversation with her last week. After work I’ll go to my stepsons soccer game, then I’ll have dinner with the love of my life. I’ll have all of these amazing moments, and it’ll be just another Friday. Because it turns out, this Harmony does in fact get these things. I get the life I always wanted and never thought I could have. I get to be the girl I never thought I could be. I can stand confidently in a room of people and not feel like less than everyone else. I can go to the store with my eyes out and not feel like a freak. I can be myself and not apologize for it later. I can have it all. My life won’t be perfect everyday, but it’s mine and I love it absolutely.

Blessed.

People have asked me if I’m ever angry with God over the loss of my eyes. It always seems vaguely funny to me, that question, because I never have been. Many many people have stopped me to pray for my eyes. I used to get very frustrated and angry about that. When I was a teenager, that prayer felt like a personal attack. I’m fake eyes blind. And not that God couldn’t heal that if it were his plan for my life, I’ve just never felt that it is. It felt like these strangers were saying, there’s something horribly wrong with you! Maybe if we all ask, God will fix you. As I grew up, got more comfortable with who I am the anger with these helpful, sweet, well meaning people faded. People who weren’t blind from a young age can’t accept that I’m okay. They need to try to fix me. I can understand that. I used to try to fix people in other ways too. I’ve never been angry with God over the things that hurt me. Because the things that have hurt me most in my life have been clearly my doing. I found a peace this last year that I’ve never known. I learned to let go, and ask my God for strength. I learned to say thank you for who and what I have. I realized something deeply tonight. It’s something I say often, it’s something I honestly believe. I am blessed. Tonight, the absolute beauty of my life hit my soul. The love and hope and happiness I get to have is so huge sometimes it’s overwhelming. Being healthy, having the children I have in my life, having a good relationship with all of my siblings, having friends who truly love me. All of this, my God has given to me. My life is not perfect. Sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes I’m broken. But I’m always, always, every moment thankful to God that I get to experience it all.