I was browsing social media this morning and came across an article about a new Mississippi law that basically “allows public and private businesses to refuse service to gay couples based on the employers’ religious beliefs” (see full article here).

Do not misunderstand me.  I am a Christian and do not condone gay marriage or anything that violates my beliefs but that DOES NOT give me the right to treat people as subhuman.  For instance the Christian bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, that is in direct violation of their beliefs so I can understand their refusal to contribute to the wedding ceremony of a same-sex couple.  But all these other businesses that will refuse to sell a burger, a car, or gasoline to someone because they are gay…that is simply unacceptable.  That is not standing on one’s beliefs, that is history repeating itself with a different face.  It is a masked and subtle form of discrimination and even hatred.  I am a Christian but that is not what I am about.

Love-NeighborI have personally seen this hatred.  I right smack in the middle of the bible belt.  It is very conservative…for example my state doesn’t allow legal gambling of any sort and my county doesn’t even sell alcohol on Sundays. There is a local restaurant that I frequent and one of the employees is transgender and goes by the name Isabella. I have seen people treat Isabella with contempt and make snide and rude comments or gawk.  Yet every time I go in and happen to be served by Isabella it is darn near the best service I have ever gotten.  My order is always right, my cup is always full, and Isabella is always kind.  So how is it that it is okay for state governments to willingly allow someone like Isabella who consistently treats customers well to be treated so poorly and even subhuman.

I hate the way “Christianity” is represented in this world.  When did “love thy neighbor” become “love thy neighbor as long as he or she mirrors my beliefs.”  We are missing it.  That is not how we show the love of Christ.  Wake up guys.  I can’t do it by myself.

Okay so I will give a little bit of back story.  I have an anonymous twitter account called @silentstruggle where I basically share my random thoughts as well as my journey to freedom from my struggles with self-harm, lust, masturbation, pornography, and I suppose self-worth and things like that.  Anyway, long story short, my now boyfriend found me through my twitter account.  We started communicating back and forth in late 2013 and ended up becoming good friends and bonding over our relationships with God and how He has transformed our lives as well as other geeky things like Zelda, Doctor Who, The Princess Bride, Marvel, DC, musicals/ Broadway, Pokemon, and a bunch of other random stuff like our struggles with lust and pornography.

Fast forward about a year and I hopped on a plane from AL to VA to pay my friend a visit.  I had never met him in person or even flown on a plane so what convinced me that this was a good idea?  I have no idea.  It is completely out of character because I am the most “safe” person I know.  Meaning I overthink everything and consider all possible outcomes and take my time to do pretty much anything.  Yet I got on a plane to meet a complete stranger and not only that but also his parents and stay as a guest in their home.

We were fast friends.  Like Batman and Robin, Sonic and Tails, or Ash and Pikachu (later on, they hated each other initially ha ha), or any other great duo.  We just seemed to fit.  Basically our randomness over twitter, Facebook, and texting just continued in person.   It was a whirlwind trip.  On the last day of 2014 we drove up to one of the highest points in Virginia to watch the last sunset of 2014.  We got out and walked around up there for a little bit but it was cold so we eventually got back in the car to watch it.  He held my hand and asked me to join him on an adventure.  I accepted.  We prayed together and so it began.

IMG_0688

This is the sunset we watched that day.  12-31-14

Nearly a year and a half and many trips back and forth and we are still on this adventure.  It certainly hasn’t been easy but it has definitely been worth it.  During that time I have chosen to stay put in AL as he will graduate next month and we don’t know what the future holds as far as job opportunities go and where he will end up.  My job is fairly mobile, as a registered nurse (RN), I can pretty much find a job anywhere I go as long as I get a license for that state.  We shall see what happens.  For now we pray often and seek God about what He wants our next steps to be.

I felt like sharing this because I tend to get weird when someone asks me how we met.  Mainly because it sounds super sketchy when you start talking about an anonymous account and bonding with someone over a common struggle with pornography and lust.  But this is my safe place and I wanted it all out there.  It’s not sketchy, God just chose to write our love story a little differently than most.  Everything happens for a reason and somehow God has chosen to use the very thing that nearly destroyed us individually to bring us together.  God certainly does give beauty for ashes.  We are blessed!

 

My Future is His

Posted: February 9, 2016 in Life, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I’m afraid this post will be a little awkward and TMI but then again, you know me…that’s nothing new.  So here we go…

Back in August.  I went to the gynecologist for the first time.  I know, shame on me.  I’m in my mid twenties and have never jumped on that bandwagon.  Then again, who would? That day I got some bad news.  I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which is a fancy way of saying I have cysts on my ovaries.  When the doctor explained what was going on my mind swirled as I caught bits and pieces of what he was saying…fertility problems…hormone imbalances…etc.  I was a bit overwhelmed to say the least.  Yes, I had an answer to why my body had gone nuts on me over the past year but that left me with more questions about my future.  Will I be able to have children of my own some day?  What should I do in the meantime?   Over the last few months I’ve started taking birth control pills to help regulate things…still working on finding the right one for me.  I realize some people frown upon using them but until you’ve walked in my shoes don’t say a word to me about it.  It bothered me a little at first too but I’ve gotten over it.  It’s better than having a period every two weeks so it is what it is.  TMI again, oops.

Anyway, on to the main reason I’m writing about this.  I’m not married or even close for that matter but I do want a family someday.  I was initially upset hearing that I may have troubles with getting pregnant in the future but then I realized that 1) I shouldn’t be worried about that right now the future will come when it comes.  2) My future belongs to God.  I think in everything that has troubled me past and present not just this situation, it’s because I have made God too small and and essentially put Him in a box.  The God who raises the dead, opens the wombs of the barren, and makes His enemies His precious children through Christ.  God is bigger.  God is sovereign.  And my future…all of it belongs to Him.  Yes, stuff may not always go the way I plan or expect but I can rest in God’s plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodness, I haven’t posted on here in nearly a year.  That’s kind of ridiculous actually and it’s going to change.  I miss my outlet and venting space.  To those of you who have kept up with me and my journey.  Thank you for all the love and encouragement and friendship.  You guys are amazing and I am truly blessed to have you in my life.

I graduated nursing school last May (2014) and I started working as a nurse in the hospital in November 2014.  It is stressful and crazy at times but I hope I am making a difference in some small way even if I am not happy doing what I do.  I don’t know if this is my forever future but I’m praying about the next steps.  I am praying about whether I should go back to school for my Master’s or change paths entirely and go back to school for something else.  It’s  all very confusing.  I made a rash decision and applied to the university I where I graduated for a second degree in English.  I was accepted but I don’t think I’m going just yet. One I can’t afford it and am still paying on my student loans from the first time arround I’m going to pray about it a little longer and wait and see.

I am in a relationship now since December 2014.  It’s been a crazy yet exciting adventure and we have much growing and learning to do but I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side.  Just an FYI, a long distance relationship is tougher than I thought it would be but I love how God chose to bring us together in the most unexpected way at the most unexpected time.  Please pray for us.

Regarding my struggles, I haven’t self-harmed in over four years but I have thought about it a couple times particularly when I get really down.  I haven’t purposefully sought out porn since December 2013 so a little over a year and a half of walking in victory there.  The reason I phrase it by saying “purposefully sought out” is because in this sex-crazed culture we live in we are constantly bombarded by sensual images that toe-the line.  I can’t control that part but I am purposeful in the way that when said images and things come up on tv, magazines, the internet, etc., I guard myself and my mind and don’t tarry there.  My thoughts and physical struggles are still an issue at times and I still have to battle but it’s a process and God is leading me out of those as well.

Other things, I have no idea what my future holds but I have been praying about moving, and where God wants me to be.  I wish to be more diligent in studying God’s Word, and I wish I were growing more spiritually.   I’ve drifted out of the accountability scene and don’t really have much in my life on that front but I definitely need to make some changes there.  I’m still working on taking better care of myself and making healthy changes (slow progress).  Other than that, I’m the same old geeky me enjoying sci-fi, aliens, superheroes, video games, and books.  The me plagued by awkward or embarrassing moments, laughing them off, and cringing at the memories later ha ha. Life goes on.

That’s all I can think of at the moment.  Anything else you want to know, just ask.

We all have THAT single friend.  I get it.  I’m single too but the difference between me and her is that I didn’t forget to live my life, have knock-down-drag-outs for the bouquets at weddings, throw a pity party for myself, bitterly envy everyone’s lives around me.  Nope I just kept doing my thing.  Living my life.  Learning.  Growing.

People ask me for advice a lot.  I have no idea why.  I’m fairly young and have literally made thousands of mistakes- more than I care to mention.  Perhaps it’s wrapped up in how I see the world.  I’m an observer by nature, and a pensive one at that.  I think about things, consider the outcomes, and almost always carefully plan my next move.  Anyway, enough of that.  This one is for the single ladies.  Not because I have arrived or know anything.  I readily admit I know nothing.  I’m just like you.

Dear single ladies,

Just stop.  Stop believing the lies and trying to fit the mold created by society.  You will never be thin enough, “hot” enough, sexy enough, beautiful enough, rich enough, fashionable enough, flawless enough.  You will never be enough.  So forget what “they” say and march to the beat of your own drum.  Dance to the beat when necessary.

A man won’t make you happy.  If I wrote a list of my pet peeves this would most likely be at the top…women who “need” to have a man to be complete.  A man will not complete you.  If anything, it will add another dimension to life’s challenges.  Not necessarily bad.  Just different.  To expect a man to come in and make everything in perfect in your life is an unfair expectation–expectations are premeditated disappointments.  Grow as a person.  Live without regrets or as Gellert put it, “Live as you would have wished to live when you are dying.”  Everything else will come in it’s own time.  Don’t focus so much on what’s ‘missing” in your life, but cherish what you do have…even as a single lady in a sex-crazed and hormone-driven society.  Remember you are already blessed.

Stop focusing on the next step.  I admit up until quite recently this has been the story of my life.  We sometimes forget to live because we are meticulously planning our lives.  But here’s the thing…how much of that stuff will you take beyond the grave? My car will rust.  My instruments will be rubbish.  My degrees will be mere words on pieces of paper.  Every trophy, medal, plaque, or certificate I have earned will be meaningless and forgotten.  It’s sad when I think about it like that but thank goodness there is more to my life than the temporal and fleeting things that will pass away.  Make your life count for eternity.  That stupid phrase that I hate so very much…”you only live once” aka “YOLO” is actually true.  We only have one life but that doesn’t mean do stupid things and waste it.  Yes, live in the moment and enjoy life but live for the moments that make life worthwhile in light of eternity.

You are not too busy.  I just graduated college.  I take care of someone else’s child.  I worked two jobs at a time for the majority of the time while in school and took care of my dying mother at the same time.  I get it.  Life happens.  But we use “busy” as a crutch.  Yes, there may be a lot going on in your life but don’t make that the reason you are a crappy friend when someone needs you or that you don’t make good on your promises and commitments.  By the way, as a single woman, you are less busy than you would be if you had a family to take care of plus the things that are already on your plate.  Sorry if that seems mean.

Shut up.  Okay, that really was mean.  But no one wants to hear “woe is me I’m single.”  Everyone knows you are.  You don’t have to remind them every five seconds.  Or be “thirsty” or “desperate” whatever it is people say these days.  I’m bad with slang, sorry.  Anyway, it’s okay to desire a relationship and marriage someday but don’t focus so much on what is not presently happening.  Chin up.  Life is still good.  God is still on his throne.

I love you all and I’m praying for you.  God’s got this.  Keep living.  Keep serving.

With Love,

Silentstruggle

 

Old Friend

Posted: July 30, 2014 in Learning, Life, Memories, Reflection
Tags: , , ,

“Hey ______!” My breath caught. Who knows me and why are they saying hi now? The trouble with living in a small town is literally every time you go anywhere you will run into several people you know. Even when I’m trying to be incognito and sneak into the gym at 10PM. I’m not sure why God allowed me to run into an old friend last night. Particularly one who has always gotten on my nerves. That was mean. Sorry. At least it was honest. We went to school together from kindergarten until the day we graduated and were both in band together and had the same group of friends.  That was where the similarities ended.

His first car was a Mercedes SUV. He was not really in a position to make fun of people meaning he very “cool” but somehow all of my memories of him are him whispering something mean about somebody that thought he was a friend then snickering.  Which was the reason he got on my nerves and I never really trusted him.

Anyway, we did the catch-up thing. I told him I just graduated and am still looking for a job. I won’t lie, the job thing has me pretty down lately so I’m sure I didn’t sound too happy when I said it. He then updated me on his life but somehow in running into him last night I realized not a lot about him has changed. He may have gone from the cocky trombone player to a successful career with a couple places of his own, but he is still the miserable person who can never be happy for anyone. In my attempt to small talk I said something about being more than half-way to our 10 year reunion. Then he bitterly starts in on being single and slamming several of our classmates who had gotten married recently then continues with how he would not attend the reunion if he was still single. I attempted encouragement. “Well, I’m not married, neither is Ashley, Nathan, Rebekah, Nam, Adam, etc.” He continues slamming people. Failed attempt.

When I left that conversation I felt worse than if he’d never said hello to me but at the same time I ended up grateful because I learned something. I was reminded some lessons I have been learning for the past few years (I’ll write about them in detail soon) but basically they can be summed up as focus on what is important, quit comparing myself to everyone else, and to live my life it will all work out.

P.S. I’m not going to pretend I was a golden child and never made fun of anyone. He was one of the very few I did and we actually laugh about it now. It was because he used to wear a polo shirt with pineapples all over it and I would always laugh and ask why and point out the fact that he literally had fruit on his shirt. He never had an answer.

ImageI’m not perfect and I never claimed to be.  I’m different.  I’m an original…unique.  But somehow, kids don’t seem to see differences that way.  They turn the things that make us unique into torrents of ammunition to make someone else’s life miserable.  For me, I was called names because of my size, ridiculed because of my skin (for those of you who don’t know, I have a skin condition and am allergic to everything), locked in a bathroom by older girls just to be mean, spit on, hit, mocked because I still enjoyed things my peers had long outgrown, made fun of because I’m not like others and don’t even talk the way society thinks I should even now.  Then of course there are backwards adults in my neck of the woods who can’t leave the past in the past so they pass it down the the next generation.  Yes my childhood and teenage years were quite miserable because of them but I would go through it all again in a heartbeat if the outcome was the same.

I am who I am today because of the mean kids.  So I’d like to thank them.

THANK YOU TO THE MEAN KIDS WHO:

Made me strong.  Thanks for showing me how far I could bend and not break.  Yes, I had my moments…cut my own skin and planned my own death but I am still here.  Alive, well, and healed/ healing.

Made me compassionate.  Things have always affected me very deeply but since I have known pain my heart hurts for those who are in the thick of it.  Thank you for teaching me empathy and how to care.

Made me a better friend.  My motto has always been to be the kind of friend you would want to have.  Thank you for teaching me to be loyal, true to myself, resilient, honest, reliable, and to treat others how I would want to be treated.  I’m a friend to the outcasts because of you.  I was one of the outcasts because of you.  And I would do it all again.

Made me loving.  There is already enough hate without adding to it.  Thank you for teaching me to love in a world that’s is filled to the brim with hate.  I realize I am only one person but I can still be the change I want to see in the world.

Helped build my character.   “Character is who you are under pressure, not who you are when everything is fine.”  Thank you for making everything not “fine.”  Because of you I learned who I didn’t want to become and was shaped into the person I am.

Helped me find my voice.  Because of you I am bold and will not sit back and let someone get made fun of for being different or for things beyond his or her control.  Thank you for teaching me to stand up for myself and for others.

You hurt me.  You nearly broke me.  But you made me better in the end.  Thanks guys.  Image

 

War room-  a room where battles are planned.  A room where people meet and exchange plans, ideas, information, etc., in an active way.  Welcome to the war room.  I need your help.

War Room

I’m terrified.  In less than two weeks, I will start my last semester of undergrad.  As excited as I am about the prospect of being a University graduate in May, there is also an unshakeable dread in knowing what the next few months will bring.  I don’t mind being buried in schoolwork so much.  I actually love learning-I guess that’s why I’m already looking at options for grad school.  However, what I do mind is the stress.  We all have ways of dealing with stressors unfortunately for me, I choose unhealthy outlets like sexual sin, food, and am constantly on edge and I can be a complete grump.  I hate it.  I wish it were not so, but it is what it is.  So I deal with it.

What am I going to do to keep my history from repeating itself?  I’m open to ideas, so please, help me out.  Here’s what I have been doing that has helped this past semester:

  1. Making it a priority to spend time in the Word and prayer every day.
  2. Cultivating a thankful heart, remembering to thank God even for the small things.
  3. Journaling…I wrestle with that one.  In the past I have written pages and pages about how much I loathed myself so it’s kind of left a bad taste in my mouth so to speak.  It helps to process things though.
  4. Changing my sleepwear.  I try to sleep in jeans with my shirt tucked in most nights.  It’s as uncomfortable and awkward as it sounds but it helps with keeping my desires under control in the middle of the night.  Awkward. Whatever.
  5. Leaving my phone outside at night.  I keep it locked in my glovebox every night at around 10 or 11 p.m.
  6. Reminding myself daily God is first.  School is not important than God.
  7. Remember to have some fun.  Being uptight all the time is not going to do anything but stress me out even more.
  8. Being accountable to my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Confessing sin. Inviting others to come along side me.

So those are the things I did over the past few months.  Though they all helped a ton, I still slipped up some.   One thing I’m thinking about adding is a healthy outlet such as exercise several days a week.   Any suggestions are welcome.  Love you guys and thanks in advance for helping me and walking with me all this time.

This is a post I have shared and taken down a couple times before mostly because of fear.  But today I am thinking only of greatest gift I have ever received.  The audio segment below was shared at church the morning I was baptized in 2008.  The rest of it are the parts of my life that I was uncomfortable sharing in a mixed audience that included the very young.  

 

I would like to say I am a good girl. I would like to say I am innocent. I would like to say my thoughts are pure…but the truth is, I simply cannot say that of myself. The truth is, I am 24 years old and more than half of my life, I have had an addiction to pornography.

My past is a murky one including sexual abuse, lust, sexual sins, and a host of other things.  I was the type of kid who always knew too much for my own good. I read a lot and I’m pretty sure I knew what sex was by the time I was seven or eight even though I had never seen the actual act. I started “exploring my body” aka masturbating around that time as well. One day when I was ten years old, I was doing my laundry at the Laundromat in our apartment complex and I came across a magazine someone had left behind. It was a pornographic magazine. I picked it up and thumbed through it. And so began my first experience with pornography.

I had never seen anything like it—it was all new to me. Still shocked at what I’d found, I folded the magazine in half and took it with me to show to my best friend. She had always been a bit of a wild child. Her response was “that’s nothing, wait ‘til you see the tapes my mom has.” That day, I watched porn for the first time. I saw actual sex, which I had only had a head-knowledge of before, and it became a real, living, and breathing thing to me. That day I became caught in the death-grip of pornography, and I have been clenched there ever since.

A few years passed and so others would not know, I was secretly obsessed with sex and anything related I continued to watch and look at whatever I could get my hands on. This wasn’t very difficult because I had a brother three years my senior who kept a hidden stash. I would often volunteer to stay home alone and so I could watch and masturbate.

I hadn’t been raised in church. But when I was 16 (2005), a girl from school invited me to something at her church. I didn’t really want to go but I went anyway. People often say that they were radically saved but I think every salvation…God reconciling sinners to himself is radical. Anyway, I went to this church and kept coming back because they kept inviting me back. It really wasn’t my cup of tea. To me, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was nothing more than a story, something like a fable and I remained unchanged. This went on for about a year and a half then I slowly began to want to know more, I started asking questions and reading the bible, which I had never done. I can’t recall the exact date that the Lord saved me but I do know that as I continued to hear the Gospel, I began to HEAR the Gospel and as I did it became more than just a story to me. I saw myself in it and not just as the apathetic onlooker I had once made myself out to be. I was among the scoffers that ridiculed, mocked and yelled “crucify!” I saw my sin for what it was, rebellion against the one true God and that His just wrath was what I deserved. I ran to the only place I could…into the arms of my Savior. My heart has been changed and I know I will never be the same.

I wish I could say that from that time onward, I never looked at pornography or masturbated ever again. I wish I could say I never cut myself again, doubting even for a second that Jesus took the scars bearing the full wrath of God in my place so I could be free. Truth is, the last time I cut myself was on October 21st, 2010. And the last time I viewed pornography was a few weeks ago. Masturbation is a daily struggle that I just can’t seem to get victory over no matter how ashamed and disgusted I get with myself. Every day I don’t give in is a small victory.

It’s hard though. I think I’ve made it harder on myself by silently carrying the burden of my addiction. Too afraid to say it out loud, and too ashamed to tell it again. I’ve told a handful of people in my life my story and to them, “the perfect Christians” they started treating me differently withdrawing somewhat and never once encouraging me in the fight. I’ll be honest, I was hurt by their responses, but I’m not angry with these particular women. They just didn’t understand. If someone has never experienced this addiction and never travelled on this journey, it’s harder for them to understand what we are going through. So I learned not to talk about these things. But I’ve also learned the hard way that silence doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist. Sure, I can put up a front to those around me, but it doesn’t make the issue disappear. I have days where I want nothing more than to let it all out to yell to the world “yes, I struggle with sexual sins, I have struggled with pornography for more than half of my life, my thought life is as impure as they come, and I struggle with masturbation! I’m not perfect, but don’t look at me as though you are because you aren’t either!” Then I have other days where the very thought makes my stomach churn and my palms start to sweat.

I’m scared. It’s no secret that I am afraid. If I weren’t afraid, the people around me would know that I have a pornography problem and an even deeper problem with lust. If I weren’t afraid, the things I tweet as @silentstruggle would be on my other twitter account that actually has my real name, location, picture, life (or at least the life I reveal to others, etc.). I’ve realized that it’s okay to be afraid though. Fear doesn’t mean all is hopeless. I’m done pretending. I struggle. I fail. I don’t have it all together…but I am His. This is me…all of me- the good, the bad, the ugly, the victorious, and the defeated. It is a fight for purity. When I get to heaven I want to be covered in battle scars from fighting the good fight, instead of the pristine skin of compromise.

silhouttesI am a parent…a single parent of a six-year-old child.  It is complicated but think along the lines of adoption.  I didn’t ask for it by any means but sometimes life doesn’t always happen the way you expect it.  Sometimes you just have to trust God and do the right thing fully accepting that your life will never be the same.

With parenthood comes a great responsibility…to bring him up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  To teach them what it means to be a follower of Christ.  I am not going to lie, it is  terrifying.  It is humbling.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done.  It’s more than just cheering in the stands at a basketball game of four-six year olds.  It’s more than playing board games, sharing snacks, planning birthday parties, goodnight kisses and holding a small hand much of the time.  It is also discipline, teaching right from wrong, and of course, the endless battle of not wanting to wear a seatbelt or a shirt that has buttons of any sort.  It is also admitting when you are wrong and asking for forgiveness.  It is praying together and asking God to help us both and to continue to work in both our lives and for God to save him at a young age and protect him from this world.

Last week I was laying on my bed goofing off on my cell phone.  Sometimes you get that feeling someone is looking at you and you look up indeed someone is looking at you.  I had that feeling and I looked around and in my doorway stood a three and a half foot silhouette.  I was surprised simply because I didn’t hear him walk up or know how long he had been there. When I  asked, “what are you doing, bud?”  His response was two simple words but it they were probably the scariest thing I’ve heard in a while…”watching you.”  It’s not a surprise I know he watches me and even imitates me doing things or picking up little phrases and things I say but this was different.  In that moment I realized how big my responsibility is.  Whether I like it or not I have to be an example.  I have to continue to do the right thing.   Part of me worries though.   I have made so many mistakes in my life.  I have made so many wrong turns.  I have been caught in traps of addiction that I am still trying to escape.  My biggest fear is that he will follow in those footsteps.    Then reality reminds me that I have to trust God and the rest will fall into place.   As long as he needs me, I’ll be there.

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see